Tips for Successful Negotiation

We want everyone at Boundless to have fun! We want everyone at Boundless to feel safe! To that end, we are providing these negotiation guides. We ask that everyone pay attention to them, particularly those of you who fall into any of the following groups:

  1. New to BDSM
  2. New to Boundless events
  3. Playing with a new partner
  4. Playing with a partner who is new to BDSM

In BDSM we are often exploring the edges of pain, autonomy, and consent. This involves risk for all parties involved. While we can’t prevent upsetting or unsatisfying experiences, we can work to prevent experiences that are unwelcome. The way we do this is through thoughtful negotiation.

At Boundless we expect that before playing at our event you have discussed the following points with your play partner (either in one long conversation with a new play partner, or over the course of your relationship with your established play partner):

  • Your level of intoxication and your ability to play safely
  • Your agreement to adhere to the Boundless safeword, and your understanding of when it should be employed
  • What you both hope for and expect from your planned sexy time
  • Your level of experience with the activities you’re planning
  • Good and bad past experiences you’ve each had with what’s on the table
  • Body parts and toys that might be in play
  • Penetration expectations, by body parts and/or toys
  • When the scene begins and ends
  • Aspects of play that fall into these categories: Red (absolutely not on the table), Yellow (proceed with thoughtful caution), and Green (anchors aweigh – I have both the desire to go hog wild and the experience to back me up)

Here are some examples of conversations that are NOT effective negotiation:

What's Not Effective

“Let’s have sex.”

“You mean fucking?”

“Yup!”

“I’m down.”

This is Not Effective Either

“I’m a bottom, so this discussion is not my job, right?”

“I endorse that statement!”

This, Too, is Not Effective Negotiation

“Let’s do some flogging.”

“How hard can I hit you?”

“Very hard – I’m bulletproof.”

“Let’s go for it.”

Certainly Not this Conversation

“I’ve had six beers.”

“So you’re nice and relaxed?”

Nor This...

“Let’s do a rape scene.“

“I know exactly what that means.”

An effective and safe negotiation process should be a long conversation. Maybe you have a partner with whom you’ve been having that conversation for years, and thus you can negotiate in a few words. But that doesn’t apply to most of us!

No matter how experienced you are at kink, there is no harm in revisiting the bullet points above. If you’re new to the scene or new to the person you’re playing with, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve discussed every point in our guidelines. It is often considered to be a top’s job to address these issues, but we consider it important for a bottom to attend to these conversations before play as well (particularly if you’re playing with a partner new to you or new to kink).

But what about spontaneity?

Doing something unexpected can be incredibly hot for all parties. Negotiation does not have to kill spontaneity in a scene. Adhering to a script is one end of the spectrum; being creative within established boundaries has endless possibilities. If you feel uncertain in this realm, we strongly encourage you to attend our activities and classes to help inspire you.

Safe and happy scening!

Please remember that questions or concerns can be brought to the Conduct Committee by speaking to any Boundless staff person; by picking up one of the radios in the dungeon, greeter station, or medical station; or by sending an email to consent@boundlessevents.org


Contact the Conduct Commmittee
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Conduct Committee at consent@boundlessevents.org at any time.

Further Reading