Tools to Help with Your Sexy Negotiation

 

If there’s one thing you should have learned about me if you’ve followed me on social media or read my blog for any amount of time, it’s that I am a geek about all things sex, kink and relationships. Like, seriously, I am always looking for new tools and hacks to make this stuff better and easier.

A yes/no checklist with a person's hand ticking the "yes" box. For a post on negotiation tools.

I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing articles inspired by Kayla Lords’ brilliant 30 Days of D/s project. Today’s prompt was all about negotiation! Kayla and John have this to say on the subject:

People read the word “negotiation” and imagine some sort of back and forth thing around a table in a formal way. It can be that, sure, but mostly it’s just the conversation you have to figure out what kind of D/s relationship you want for yourself. Submissives have the right to, and should, ask why a rule/task/ritual is being put in place and both sides should have the freedom to disagree, suggest other things, and make sure their needs are being met.

Negotiations aren’t a one time thing either. You’ll come back to this over and over again in your relationship. Will you have a contract? Do you need a checklist? What exactly does a negotiation sound like? 

So, in the spirit of this and my unending geekery, I thought I’d share with you my favourite tools for aiding with your kinky and sexy negotiations. You can adapt these for a new relationship, a changing relationship, or even exploring something new with the person you’ve been married to for twenty years. Tips and tools are there to serve you. Pick and choose the bits that work for you.

Tool #1: A really good Yes/No/Maybe checklist

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of these available for free on the internet. It’s essentially a huge list of different sexy and kinky activities. Uou go through and mark each activity as “YES I like that/want to do that,” “NO I don’t like that/want to do that,” or “MAYBE I would be open to trying that under specific circumstances”. You can either go through it together, or do them separately and then swap to compare. Either way it’s a brilliant tool to get discussion flowing, figure out what kinks you have in common, and maybe discover some brilliant new activities you didn’t know existed.

(Ask me how I learned what “figging” and “rimming” are.)

This one is ridiculously thorough and even includes a 0-5 scale for rating how into something you are.

Tool #2: Google Docs…

…Or any other browser-based shared editing system! This is a great way to share a checklist and compare answers easily. Maybe have a list with a column for each of your answers, side by side? You can even edit it as you explore and your limits evolve and change.

Tool #3: Pervocracy’s ‘Concise Kink Worksheet’

The Yes/No/Maybe list is wonderful, but it’s also LONG. When you’ve established you have some compatible kinks and are wanting to get down to playtime, this sheet suggests talking points and cuts straight to the core of the things you need to know in order to have a safe, sexy and satisfying play session.

Tool #4: Instant Messenger

Facebook, WhatsApp, Signal or even boring old text messaging. Is having those early negotiations face to face too hard? Do you find yourself getting tongue-tied trying to talk about the things you want to do? Don’t underestimate the power of getting the conversation moving in written form… even if you live together! You’ll have to move face to face eventually if you want to actually do the kinky fun. But there’s no shame at all in doing some of the preliminaries in writing. (It can actually be really useful to be able to refer back to what you both said later, too.)

Tool #5: The 30 Days of D/s project!

Kayla’s 30 days of prompts are brilliant for beginners to kink and D/s, to be sure. But they’re also useful for the more experienced among us to delve more deeply into our thoughts and feelings on all things kinky. I’ve been doing this stuff for *cough* years and I’m getting tonnes out of this project. You can use it as blog prompts, journal ideas, conversation points to bounce around with your partner, or even just things to quietly think about and maybe come back to later. It’s FREE too (unless you want all 30 days in one easy workbook, in which case it’s a stunningly good value $4.99.)

Bonus Tool #6 AND kinky item of the day: The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book (not affiliate links) are still among the best and most informative guides out there for people new to kink and looking to get started… or even as a refresher for those with a bit more experience!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to support me, please consider becoming a sexy Patron, buying me a virtual coffee, or shopping with my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

Self Care for ‘Con-Goers

Mr CK and I are off to a kinky Convention for the weekend tomorrow, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this piece I wrote last year on taking care of yourself at a Con(vention/ference,) update it with some new things I’ve learned and share it with y’all.

A white cat with black patches on its face sleeping upside down in a patch of sunlight looking blissed out. For a post on con self-care
Kitty says: take a fucking nap!

‘Cons can be an intense time, as anyone who has been to one will know. All the fun things to see, do and learn, plus the late nights and the heady feeling of being among Your People can be quite a potent cocktail. (And that’s before you mix in a few actual cocktails, which many of us do partake of when at events.)

Things can also go from “Awesome” to “Burnout” really fast, and I’ve been doing this long enough now to learn a few tricks to come out the other side still physically and emotionally intact. Follow these seven easy steps for your best ‘Con ever.

1. Biology Comes First

Sleep. If you know you need six hours of sleep to not be a walking zombie, don’t try to get by on three. Take a freaking nap if you need to.

Eat. A lot of events provide food, so you really have no excuse – but even if food isn’t laid on there’s bound to be a lunch hour. Don’t forget to make time to have dinner between the day’s activities and the evening entertainments. Carry snack bars, nuts, fruit or chocolate in your bag for a quick pick-me-up. And for the love of all that is kinky, eat breakfast.

Hydrate. Beer doesn’t count. This is especially important in the hot weather we’ve been having lately!

Carry any medication you need or think you’re likely to need (more on this in point 5.) Find out who the First Aiders are and who to go to if you need urgent medical help. In an emergency, any passerby can run for help for you.

In short, take care of your body and your physical wellbeing first. The rest will follow.

2. You Don’t Have To Do Everything

You know how it’s better to leave a really awesome scene going, “wow, I would have loved to go further!” rather than, “holy shit, I went too far?”

‘Cons are the same.

You do not have to go to Every Single Session. Promise! You do not have to scene with every hot person you meet. If you’re there with a partner, you do not have to do every single scene idea you’ve ever come up with or try every single piece of kit the venue has to offer. You do not have to be the first to arrive and last to leave each day.

There’s always other events. There’s always next year.

By all means, immerse yourself and experience your event to the max… but know your limits and don’t try to push yourself beyond them in service of “Must Do Everything.”

3. Have Someone Looking Out For You… And Look Out For Them In Turn

If you’ve come with a partner, partners, friend or group of friends, you’re in luck here as you’ve got a ready made support person/network. Look out for each other. You don’t have to be glued to one another’s sides, but check in and say, ‘hey, how are you doing? How are you finding it all?’

If someone’s struggling, ask what they need. It may be a hug, a snack, a chat about what’s bothering them, a nap, or even just some quiet time. If you’re struggling, ask for what you need.

If you’re there alone, never fear! You’ll soon make friends and if you click with someone, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like to agree to look out for each other and maybe check in later to see how you’re both doing.

If nothing else, make yourself known to an organiser or crew member as a nervous newbie and/or solo attendee. Any good event staff member will help you find your feet and look out for you as best they can.

4. Think About Your Boundaries Before You Come

You know how you shouldn’t renegotiate established boundaries mid-scene? The same is true mid-‘Con.

If you’re coming with a partner, discuss beforehand the kinds of play you might like to do together and anything you definitely DON’T want. Is play with other people on the cards or not? Under what parameters? Are you going to do everything together, or go to separate workshops and compare notes later? You don’t need to structure your weekend super rigidly, but even a basic game plan can help you feel prepared.

If you’re coming alone, think about what you might want to do and not do. What workshops interest you and which are a “FUCK NO?” Which are a “maybe, if I’m in the right headspace?” Do you want to play? With specific people? Are you open to casual play? Casual sex? Nudity? Hugs, physical touch?

And, crucially, stick to these boundaries. Don’t suddenly change your mind in the heat of a moment that you could very easily regret. Again, you can always push yourself further next time.

Honour your own limits the way I hope you’d honour anyone else’s.

5. Carry The Things You Need (Or Might Need)

Bottled water or sports drink? Healthy or sugary snacks? Medication? Simple painkillers in case of a headache? Notebook and pen for journalling? Cuddly toy or other comfort item? Favourite blanket?

Whatever it is, if you know you will need it or feel safer or more comfortable having it on hand… have it on hand! Or at least know where it is and how to instruct someone on where to find it.

6. Have An Aftercare Plan

‘Con drop is real, y’all. When you get back from a fantastic, physically and emotionally intense time, you’re likely to feel tired, drained and possibly even a bit fragile.

Just like you’d make aftercare provisions for a big scene, do the same thing for the ‘Con.

I always take the Monday following a weekend event off work – I know there’s no way I can be fully functional again so quickly and my job requires me to be on top of my game. I typically sleep late, take it easy and possibly do some nice or fun things for myself and my partner.

If you can, don’t be alone straight after the event. Try to be with a friend or partner who understands and with whom you can decompress and talk about your experiences. If you must be alone, reach out on FetLife or Twitter as it’s very likely others will be experiencing the same things.

Eat nice food, cuddle your partner/friend/pet/stuffed toy, have fun things on hand that you enjoy doing. Relax.

7. And finally… HAVE FUN.

Try not to worry – everyone’s at a ‘Con to have a great time and the organisers and crew should be on hand to help with any problems you may have.

Breathe, pace yourself, and ENJOY.

Go forth and be kinky, y’all.

Ask Amy #3: “Red Flags?”

Today’s question comes from a reader who reached out to me via Twitter. Her question is short and simple, and yet oh-so-complex to answer.

She asks:

“What are the red flags to look out for when starting a new relationship with a Dom or a sub?”

Four red flags blowing in the wind

I have many, many feelings about this question and all the possible ways to answer it. As I often do when I’m mulling over a topic, I took it to Mr CK for a male-and-mostly-Dom perspective (and also because he’s at least as smart as I am!)

His response, I think, was utterly brilliant: “don’t get into a relationship with a Dom or a sub. Get into a relationship with a person.”

What I love about this answer is that it cuts through all the possible answers I was thinking of giving, and straight to the heart of the issue: get to know somebody as a real, three-dimensional human being before you seriously consider them as your Dominant or submissive. Spend time – LOTS of time – talking, communicating and seeing how they interact with you and the world. A good D/s relationship is a place of profound trust and vulnerability on both sides, and these things cannot be rushed. A real-life D/s relationship is nothing like an endless kinky fantasy – first and foremost, it is a relationship.

My partner is so fucking smart, y’all.

As an aside, I really recommend you check out Loving BDSM Podcast, as they’ve got some great things to say about building trust and getting to know someone at the beginning of a relationship, as well as every other kinky topic you can image. I particularly recommend episodes 31 and 83 for this topic.

In terms of more specific and concrete red flags to look for, I have some thoughts there too! I’ve tried to keep these applicable to people on either side of the D/s slash, and relevant whether you’re meeting online or in meatspace. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I would view any of the following with some serious side-eye and a healthy portion of skepticism:

Demanding too much, too soon.

You wouldn’t give someone the keys to your house or ask them to marry you on a first date, would you? Therefore, you shouldn’t be giving or accepting a collar, issuing or receiving orders, or committing to any kind of serious ongoing protocol or dynamic before you fully know someone.

If a Dominant expects you to kneel and call them Master the first time you meet, RUN. If a submissive expects you to invite them to move in and run every aspect of their life when you’ve barely got past coffee… you know what I’m going to say.

Referring to themselves as a ‘Real’ or ‘True’ ANYTHING.

There is no such thing as a True Master, a Real Submissive, or a (*inserts tongue firmly into cheek*) Twue Dominate. Those of us who have been around the (spanking) block a few times call this One True Wayism. It’s frowned upon for good reason. People who think their way is the only way tend to be snobbish, elitist and derisive of others at best. At worst, they can be seriously dangerous – thinking you know everything, refusing to learn and refusing to be questioned is a recipe for disaster.

If you identify as a Dom, you’re a Dom. If you identify as a sub, congratulations – you’re a sub! There is no One True Way.

Using language like ‘if you were really [X] you’d do [Y.]’

‘If you were really a sub, you’d give me all your passwords and your bank account login!’ ‘If you were really a Dom, you’d take care of everything for me so I didn’t have to take any responsibility for my choices!’

Extreme examples, perhaps, but both examples I’ve encountered. If someone questions your identity or tries to use it against you in order to get you to comply with something you don’t want to do, run a fucking mile.

See above: no such thing as a ‘Real’ or ‘True’ anything. You don’t owe anyone proof of your subby or Domly Credentials.

Claiming to have no/very few limits.

EVERYONE has limits, folks. Absolutely everyone. Someone who claims not to have any (or to have “very few”) is woefully unprepared for what BDSM can actually entail. Even if you think you’re the most hardcore true subby who ever subbed, I promise there are things you would never consent to – and this is a good thing! Dominants have limits, too.

Repeat after me: EVERYONE. HAS. LIMITS. The sooner you learn what yours are and how to communicate them, the better your kinky fun is likely to be for all concerned.

Lying. This includes lies of omission.

The absolute foundational basis for any healthy relationship, kinky or vanilla, monogamous or polyamorous, is trust. Without trust, there is no relationship. Therefore, lying is arguably the biggest and reddest Big Red Flag out there. This includes big barefaced lies, of course, but it also includes lies of omission. “Forgetting” to tell you he’s got seven other submissives at home is a huge fucking deal and not something you should overlook.

The person who lies to you in the beginning will lie to you all the way along. Whatever your role, you’re a human being first and you deserve to be told the truth.

Breaking boundaries, including small ones.

Abusive people don’t start by trampling all over your boundaries in huge, glaring ways. If they did this on the first date, after all, they’ll never get as far as a second date. No – predators and abusers often ‘test the waters’ with a new victim to see how much they can get away with.

If they persist in using language towards you that you don’t like, touching you in a way you’re not comfortable with, or even subtly negging at you in small ways, YOU ARE NOT BEING TOO SENSITIVE. They are testing you. They will push bigger and bigger boundaries if you continue a relationship with them. And more often than not, you will find yourself in a full-on abusive situation.

What do you think, dear readers? Did I miss out any glaring red flags that our lovely friend should know about?

Do you want your question answering in a future Ask Amy column? Get in touch!

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

How to Get Started in BDSM

It’s New Years Eve, the time of new beginnings and new adventures. This is the very first post on this blog. So how better to get started than with some handy hints and tricks on… getting started? That is, of course, dipping your toe into this thing we call kink, BDSM or ‘The Lifestyle.’

First: Get a Fetlife Account

If you have not yet stumbled across it, Fetlife is absolutely the place to be for all things kinky. It’s not a dating site, though people do use it that way for better or worse – it’s a social networking site for kinksters. The ‘Facebook of kink,’ if you like.

It’s free to join Fetlife and you can give as much or as little information as you like. I’ll do a separate article on getting the most out of the site soon, but for now:

  1. Do not, for the love of all that is holy, use your real name or give out any details more personal than which city you live in. (You can even lie about that if you’re really cautious, though I don’t recommend it because finding local people and events is a big part of the purpose of Fetlife.)
  2. Put up a profile picture. It doesn’t have to be a face pic, but something that speaks to you or represents you is good (don’t steal other people’s work, though – that’s not cool.) Your genitals are NOT a good profile picture, however proud of them you are.
  3. Join some groups related to your interests. Read lots. Listen. Learn. Don’t believe everything you read – the only One True Rule of Kink is that there are no True Rules of Kink beyond “informed consenting adults.”
  4. Reach out by message to some people local to you, particularly if they run events or seem very active and respected in the community. Remember: the goal is to make friends and find community at this stage, not hook up.

Okay, you’ve got a Fetlife account. Good. Next step: READ READ READ.

Read posts on Fetlife. Read as many articles, essays and blogs as you can find (on kink in general or on your particular areas of interest.) Read books – check out The Bookshelf and my favourite resources list for some recommendations.

This isn’t a “one shot and done” homework assignment. I hope you will keep reading, listening and learning for as long as you’re doing this thing we call Kinky Fuckery.

If you’ve already got a partner/partners

If you’re single, you can skip this section as this is written for folks already in a relationship (or several – we’re poly friendly here!)

Firstly, if you haven’t already, you NEED to talk to your partner about your interests.

I know how tempting it is, if these desires have been burning inside of you for months or years, to go out and explore them on the sly. We have a word for this, however, and that word is cheating. Most folks in the BDSM community take a dim view of lying and cheating, because they go against the central ethos of informed consent.

It doesn’t need to be a big sit-down drama-filled conversation. How about just, “hey, honey? I was thinking it would be really hot if you could be a little Dominant in bed sometimes/if you let me spank you/if we explored tying each other up/-insert your interest here.- How do you feel about that?”

Hopefully, if your partner is communicative and sex-positive, they’ll be happy to have a conversation about it. That doesn’t mean the answer will be “yes,” necessarily, but you’ve opened up a dialogue and that’s a huge step.

If they seem curious excited to know more, talk to them about some of your fantasies and encourage them to have input with things they fantasise about. Explore this through sexting/cyber-sexing if it’s too scary or embarrassing to do it face-to-face at first. Read some erotica or watch some porn together that ticks your kinky boxes. Show them Fetlife, blogs, books and any other material you’ve found helpful. Go to a munch, talk or workshop together. Explore a few light things first – always with a safeword, of course – and see how you go. Moving slowly, with lots of check-ins, negotiation, love and care is the way to have some really positive kinky experiences. Everything you want to try will still be there weeks, months or years down the line. You don’t have to do everything now!

Get out into the community and make friends and build a kinky support network. More on that coming up shortly…

If your partner isn’t open to exploring things with you, don’t push or pressure them. Give them time and space to process, ask open-ended questions and express yourself honestly. If they’re not interested, is there any other way you can get your needs met? Perhaps with other partners, if you’re non-monogamous, or through opening up your relationship in some limited way if you’ve been monogamous until now? Perhaps with a professional?

If they are insistent there is no way your kinky needs can be met while in this relationship, I’m afraid you may have a very difficult decision to make – one which no-one else can make for you.

If You’re Single

If you already have a partner or partners, you can skip this bit as this is written for the single curious kinksters out there.

If you’re single, it can be really tempting, when you discover this kinky thing, to dive right into trying to find a partner to explore it all with. However, if you do that, you’re missing out some really important steps.

Hopefully you’ve started off your explorations with joining Fetlife and doing plenty of reading and learning. Perhaps you’ve even reached out to some local people. Brilliant!

Remember: your goal right now is to make friends and build a community. Partners and opportunities to play will follow. A bit of patience right now will set you up well in the long run, I promise.

Go to a munch, class, talk or workshop (more on this coming up in a minute!) Ask a trusted friend to go along with you if you’re scared.

Get Off the Damn Internet – Getting Out There In Real Life

Yep. After extolling the virtues of Fetlife and all the great material you can find on the internet, I’m now telling you to get off the web and out into the world.

Find an event near you. A munch is ideal – a munch is an event held in a vanilla location like a pub, in acceptable-for-general-public dress, where kinksters meet up to socialise, hang out and make friends. Most major cities have at least one, and many small towns have them too. Search Fetlife with the name of your city or town to find out what’s going on. If you’re nervous, message the organiser – their Fet name should be listed – and ask if they’d mind introducing you to a few folks. Munch organisers typically do what they do because they love the community and want to give back to it, and most will be delighted to help you find your feet.

Other good events to go to are talks, workshops and classes on your area of interest, or even a kinky conference like Kinkfest in the UK or ShibariCon in the US. These are often a greater time and financial investment than a simple munch, though, so you might want to wait a while before making this leap.

Going to your first event is scary. The golden rules, though, are simple. Follow these and you’ll be fine.

  1. Dress and act appropriately. Basically, at a munch, if it’s okay for a generic pub it’s okay here. Leave the whips and the leather corsets at home. A t-shirt and jeans will be fine in most places, as will a nice shirt and slacks, a cute dress or skirt, or whatever you’d usually wear to meet people in a pub. Don’t try to play at a munch unless it’s specifically advertised as one where that’s okay. If in doubt, most events will have a dress code and possibly a code of conduct available online, or you can ask the organiser.
  2. Don’t be a creep. Don’t latch on to that one cute young just-barely-turned-18 girl. Don’t only talk to people of the age, gender and body type you’re attracted to. Don’t ask people to play immediately or ask overly intrusive questions. People will notice and I promise, it’ll piss them off.
  3. Be yourself! Talk about your hobbies, your work, your family, how you came to kink… take your cues from others and just make friends the way you would in any other setting.
  4. Don’t get too drunk.
  5. Don’t touch anyone without permission. Kinksters are often a touchy and huggy bunch, but remember there may be relational contexts you’re not familiar with. Always ask before hugging or otherwise touching anyone.
  6. Don’t be a dick. This covers so many bases. Be friendly, open and welcoming to everyone and don’t be afraid to admit you’re new, nervous and not sure what the protocol is.

Most of all, remember to have fun. If you can, gather the Fetlife names of people you talk to and ask their permission to friend them. (You can always follow up with a PM – “Hey, we met at the ABC Munch. I really enjoyed our conversation about XYZ. Would you like to be friends on here?”

Et voila. You’ve got the beginnings of a kinky community and circle of friends. Now – rinse and repeat. You’ll soon learn who your people are, who you really click with and who you don’t much care for. You don’t need to like everyone but you do need to be polite and civil to everyone (unless, of course, something serious like a consent violation occurs, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular post.)

And there you have it – you’ve made your first steps into Kinkland! Doesn’t it feel great? Now go forth and be kinky, my friends.

Happy New Year.