BDSM Basics: 5 Tips About Negotiation in BDSM

Check out a new thing we’re doing — BDSM Basics. We’ve been sharing “5 Things You Should Know” videos on YouTube, and we’re going to share them here, too, but with text for people who prefer to read. The video is below, so you can watch that if you want. Enjoy!

There’s a LOT to learn and figure out about negotiation in BDSM. What is it? How do you do it? If you’re just starting out, all the information about BDSM (in general) can feel like trying to drink out of a fire hose. We’ve got five tips about BDSM negotiation to help you get started. At the end, check out the list of links to learn more.

It’s a Conversation

If you’re imagining two people in business suits sitting at a board table to “figure out this BDSM thing,” well, your kink isn’t my kink but your kink is okay. “Negotiation” sounds like a very technical thing in BDSM, but really, it’s just a conversation. The most important part is that it’s not a one-time conversation. Negotiating your power exchange relationship, BDSM play, or anything else requires ongoing, consistent communication in order to be safe, sane, and consensual.

Negotiation is Ongoing

I said it once, and I’ll say it again. Negotiation is an ongoing thing. In part because as you begin to try things, you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t. But also, over time you’ll change, want to try new things, or want to stop doing old things. If you think the conversation you have at the beginning of your D/s relationship or BDSM scene arrangement is the end of it, you’re going to get stuck very quickly. You can’t change, grow, or adapt if you’re not willing to keep the conversation going.

Both Partners are Required

Run from the “dominant” who says they don’t need to hear what the submissive wants because BDSM is all about serving and pleasing the dom. RUN. Both partners are involved in BDSM negotiations. It’s the only way to come to a consensual agreement about what you’ll do, what you won’t do, and what you want to try. At the same time, neither of you should tell the other, “Whatever you want is fine with me.” That’s a recipe for disaster and potential harm later. BDSM and D/s is participatory, and it begins with negotiating your dynamic.

Negotiation can Be Formal or Informal

John Brownstone and I tend to be very relaxed about things. We’ll sit down over a cup of coffee and just chat. Other people prefer to set a time and place to negotiate their D/s relationship or the next scene. They want strict timelines and a structured back and forth. Either is fine. Whatever works for you and your partner to make sure every voice is heard, compromise is found, and you’re both satisfied with your agreement.

It’s More Than a Yes/No/Maybe Checklist

BDSM checklists can be very handy in the negotiation process. It’s hard to know what you want to try or don’t want when you don’t even know all of your options. But a checklist of potential kinky activities is just the beginning of the negotiation process. You also need to talk about how you both communicate best, what your expectations are for the relationship, and what your fears and hopes are. Yes, BOTH of you

Resources to Help You Learn More

What Negotiations Can Sound Like
Assumptions and Communication in D/s Relationships
When Communication Isn’t Enough
Effective Communication in Your D/s Relationship
5 Things You Should Know About D/s Contracts

1 Response

  1. Albert says:

    Am a newby why is so hard to find a mentor? Someone who can guide ylou thru

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