The Art of Negotiation By Lady Pim
The Art of Negotiation
By Lady Pim
The stereotype dictates that a good sub does whatever his Mistress asks, right? She ties you a little too tight, you let your extremities go numb without a word. She tells you to take more hits, but even though you desperately need a break, you take more hits. She calls you a worthless, good for nothing, piece of scum that it unfit to lick her boots, and even though some of those words don't sit right with you, you continue on with the scene.
Wrong. Incorrect. And for the people in the balcony: NO.
Good Dominants (and yes, unfortunately there are bad ones out there, even in the professional community), will not only have an in depth negotiation beforehand, but safe words and signals in place, and on going communication throughout the scene. Not to mention proper aftercare and debriefing post scene. A Dom(me)'s number one priority should always be your physical safety, and mental/emotional well being. And if you want to be a good sub, you most valued qualities will be knowing yourself, clearly indicated boundaries, and good communication skills. Not simply doing whatever Mistress says.
So, what does detailed negotiation look like? It can look many different ways, but important elements include physical limitations (such as injuries or disabilities), emotional or psychological triggers (such as certain words or actions), boundaries or hard limits (things you do not want to do) and ways to communicate discomfort within the scene (safe words or signals). On the flip side, it's just as vital to discuss the kinks or roleplay you would like to explore, the phrases or words you enjoy hearing, and what implements or tools you are interesting in using. Some Dom(me)s like to get a mood or vibe for the session. Do you like playfulness? Severity? Encouragement? Ideally, negotiation is written down; especially if this phase of communication is happening in advance. This helps both the Dominant and the sub remember exactly what was talked about, and can refer to it at their leisure, leading up to the scene. If negotiation happens a couple days before, it gives both parties more opportunity to think of questions, additions, and clarifications for each other. Some Dominants use a pre-existing form or contract. This might feel a little cold to some, but can actually be very helpful to establish exact boundaries, limitations, and triggers. Especially if the sub or Dom(me) has a form that has consistently worked for them in the past, they shouldn't be afraid to use it with new play partners. Not only that, but kinksters often find negotiation quite titilating, and can be a great build up to a scene. A big part of this process is communicating your desires, intentions, and a potential "playlist". To either write down or read the devilish details of an impending scene, is like collaborating on your own little true-to-life erotica story.
Now, all of this can presumably happen before even meeting each other in person. So, what happens when you finally get in the room? Again, this can look several ways. Most folks like to have another pre-scene check in about how they're currently feeling. Especially if most of the negotiation happened beforehand, this can be an important step. Perhaps today you don't feel like doing some of the things from your previously checked "Yes" column. This is your chance to say so. Is your shoulder bothering you today? Let them know. Are you feeling a little emotionally sensitive, so don't go so hard on the humiliation this time? Communicate that. Give the sub a chance to ask questions, or clarify things. It's up to both of you to make sure that you share as much information as possible, to make sure that the session is exactly where you need it to be. If it's the first time you are playing together, most kinksters like to have a chat, even before they start talking about the scene. This can potentially give you a chance to relax, get to know each other a bit, and feel comfortable in the space. Some people like the scene to start right away. If this is the case, then both parties need to be extra open to communicating throughout the scene, even if they've played together before, and already have established boundaries and safe words.
Which brings us to the scene. Ill informed folks might assume that all the consent work is done, and all that's left is to play it out. The columns have been checked, the sexts have been sent, and the contracts have been signed. Incorrect. Next what happens, should be a skillful conversation between the Dom(me) and the sub that lasts throughout the entirety of the scene. This includes verbal check ins, and meticulous reading of body language. Some Dom(me)s get the sub to rate their hits from one to ten, to get a sense of their pain tolerance. If a sub isn't super forthcoming about how they're feeling, sometimes a sub is "forced" (within the role play) to answer a question about their well being. A lot of kinksters use the traffic light system for safe words (red, yellow, green), which means that they are not only getting information about when to stop, but also when to slow down or take a break, and when they are experiencing pleasure (or the perfect amount of pain). Subby folks may not always feel like they can speak up mid scene. They may feel influenced by the existing power dynamic to say yes, or go further than they should. If the sub drifts into an altered space (such as subspace), they may not have the tools necessary to communicate what they need or when they want to stop. Some subs tend to push themselves a little too far, and it may have nothing to do with outside pressure, but can be just as harmful. These are things that both people can try to do work to police. However, it's the Dominant's job to make sure that if they are improvising play, they need to do it laterally. Which means that they are not ramping up the intensity beyond what has been negotiated, or introducing completely new ideas or concepts that have not been previously discussed. Even if they are asking for consent to do so, in the middle of a scene, the sub may not be in the proper headspace to give an adequate "yes". It's important to know that even if an act has been talked about, a sub may still have an adverse reaction. Or that the sub can change their mind mid scene, and be struggling on how to say so. Dom(me)s need to be on high alert. They need to have first class intuition, empathy, and ability to read non-verbal cues. They need to create an environment where their sub feels safe to safe word.
Afterwards, the sub may require a special type of care, depending on many factors. This is widely known as aftercare. However, what is not common knowledge is that aftercare looks different for every person, and can vary depending on what type of play they have engaged in, as well as how they are feeling on that particular day. Some kinksters like to have a chat about aftercare, beforehand. Many subs don't know what aftercare they will need until the time comes, especially if they are playing with new partners or engaging in a different kink. Though the most common aftercare is some form of cuddling or light touch, it's always important to ask the sub what they need after a scene. For example, some subs need alone time. When in doubt, offering water, a granola bar, and a blanket is usually not a bad plan. Dom(me)s need care as well, so make sure to address your own needs after your sub is taken care of. Luckily, providing aftercare is often times what a Dom(me) needs, too. But, after your sub leaves for the night, do what you need to do to ensure you are prioritizing your mental/emotional/physical well being.
Next, especially if the Dom(me) and sub are planning on playing again in the future, it's always a good idea to debrief. This could happen right after a snuggle session, or up to a few days later. What were your favourite parts? Where could I have gone harder? Was there anything you weren't really into? Anything we could expand on? This could also be valuable if they aren't necessarily going to play again. It could provide valuable information as to whether you were intuiting the scene correctly, or being expressive enough, or defining your boundaries properly. Both parties can learn from their experience, and make changes (if necessary) to build better scenes with future partners.