As mentioned yesterday, BDSM is complex and its explanation goes beyond a few posts. However, I like to split it into three categories when explaining to beginners how it works. A simple three step system for a scene. These three steps are integral for safe practice and safe practice means fun… and lots of it!
Now, hear me out. I know the word ‘negotiation’ sounds a little serious, and it is serious! But not people in suits in a business meeting kinda serious. Negotiating play is vital for new players or for those who have never played together. This is a step that most people that practice BDSM would tell you not to skip. Once you have a regular play partner you may forego some negotiation for some spontaneous play. However, with new partners, parties and for casual play, negotiation is, well… non-negotiable.
Before you start your negotiation, have a think about what kinds of things you want to experience and things you don’t want to experience. Avoid saying “I’ll try anything once” as you never know what sort of things people are into. Set some personal boundaries before entering that conversation. Express what turns you on and what things you have tried in the past that really did it for you. Tell them your limits, and if you don’t know your limits, then do some research beforehand. It will give you a clue as to what you can and can’t do as well as things that aren’t appealing.
Some things to talk about during a negotiation:
Arrangement of roles, expectations and needs of both partners, limits of the scene, types of play, duration of scene, health concerns, safety measures, sexual contact, safe words.
Play is a term which, when used in the context of BDSM, describes any of a diverse number of “kinky” activities. The term play might describe mental or physical sexual interactions of various intensities and levels of social normalcy.
The term play was first coined by participants in the BDSM party and club communities to describe the activities that take place within a scene. Today it has evolved to encompass the full range of BDSM experiences.
I personally enjoy using the word play in and outside of the BDSM community as it strays from heteronormative ideas of what sex is. It also highlights that BDSM is not just about sex. You can practice BDSM without having what you would traditionally consider as sex.
In the BDSM world aftercare refers to the time and attention given to partners after an intense sexual experience. This is both emotionally and physically. Emotional aftercare could consist of discussing the scene and how both felt about it. Making a point of talking about both good and bad aspects is integral for ensuring that you both understand and are aware of each other’s needs. It could also include reassurance. For example, if degradation play has been involved in the scene, you want to reassure your partner that this is not how you see them outside of scene. You also may want to give your partner assurances about their kink, reminding them that nothing they did or enjoyed makes them ‘weird’ or ‘perverse’. Physical aftercare can consist of helping your play partner remove any restraint or blindfolds. Making sure their blood sugar levels are okay by getting them something to eat or drink. Getting them something comforting like a blanket or warm clothes, kissing or caressing their body, paying special attention areas that have been marked during play. Something that personally helps me in any role I play (domme/sub), is a massage. This helps both partners feel connected to each other and also helps our body recover after an intense experience, thus in turn tending to your emotional and physical needs. Intimacy is great post-play, however, some people like to be left alone, that is why aftercare must be spoken about during negotiation.
Aftercare is ESSENTIAL. Our fantasies don’t necessarily correlate with who we are in our regular, day-to-day lives. Whilst we may want our partner to accept humiliating punishments and to call us sir during play, that’s not necessarily how we want to treat them, or how they want to be treated, at other times in our relationship. Aftercare functions as a ‘recalibration’ for the normality of your relationship. As well as this, there can be a physical change in us too. Many people compare the sensation immediately following a scene (sometimes called a sub drop or dom[me] drop) as being similar to sensations felt after an intense athletic performance. The rush of endorphins coupled with potential physical exertion can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, or dazed, and you may be slightly dehydrated depending on the intensity of the scene. My advice would be to never engage in aftercare with somebody who doesn’t “believe” in aftercare. This is not safe.