Hey folks! My name is KL Joy, and I’m going to write a little today about how to negotiate a scene with a potential play partner. Now, I’m not talking about relationships; I’m talking about that first sexy time you see someone in a club and want to get some of their style going on. Ultimately the word negotiation means to communicate openly and clearly what you want and don’t want out of a scene.
You may be a bottom wanting to negotiate with an impact Top whose flare and style just makes you weak at the knees!
You may be a new Top, who has met someone on FetLife.com or Alt.com and want to negotiate with a bottom for a meet and greet and warm their seat. 😉
Whatever part of the spectrum you sit on, however experienced you are, I have outlined some simple rules that will help you have a lovely experience to take home at the end of the night.
Rule 1: Trust
Using only a handle or username is not a way to build trust. Ultimately, the people negotiating the scene need to find a level of trust. That may require divulging some personal information, like your REAL name. Trust is something that is also an indefinable quality. It should not be expected from the first moment that a Top would ask you to call them by a label, that has to be ‘earned’ and a bottom should be able to talk with the Top about their concerns before a scene starts. Also, don’t be afraid to ask around about the Top to see if they have a good play reputation. You might find they will offer you a number of people as references. Follow up on those, bottoms! Do your homework.
Tops, it’s a great idea to offer these references of sorts, as they also go a long way to building trust. Obviously, know who you will offer as a reference, and clear it with them first that its okay to give their name (and any other information appropriate) to another, expect it will be followed up on, too. Recently, I was given a reference from a bottom! It seemed a bit unusual, but I think, upon reflection, it was actually quite a lovely thing. To know that there were others who had played, had their fun, and left him undamaged to want to play again! Trust is a very important thing, and it is very much inked to the next rule.
Rule 2: Communication
Talk openly… The moment will not be ruined if you ask the simple questions early on. “Is it ok to kiss you, Sir?” “May I come while you are flogging me?” “Do you want/need me to overpower you, girl?”
The only thing that will ruin your ‘moment’ is something cropping up that you haven’t cleared beforehand. And then, you’ll only have yourself to blame for not taking the time for clear communication.
Rule 3: Who
If it’s not clear, find out who will be taking part and make sure that everyone’s roles are defined. Sometimes, a Top will chose to put a spotter in place. What is their role? A bottom may ask for a watcher or spotter, too, especially if it’s an impact scene in a noisy club—hard to hear a whimper in those circumstances! I used that exact scenario in my upcoming book Desire: Stories of Longing (specifically in Chapter 9: Punishment Befitting the Crime) to safe guard the bottom. Even though the person topping the bottom had played with her before, the noise could have drowned out an important sound that may have necessitated a shift in momentum of the scene.
Rule 4: Boundaries and Limits
How long is the scene going to last? What is it going to include/exclude? Bondage positions, impact play, and needles, yes or no? Tops, what skills are you comfortable with? Bottoms, what is a no-go-zone? What hard limits aren’t to be passed and which soft limits are open to being pressed during that specific scene?
Even questions as simple as “Do you have to be able to drive afterwards?” should be addressed so a boundary is in place. How does sub drop affect you, and what does that mean for the scene?
In this lifestyle, there are no guarantees, but, with your understanding of boundaries and limits set up from the outset, it will make things a lot smoother. Remember this philosophy: R.A.C.K = Risk. Aware. Consensual. Kink.
Rule 5: Health
Now, I’m not saying you should carry around a full medical history with every person you ever scene with, but the basics relating you the type of scene that you are negotiating would be most important. For example, if you are negotiating doing breath play, you need to let the Top know if you are asthmatic, but they may not need to know if you have a busted disk at your lower back for that same scene! That would definitely be worth mentioning in other situations, though. Be aware of your own health and those around you so you are aware of the risks you take and don’t take them lightly.
Some things that may come into effect:
- High/Low blood pressure
- Heart disease
Other things that might impact on a play scene are whether you have any implants or take aspirin/blood thinners; do you have a pacemaker or wear contact lenses/hearing aids? Do any of your medications cause sensitivity to any sensations… or lack of sensitivity?
In the case of medical play, a deeper understanding of skin conditions is necessary. Does the bottom have any allergy to tape? In the case of the Top, you also may need to consider if the Top has any health conditions that may impact the play.
In this area, I urge all participants to have a basic, ready, knowledge of first aid. Tops especially.
Rule 6: Sex
As a rule, I don’t always think sex is a given in a scene.
If sex is something that you require, then it has to be negotiated, too.
What is okay? What isn’t? What are your boundaries? SAFETY!
Is there any more I need to say on this? It ties in to open communication… That is all!
Rule 7: Left-overs
No, not the Chinese take-out kind left in the back of the fridge for a week!
The marking kind. As a Top, do you like to make your mark with a paddle and watch the bruising come up? As a bottom, do you like to watch the bruising heal because it makes you stay connected to the play that little bit longer? This part needs to be negotiated really well. What does ‘permanent’ marking mean to you? In some cases, semi-permanent markings (i.e. bruises that take a long healing time) are okay, but a cut that would scar for up to 3 months isn’t!
It’s important that you and any of your play partners are both on the same page with this one.
Scars that can’t be seen also need to be taken into account, too! In heavy humiliation scenes, the Top and bottom need to understand the triggers that might cause more deep-seated scars. The psychological variety is just as important to consider as the physical.
Rule 8: Consent and Safewords
After all is spoken about, I guess the only thing left to do is say “Yes, I consent!” And that is when the fun begins.
But, what if something comes up in play that was not anticipated? How do you deal with it in-scene? This is when a safeword or series of safewords can be helpful. I often use the traffic light system in a new play situation. It’s simple, and most people don’t forget… Green is “all good, keep going”. Yellow is “Hang on a sec, something doesn’t feel right”. Red is “Stop!”
Choosing a single word for play to stop can also be good but it should never be words like ‘ouch’ ‘stop’ ‘no’ ‘don’t’ as these may be misconstrued. The word has to be something wildly out of context, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce clearly.
The Top’s responsibility on a Yellow is to check in with the bottom and see if it is just that action, or something else. Red means Stop… there is no mistaking what that means in my book, and anyone who doesn’t respect that should not be played with. Boundaries that are set with safewords should be taken very seriously.
Rule 9: After Care
This is a tricky one for the new players, as you don’t know how you’re going to react! Some people are all right and don’t need the constant contact after a scene; they walk away and get on with things or have learned to deal with whatever comes up themselves.
Others require texts or calls only to check in for up to 3-5 days afterwards. Yes, that is about the time for the nervous system to reset itself depending on the style of play, how heavy it was, and if there are any ‘left overs’.
I hope these basic rules help you readers! I wish you all safe negotiating and play in your own kinky way!
Much Love and R.A.C.K,
KL Joy was born in Victoria, Australia. Immersing herself in the BDSM subculture, she often remained on the fringe to allow her method of investigation to remain unaffected. Through her interactions, KL found she had a ‘catalyst’ of her own hence the title of her first book. Her desire was freed to explore fully the BDSM sub culture. Lady Vivianne is her main character and can be read in her Stories Of… series.