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:
- New to BDSM
- New to Boundless events
- Playing with a new partner
- 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?”
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?”
“Let’s do a rape scene.“
“I know exactly what that means.”
What Constitutes Effective and Safe Negotiations
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).
Thirteen Questions You Should Be Discussing
While this list is not meant to be an exhaustive list, the following thirteen questions can be used as a starting point to help you with your negotiations.
- What are your soft & hard Limits?
- Do you have any medical conditions to be aware of?
- What are your safer sex practices and current STI status? Do you have other relationship agreements that need to be considered?
- Are there any body areas to avoid hitting, or are off limits to touch (sexual or non-sexual)?
- How long do your scenes typically last?
- When was your last scene?
- What are your aftercare needs?
- Do you have any emotional triggers or past traumas that I should be aware of?
- Are there any specific words to use or avoid using during the scene?
- How do you feel about marks (bruises, semi-permanent, permanent)?
- What specifically are you looking to experience?
- Do you have any longer-term, or bucket list items?
- Is there anything else that we should know?
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 email@example.com
Contact the Conduct Committee
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Conduct Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.