What Is a “Negotiation”?
“Negotiation” is the planning process done for a scene or play in BDSM. It is likewise applicable for when a new relationship between two players or members of the BDSM community is established. Negotiation is vital in order to help set up ground rules, limitations, safe words, and consent.
The Importance of Negotiation in BDSM Dynamics
Informed consent is a key factor in making most BDSM practices work for all parties involved. Without proper negotiation, there is a high tendency for boundaries and limitations will be crossed during a scene. Negotiating creates a foundation of communication and trust between two or more participants.
There are different variations of consent in BDSM, and it will usually depend on the type of relationship or connection that players share. It is also based on what types of play each player would want to try. Regardless of the type of consent agreed upon by the involved parties, negotiation is what helps BDSM plays and relationship to steer away from high risk and abusive types of sexual activities.
Not to be confused with a constricting and extremely formal type of agreement, negotiations done in BDSM serve as an opportunity for partners to create their ideal scene together. As much as possible, openly expressing their fantasies, reservations and limitations for participating in BDSM are all highly encouraged. This is to help check whether partners and players share the same interests and curiosities, or if there are outstanding differences in perspective that may be an obstacle for the players during a scene.
How to Structure a Negotiation?
Here are some questions to consider when starting a BDSM negotiation:
- What types of play/scenes will be done?
- What sort of equipment will be used?
- Do the players generally share the same interests and scene preferences?
- How far are the players involved willing to go in terms of performing a scene? Is it limited to a certain extent (for instance, in Chastity Play, is the sub willing to wear the chastity gear for hours or days?)
- What type of consent will be used by the partners? Is it subject to change depending on the type of play that partners will want to try in the future?
- What safety and special concerns does each player have?
- Do they have specific physical or health conditions and/or past experiences that prevent them from participating or trying a specific act?
- What safeword/s will be used during plays?
- What types of aftercare will the sub or Dom prefer? How familiar are the players with the different first aid procedures and remedies required for a particular emergency situation? (e.g. temperature drop, choking, asphyxia, etc.)
In addition, consider using assertive speech, such as “I want” or “I don’t want/consent to”, is very effective when negotiating because it makes the entire process more honest and transparent.
Related Practices & Fetishes
Informed consent in BDSM is permission that is voluntarily and freely given by players or partners for specific scenes, acts and relationship structures. By giving their informed consent, players acknowledge the risks and limitations involved in the type of act and/or relationship that they choose to take part in. Things like RACK and SSC help establish proper boundaries and play.