Hi, I’m Mr. Promiscuous and I’m a recovering people pleaser. Growing up, I always thought that I needed to make most of the people around me happy so that they’d want me to be around. A combination of general high-school isolation (mostly due to being one of ten black kids) and a really toxic relationship in college left me feeling like I needed to always find approval. I needed to keep being the person that people around me wanted or else they wouldn’t accept me. Obviously, I learned that finding people who are happy with whoever you are is a much better plan, but it has given me an interesting relationship with the word “no” and how it relates to my views on relationships, sex, and kink.
Kink communities run on the idea of consent, which means that you have to trust that someone will communicate if something goes outside of their boundaries, even in the middle of a scene. It’s expected that you will give a “No”, usually in the form of a safeword, so that you can have something addressed to make the scene better, or to keep harm from coming to you or the people you are playing with. It’s a stop-gap that should be used to make sure everyone’s experience is the positive… however that’s not always how it’s seen.
Safewords also usually come in two flavors. There’s the “soft” safeword, which is used to pause things in case something might be wrong, someone needs a break before continuing, or if you forgot to pee before getting tied up and you need to handle that now before suddenly become a watersports scene. There’s also the “hard” safeword, which is used to completely stop the action. It’s used for more serious situations, like that you’re suddenly feeling unbelievably unsafe in the position you’re in or if circulation is cut off. If the person you’re playing with using the “soft” safeword, you usually just want to check in and have a quick chat to be sure everything is going okay or if something needs to be adjusted before you can continue with the fun, kinky fuckery that was going on. A “hard” safeword means you stop and get them out of whatever predicament they’re in so that whatever caused that can be addressed. Sometimes this happens because an overflowing of emotions from whatever was done or said, sometimes it’s because they aren’t actually alright with the activity in practice rather than concept. What you shouldn’t do is immediately assume that the safeword means that you fucked up or that they don’t trust you.
There are some people who think that having to safeword is a large betrayal to the one performing the action. That it’s only ever used as a ‘last resort’ for when the scene has gone grossly out of hand. People get flak for using safewords “too soon” into a scene and not trusting the Dominant to keep to the negotiations. And all of that is bullcrap. There’s nothing wrong with “no”. In fact, you should be glad that that said person DID safeword. Most often, that’s done to help adjust an action to be easier for a scene to go on longer, or because maybe your foot’s asleep. It’s a display of trust rather than a lack of it, and that people can be angry because someone used a safeword is worrisome.
If you’re worried that if you should safeword, or if this really isn’t THAT bad, then just use the “soft” one. A good top is going to take that as you trusting them to adjust to a problem rather than an insult in their abilities. And if they DO take offense, then you shouldn’t be playing with them in the first place. There’s no reason that you should feel ashamed for exerting your boundaries and as long as you do it from a place of safety and in just wanting to make sure no one comes away feeling bad then you haven’t done anything wrong. Hopefully this’ll keep people talking to one another and realizing that No just means “no” and not “No, and I think you’re terrible for making me have to stop things”
Have fun and remember your words,