We’re Not Always Going to Enjoy BDSM Scenes- Even When We’re Safe and Consensual.

I was taking a BDSM test, and I really liked this:

It’s no big deal when things I try turn out bad for me. It’s part of the risk and it’s a necessary part of discovering what works and what doesn’t.

This pretty much sums up my attitude about BDSM play. If consent and boundaries are being properly negotiated and respected, and reasonable safety precautions are followed, then anything else that happens is a risk I take when I play. We are NOT guaranteed to always have a good time in every scene.

There’s always a chance that:

  • I might not enjoy myself even if the scene was fantastic. Not every scene gives us warm fuzzies, even if we do everything by the book and respect our partners. I might be tired, stressed, distracted, hormonal, my ADD might make it harder to focus on the scene sensations that day, I might not have eaten enough and I feel off, etc.
  • I might discover that I don’t like that kind of play or might not enjoy it with that particular partner. Heck, that kind of play might even really freak me out and give me nightmares! That’s a risk I take whenever I try something new.
  • I could get hurt even when we’re being safe, or my body and mind might react in unpredictable ways. (Once I passed out in the middle of a scene because I’d been in a hot tub beforehand and didn’t know I’d be that light-headed during play.) Accidents and unforeseen medical issues happen, even with the safest play partners.
  • Past trauma or current emotional issues might trigger me unexpectedly.
  • Communication is fucking hard to get right in any context, but especially in BDSM play. We’re going to cross wires sometimes. Or maybe a lot. If this scares you, then maybe BDSM isn’t for you. What’s important is that we learn from misunderstandings and avoid those mistakes as much as possible, and constantly work to understand each partner’s unique communication methods.

This is why we have safe words, and why a good Top/Dom will try to watch their partners for signs of unusual distress (though please remember that tops aren’t mind readers!!) It’s also why we have aftercare, and why healthy play partners talk openly about how they’re feeling. Did we cross wires? Let’s address it! Did I get triggered or not enjoy myself? I should be able to convey this without blaming my partner for something that isn’t their fault. Tops/Doms do have a lot of responsibility, but they aren’t magicians who are responsible for us always liking every single thing we try.

If I try something and really don’t like it, then it’s a lesson learned. Either I’ll try it differently next time, or I’ll try something else and see if I like that better.

If I’m inwardly freaking out mid-scene, I need to communicate this to my partner. If I know I have problems with verbalizing safe words mid-scene, I should negotiate additional signals so I can let my partner know when something unexpected is happening in my mind or body. If I don’t know I have problems with verbalizing safe words, and my partner doesn’t stop the scene because they didn’t know I wanted it to end and I couldn’t get the words out, is that their fault? Yes, I may have been traumatized, but not because they were irresponsible or trying to hurt me. My brain freezing up made me unable to effectively convey my distress about continuing with what we’d agreed. I would need to address my safe word signals before playing again. I can’t expect my play partners to know something that I didn’t even know, and that wasn’t conveyed to them. (This is hypothetical in my case, I’m personally fine with verbalizing safe words.)

If we’re trying something new, we should take extra safety precautions. As a top in training I know my flogging aim currently sucks, so I don’t hit very hard with those tools. There are a lot of things I won’t do without experienced supervision until I know I can trust myself to remember all the safety stuff. Any subs I play with know that I’m new, and though I take extra precautions, there is always a risk that I could unintentionally harm them. RACK: Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

There are endless reasons why a good scene might not have brought me the enjoyment that I expected. Before blaming my partner, I need to make sure they actually did something wrong. In fact, I may need to reassure my partner because if it’s obvious I didn’t have a good time, they might blame themselves for something that wasn’t even their fault. Tops/Doms are human too; they also have needs and generally want us to have a good time. When we don’t, it can cause them distress. Hence why we need to communicate!

Consent violations and unsafe play are serious issues, and I am in no way diminishing the importance of addressing them. Most of you know my no-nonsense attitude towards predators and consent violations, and you may have heard my own account of encountering a predator. However, having a bad time in a scene usually isn’t because our partner was a predator or negligent. Often it’s because of scenarios like I listed above (which are not complete and of course there are exceptions to every situation.) Yes, we absolutely need to make sure we hold people in our community accountable- but we also need to avoid blaming our play partners for things that aren’t really their fault or that we’re both responsible for.

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