This information is not to be considered as all encompassing, or even gospel.
It is meant as a general guide to negotiating with a partner and to give you
a place to start. I will use the male form for the Top and the female form for
the bottom, but only for the purpose of ease in explanation. I have no prejudice
either way. And I will talk mostly about this from the Dominant's point of view.
But this can work for either male or female, Top or bottom. And although there
may be a difference, I will use Top, Dominant and Master interchangeably, as
well as submissive, bottom and slave, for purposes of this article. All of this
information is my opinion and should not be mistaken for legal, religious or
medical advice. And it can be used for any real life negotiating.
When you first walk in to a gathering or get off the Internet and go to R/T pursuits of your interest, things may seem a bit overwhelming for you, whether you're a Top or a bottom. And when you decide to "make the move" how should you begin?
Well, like in most real life situations, try honesty, sincerity and courtesy. I heard a story a while back about a guy who walked into a bar, saw a girl that he knew was a submissive. He bought her a drink and while talking to his friends, told the girl to go to his car and get him his Blackberry.
That's fine if the submissive were his submissive. Otherwise, it's rude. First rule: A submissive is only submissive to those she chooses to submit to, and a slave is only a slave to her Master and those that her Master chooses for her to submit to.
It doesn't take much to get a relationship started. Have some confidence and talk. Most times, the submissive is looking for a Dominant in the same places that the Dominant is looking for a submissive. It's just a matter of finding the right one for you.
It is my belief that in our lifestyle our cards are out on the table faster than in the vanilla world. So maybe we proceed just a little faster. But we usually find out if we are compatible long before those in the vanilla world. If you are polite, then the conversation may get started quicker. If you're nasty, there's probably someone that's right for you, too, but they are probably fewer and farther between. So, rule number two: Be polite.
Now, this page isn't about "How to Get a Date", but it all starts the same way: you talk; you get to know each other; you make plans to talk again. And since trust is our most important asset, rule number three: Be honest.
Just to get a date for the Saturday night play party is no reason to lie. If you're not into the things that she's into, then say so. If she's not interested in what you are, then it's better to find out now and move on as friends, than to try and force something and have a fight that encompasses the whole community, later. And you don't have to say that you're a fighter pilot or a heart surgeon to impress a submissive. Or vice-versa. Most times, our actions speak the loudest. Show her that you are a Dominant. Act in an honorable manner. Command respect, don't demand it. And if it looks like things are working out for you, then it's time to move on to the next step.
Most times, some form of negotiation starts at the outset. But the true negotiating - the dos and don'ts, the hard and soft limits and the direction that you want the relationship to go, will probably not start until the participants get to know each other better.
Some people get into this lifestyle or look for partners based on their "studies" of S/M through short stories, novels, magazine articles, the Internet or some other form of fiction. If you believe everything you read in the chat rooms or the latest best-selling paperback, you're likely to be disappointed. Know what you want. Listen to what she wants. Success is more likely when the conversations and negotiations are longer and more in-depth.
When we start negotiating, we let our partner know what it is that we expect from the relationship and find out what she expects in return. Does it fit our plans? Is that what I want? Are any of these things "Deal Breakers"?
We let her know what our limits are and find out about hers. We talk about our self, but we need to listen when she's talking about herself. We state our levels of knowledge and understanding and try to find out hers. Are we compatible? Is this what we want?
OK, now we need to establish some rules. I'm all for putting things on paper. It makes it very clear what's expected and what's tolerated and what is not. How much training is needed? What kind of punishment will there be? What are the rewards? Once you start putting things on paper, everybody knows what to expect and nothing comes as a surprise.
I have a friend who went into an already formed heterosexual relationship as a beta slave. The couple already knew each other and had some set rules. Well, two days into this relationship, she was being punished for doing something that she didn't know was a "don't". Nobody told her. They expected that she knew, since, my goodness, they knew! The three of them talked a bit more, but she could never get things on paper, so she asked for her freedom and moved on.
This process gets the participants to agree to work within boundaries to see if they both accept the situation. Sometimes, a lot of discussion and changes need to take place for both parties to feel comfortable. This process may take weeks.
M/s, D/s, fetish and leather relationships can be as varied as the types of play that these people like to participate in.
Is There More?
Painfully so! Once you've gotten to this step, the relationship is not automatic.
I like to recommend that the next step is to contract the slave.
My approach to contracts varies with the individual and what it is that they want and what it is that I want. What works in one situation may not necessarily work in another.
The first contract should be short - One month, tops. At the end of a month
I find that it's usually necessary to make changes, where applicable. Maybe
this idea didn't work. Maybe that rule wasn't stringent enough. Maybe I no longer
want to decide what she should wear to work every morning.
The list can go on. So the first contract shouldn't. Then comes a second contract - maybe for another month ... maybe for three months, depending on the amount of changes needed to be made. After the three month contract, go to a six month or a year, or make it permanent if very few or no changes needed to be made the first and second times.
As I stated earlier, we put most of our cards on the table immediately and we need to live in the same incestuous community with all of the people that are potential partners. Therefore, it's extremely important to be honest, polite and sincere.
The following information was taken from the Society of Janus web page and offers some hints for both Tops and bottoms to use when negotiating.
Some General Rules for Dominants and submissives:
Ten Rules for Dominants
1 - Be patient! Until you enter into a contract with a submissive, you have no more right to order him/her around than does anyone else. Give your bottom time to get to know you and what you are like. Finesse and subtlety are major elements of dominance. Similarly, strength and gentleness go hand in hand. The sensitivity and awareness (or lack thereof) that you show in the real world is likely to be repeated in the playroom.
2 - Be humble. You may be God's/Goddess' gift to the world, but no one needs to hear it or wants to hear it. You will have ample opportunities to show how good you are - and plenty of opportunities to make a fool of yourself. No matter what you claim, the "real you" will show through in a scene. Don't set yourself up for a failure by developing expectations that you know you can never reach.
3 - Be open. Although the top is classically considered to be the teacher in SM, you can always learn from your bottom, no matter how inexperienced. Be willing to learn from other dominants who may have a totally different perspective from yours. Try to approach by-now-familiar trips with an attitude of wonderment and discovery. Be aware that everyone has her or his own personal style.
4 - Communicate! You are responsible for finding out basic, essential information about the people you play with, such as experience, limits, likes and dislikes, and health information. Playing SM without this knowledge is like Russian roulette. Talk about your head-space and your view of SM with your bottom, so that any uncertainties can be dealt with before you start playing. Clearly spell out roles, rules, limits, and contracts. Do not take for granted that your bottom instinctively knows the ground rules.
5 - Be honest. If you lack experience in an area that your bottom would like to experiment with, be honest about it. Your partner has a right to know that. Be honest with yourself and take your submissive only to those levels at which you are completely in control of the situation. Safety should always be the first concern, taking priority over how hot a particular scene is.
6 - Be sensitive. There's a very fine line between a sensitive, caring dominant and a self-righteous, insensitive overbearing clod. Your scene should be a creative synthesis of your needs and fantasies and your bottom's needs and fantasies. Although, on the surface, your submissive is serving you, what actually is happening is that dominant and submissive are serving each other. Earn the complete trust of your submissive and never violate or even threaten to violate that trust. His or her submission is a gift to you. Use it appropriately.
7 - Be realistic. End the scene with the bottom wanting more, not wishing there had been less. Remember that power, control, and sensitivity are the keys, not just the intensity of the stimulation. Be clear about what is fantasy, and (that it) has little to do with what works in practice. Your favorite porno picture books may be stimulating in themselves, but don't try to imitate them to the last detail.
8 - Be really dominant! Submissives are looking for someone who will take over their body and mind, not just for brute strength. Real people are wanted, not just cardboard images from cigarette ads or macho stereotypes. Your dominance enhances your whole existence. It does not cover up or substitute for other areas of your life - it is you. Make your submissive fall in love with you, and expect him or her to give him/herself up to you totally. Follow up on rules, expect obedience, and punish appropriately when it is called for. Don't shirk your responsibility to your bottom or to your sister/fellow tops. Be dependable and expect dependability. You have agreed to take the dominant role - now take it!
9 - Be healthy! Like any strenuous activity, SM requires that its participants be in top physical and emotional health. Many factors, including the amount you sleep, your eating habits, and your alcohol and drug intake affect your performance and endurance during a scene. Don't attempt to do SM when your physical or emotional energy is low. As a dominant you have a special responsibility to be in control of yourself and on top of the scene. An attitude of "drugs and alcohol don't affect me that much... I can do it anyway" violates your submissive's trust in you and can be dangerous. If you don't want to accept the responsibilities, you shouldn't be playing the game!
10 - Have fun! After all, sex is all about having a good time. You have earned, and you are entitled to the unique, intense pleasures which come from responsible, creative SM play.
Ten Rules for Submissives
1 - Be patient! A potential top will let you know if she or he is interested in you or not. Keep in mind that your purpose as a submissive is to serve and to satisfy someone who will take into consideration the realization of your fantasies. Don't expect your top to be able to turn on like a light switch. The timing must be right for both of you.
2 - Be humble. You may be God's or Goddess' gift to the world and the most sought after prize in town, but no one needs to hear it or wants to hear it. You will have ample opportunity to show how good you are. No matter what you claim, the "real you" will show through in a scene. Don't set yourself up for failure by developing expectations that you know you and your top can never reach.
3 - Be open. You can learn something about SM and about yourself from everyone into the scene, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they are, or how dominant or submissive they are. SM is a very personal art, and an "I already know it all" attitude will make you miss valuable SM lessons and experiences, and ignore potentially valuable SM friends.
4 - Communicate! Verbalization is necessary, but at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. Your top needs to know basic information about you, such as experiences, fantasies, health concerns, and turn-offs. But - unless it's an emergency - wait until your top asks. Don't expect your dominant to be a mind-reader who instinctively knows your needs, wants, and limits. Your cooperation will enhance the scene for both of you.
5 - Be honest. Don't be afraid to share your needs and fantasies. Your dominant expects it. Honesty about your wants, health concerns, and turn-offs is essential to a good scene. Lying or being less than candid can only lead to problems, as the top will base the scene on inaccurate information. Besides causing problems, it can be dangerous.
6 - Be vulnerable. Your scene is a two-way street. It is not just the physical realization of your prior fantasies. If you want to limit your experience to certain physical and psychological stimulation, then contract with your top ahead of time. But don't always expect your top to be a puppet in a fantasy play you've written in your head. It's far better to let your top surprise you, to extend your limits, to take you to places (you've) never been before. When you trust your top completely, let her or him know it, and let him or her guide you into new fantasies.
7 - Be realistic. Your dominant is human, and even the most experienced tops have moments of awkwardness and indecision. Don't call attention to what you perceive as a lapse. Know the difference between reality and the fantasy world you see in books and magazines. Few tops are rich enough to afford a large dungeon with a lavish layout of equipment. Your top's equipment is expensive - respect it and don't abuse it.
8 - Be really submissive! This is the whole point. Let your dominant take you over completely. Don't coach or second guess or be critical of your top. Exchange information on your special needs before the scene starts, but once it starts be quiet! If you insist on running a scene to your own specifications, then you should try being a top. You have agreed to limitations of your own power. Stay within those limitations. Respect and obey your top and expect punishment if you don't. Accept it gracefully and cheerfully. Your top has many things to be concerned with, including your safety and what turns you on. Be loyal and dependable and enjoy your role.
9 - Be healthy! SM, like any strenuous activity, requires that its participants - both active and passive - be in top physical and emotional health. The amount you sleep, your eating habits, your alcohol and drug intake, and everyday stress affect your response and endurance during a scene. Your dominant needs to know when your physical or emotional energy is low. No matter how tempting a scene sounds, an "I want it all now" attitude when you aren't able to give your all will leave both of you feeling let down. You serve your dominant and yourself best by staying healthy.
10 - Have fun! After all, sex is all about having a good time. You have earned, and you are entitled to, the unique, intense pleasure which comes from responsible, creative SM play.
To view related topics, go to My Boundaries, Protocol or Etiquette page.
Except where noted above as taken from elsewhere, all information on this page is © 2008 SirBamm!
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