Navigating the Negotiations Before a Scene

negotiations-in-bdsm

For a moment, let’s pretend you’re getting hungry (some of us probably don’t have to pretend). What are you in the mood for? Do you want a meal or just a snack? If you go with a meal, do you want breakfast? Just a sandwich? Dinner? If you go with snacking, do you want dessert like snacks with tons of sugar? Or something lighter and healthier? Or do you want salty chips or crisps or crackers?

Now let’s say that you are interested in doing a kink scene with someone. Whether this is the 100th scene you’ve done with them, or the first (especially if it’s the first!) you should have some kind of negotiation moment where you both discuss what it is you’re looking to do/have done to you, and get out of the scene.

There are many times where all I want is impact play. Dragon tails, whips and canes! Oh my, yes please! Sign me up for that times two! But there are other times where I need a sensual scene. Soft gloves, light smacks (if any) and lots and lots of cuddling. My desires change with my moods (and the level of pain I’ve received recently, sometimes my butt needs a break from all the impact fun). My Dominant (or submissive) will also have different wants and needs depending on whatever else is going on in their lives. Talking about what I want and what they want is vital to a successful scene.

So what does a negotiation look like exactly? Well about two weeks ago, I thought I had that all figured out, but I made some major mistakes in a fun “let’s do an example of a negotiation for the crowd, Autumn” situation. I was at the Loft for a lesson on negotiations and (being me) I thought I pretty much knew what they were supposed to look like. But low and behold, there is a lot more to learn and I have only just begun to crack the surface.

After being asked what I wanted to do (impact play) the instructor asked me to look around and tell him if there was anything on the walls that I didn’t want used on me. I gave a brief look around and told him that no, there wasn’t anything I saw that scared me. I’m a bit of a masochist, and I assumed that the next question he would ask would be how hard or light I wanted of each object. I assumed incorrectly. He grabbed a poker stick (yes, the kind you use in a fireplace) and said “Okay so you’re fine with me using this on you?” Um. No. Never. Not in a million years, thank you very much, ain’t gonna happen. He was smiling but I panicked a little on the inside. I had barely looked at the walls. I didn’t think to look at ALL the walls in the Loft; I assumed that there were some things around that I may not want to use, but I also assumed there were some things that you just wouldn’t even try to use. I never saw the fireplace poker. It was hanging on the wall, behind the couch. I never asked what walls he was referring to. I didn’t even think to speak up and offer more specific thoughts on what exactly I found interesting or a little too hardcore for my tastes that night. All I was thinking was “Ooo yay! A scene with new things!” and that could have been seriously dangerous. (But thankfully this was a class and only an example).

But it didn’t end there. He asked what I wanted for aftercare (something I never even considered talking about!). I smiled and told him I LOVED aftercare, especially the cuddling part. He said “Oh I don’t do that. You’ll be in easy release cuffs so you can let yourself down and cuddle with a pillow, I’ll be outside having a smoke.” My jaw dropped and the room laughed because it was just such a crazy idea to us that someone even suggest that, let alone follow through. Here I was again, assuming that this guy, whom I know to be an experienced Dom, would just naturally know how to do aftercare, in whatever fashion I asked for. I didn’t even consider that he may not be into it at all. (For the record, this was all part of an act he was putting on to help those of us in the demonstration understand what we needed to think about before doing a scene and he is GREAT at aftercare, but you bet your ass I’m a hell of a lot more specific about what I want and need).

There are so many layers to scenes, to kink, to people in general, that I had not even thought of bringing up or discussing and the scene hadn’t even started yet. What would have happened if I hadn’t had this discussion and I wasn’t in a safe environment? What could have happened even if I was safe, but didn’t think about all the little details? And thinking of details can be hard enough when you’re alone, but it becomes even harder when you have to communicate those details. Add in a healthy dose of “I’m horny, let’s do this” and I was up a creek without a paddle or even the damn canoe!

Another level that I hadn’t thought of was how hard it can be to say “I’m not really into that, no thank you”. As a submissive (for this scene) I wanted to please my Dom. I didn’t want to say no. I wanted to just flat out trust him, and I did. But that’s not always a good idea (nor is it always safe). Some of you are lucky enough to know your kinky partner(s) extremely well and just intuitively understand what they need, want, desire, etc. But for a lot of us (even those of whom have been together for decades) there may be changes we want to make to the menu, and having to voice those can be incredibly difficult and uncomfortable, especially if we think we are letting our partner(s) down at all by speaking up. Here’s the catch though: it is your job, whatever role you’re in, regardless of what kind of scene you’re about to do, to speak up and voice what it is you want and ask what the other person wants. You don’t have to line everything out down to the minute, but you should at least have a basic understanding of what tools will be used, how they will be used, how hard or lightly the scene will go and what the aftercare looks like. This is your chance to speak up because once you get me (or whomever) up on the cross, or the spanking bench, or into whatever position, you are at the mercy of the tools being used, the emotions that are sure to surge and things can change quickly if it wasn’t discussed first.

For example, what if I told the Dom I didn’t want to use a specific toy (for whatever reason) and I say that during the negotiation, but then mid scene he asks if he can use it anyway? There’s a very good chance that in that mindset, I will agree to almost anything. If I’m getting close to subspace (or already there) I am not thinking clearly. I am enjoying the moment, and not thinking about whatever I had said before the scene began. When that scene is over, and I’m flying high, I will not be thinking “okay, now you have to do this, or you said you would do that” all I am thinking is “ahhhhh yes!! That was lovely!” (hopefully). What if at the end of the scene the Dom says “Okay, I’m done, going to go for a smoke now. You can get yourself down and there’s a blanket on the bed.” For some, this isn’t a big deal, in fact, they prefer very little to zero aftercare, but for me, it is vital. It is still part of the scene. And aftercare for me goes into the next week (sometimes longer depending on my emotional wellbeing at the time). I want my Dom to check in on me the next day and the day after that. I want him to make sure that I am okay emotionally, and to call me or come over if I hit subdrop and my emotions explode into tears. I want him to check in and make sure that I’m doing well. How can I expect him to know that if I don’t say it though? What if the Dom or Top in the scene needs to call for his (or her) own mental and emotional needs and I don’t like that kind of thing? If he calls to check in on me, and I’m weirded out by that (for some reason), and we hadn’t discussed it beforehand, then we’ve just hit a giant misunderstanding that we now have to hurdle over if we ever plan on playing together again. (And most Doms/Tops should be calling or texting to make sure the sub/bottom is okay the next day! It’s just proper etiquette! And if they aren’t okay that day, even after you handle it properly, you should call or text the next day too. Do what it takes to take care of your sub/bottom).

Last week I hit sub-drop pretty badly. I’ve had quite a few curveballs thrown at me in the last few weeks, and they all kind of came to a head around Tuesday of last week. I could not stop crying. Even though I had a great scene, and the Dom did everything I asked for and more, I dropped and I dropped hard. I sent him a text message letting him know I was dropping, even though I didn’t want to because I was afraid I had done something wrong. I know that sub-drop is normal. Hell, I’ve written about it before, I’ve studied it, I’ve researched it. I knew it was okay and no one’s fault, but when you drop that hard, shame tends to come out and it doesn’t matter what you know, it only matters how you feel and how you choose to react to it. I knew I needed someone else to know. I knew I wanted my Dom to know. And so I respected him as a Dom and myself as a sub by texting him to let him know what was going on. He called me within two minutes of my text. He listened to me as I cried and reminded me that I was okay, I was safe and that I was not a bad sub or person for feeling that let down that naturally follows a high. And I had needed to hear him say it. I didn’t even realize how desperately I needed his voice on the other end of that call until I heard it. I didn’t think about getting myself hot chocolate or taking a hot bath or cuddling up with my favorite blanket until after he ordered me to do so. He and I have been playing for a few weeks now, so he already had an idea of what I needed to do or have in order to bring myself back up, but if he didn’t know, a good time to ask those questions is… you guessed it, during negotiations.

Now it is simply impossible to cover all the different fetishes, kinks, ways of handling situations, or even all of the different situations themselves in one sitting, but there’s a key phrase we should all memorize and repeat consistently:

“Anything that was not discussed during the negotiation period is off the table. Anything that was discussed is not to be reversed once a scene starts.”

There are (of course) exceptions to this, but it’s a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone understands what will or won’t be used in a scene. And this is one of the main reasons I play at a private club, by the way. Dungeon monitors are there to help protect us all. They are there to ensure that the Top doesn’t use tools the bottom specifically said no to. They are there to help new Doms (and even extremely experienced ones) handle the ambush of emotions that comes from sub-drop or even Top-drop. Their job is to help us learn, stay safe and keep coming back for more! Our job is to communicate what safe and fun looks like to us as individuals.

It’s not easy, but we all deserve (and should require!) a safe and enjoyable scene, even if it means being a little uncomfortable at the beginning and admitting that we aren’t really into this, or that, or those.

There is a lot more that can be said about negotiations, but this should help you at least understand where to start for now. Hopefully I can expand on this in future posts.

Do you have anything to add? Comment and let me know your thoughts!

– Autumn Lokerson
P.S. for the record, this post had me munching on potato chips because halfway through I discovered I was hungry. And then I spent about ten minutes trying to figure out what I was hungry for. 😉

 

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