BDSM: When Communication Stops After Consent

4 Rules For Doing BDSM With A Willing Partner Who Won’t Talk About It – by Giles English

In the ideal kinky world, everybody talks before and after doing power exchange: “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”

It’s the standard expectation in the BDSM community, where refusing to talk about kink is a red flag.

And yes, communicating about kink feels like a no-brainer. How else will you both make sure that everything is safe and consensual?

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Unfortunately, outside the real-life community, not everybody wants to discuss kink before doing it. There are lots of good reasons for this.

Some people never talk about sex anyway – they’re either inhibited, or the sexy part of their brain is not the bit that does the thinking. So you can’t expect them to be any different about kink.

Some subs have a kind of voyeuristic tourist attitude and are turned on by the idea of discovering what you’ll do when you’re in charge – they’re more interested in the dynamic than any particular action (I’m a bit like this). Or perhaps instead, they may just be morally lazy and want you to take the responsibility. It could also be true that they don’t have much imagination and only have really vague ideas about what they want to do.

Finally, dominants and subs both can have a very literal attitude about power exchange: “Why do we need to talk? It seems simple to me. One of us is in charge, the other isn’t.”

If the kink was your partner’s idea, and especially if they expect you to take the submissive role, then you have every right to insist on that conversation. It doesn’t have to be one of those “sit down and have a serious chat” chats – you can get them to walk through what they imagine while you do nice things to them.

However, perhaps the kink was your idea and you are lucky to get any at all. Or perhaps your partner wants to submit to you but just won’t talk about it.

Can you still sensibly do kink with out full communication first?

Yes, probably, as long as you set some ground rules. This is not the same as having a discussion or offering a script. You just state, “If I am going to play, these are the rules.” If your partner doesn’t agree, you don’t play:

1. You will both use the traffic light system for safe wording: Both partners can use these words for any reason, but usually when they feel physically or emotionally unsafe:

RED stops the session instantly. The sub can and probably will escape, stand up, get out of bed or whatever. “Red” means game over. Anything too weird or dangerous seeming will almost certainly result in a Red.

AMBER means “Not this, do something else”. The sub can say this without spoiling the mood and the dominant can move onto another activity. There will be no on the spot negotiations, though you can talk (LOL) about it later.

Subs – if this was your idea, don’t use “Amber” just to nudge your dominant to another activity! Otherwise they will start to feel as if they’re caught in the BDSM equivalent of a talent show. Their sense of dominance will evaporate, as will their willingness to do kink ever again. Being bored or impatient is generally not a reason to switch activities.

GREEN is “Yes please, OMG go ahead”, but some dominants who like to feel in charge may find this a mood killer.

(If your partner is really uncomfortable having any discussion, just introduce the safeword RED and leave it at that. If you are the submissive, you’ll just have to decide how much of the rough you’ll take with the smooth. That kind of submission can take you to a very dark place, though one that some of us find delicious.)

2. The dominant must threaten before doing: You need this rule because you haven’t had a proper discussion about limits! “Threaten first” gives the sub an option to use a safe word and thus lets them consent passively, by omission, or else positively withdraw their consent.

For example, if the dominant produces a massive anal dildo, they have to wave it around and gloat a bit first in order to give the submissive a moment to consider whether to go ahead. What they don’t do is sneak around behind you while you’re tied and just… pounce.

3. No gags, locking restraints or blindfolds: The sub needs to be able to escape or safeword at any time and they also need to see what’s going on. (Anyway, for practical reasons, these “toys” all need some communication before use. If your partner wants to use them, they’d better actually talk about them. Tough.)

4. Subject to the above, the dominant will do what suits them. The sub won’t feel disappointed and the dominant won’t feel guilty: This seems a bit brutal, but it’s what follows on from the lack of communication – either the sub won’t confess their desires, or the dominant doesn’t want to hear them! The submissive isn’t going to get their laundry list of kinks. The dominant isn’t going to feel as if they are doing their submissive any favours. One way or another, this is what you are letting yourselves in for if you go ahead!

Sometimes this can turn out well. It can give the less open partner a chance to explore – perhaps you will talk later? Or it can be an end in itself – I’m very much a service submissive, so this is my preferred mode.

Sometimes it can go less well. At best, it can break the ice and become a starting point for communication. At worse, you may find you are massively incompatible when it comes to kink… but at least you tried.

– Giles English

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About the author

Giles English has written two Femdom self-help guides but these days focuses on weaving sizzling Femdom erotica with an awful lot of male chastity. Drop by his blog to read more about Femdom and Female Led Relationships.

Get his Femdom erotica and self help books here

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