NegotiateApril 14, 2017
. . . to arrange or bring about through conversation, conference or discussion in order to arrive at some kind of agreement . . .
What happens if you are a new submissive and do not know what your ‘soft limits’ are? How can you pre-decide what to identify as a limit?
The simple truth is that you can’t. As a new submissive you may have a general idea that certain types of specific scene activities will be difficult for you. As an example, you may know that the use of gags is something you believe you will not be able to tolerate, perhaps you have asthma or problems with normal breathing, or perhaps you have a form of claustrophobia or other anxiety disorder related to constriction of the mouth. However, you also know that you have not independently experimented with gags on yourself so you have no factual supporting information that tells you ‘conclusively’ that you will list gags as a limit.
When furthering a relationship with a Dominant, Top or other person you desire to scene with the only real considerations you bring with you are those you know conclusively pertain to you, all other areas, experiences and choices are subject to a process of ongoing negotiation. Some couples prefer to do this by organizing a scene in advance, discussing all elements in the scene and talking about those elements to determine if this scene contains within it items or areas of significance. By engaging in such a scene the submissive is offering a ‘limited’ consent to testing out certain objects, items or ideas to physically experience them. During such an explorative scene the scening Dominant, Top or other individual should retain a heightened awareness of the submissive by carefully monitoring their behavior for any signs of distress. If any indication of trouble is noted the Dominant should then interrupt the scene to question the submissive to ensure that they are okay. It should be understood by the Dominant that the submissive may have a problem and yet may be unwilling to be forthright about that problem.
This is particularly true if the submissive knows that ‘this element’ of scening is considered by the Dominant to be of great importance to them in advance of the scene. With this sort of ‘front loading’ of a scene the submissive may be caught between dislike of what is happening and a need or desire not to fail their Dominant. Whenever possible limit or do not engage in pre-discussion of scene preferences with a submissive who is inexperienced in-scene. Such discussions can cause this type of front loading and may obscure the submissive’s true response. This can be important since in-scene a submissive can go into an anxiety state of panic which may cause them to thrash within bondage to the point of significant injury. If this occurs the submissive may sustain long term mental and emotional scarring related to all aspects of the scene even when other lesser or minor elements of the scene were not traumatic to the submissive prior to this particular bad scene.
Upon completion of an exploratory or negotiated scene the submissive should not be immediately queried as to their feelings about what has occurred. Allow several days to pass and perhaps ‘insist’ that the submissive NOT discuss what they have participated in with anyone, particularly other submissive friends. This keeps the experience clean inside the submissive and allows them to formulate their full and truthful opinion about what that event, object or idea meant or felt like within themselves. What a submissive can manage and what they feel they should limit is an extremely personal intimate process. The Dominant or Top should remove their own desires as to the outcome and provide a neutral response until they sit down with their submissive to clarify what their new submissive has determined is their choice or response to what has occurred. There is no right or wrong to this process except that to continue to scene someone or compel someone to like an activity when they do not will eventually corrode or destroy the communication and later the entire fabric of the relationship.
Negotiations may occur over years. No Dominant should expect a submissive to try everything out there in their first year or second or even tenth. Many scening challenges evolve as the submissive becomes less sensitive to more commonplace activities in their life. As such, it is common for a submissive to continue to add and delete limits as they change, mature and develop. What a submissive may enjoy in their first year, they may have no interest in five years later. The construction of rigid contracts which do not allow for these changes can become weapons used to force a submissive to comply with activities they no longer agree to and may limit a submissive to only those choices they have agreed to in the past. Establishment of a flexible negotiation process requires constant attention to open communication skills. Both Dominant and submissive need to learn to hear and listen better.
It was somewhat common to offer or demand a ‘pre-collaring’ contract or agreement. This contract often contains language which specifies what the Dominant requires from the submissive regardless of whether the submissive has ever physically engaged in the mentioned activity or not. Many submissives long to ‘vacate’ all rights and express the desire to ‘do whatever the Dominant tells them’, some even feel that if they are in any way ‘non-submissive’ they will not be desirable to a Dominant. This concept of ‘non-submissive’ is growing in popularity and is often identified as a submissive who is forthright, honest and open in their opinion or beliefs. Some believe that a submissive should never disagree with ‘any’ person identified to them as a Dominant, that such behavior of disagreement is indicative that they are poorly behaved and in fact ‘not a submissive’. This type of catch 22 ideology encourages people to return to policies of silence by intimidation or judgment, or the non-truthful communication so prevalent in vanilla society, policies most within the BDSM communities have attempted to overcome.
Submissives – humans – should be courteous and truthful with each other.
That is behavior becoming of each individual. It is not necessary or proper to use truth as a weapon ‘against’ others but it is fundamentally important to be truthful within the intimacies of your relationship. That truth is in fact the base, foundation or beginning of your relationship. If that ability to communicate truthfully becomes impaired, damaged or destroyed then the connections within the relationship will wither, distance will grow, and the relationship will starve to death.