What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?

What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?

What are BDSM limits? And, in a BDSM relationship, is pushing limits OK? Or should both partners just find out what makes them tick and keep right on doing those things without moving the goalposts?

Pushing limits is definitely a tricky subject. How can someone push the limits of the other partner without contravening the golden rule of BDSM – consent? Limits are limits, after all. Or are they?

What Are Limits?

What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?So, what are BDSM limits? Newbies in the BDSM often have a little list of things they definitely won’t ever do. Their hard limits list. With a little experience in the scene, though, people discover more about themselves – and just how many potential activities and scenes there are. I speak to a lot of submissives with both a list of hard limits – these are resolute limits and not open for discussion or negotiation – and a list of soft limits – things which they might consider at some point but which they aren’t comfortable with right now.

What if someone says they have no limits? I don’t believe or session with anyone who says they have no limits whatsoever. This is a huge red flag; do they know so little about themselves or the scene that they really believe they have no limits? Are they being deliberately reckless? Or is it instead the proud and incredibly naive boast? Whatever the reason, saying you “have no limits” is either a lie or the claim of someone seriously mentally disturbed. Not someone I’d scene with or accept as one of my submissives.

Re-Evaluating Limits

In order to continue to discover new thrills in a D/s relationship both sides need to be willing to prod at the list of soft limits from time to time. This keeps things exciting and interesting for both people, the Dom and the sub. Plus, an occasional challenging of the sub’s soft limits will cause them to re-evaluate where they’re at now – if they’re still not comfortable with the idea of the things on that soft limits list or if they can be talked about and maybe even incorporated in some D/s (Dominance and submission activity or role-play).

Pushing Limits In A BDSM Relationship

As always, open, clear and honest communication is key. To avoid hurt, disappointment, anger, shame, or any other negative consequence when pushing limits, both people must be willing to communicate their feelings clearly. Respect from both sides of the D/s balance is necessary, including being careful and thoughtful when it comes to discussion and then any action.
What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?From my own experience I know it’s easy to feel very excited about venturing into what was almost ‘forbidden territory’ from a Dom’s point of view. Vivid imaginings of how to enjoy their submission in a different way can lead to instantly jumping to make all kinds of plans.

However, it’s very important to keep a firm rein on that excitement and to hold your horses on those plans. It’s not said often enough: recognise when you need to be led by your submissive. They are the ones with the relevant BDSM limits (although yes, Dominants also have their limits), who would be put in an awkward/humiliating situation or discomfort/pain by your actions. Proceed carefully. Their active consent is needed at all times, but never more so than when embarking on scenes and actions which are new and therefore even more terrifying than usual.

Communication Is Key

If I’m not sure how a submissive feels about something, whether it’s a scene, action or anything relating to kink/fetish, I ask. Simple as that. There’s no loss of control over the situation or the submissive; if anything this checking up and ensuring active consent gives me the freedom of movement I desire in a D/s relationship.

What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?When I was a new Domme, I thought I should move quickly, continually striking a sub (metaphorically, in this case) with ideas and actions which would dazzle and amaze. I felt pressure to be that magical, mind-reading (and mythical) Dominant who knew exactly what the sub craved. What they lustily feared. Then I’d be able to give it to them, tailor-made, with minimal actual chat. I was wrong. Talking, strategy-planning and checking-in with the submissive is vital. When someone is handing over their mind and body to your control it’s important to realise the value of that gesture. A person’s psychological state can be fragile enough when they don’t have an active bond with a Dominant; when I’m allowed entry and given control it’s critical that it should be for fulfillment, not to cause damage.

Remember The Limits

In no way do I want to come across like BDSM limits are mere frivolities which aren’t due respect. A person’s limits are a person’s limits, regardless of whether that person is Dom/Top or sub/bottom. Hard limits are hard limits and that’s that, as far as I’m concerned. Labelling something a soft limit from the outset means that the person has at least considered its repercussions. They’ve given it thought and that thing, whatever it is, is still not entirely written off. There’s an unspoken invitation in that labelling to explore the soft limit in more detail at the right time – with clear and open communication, respect and trust that forms part of a healthy BDSM relationship in place, of course.

Are There Any Silly Limits?

What Are BDSM Limits? Is Pushing Limits OK?It doesn’t matter to me what the exact nature of the limits are. It’s tempting to think any particular limit is something completely ridiculous which shouldn’t be a limit at all… say, for example, “you must never ask/force me to wear socks,” or “my hard limit is cuddling kittens”.

BDSM limits aren’t there for me to mock or judge; they are a very personal thing. The reasons for them are personal. Limits could be limits due to a variety of causes. Bad past experiences in the scene, bad memories of things from childhood, relationship related traumas. All I need to know is whether a limit is a hard limit (never touched) or a soft limit (something which feels uncomfortable yet possible, one day, in the right situation/with the right person, perhaps).

Tread Carefully

I believe there’s room for pushing limits in any BDSM relationship, but I also think it needs to be done with care, compassion and (of course) consent. Once the submissive feels comfortable enough with their Dom / Domme, has easy and open communication and the amount of trust that comes with time, I think pushing BDSM limits is a natural progression of a power exchange set-up.


Click to read more BDSM advice articles, as well as my beginner’s guide to BDSM and my beginner’s guide to bondage.

Lovehoney USA Lovehoney UK

Cara Sutra Signature

Contains affiliate links

1 COMMENT

  1. I think that’s the point of relationships to challenge each other. To push limits. It needs always be done with careful communication, but trying new things is part of growing together.

Please share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.