A friend of mine recently wrote about the importance of negotiation prior to casual play, and the active role that submissive’s need to take in the negotiation process.
Two things stood out to me: one in his original post, and one in the comments.
In the post, he said, “The more intense the play, the clearer the boundaries need to be.” In the comments that followed someone made this statement: “I am one of those who once in that space does not really have the ability to say no. I actually don’t play lightly because of that. I have to have pretty in depth conversations before I play because I need to know in advance that the person I’m playing with understands that I can have all these conversations now but once in that space, they can’t change the rules because I won’t be able to say no.” Put these two statements together, and you have a concise summation of why detailed negotiation is so vital, and also why some opt out of casual play.
In my own experience, I love that space when my sub is no longer able to say no. My sub is fiercely independent and submission does not come easy for him. Even when he is physically submitting, his mind is still his own. That is a trait that makes him who he is, and who I love. However, when he hits that place where he can’t say no….well, words can’t fully describe how much I relish that place. To me, that is the ultimate power exchange. In that moment, I can do anything.
The balance is knowing his limits and respecting what we have negotiated. Yes, I can do anything, but if I love the place where he can’t say no, then it is up to me, as the dominant partner, to prolong that state. Pushing him too far in that state would not only bring that state crashing to an end, but would also make it harder for him to achieve that headspace in the future.
As a dominant, I have a responsibility to know the rules. We have had in-depth discussions about our mutual boundaries and limits, and when he is no longer able to say no, the onus is on me to make sure the boundaries are respected. As a submissive, he has a responsibility to know himself, and to communicate his limits with me. If we find a limit during play that he was previously unaware of, it is his responsibility to communicate that with me. If I want to try something that we have not discussed, it is my responsibility to communicate that to him when he is not in the altered state of not being able to say no.
Just because someone does not say no does not mean they have consented. When someone “does not really have the ability to say no” then they also do not have the ability to say yes.
Negotiation is vital. But timing is equally important.