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10 Golden Rules for BDSM Negotiations

#1 User is offline   MasterDale Icon

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 07:02 PM

I prepared this list as part of a public Demo/Discussion I did for MHPex a while back. It was well received so I used it again in another Demo at the Nela Winter Fetish Flea last year. Someone asked me about it so I am posting it here for you all. I guess I should have done this a long time ago *chuckles*. Well, here it is....

Oh, almost forgot. These "Golden Rules" are geared towards negotiating casual play with someone you do not know well. A lot of this is just common sense and applies to new relationship negotiations, too. The less experience you have, the more you need to spend time in negotiation to define your terms to each other, to compare experiences if you have any, and to practice using negotiations which will be the mechanism through which you establish limits and goals, and ultimately redefine them as your relationship progresses.

People in well established relationships, or advanced players engaging in casual play might not need to rely on this kind of formal negotiation skillset. It is often a lot more casual negotiation for them and that is all that is really needed with their experience level. But for beginners they are very important. And, regardless of their skill level, negotiations are important for people who are new to each other. Good up-front communication will help insure a safe, good time for everyone.

M. Dale



NEGOTIATIONS
Compromises, Safety, and Getting What You
Need in the BDSM Lifestyle

Prepared by Master Dale, 5/12/07. No reproduction without express permission from Master Dale masterdale@masterdale.com

10 Golden Rules for Negotiations

1. You are an adult and are responsible for your own safety. Do not give up your rights or your sensibilities as an adult and put yourself in danger. Mental and physical abuse are not part of what we do. Never.

2. If you are new or about to begin with someone new, set very short goals for your first encounters. You can escalate the level of your relationship later. Start small. Build from there. If meeting outside of a public venue, follow every established rule for safe first encounters.

3. Define your safe words. Use them if you need to. Know where the door is and know that you can use it, too. Never put yourself into a situation where you have no experience with someone and can not access the door if you choose to leave.

4. Familiarize yourself with the lingo of BDSM, kink, and fetish and discuss your interpretation of words and phrases. The same thing can mean different things to different people.

5. Define your limits for your partner as well as your experience allows you to do it. Then stick by your limits until the next negotiation about them.

6. You are equal to the other person in this negotiation, whether you consider yourself Top, bottom, Master, slave, Dominant, submissive, switch or whatever other label you can find. After the negotiations, the equality arrangement may be different. But until an agreement is reached, you have just as many rights as the other person.

7. Go with your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is wrong for you. Address that issue up front. And remember rule number 3. Always know where the door is if you need it.

8. You may be negotiating in good faith, but you have to be aware that the other person might not be doing the same thing either through inexperience or bad intentions. Be wary of coercion like, “if you are a real submissive, you will….”, or “I can only be with a real Dominant who does….”. These are negotiations and there should be give and take. If someone is throwing roadblocks to your negotiations or issuing you ultimatums, you should recognize them as problems and consider why you are still there.

9. If the other person presents a make or break issue that does not suit you but they will not budge on, consider the deal is already broken and move on. If they concede it grudgingly, and mutter under their breath that you “will do it eventually...", beware. When you are involved in a BDSM negotiation, hard limits are to be respected. A later negotiation may change the hard limits, but without a new negotiation, established limits have to be respected.

10. BDSM Negotiation is about finding your personal happiness and fulfillment. It is about establishing trust and opening up within your relationship. Keep those goals in mind as you negotiate with your partner. Keep your eye on the prize. Good partners will always work towards each other’s mutual happiness. They will not be looking to take things at someone else's expense.


*************

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#2 User is offline   lil.red.ridinghood Icon

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 09:21 PM

Dale,
Those are fantastic rules for insuring a safe experience for all involved, and I posit that many of them apply no matter how long you've been playing. The negotiation workshop I helped put together addressed an aspect to negotiation that frequently gets overlooked in instructional settings. Good, successful negotiations that lead to delightful, satisfying scenes all around are also FUN! Therefore I present for consideration:

The Other Rules for negotiation :)
  • Negotiation is about more than consent: Partners are also gathering valuable information about one another and creating engagement for the rest of the scene
  • Remember that this is the beginning of the scene: Negotiation is the point at which the players decide how excited they are about the rest of the scene. Engagement starts in your head so create situations that are hot/intriguing for you even while just having the conversations.
  • The heat is in the subtext: To be safe, cover the important stuff (as defined by you) explicitly, but be willing to gather and share some information subtextually also. For example: A dominant person may invite a future play partner to sit at his or her feet while conducting the rest of the negotiation. Bam! Power dynamic established and agreed upon (or not depending on the partner's response of course). Standard safety precaution: if you don't think you'll be able to think straight or hold your boundaries while negotiating from that position, then don't (see Dale's rules above)
  • Go in with nothing to lose: Going back to Dale's rules, if the goals/interests don't match, negotiation is a perfectly acceptable place to end a scene. If you approach negotiation as a venture you are willing to walk away from, you are more likely to walk away with no hard feelings on either side. (pst: the trained professionals will tell you it's also a stronger place to start negotiating from)

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#3 User is offline   MasterDale Icon

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:30 PM

Wonderful additions, Red, thanks!

M. Dale
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#4 User is offline   Ginger Icon

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 12:11 PM

Personally I think it's also important that people realize on-line negotiation is only a beginning. You can chat with someone for weeks and think you have both gotten it all striaight. But you haven't seen the look of fear or the look of "yeah right" in the persons face. Even if you have spent much time negotiating on line -- before you jump into the scene you should seriously "re-negotiate" face to face.

Ginger

"At times it is strangely seductive to know the extent of your own powerlessness." Erica Jong
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#5 User is offline   MasterDale Icon

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:06 PM

You are so right, Ginger. Negotiation by proxy...internet, mail, or even over the phone is inadequate for our Lifestyle negotions, IMHO. This "internet age" has spawned a huge sense of false security and confidence in people that is simply off base. We forget to separate what we really are from our fantasy selves. Face to face, staring the reality of what we are commiting to in the eye is the only way to go. That's how I feel about it, anyway.

M. Dale
Be careful of what you wish for....Posted Image ....you just might get it.
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#6 User is offline   MistressLydia Icon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:07 AM

Thank you for posting this, M. Dale!!! And, thanks to all who responded!

Very helpful.

If anyone else has more insight on this topic, please feel encouraged to add. This is an area I'm looking to better understand and am interested in hearing all perspectives.

:)
MLydia
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#7 User is offline   Michael's jewel Icon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:13 AM

Hey everyone! GREAT stuff! Thank you everyone for adding your wisdom.

Dale, Sir, I was going to give you a call to ask your permission to post this to our list. Coming back to reread it and seeing all of the great additions, I am going to post the link to share the entire conversation.

May I please your permission to redistribute just your initial post as a starting place too though?

Please?

Pretty please?
"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."

-Judy Garland

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#8 User is offline   MasterDale Icon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:39 AM

Michael, on Oct 22 2008, 10:13 AM, said:

Pretty please?


How could I say no to that? *lol* Of course, love. It is out on a couple of sites and list already.

M. Dale
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#9 User is offline   goodgirl Icon

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:36 PM

i love love love #9 - i have heard that response several times - the "you will grow into it or you will learn to love it" comment right from the get go.... thank you for putting it so very bluntly. next time i see that red flag, i will immediately turn and walk away. much obliged before it becomes too late
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#10 User is offline   MasterDale Icon

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 12:12 AM

I am so glad you found something useful...glad to help

M. Dale
Be careful of what you wish for....Posted Image ....you just might get it.
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