Ninety Three Seconds

I’m certain I was yammering as we walked through the door. There was a plan: to drink, to cook, to eat, and to fuck.

I had assumed in that order, and therefore, was not expecting to be held by the hair and drag/pushed into the living room. That was certainly a surprise.

But when he pulled the pillows off the sofa and dropped them to the floor before me, I had an inkling.

And when he pulled his phone out and fiddled with it after ordering me to masturbate, I had another inkling.

Some time after the orgasm, after he’d given me a taste of him, after he’d told me to get dressed and make him a drink, he’d nonchalantly told me that it’d taken me 93 seconds to orgasm.

“Because you were watching me,” I explained.

Manual override on my own could take an hour. Any sort of stimulation when he’s watching me takes significantly less time.

Dinner was decent.

It was during the fucking when I was asked how long it took me to orgasm earlier.

I don’t know how the fuck I remembered the number.

But I did. “Ninety three seconds, Sir.”

He started to smack me. Slowly, then quickly, altering speed and intensity.

And then he stopped.

“How many is that?”

Well. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the pillows and I’d had some sort of nonverbal cue. Or maybe it’s something I always do, the counting.

“Fifty.”

I could hear him smile. I felt the swell of my own pride in getting it right.

Here’s what he doesn’t know. I think I lost count somewhere after the next 20. I dropped into some altered state for a moment and when I came back….I could have sworn we were at 83, not 93.

But those last five smacks were double handed and hit hard.

Maybe they counted for two.

Cold Water

I like warm water.

One of my favorite feelings in the world is to be submerged in or have very warm water cascading down my skin.

He knows this. I noticed that he knew this a few weeks ago during a shower together. The memory of what it was he did is fuzzy now, I just remember realizing that he’d figured out how much I like it.

The trouble with dating this sadist is that when he learns I really like something, he has gained a new tool with which he can torment me.

And when I say “trouble,” it’s with a smile.

So, yesterday morning, we were heading over to shower and I hesitated to step in, realizing it’d not yet been on long enough to be hot.

He checked the temperature with his hand and I asked, “It’s not hot yet, is it?”

His sadist face came on.

“Get in.”

I stammered and resisted. He grabbed hold of my wrist and pulled me toward the shower door. I watched as he pushed the handle away from “hot” to “cold” and held me there.

There’s this moment where I’m faced with something I don’t want to do and the option to not do it is taken away from me. I recall, as a child, standing at the edge of the diving board when I was still dry and I knew the pool would be cold. I feared the initial shock of the cold water. Yet, I knew after a few minutes acclimate I would to the temperature and it would be a welcome contrast to the hot summer day.

Eventually, I convinced myself that all I had to do was jump. Once I was in the air, the decision to land in the water was out of my hands. I found that the lack of control mid-air made me feel less anxious about what I’d face when I hit the water.

It’s that same moment, when my brain switches from “I don’t want to go in the cold shower,” to “He’s going to make me go in the cold shower,” that brings up a similar sense of tranquility.

And then he pushed me in.

The water was warm.

This is what I love about a sweetheart sadist. He knows I love warm water. He also knows I love it when he pushes me toward the things I resist (plus, he loves the pushing). Yesterday morning, he found a way to give me both.

The Play Partner Manifesto

When I started thinking about writing this post, I had strong feelings that I would not mind connecting with another person as a regular (non-sexual) rope-specific play partner.

And now, I finally have a few moments to write it and….

The notion doesn’t seem so shiny.

It’s an inconclusive state – do I want this, or don’t I?

And I think that the answer is that on some level, I do – but what’s lacking is the sense that the type of person I’d want to do that with is someone already known to me. So, without having someone in mind specifically, it’s hard to really imagine how it would work.

Type of person – that’s not exactly right. The person doesn’t meet a type – it’s the supposed connection we’d have that is a type.

But, allow me for a moment to process a couple finer points on this desire. Words like “benefit” and “exploration” and “free time” come up. Like, “I believe I could benefit from the exploration of a connection with another rope top during my free time on weekends.”

There are things about that statement that bother me.

I don’t want to use a person as a distraction. To connect with someone on the level that I like to connect in rope, they have to be more to me than “something to do on Saturday night.” This type of connection I’m envisioning would be one of friendship, trust, and mutual enjoyment that goes beyond “I don’t have anything better to do tonight, wanna tie??” The idea that this relationship would “benefit” me feels selfish. A vibrator benefits me because it gives me orgasms when my partner is unable to give them to me. I do not want the “vibrator” equivalence of a person to just give me what I want when my partner isn’t around. I don’t like the idea of treating people like tools.

And yet –

I wouldn’t (probably) mind more rope in my life, but I come back to that question of connection.

After I fell in love, my connection with the other people who used to tie me on occasion changed. I became strikingly aware of the difference between the connection with someone who actively wanted to tie me – who would reach out days or even a week in advance to ask if I’d be interested in a rope date; and the connection with those who would show up at the same party I happened to be attending and think “Hey, I’ve got a spare hour. You’ll do.”

That’s not really what I think they were thinking, but …that’s how it felt.

So I shifted a little – to avoid feeling that. I set a “new rule” that I would avoid last minute/pickup play scenes. That if someone wanted to tie me, they’d ask in advance.

And …well, those proposals were few and far between. Until they were so rare and sometimes felt like “Yeah, couldn’t find anybody else. Is your body available?”

It still felt like it lacked connection.

This is no judgement on anybody I’ve played with past or present, or those who do pickup play or have asked me recently if I could bottom for them. In fact, both people who have asked me recently – I’d have said yes if I legitimately didn’t have other things going on those evenings.

Bottoming for demo or practice isn’t the same as a play partner.

A play partner (to me) is something more. It’s a friendship that exists outside the confines of rope. It means meals together or movies and laughter and conversation that has nothing to do with rope . It’s connectivity on multiple levels. There’s a level of care, consideration, and enjoyment of time spent together.

There’s a tenderness to it. There has to be, because I like mean rope – so there has to be tenderness on the other side of that.

It’s a relationship.

Minus the sex.

You know, like marriage.

See, the right type of person – the right type of connection – would have laughed at that joke.

Anyway, this isn’t a statement of intention to go out in search of this connection. This is a public declaration of my motives for considering it. Much like my state of being prior to meeting the man I now love – I am in a good place in my life where not much is needed.

But if someone who happens to connect well with me were to come into my life and have an interest in pursuing this….I’d probably, carefully and slowly, give it a chance.


Rope and Photo by @mister_bacon_, my first ropey play partner. 🙂

The ol’ switcheroo

“Bear down on it,” he ordered. I was naked and collared, on my hands and knees at the foot of the four-poster bed, around the leg of which he’d used a thigh harness to strap a large, purple phallus at the exact height required for my impalement.

Just kidding. I’m not telling that story yet. I have things I want to say, but the people I want to share these thoughts with are the ones would only get this far into my essay hoping for more of that story.

I’m talking about the people who put up walls and tune out when certain words are uttered. They respond to words like “privilege” and “patriarchy” like I do to words like “prayer” and “God.”

Those are words that make me uncomfortable. They’re the words that expose the bias I have against all organized religion and religious people that’s similar to the bias our current administration has against people who are Muslim or brown in general.

Religious people frighten me because of the atrocious things done in the name of religion throughout humanity’s history. But, I remind myself that #notall religious people are power-hungry, hypocritical, selfish, and hate-filled people. That’s what separates me from this administration and its followers: I wouldn’t kick all religious people out of my country – but I admit that I sometimes fantasize about what this world might be like if nobody had ever invented religion.

So, here I want to share my thoughts on so many of the subjects that would include words like “privilege” and “patriarchy” and “equality” and “marginalized” and “personal agency” and “women,” and I know that the people I want to reach have already bailed.

They don’t want to be made to feel guilty.

But that’s the thing. I’ve found in my own life that digging in at the things that inspire icky feelings like guilt or resentment has been the first step in my moving past those feelings. Similar to how it works in the final stage of mourning, it’s acceptance. Those of us who cling to the #NotAll when we’re feeling lumped in with a group that does bad things need to lean into the discomfort of being seen as #OneOf and make a conscious choice to listen to those who have been affected.

That’s it. Just listen. Don’t argue. Don’t #NotAll. Just hear out the people whose words bring up those yucky feelings and try to empathize. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask the question – respectfully. And if they don’t want to answer it?

Then keep making an effort to listen. Go in search of the answers by others who have already shared their truths with the world. All the answers are out there.

Eventually you might discover that there have been some instances in which you didn’t do all you could to help their cause because it was easier for you not to, and that the only person that’s making you feel guilty is you.

All guilt ever did for me was two things: 1) make me feel resentful, and 2) make me react defensively.

But after I decided to confront that discomfort and take ownership over my part in these things, the guilty feelings started to erode. You don’t have to take the blame for the continued existence of all the isms and the phobias: just recognize the areas where you have inherited an advantage and accepted it without question. Once you do that, you might find yourself able to let go of the guilt and start taking action to help our shared society move past this.

Listen – not everyone’s gonna welcome you as an ally. You just have to do your best to be the best version of a human being you can be. But don’t cut corners – if you are able to tune out the injustices of the world, that’s evidence of your privilege. If you choose to tune it out, then that’s when you are part of the problem.

This from someone who tuned it all out in the wake of her husband’s unexpected death because she couldn’t handle negative information. I recognized my privilege. I know why I did it. I would counsel someone struggling with that degree of trauma to do the same.

But not everybody can. There are people whose lives and livelihoods are constantly under siege and have been for a long, long time. They don’t have the privilege of tuning out injustice, because it is part of their daily lives.

So I won’t tune it out. Not anymore. Not because I feel guilty, but because I feel it’s right.

That’s not the same as disconnecting for a night and focusing on the things that bring me joy for a few hours. That’s self-care. Deciding that I’m just not going to think about, talk about, or pay attention to politics at all, or go pretend I’m still ignorant of the issues facing marginalized groups? That’s tuning it out.

The people who have read this far already grasp this. As soon as this post was not about the time I was ordered on all fours to be fucked from behind by my bedpost while my lover knelt before me and jackhammered his lust into my hungry and willing mouth, the ones I wanted to reach had already tuned out.

But those of you who stuck it out this far, at least get to know how that story ended 🙂

Tourists in Dropland

Those of us who’ve spent some time in the kink/BDSM world are eventually educated on the concept of “drop.” Google “BDSM drop” and you’ll get over 770,000 mostly relevant results.

After an extreme experience, there’s a period of time that last hours or days, or depending on the longevity or intensity of the experience – longer, of feeling mildly down, fatigued, and maybe a little self-loathing.

Our friends out there in the non-kinky world don’t really have a frame of reference for this concept; and these are nothing if not extreme times.

I’m starting to see it again today – the fatigue. There is a constant onslaught of news, and it’s not good news. For many who had previously lived a relatively neutral existence (read: those with significant, albeit unrecognized privilege) this is the first time that they’ve been on the business end of a series of emotional wallops for which they were completely unprepared.

Even the ones who raised the alarms during the election are now starting to fade – to say they just can’t anymore. Not one more thing.

But we don’t have a national safeword, and I have a feeling the Tyrannical Tweeter isn’t one for aftercare.

It was someone on a kinky social networking site I frequent who first identified it for me. He posted a status update after the Women’s March suggesting that many of his friends seemed to be suffering from March drop, then followed up with a comment on one of my posts with the point that his “vanilla” friends (not my preferred terminology for the non-kinky) didn’t understand what was happening to them.

But, we do.

I was chatting with another friend this evening and he made a very astute observation: “We live in the extremes, they don’t. So protest drop is gonna be bad.” He went on to say “We’re the locals in drop-land. They’re tourists.”

I sat in the parking lot outside of my office building for an hour today, scrolling through the day’s twitter updates and facebook posts. It was an hour of informed consent to the harshness of a very cruel and very scary reality to which I was willfully submitting myself. It wasn’t until I looked up and noticed how dark it had gotten that I looked at the time.

Just like how an hour in an intense rope scene can fly by, only with fewer orgasms.

Right now, I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed. My brother’s phone number is still written in sharpie across my ankle, where I’d scrawled it yesterday on my way to the Los Angeles International Airport.

I regard this marking similarly to the marks I receive in the course of play, only this is a little different. As I’m not an enormous fan of bruises for bruises sake, I accept them as a consequence of the type of play I enjoy with my consenting partner.

This was different. And yet, not so different.

It is a visible, lasting reminder of an extreme shared experience. Only instead of being in a dimly-lit room with my loving partner, I was one of tens of thousands assembled in peaceful protest of the Angry Mango’s latest Executive Order.

Recognizing the feeling, I went in search of connection to those with whom I’d shared this awesome, powerful experience – only to find that many of them have gone rather quiet on social media today.

I wish I could just go on facebook and explain “drop” to them. Those who intersect with kink have already figured it out. As soon as you say “drop,” they go “Oh shit. Yes. Time for some self-care.”

Me? I like bubble baths.

Anyway, it’s not as easy a concept to convey to the unkinkformed. Less easy if I’m attempting to protect them from having a little too much information about my sexual preferences. (Sexual is not the best word to use there. It’s not necessarily about sex, but like “vanilla,” it gets the point across quickly.)

I’m starting to get a few more twitter followers now who’ve added me in the last week or so when I’ve been a bit more of an “activist” type than a “sex blogger” type, so maybe this post will help a little.

But to the rest of them…I don’t know.

I want to find the words to explain it to them. To help them understand that taking a break to go see a movie, to make love, watch funny cat videos, or to have a bubble bath with an old-fashioned is not the same as going into a “news coma” and willfully turning a blind eye to a world that needs you by hiding in an impenetrable bubble.

We absolutely have to keep doing the things we enjoy, and finding ways to express love, compassion and care for ourselves and each other. That’s what fuels us to keep going. It’s what brings back the equilibrium that helps us stay in this resistance for the long haul.

That’s how you fight drop.

Find a little peace tonight. Your voice makes a difference, it absolutely does….but screaming until you go hoarse will silence you for too long. We need to pace ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves.

Even our heroes sometimes take a moment to stop and smell the falafel.

Tops and Strength and Vulnerability: a post-GRUE post-mortem post

Let’s get organized…..Here’s what I want to accomplish in this essay:

1) To share my thoughts on a recent discussion in which I both observed and later participated on the subject of Tops/Dominants and vulnerability

2) To explore my own thoughts on “strength” and “weakness” as it pertains to the concept of vulnerability and/or the exposure of said vulnerability.

3) To offer suggestions on how someone on the topside might find comfortable and meaningful ways to express their vulnerabilities without losing what it is that helps define that role for them.

Here’s what I do NOT want to accomplish in this essay:

1) To share personal information about real people who participated in the discussion without their consent, or make them feel like what they shared was not done so in a safe environment where it would not come back to hurt them. To avoid this, I will speak mostly in the abstract; but if you were there and you recognize your words and you want to help clarify, you are welcome to do so publicly or privately as it suits you.

2) To make someone feel like if they cannot or will not expose their vulnerability it makes them a bad person, so if you’re reading this and you think “nope, I can’t do what she’s suggesting,” that’s okay. You don’t gotta. I’m not the boss of you or the leader of the planet. Yet.

3) To tell anybody how to live their life. See above.

And one more thing…

What I inferred from the discussion may not be what the person speaking had truly intended to convey. On a couple of points, my partner (who also sat in on a large part of the discussion), picked up different messages than I did from the same person’s comments. Therefore, I’m not saying my interpretation is the be all and end all to what was discussed, so take this for what it’s worth. An incomplete attempt to understand a concept I do not have personal experience with as a Top; but I do as a person who is very much in control of her own understanding of her wants and needs, if not those of anybody else.

On to the meat of it…

Over the weekend I attended the Los Angeles GRUE. This is my third time attending this annual event, and in many ways it was the best one yet.

I participated in more discussion sessions this time than in hard-skill types of sessions. So, while last year I spent a lot more time in rope than I did this year; this year, I spent a lot more time engaging with people than last time.

And that’s pretty cool.

One of the earlier sessions during the course of the day was a discussion of the vulnerability of dominants. At the top of the discussion the person who’d organized the session asked for people to only speak if they were doing so from the perspective of a Top/Dominant; and to hold off on offering perspectives from the bottom. I completely understood the purpose for that request and myself and may of the other “bottom only” types in the room gave the rest their space to speak.

(Thankfully, after some time had passed, the discussion leader opened up the discussion to everyone in attendance and there were some really great insights brought up by the bottoms in the room who’d remained silent up to that point).

The big takeaways I had from the Tops only portion of the discussion were as follows:

1) A significant portion of the vulnerability a top feels stems from the idea that they find it uncomfortable to express needs. I want to say it was mostly emotional needs, but i think there were physical needs as well that they did not feel comfortable addressing with their bottoms.

2) Another portion of the vulnerability stems from the cognitive dissonance of being a sadist, for example – of recognizing that somewhat frightening part of you that gets off on hurting someone else, and trying to reconcile that enjoyment with what you know to be “right” or “wrong.”

3) This is the part that might have been up to interpretation – what I was hearing was that some of the tops felt like they couldn’t be as open about not “having all the answers” or not “being in complete control” of every situation. They felt the need to hide their vulnerabilities because it weakened them or glaringly exposed their inability to control all things.

A while back I know I wrote something about finding the strength in exposing my vulnerabilities. I can’t find it, though I found bits and pieces in other writings that support that notion. I recall I went on a date quite a while ago, after which I received a text from him that said that something about my vulnerability making him want to jump up and protect me from anything or anybody that may want to hurt me.

He saw my vulnerability as a weakness he wanted to protect and defend. I saw it as a strength that could draw in an army of protectors. And, of course, with great power comes great responsibility; so I mitigated the temptation to take advantage of that power by attempting to solve my own problems before asking for help.

But I also am able to recognize when I do need help to solve a problem, and am quite capable of “exposing my vulnerability” by asking for that help when it’s appropriate.

I don’t believe that makes me weak. I actually thing it is a show of strength that I am capable of opening myself up to rejection by asking for help.

People have needs. Take away the labels of top or bottom or switch or whatever being a “dominant” means to you and you are a person who has needs. The people who love and care about you are invested in helping you get your needs met.

It is very likely that the people who love and care about you are not mind-readers. Some may be highly intuitive and may be able to make you feel like you’re a really good communicator; but in the end – if there is something you need that you’re not getting, one of two things have happened: 1) you are not asking for it, or 2) the person you asking it from doesn’t want to or cannot give it to you.

I feel like this is the part where a few caveats must be explained: 1) the way one interacts with a long-term or intimate partner is different than the way things go down with a play partner or someone in a one-off situation. Most of my examples and analogies are more in line with how I think long-term relationships work, over pick-up play situations. Also, 2) I have a very clear-in-my-head differentiation between a want and a need; so when I say “need” I am talking about things without which a relationship suffers.

So, let’s take the second takeaway as an example…the cognitive dissonance. That thing that makes you feel vulnerable when you admit to yourself that hurting someone else just made you wet.

I don’t experience this. What I know of this feeling is purely through having heard from many people and empathizing with the feelings they have expressed. On more than one occasion, people to whom I’ve bottomed for or submitted to have been the ones to tell me that these feelings exist.

One very specifically told me what he needed from me. He told me he needed me, as the person he just got off on hurting, to absolve him of his guilt by letting him know that I enjoyed it. That I wanted it. To tell him that he was not an evil person for wanting to do this to me nor for enjoying having done it to me.

That was a very vulnerable thing for this very domly dom person to admit to me, and it did not take away from his ability to exert his control over me (when that was our dynamic). In fact, from my point of view, it strengthened his control because he exposed his humanity to me; and I was able to trust more that there would not be unexplained passive aggressive retaliation toward me for his negative feelings because he’d been honest with me about how he processed what he does.

To be honest – what killed that relationship was when he STOPPED being honest with me about his vulnerabilities and he started behaving in passive aggressive, retaliatory, and explosive ways to our disagreements. I lost my ability to trust him with my emotions when I felt like he couldn’t trust me with his anymore.

I don’t think there’s a “solution” to cognitive dissonance. I think the best we can hope for is acceptance and coping. Similarly, I don’t think one needs to “fix” vulnerability. I think the better option is to lean in to it, expose it, and accept the consequences, whether positive or negative.

As a bottom, that’s kind of our jam. When we are hit, it hurts. But for masochists, we’ve found a way to lean into that pain and transform it into something our brains find pleasurable. By virtue of what we do, we place ourselves in vulnerable positions for fun and profit, and we get a ton of enjoyment, catharsis, and in some cases, growth from it.

As a top, you might also be able to harness the power of vulnerability by exposing yourself to the potential to be disappointed, let down, or ….wrong.

The example I gave as a concrete step to take to open oneself up to their vulnerability is something I do all the time and have written about on several occasions. When I am having a negative feeling, I dig down into it until I understand what is causing it. Until I know what it is that I want or need from someone else that I am not getting that is causing this negative reaction. And then, I tell my partner what I want or need from him.

So, I text him and say “I’m feeling kind of down. Can you please say something nice to me?”

I always get a response. The response is never no. Not with this partner. I’ve had two partners in the past that had rejected my request. They are no longer partners.

Let’s say, (and this is another real example), that I’m starting to feel a little down because my partner doesn’t hit the love button on my fet photos very often. I notice he does with his other partners, but not mine and it makes me sad.

What is that really about, because the comparison to his other partners isn’t fair. The reality is that I know he finds me attractive and I don’t need him to hit a button on a photo on social media to know this to be the case. And yet, I’ve gotten into a situation where I’m feeling down because he’s not doing it, and to further the feedback loop, I want him to do it without my having to tell him to.

That’s where you get into that mind-reading thing. If you’re not getting something you want or need out of someone else, the two reasons are that they either don’t know you want it, or don’t want to give it to you.

So, what am I doing by not telling him what I want? I’m trying to hide from him that something hurts because I want him to intuitively know that it hurts and fix it without my having to tell him. He doesn’t, ’cause he’s not a mind reader, and I just keep on being butthurt because there’s no resolution to this problem through the power of magic.

There is, however, a resolution through the power of communication.

Now, if you think that it’s easy to tell your partner you want public validation of his attraction to you, believe me, it’s not. I processed this shit in the poly chat group for days before I felt comfortable bringing it up with him directly. It was really hard to admit that I wanted this from him; but there was no solution to the problem that didn’t involve my directly telling him so.

Guess what he did?

He loved a couple of my pictures.

And every once in a while, when he does do this without my having to remind him that I want it, it feels really good.

Does that mean I’ve never had to bring it up again? Naah. This comes up. It is what it is. It never means he doesn’t love me or that I don’t make his dick hard. It means that there’s a part of me that wants the public validation of that fact once in a while. By exposing that truth, I took away its power to make me sad.

That’s not a top/bottom thing. This could easily have gone the other way. I might be a top who wants her bottom to like my pictures once in a while and not want to have to order them to do it. I might let it make me feel sad, or become passive aggressive in my behavior toward them because I think that by saying “I want your feedback when I post sexy pictures” means that the feedback isn’t genuine.

At the root of this example is the knowledge that my fear doesn’t stem from any ideation that he’s not attracted to me; but from a place of feeling like he doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge my place in his life. Again – that’s not a top/bottom thing. That’s a relationship thing, and more specifically, that’s a phi thing.

So, something to think about – if you struggle with exposing your vulnerability; start small. Start by not expecting your partner to read your mind when something is nagging at you. Start by figuring out what behavior you want from them, and ask them for it.

Another, much less exposing example is the difference between saying “Brrr….I’m cold.” and “Darling, can I borrow your sweater?” If you’re not getting what you want from your partner by announcing that you feel cold; then follow up with the direct ask. And if your partner says no, then …well, now you know what kind of person they are.

I think that’s all I have for now. I mean, there is so much more but those were the main points of what I wanted to accomplish with this writing. I welcome any continued discussion that comes out of this, though I can’t promise to be very participatory in it until I get home in a few hours.

If you ever have an opportunity and the means to attend a GRUE in your local area…

I highly recommend it. For reals, yo.

Oh, and one last thing. In my search for whatever writing I’d done in the past that had to do with vulnerability, I came across this bit of erotica I’d written a while back. I think it’s a subtle portrayal of how the Top/Sadist/Dominant’s attempts to hide or mitigate his vulnerabilities served only to delay the gratification of a truly deep and personal connection with a potential partner.

Trust and responsibility in BDSM

In one of my early posts on Fetlife long ago, I wrote “It’s not that I’m lying when I tell you I’m okay; it’s that it isn’t until much later that I realize I was mistaken.”

This week, there have been a couple posts out and about that are debating the issue of …I guess it’s personal responsibility in a bottom to communicate truthfully to their top on matters of consent, limits, and negotiation.

On the one hand, you have two posts making the point that many bottoms may be failing in communicating their true limits out of the fear that they will be “disappointing” their tops; and another that argues that if this is too often the case then we are setting up a situation where a bottom can’t be taken at their word.

It made me think of that little thought from such a long time ago. That it’s not about “truth” and “lies” so much as it is about being really self-aware and confident that one’s top is not going to be disappointed when a limit has been reached; and likewise that one’s bottom is not going to put you in a position of harming them irreparably.

There is a difference between pre-scene negotiation and mid-scene check-ins, and I don’t think anybody has a problem understanding how an s-type might agree to or give consent once their mind has been altered and later regret it. If you do have trouble with that let me know and I’ll clarify in a separate post. That’s why collaborative negotiation ahead of time is really important; especially if the relationship is new.

But there’s something else I’ve been exposed to that helped me a LOT in my ability to set my limits and boundaries during the pre-scene negotiation as well as during mid-scene check-ins. I think I’ve written about it before (though I don’t remember when) and I know I’ve talked about it recently as a panelist for an S-type panel discussion as part of the BDSM 101 series.

It was “safeword training.” See, back when I went by the label of “submissive,” I was one of those submissives that would pressure herself – potentially past my personal limit – out of fear of disappointing my partner. There were many times that I’d end up heavily bruised; and, I am on record as not a fan of heavy bruising.

But I didn’t stop them. I didn’t want to disappoint them by not taking what they wanted to give me.

When I explained as much to a partner I’d been spending some time with, he did what he called “safeword training” with me, where he told me he was going to spank me five times and on the fifth, I was to call “yellow.” I did so, and was able to witness what his reaction would be to my calling “yellow” during a real scene.

Then he did it again, this time, ordering me to call “red.”

And so I did. And so I saw what his reaction would be if I were to do that during a scene.

This was critical in my being able to accept the difference between what he wanted to do “to” me and what he wanted to do “with” me.

He wanted to give me a good experience that was not tainted with regret because I was too afraid to speak up for myself, and for what?

No top I’ve ever been with has actually wanted to harm me. None have ever truly wanted more from me than I would have been willing to give. That takes our scene into the “not fun” territory. And if it’s not fun for me, it’s sure as hell not gonna be fun for my top. Especially afterwards.

But I have played with inexperienced tops as an inexperienced bottom; and I have had tops who had no prior experience with me who have gone too far, and I didn’t stop them until too far had already been reached.

Did they have my consent to spank me? Yes. They did. But I didn’t specify to one that I required a warm-up before he went to town on my ass. And …well, the other accepted my consent after I was already inebriated, and left me passed out on the floor of the dungeon by myself after our scene. In fact, I remember enough of that night to recall that I approached him for the spanking, and not the other way around. He also never checked in with me again. (P.S. that was the last time I ever mixed drinking and kinking).

In the first example, I was self-aware enough to know I was not having a good time. In the second, the onset of that self awareness was quite delayed. Both times I let it happen for longer than I needed to because I was afraid of disappointing the top in question.

So. What to do? We can all write eighty-billion essays urging bottoms to speak up for themselves and to speak truthfully when they’re negotiating a scene for themselves; but remember – sometimes the opposite of truth isn’t a lie, but a lack of self-awareness.

And when someone who wears the label of “submissive” has agreed to something and then during said thing realizes they’re not really loving it – I guarantee you that MANY said submissives will try to grin and bear it because they don’t want to go back on their word and disappoint their tops.

Does that mean that the bulk of the responsibility falls to the top? You gotta question everything? You gotta take their consent with a grain of salt?

Not necessarily. It’s a power exchange. If you’re negotiating something new, or something edgier – try making sure your bottom understands that you won’t be disappointed if they ask you to slow it down because something doesn’t feel right. If you’re the bottom, make sure your top knows if there’s something on their list of things to do that you’re not entirely sure about.

You know….communicate.

And, before you play – make sure you know how you’ll react to a “red” or a “yellow.” Make sure your bottom knows what to expect from you if those words are called. If necessary, consider foregoing safewords and use ENGLISH (or whatever language you speak) to communicate during the early days of your playlationship.

“Ow ow….slow down, I need a minute” or “Oh holy shit STOP” are REALLY great words to use until you’ve gained a level of comfort with your partner where you are allowing them to push you a little further beyond your established boundaries.

Hell, I’ve been with my partner for over a year now and he LOVES to push me. There have been times when he’s about to do something and I cry out, “NO NO NO!” and he’ll pause, and look at me with a look of pure sadistic pleasure and ask, “No?”

It gives me a moment to pause and consider my answer carefully. It’s like my version of “yellow.”

Because my response is almost always, “Okay, yes,” but even when it’s not, I never feel like he’s disappointed in me.

Ever.

That’s why I am able to be 100% honest. And my honesty is why he’s able to push me further.

That’s the beauty of an exchange.

 


Photo credit: Renata Colette, rope by @MisterBacon, model…me 🙂