So you’ve met a hot, kinky guy and think that you’d like to play with him. How do you know for certain that he’s right for you and that you’re likely to have a good time together? You negotiate.
Negotiating a scene involves being able to have a frank discussion about your likes, dislikes, limits and safe words. It’s both an art and a skill, but it’s a talent that can be developed with practice. It’s also fun!
Some people find it difficult to talk about sex or what they enjoy sexually. Sometimes this is because of societal pressure to hide our sexuality or be ashamed of our desires. More often than not, though, it’s because someone doesn’t actually know what they like, or if they do, they don’t have the skills to express it.
I can’t tell you the number of boys who have said to me “I’m into everything. I have no limits!” or “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll just tell you if you do something that I don’t like.” First of all, no one has no limits. Assuming so is both ridiculous and a recipe for disaster. And second, nothing kills the mood and energy of a scene more than having to tiptoe about hoping that you’re not going to do something that will turn your partner off.
It’s also not helpful to use highly generalized terms that have no set definitions. If your profile says that you like pig play and rough sex, you need to be prepared to explain what those words mean to you. I know some people who define rough sex as a playful spanking and others who think it means that their partner won’t be happy unless they leave black and blue! If you aren’t able to receive marks or bruise easily, you probably want to mention that before you start playing – not after you see your red and welted ass in the mirror.
If you don’t yet know yourself well enough to tell a potential partner what you like, then I suggest you just ask to try some things. Start with one activity and a partner who is known to be skilled at it. If you want to learn about fisting, find an experienced fister to teach you and see if you like it. Then next time, perhaps ask a bondage expert to tie you up and see if you enjoy that loss of control.
The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to negotiate a scene. If you don’t like SM, being able to say, “I really enjoy bondage and discipline, but I am not into pain,” is enormously helpful to your partner. Similarly, if you’re a bottom that doesn’t like heavy assplay, being able to say “I love to get fucked, but toys and fingers usually irritate my hole,” also helps your partner plan your play. And, of course, being honest and upfront about any physical or mental health issues that you have is essential to prevent you from being unintentionally injured or harmed.
Specialized kink play often requires advance planning. For instance, if you’d like to incorporate sounds into your scene, telling your partner that straight sounds work better for you than curved ones tells him which ones he needs to sterilize before you get together. (And sounds always need to be sterilized to prevent infection!)
Talking about what you both like not only maximizes your chances of having a greater connection, but it also allows the top to craft the details of your scene. A good top will map out the course of an evening in his head so that he can insure whatever you both need is close at hand when the time comes. No one likes to have to fumble through cabinets and bins to get what they need at the last minute. And if you’re going to fuck, it’s just so much easier to have the lube and condoms nearby!
I always suggest also discussing a safe word before you engage in any sort of BDSM play. A safe word is an expression that you use to indicate to your top either that you are in some sort of distress or that you need to end the scene. Some people use colors like yellow and red, with yellow meaning that you need to slow down or take a moment to regroup and red meaning that something is wrong and the scene needs to stop immediately.
Safe words are important because when we’re involved in passionate play, the sounds that we make can often be misunderstood. If you’re into nipple play and light caresses drive you wild, the noises that you make can sometimes be indistinguishable from the ones that you’d make if your top was cranking down too hard and causing pain. Telling your top ahead of time about what gets you off gives him a roadmap for stimulation. Having a safe word insures that you can tell him if he goes too far.
It’s important to have trust in your top and understand that a safe word is usually used as a last resort to end a scene. If you need a break for a moment, say so. Don’t just yell your safe word! And when you choose yours, pick a word that is easy to remember but not likely to roll off your tongue while in the heat of play. “No!” or “Stop!” are not good safe words!
Good kinky sex starts with good communication. Acquiring the skills to properly articulate your interests and desires is one of the most rewarding activities we all can pursue. Insist on a frank conversation before you agree to play and pick a safe word (but use it wisely!). I guarantee that if you do so, you’ll have better play, deeper trust, greater intimacy and ultimately more transformative sexual experiences.
Until next time, Play Hard!
Every other week, Gear's owner John McBain publishes his Generation Fetish column in Pulp Magazine. This article originally appeared on April 14, 2011.