Negotiation, in the context of BDSM, is the process by which the terms and features of a BDSM relationship are decided upon. During negotiation, each participant’s responsibilities, preferences, and limits are considered. Negotiation might concern a specific scene, the participants’ wider views on BDSM, or the dynamics of their relationship.

Negotiation is an important part of all BDSM relationships, both in encounters between people who’ve just met and those in long-term relationships. It’s important to a successful negotiation that all participants feel comfortable to speak up. During negotiation, dominants and submissives are on equal footing.

More About Negotiation

During negotiation, people will discuss their needs, their responsibilities to one another, and any limits they may have. The process of negotiation might take place verbally, through conversation, or by way of written documents.

There is a difference between scene negotiation and relationship negotiation. Scene negotiation occurs before, during, and after a BDSM scene. Before play, the negotiation allows each participant to voice their likes and dislikes and decide on the method and length of play as well as any relevant health and safety concerns they may have. Most participants will also establish a safe word during scene negotiation. Afterward, the participants might share their thoughts on the scene and offer feedback that could improve the experience for their next session. Scene negotiation helps ensure the participants are compatible and that their session is productive.

Relationship negotiation occurs between people who play regularly or who are involved in a committed partnership. These people typically draw up a contract to address various aspects of their relationship, including BDSM activity, living arrangements and financial and psychological responsibilities. While such a contract has no legal foundation, it helps to clarify the terms of the partnership.

Negotiation ensures BDSM participants can interact without risk of misreading or misunderstanding one another. This process also helps partners establish trust and show consideration for one another’s needs and desires.


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