Author: Raven Shadowborne © Feb. 7, 1999

Negotiation is a part of BDSM that many are confused about. For ease of understanding I have found it helpful to liken negotiation to the dating part of a vanilla relationship. 

In the dating part of a vanilla relationship, the participants are getting to know each other. Their wants and needs, likes and dislikes, general personality traits, and other things like that. The participants are determining their compatibility to see if the relationship can become a more permanent committed one. In BDSM, this phase of a relationship takes on a bit more meaning in that it must include discussion of personal limits in regards to play and a comparison of the likes and dislikes in play of the participants. 

During the negotiation of a BDSM relationship, is when the limits of the relationships will be set. What will or not be done. What the expectations are of the dominant, and the submissive. Things such as play lists, can go a long way towards helping these discussions cover as much as possible. When discussing one's limits, likes dislikes and experience, you should always tell the truth. Lying about your experience can lead to life threatening situations. 

Negotiation should also include the more mundane things like discussing children, housework, finances and the like. The same things which are weighed and discussed when a vanilla relationship becomes a marriage, are the same things which should be discussed when a BDSM relationship moves to a collar. (committed one) 

Also during this time period of the relationship is when the participants should get to know each other as the people they are, not just as a dominant or submissive. Their philosophies for many things in life should be discussed. As well as their thoughts on BDSM, their definitions of the terms, how much of their lives are affected by BDSM, religion and any other area where a person has a thought process or philosophy. 

Just as in a vanilla relationship, dating is how we learn what we like, the types of people we like and what we want out of our relationships, the negotiation period of BDSM one does the same thing. It is during this time that the comparisons should be made between what you want and whether or not that person can provide it for you. 

Negotiation, some will say, is an ongoing process and submissives have the right to request a negotiation of play after a collar is placed. This is highly individual but many will agree that this is not true. The only negotiation a submissive is allowed once a collar is placed is when the activity is a new one to both parties. If a new experience to both parties comes up, then yes there should be conversations and negotiation about this activity. Whether or not to try it, how to try it, what might happen, safety issues, and or emotional concerns should also be discussed at this time. 

Negotiation does not completely end once a collar is placed however. Often in long standing relationships, the participants will fill out a play list to see where they have changed from the last one that was filled out. Doing this allows negotiation to occur again by showing the differences in the present from the past. In this manner, growth can be documented and areas where more growth is desired can be pin pointed and discussed. 

Negotiation is the most important aspect of any BDSM relationship. Without proper negotiation one can find themselves in a situation they are unable to handle. Take the time to learn your prospective partner, before committing yourself to them. Under no circumstances should a person just accept a collar without some form of negotiation. It is this negotiation that allows people to decide if they meet the expectations of the other. 



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