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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.