Do NOT Get Your Kink On Till You've Discussed These 9 Things

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Don't Have Kinky Sex Till You Discuss These 9 Things
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Make sure your first experience is a good one.

By Anabelle Bernard Fournier

The first time you discover the world of kink, you'll probably be a little bit apprehensive, but mostly excited. That's how I felt, at least, once I could fully embrace that part of myself and joined my local community.

But, as a lifelong writer and thinker and future psychologist, I started looking at my interactions with the people of kink.

How do they choose who to play with? How do their relationships evolve? How can some of them get pick-up play partners while others sit forlorn at every party?

In my experience, lots of it has to do with your ability to negotiate well. Whether it's negotiating your way into their circle of friends so you can get to know them, or simply asking for a play session to someone who caught your eye, the best and most active players in the scene are usually the ones who have the best negotiating skills. Most of it is innate; these people are just capable of asking the right questions and getting the right information to make sure that everyone's happy. But you can also learn to be more skilled at negotiation.

(Note: Because I'm a bottom, a lot of this will sound bottom-oriented. But everything is applicable to both tops and bottom.)

1. Scene goal/intent


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This is the first question, but it's also the hardest. We don't always go into a scene with an intent other than have fun or a new experience, but sometimes we have scenes in order to process an emotional experience, either recent or old. Sometimes we have scenes in order to release stress or anxiety. Sometimes we have scenes to reenact traumas from our past that we want to process and move on from.

What do you want to experience? What's your intention for going into the scene? Why does doing this scene at this particular time matter to you?

Answering (and sharing) your answer to this question openly and honestly will help with the rest of the process.

2. Limits


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Limits are the hard, essential core of negotiation. Limits come in two kinds: hard and soft.

Hard limits are those things you know 100 percent that you will not do under any conditions. There are obvious ones, like no dismemberment, but also less obvious ones. For some bottoms, marks are a hard limit, while others want them badly. Some tops categorically refuse to draw blood, while others crave making their bottoms bleed. Whatever your hard limits are, be sure you know them and can express them clearly.

Soft limits are things that scare you a little, but that you may want to experience anyway. You can enjoy a bare-handed spanking but be a little fearful of paddles or straps, for example. Soft limits are the kind that are negotiable, that you may want to try pushing with the right person.

If you're not sure if a limit is hard or soft, go on the side of caution and mark it as hard. You can always change your mind for the next scene.

3. Skills, experience and interests


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After you talk limits, you can start discussing your mutual interests. Do you share any kinks? You want to find someone who's into the same things you're into, so this step is an essential one.

You might want to talk about what you've actually experienced versus what you want to experience. You might want to ask your potential partner how long they've been practicing BDSM and what kinds of skills they consider themselves to have. Are they good with whips, but bad with floggers? That's something to discuss.

This step is more about establishing general compatibility and making sure that both of you will have fun during the scene.

4. References


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Although kink negotiation isn't really a job interview, I still consider it important to check with people who your potential partner has played with. Good references are a sign that this person is a safe player and is trustworthy. Of course, nobody is everyone's cup of tea, but use your judgment.

If the person can't provide a reference, it could be because they've recently moved to a new community, or they've never played with someone before. Neither of these is a bad thing, as long as you listen to your gut. Approach playing with this person more cautiously than you would with a more experienced person, and give yourself permission to stop the negotiation if you feel it's the right thing to do. (Of course, you can stop the negotiation, like any scene, at any time. Being in a negotiation process doesn't require you to finish it.)

5. Emotional triggers


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Kinky play isn't always just about the physical part. Sometimes, emotional triggers come into play and can completely wreck a scene.

Here's an example: I don't consider breath play a hard limit, but it's an emotional trigger for me because of my father's suicide by hanging. So if a partner is interested in choking me, they must know about this and approach with caution. I usually don't do breath play with partners I don't know, but I feel it's important for them to know about this potentially damaging emotional trigger.

It's really important not to neglect emotional triggers in your negotiation. So many good scenes have been wrecked by a wrong word or action that the person had no idea would trigger that person. If you can inform them in advance, they'll be able to make the scene as safe and fun as possible for you.

6. Health and injuries


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If there's any physical issue that could make the scene more risky for you (like a shoulder or a knee injury, etc.), you should absolutely mention it. For example, rope riggers need to know if they can put you in certain positions, and injuries can change that, so they need to plan their ties accordingly. It also ensures that you won't have to do anything you're physically incapable of doing.

Mention anything you can think about, even if it doesn't seem relevant. Your play partner might need this information during the scene.

7. Sexual contact


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In some play spaces, sexual contact isn't allowed, but it is in others. Not everyone who plays does so for sexual reasons, but a lot of people do.

If you're playing privately or in a space that allows sexual contact, you must agree on whether sexual contact can happen or not. It can be very traumatizing for someone expecting a nonsexual scene to suddenly have someone touch them sexually.

This is where you need to be very clear about your boundaries. And yes, you're allowed to say no to kissing, but yes to digital stimulation, for example. Or you can say no to everything, and that's perfectly fine too. Just ensure that your play partner knows your wishes when it comes to sex.

8. Safewords


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All right, now you have a good idea of what each partner wants and expects. But sometimes you need to stop a scene for whatever reason, so it's really important to establish a safeword. As a beginner, the classic traffic light system works well: "green" for "all is fine," "yellow" for "slow down, check in with me," and "red" for "FULL STOP NOW."

If there are plans for gagging, you should also establish a nonverbal communication system that'll let your partner know you need to stop the scene and speak. This can be done with hand signs or leaving a bell or a ball in your hand and dropping it if you need to stop. Find whatever works for you, as long as your partner understands the sign.

SAFEWORDS ARE VERY IMPORTANT. I cannot stress this enough. ALWAYS HAVE A SAFEWORD. In a public play space, there might be a general safeword that you can use to call a Dungeon Monitor to your scene. DMs intervene for the safety of all players, and may come in if they believe that your scene is not safe, even if you haven't called a safeword.

9. Aftercare


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The last thing you need to talk about with your potential partner is aftercare. What happens to you after a scene (if you know)? Do you need help walking/putting on clothes/whatever? Do you need cuddling or other physical contact? Water, food? Usually chocolate or another sweet treat is a good post-play food because it softens the endorphin crash a little.

Tops also need aftercare, and it's important to agree on what's OK with both of you. Or you may get your aftercare from someone else at the party who's not involved in your particular scene. Just make sure everyone knows what to expect and what to do after a scene.

This article was originally published at xoJane. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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