A logical next chapter in my ‘Back to Basics’ series is around consent and arranging play.
The assumption of your position is that perhaps you’ve got talking with someone who would also like to play with you sometime.
Examples could include :
– chatting online
– discussing at a munch
– at an event and the topic comes up
– approaching a professional about booking a session
It may be you have had some opportunity to try certain things informally. For example at a workshop, or slapping a flogger on your hand or something. It might not.
What this post isn’t, is a how to approach someone for play.
This is you’ve been talking to someone and the subject has been broached.
Whichever side of the slash* (*the D/s slash – to the left is Dominance/Topping/etc to the right is submission/slavery/bottoming etc) you are playing, the below applies.
The audience level for this is designed mostly at newcomers. A lot of more experienced people will possibly disagree with lots of this *from their own perspective* – however, it should still probably be considered if playing with someone new or inexperienced.
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE
Seriously. Either side of the slash, I wouldn’t be put off by someone inexperienced, but my approach would be different.
If you tell someone you’re super experienced and then start safewording in the warm up, or do something dangerously then it’s going to break trust straight away.
If you want to do something you’ve never done before, raise you’ve not done it before. It may be someone else can join to monitor or this can be considered.
If in doubt, it’s better be cautious and look to doing more in the future, than ruin things in the present.
AGREE SAFEWORDS / SIGNALS
Red is the universal safeword for stop.
Amber/Yellow is the universal safeword for, well, “I’m approaching my limit, calm down a bit, change toy, etc”
It might not be possible to speak/hear (i.e. wearing a gag or noisy club.) so potentially a hand signal, or something in the subs hand to drop.
However, some people don’t like to use red – so – agreeing something else, or phrases, etc. can help.
‘No’ is also a safeword unless agreed otherwise. As is ‘stop’.
I’m aware there are many people who don’t need or use safewords, but, these are usually people who are massively experienced in being able to read people so forth. For your own peace of mind I would recommend having one.
Also, both Dominants and submissives can have safewords or safe calls. It’s not just a sub thing!
NEGOTIATE WHAT YOU WILL DO.
“I will do anything”, “I have no limits” these are not helpful guidelines. Especially as it’s very easy to find limits.
If you’re relatively inexperienced, it’s better to work on the positives than the negatives.
So instead of discussing what can’t be done, discuss what can be.
Can I/you can do : barehand spanking, paddling, flogging, strikes to the bum, strikes to the cock, strikes to the breasts, strike to the back, whipping, caning, spitting, hair pulling, etc.
It might seem less fun knowing what you will do. But, it’s still fun – and – it gives a basis to build on.
A mistake I’ve made when Dominating is not asked questions about touching. So, if in doubt… I didn’t touch. I just used the toys we’d agreed in the agreed areas.
NEVER ASSUME CONSENT
There are differences between assumed consent and implied consent. Just because, say, a woman is being flogged on her breasts, does not imply it is acceptable to grab her breasts with your hands. So you are assuming consent and that might not be cool.
After play you can have a discussion on what was liked and what was not liked and where things could have been pushed. This is much safer for both parties than something happening you or they later feel uncomfortable about.
With more experience, you can learn or interpret limits more. And you can always do more in future play.
JUST BECAUSE YOU SEEN SOMEONE ELSE DO IT….
People have different relationships with different people. So, don’t assume someone is cool with something with you that you seen them do with someone else. So, for example, some form of play I limit whom I will do it with – either for trust or “it’s our thing”.
CONSENT CANNOT BE GIVEN AFTER A SESSION STARTS
A one many people will disagree with. But, I am particularly talking about newcomers here. Two experienced people might be able to tell if there is a sound mind.
Here’s some high level science. When you play, endorphins will be released. This can affect your mindstate.
It may also be that someone finds it harder to say ‘no’ once tied up or strapped down.
Because of this, there have been incidents people have agreed to something and then later had a “what was I thinking?” because they were either caught up in the moment or vunerable.
Again, a post-play conversation, “next time I’d like to…” is better than overstepping a mark or ruining a moment.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL ALSO SKEW CONSENT
Among other problems. I would not agree to play with someone who has had more than a couple of drinks – unless – it was someone whom we already had established levels with.
It makes people more agreeable, distorts the pain threshold and thins the blood.
Too dangerous all round.
THE SUB DOESN’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING THE DOM TELLS THEM
At least… not when it’s two people assuming roles for a play scene, who’ve probably never played before.
Anyone who tries to tell you that you HAVE to do something possibly doesn’t get BDSM (Unless they’re venue staff telling you you have to follow the club rules… or something equally obvious) and likewise, having a sub at your disposal isn’t a cue to start barking orders at them.
Long term speaking, in a relationship, this might be something you work towards… but… when you get there you do so knowing nothing will be asked beyond the sub.
Even in high protocol events, there’s still an overall right of refusal, especially to an unreasonable request.
I’ve heard a few different people who’ve said a Dominant did something they didn’t consent to during play and were told “I am the Dom, you do as I say” and didn’t realise until becoming more experienced this is actually abuse. (For the sake of my constant disclaimer, unless of course we’re talking experienced people, CNC, existing dynamics… etc)
Most experienced and responsible Dominants will know what they can and can’t ask of their submissive.
THINGS TO WATCH DURING PLAY
If inexperienced, there should be some checking. If you are subbing, never be afraid to call a safeword or ask to change toy or ask to talk to the Dominant.
Or, if you are Dominating (or Dominating someone new) then positively discussing feedback that the levels are OK, toys are OK, etc.
If arms are raised, check circulation. Make sure breathing seems normal.
There are variables depending on activities, so some familiarity is helpful, for example allowing pauses between cane strokes (traditionally by having someone count when they’re ready for the next one).
Never, ever, leave a sub unattended if restrained.
If a safeword is used, respect it.
In a public event, if you are Topping/Dominating and relatively new, you can ask a house monitor, or someone more experienced, to help supervise.
WHAT IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE
We will all make some form of mistake at some point. What happens next is how you deal with it. A mistake could be something is simple as a mishit. If so, be aware of it, your partner may need a couple of seconds to compose. Check they’re OK. Something like gently rubbing the area you have mishit gives at least an acknowledgement.
If of course a mistake is something a touch more serious. For example, failure to hear a safeword or instruction. Misunderstanding an instruction and doing something against the others wishes. Assuming consent and finding it wasn’t given. Own it. Acknowledge it. Apologise. Do not expect this to make everything right there and then, depending on who and what this could affect their headspace and/or break their trust, at least for the time. Putting your hands up and saying you made a mistake and then, crucially, learning from it. That is going to put you in better standing for the future than trying to blame others or brushing it off.
THINGS TO DO AFTER PLAY
There will be an immediate drop when coming out of any scene. Aftercare will be needed. Sugar products, chocolate, biscuits, tea, etc. will help with sugar levels and a hug and reassurances.
If some form of verbal or degredation play was used, then they should be built back up.
A further drop may happen a couple of days later also.
Keep in contact.
It may be beneficial to ask upfront what aftercare may be needed, but, often this is forgotten in the excitement of discussing play! But, being there for them afterwards is important.
Also – both subs and Dominants can get drop!
But also, discuss the scene. What was liked, what wasn’t, shall we do it again? Was I too cautious with consent or did it flirt too close to the lines? What shall we do different?
Even if it was only meant to be a one-off, talking it through increases your knowledge. Knowledge is a good thing.
Because, some of the stuff which I’m suggesting you don’t do that experienced people do do… knowledge helps you work towards that experience.