50 Shades Of Curious – Communication
This is an excerpt from the book: “50 Shades of Curious: BDSM for Beginners” by Bo Blaze
Communication is one of my very favorite subjects. I’ve taught a class called Communication, Communication, Communication aka Communication in the Scene for many years. To help make it easy to remember the three main points of that class, I created Bo’s BDSM Triangle of Communication.
Communication is the most important thing in any relationship, be it a vanilla (non-BDSM) relationship or a kinky one. The first point at the top of the triangle, is the most important, and we call this:
Clear and consistent verbal communication
You need to do your very best to learn to communicate with your partner verbally. For some this comes easily, and those of you who fit in this category are very lucky indeed.
For the majority of people, it’s just not that simple. You may have spent your whole life being shy and having trouble asking for what you want in general, let alone in the bedroom. For many it is frightening to talk about fetishes or interest in kinky sex, worrying about being judged or misunderstood by partners and hearing the dreaded phrase:
“What are you, a freak?”
For many of you, this type of reaction is your worst fear realized. There is a very good reason many of you feel this way, we are socialized to be fearful and to be frightened of anything that does not fit society’s conception of what is normal.
Luckily, I have created my super-duper, never fails, (well hardly ever) method for helping you and your partner communicate and I’m going to reveal it to you right now.
Wait until the two of you are in the mood to get sexy with each other. It doesn’t really matter where, but a good place is when you are in bed together. Start touching your partner and begin to get them aroused. The goal is to get them excited and horny, not to have actual intercourse. Once you get your partner excited, congratulations… they will now be a lot more receptive to you talking about… well… just about anything! It’s similar to when somebody has a drink, they loosen up a little bit. When you are horny, it is the same kind of thing and a good time to talk about something that is a little bit kinky or naughty.
You don’t necessarily have to spring the whole thing on them right away, just get a conversation going. Ask them what kind of kinky things they might like. You might say something like:
“So, tell me, what is the kinkiest thing you ever fantasized about doing?”
You want to let them know that you really want to know. Tell them:
“It makes me really excited to know what makes you excited.”
By doing this, you are opening up the lines of communication between the two of you. Reassure them. Give them as much positive feedback as possible, that it’s something you really want to know, it excites you to hear about it, and it will make you very happy for them to share this with you. At this point, after you have asked them some of the things that they are interested in, you can tell them some of the things that you are interested in. By then they might be just as excited about this as you are!
Let them know if you are nervous, scared, embarrassed etc. Be honest. Let it all out. You might be amazed by the responses and reactions you get. Remind your partner that nothing that they fantasize about is wrong, it’s just fantasy. Be prepared to hear some things you may have never expected. You need to create a judgment free zone. A safe place where you can say whatever you want.
The reality is most people want very much to please their partner(s), and if that is not where your relationship is at, you may want to reconsider if this is the right relationship for you. Sure, your relationship may be in a rut or you’ve stopped communicating well. There are always day-to-day stresses, fighting, children and bills, and all the other nonsense that makes relationships challenging. But, ultimately, partners want their partners to be happy, to be excited, to have good sex, and, of course, to come hard. It’s usually just a matter of getting your partner in the right frame of mind to lose their inhibitions and not feel judgmental.
Unfortunately, sometimes this is easier said than done. I know you might find this shocking, but you may get some push back and resistance from your partner, even while they are being lightly masturbated under the covers! Hard to believe, I know.
Fear is a very powerful emotion, so realize that your partner may be so fearful of telling you their deep dark secrets that they may get angry during or especially after this type of thing. They may say, “I do not know what you are talking about. That is disgusting. That is terrible.” Even tell you that you are “bad, sick or wrong for making me talk about this.” Be ready for this possibility and be assured that all is not lost! A lifetime of being told these thoughts are dirty and wrong is a lot to overcome. Just keep reassuring and letting your partner know that it’s just fun in the bedroom. However, you may need to try again at a different time or bring it up in another situation.
It is possible that some people may not feel open to things in a sexual situation, but feel better in a neutral situation where they can just talk about it. Know your partner, know the way they respond best, and work with that accordingly.
One of my favorite sayings, aka Bo-isms, is:
“I want to know everything about you so I can use it liberally against you.”
This is said with tongue in cheek, of course, but is actually very true. A dominant should strive for:
Relentless pursuit of information
Verbal communication is the easiest and quickest way to get information. Later on, we are going to explore some other ways for those who have trouble with communicating verbally to get information, but verbal communication is king.
This is not magic, this is simply having conversations, both vanilla and kinky. Sometimes they can be very direct, asking questions about what someone might be interested in sexually, and other times it’s innocuous things that might be useful later on. Some common questions you can ask are:
What are things that you’ve enjoyed in the past?
What are things that you’ve fantasized about in the past but have maybe never done?
What are the things you think about when you play with yourself?
This last questions is a very important one, and, again, sometimes very embarrassing for somebody to answer. You will often find that people have a core thing that they go to when they masturbate. Many people do not even realize that they do or, better put, they selectively ignore it. But a lot of people have a scenario, or particular fetish, that is a core thing they think about when they want to come or especially if they want to come quickly.
Use your imagination, as there are so many things you can ask. Get curious and turn it into a scene itself. It can be really hot to ask all these questions as if it’s an interrogation or as light and fun humiliation play.
It is also not just sexual information that you are looking for, but almost any type of information, because all information is good information.
Some information can make you seem almost clairvoyant.
It’s impossible to remember everything, but the more information you can catalog in your brain and save for a rainy day, the better. After a while, you’ll begin to realize what things are more interesting to remember than others. But just about anything could be something you might be able to use later on in a sexy scene with your partner.
For example, your partner might mention to you in a completely non-sexual conversation that they were scared of the dark when they were a child and would always be afraid that something was going to grab them out of the darkness. Many months later you might be having sex with your partner and ask them to put on a blindfold. Remembering what they told you, you won’t be surprised at all to see them swallow hard and tentatively agree. You might then tell them that you are going strip them and tie them to the bed. Once you are finished, they will have forgotten that you know of their fear of the dark but you will remember and can create intensity by playing with these feelings. You might let your partner sit quietly for many minutes so that they start to worry that you might have left the room and then lightly touch them in various erotic areas every few minutes saying nothing and watching them react with a mixture of fear and arousal.
When we play with these fears we need to be extra careful to watch for our partners’ mental states and make sure we are not pushing them too far. Later in this chapter we will discuss safewords, and you need to make sure your partner always has one, especially in this kind of situation.
Further gathering of knowledge leads us into the bottom of our triangle, where we have two different types of written information.
The first is called negotiation forms
They have been called many different things over the years, negotiation forms, checklists, play forms, boundary lists, etc, but they all basically do the same thing. A negotiation form at its core is just a way to find out the kinky things a partner would, might or absolutely would not be interested in exploring.
Usually, you are given a list of many different fetishes and types of play and are asked to rate them 0 through 5. Zero being an absolutely not, which is what is called a hard limit and means that under no circumstances do you agree to do that activity. All the way to number 5, that tells your partner that this is something you are very excited about doing or trying.
Often, the list will be quite lengthy and will give you several different types of terms for some of the same things. This is because different terms mean different things to different people.
On a good form there are usually some free form questions about health and safety, things you like the most or least, medication you might be on, old injuries etc. These are all important things to know when you engage in kinky play.
Negotiation forms can be very sterile. This is not like clear and consistent verbal communication where you are able to reply and ask for clarification or start a discussion. No matter what the form asks, you will only get answers based on the way your partner interpreted the information.
You might start by meeting someone new and using your verbal communication skills to talk about many different things. You might even have a little light play or foreplay, flirting, etc. and mutually realize that there is interest in taking things further. You might then email them a negotiation form, which will start the written communication process. The filled out form might lead to more verbal information about the form or even different types of written communication via email, etc.
Are you starting to see how this all gets put together and the magic of combining everything with our triangle?
And by the way, you can have someone fill out a negotiation form for you as a top or a bottom, dominant or submissive, no matter what you are interested in or how you identify, you can use these forms.
Remember, there are no rules in BDSM other than consent. These are all just great ideas for you to use to communicate with each other. You may find better or easier ways for you to do it with your partner.
Once you get your negotiation form back from your partner, there are a couple of things you can do with it.
You can read it, keep it to yourself, and never talk about it again. Sometimes, our partners are too embarrassed to write these things down that in order to get them to fill it out truthfully, you may have to tell them you’ll never talk about it. And while that may seem funny or counterproductive, it is very true.
However, the best thing would be for you to read the form and find out as much information as you can and then, later, talk to your partner about it. One really fun way to do this would be, again, as foreplay with your partner in bed. It is a very sexy thing for you to discuss the different things that really excite you and here is a really good chance for you to clarify various things you’ve read in the form.
For a good example of this, let’s look at one taboo subject– humiliation. When some people think of the word humiliation, they think of it being something very degrading and powerful, tearing someone down to make them feel badly about themselves.
But what about a little sexy talk like:
“You are my little slut.”
Your partner may like that very much but did not want to say so in the negotiation form, since they took it to mean degrading and tearing down, as opposed to playful.
So, again, this is a great time for you to gather more information and to quiz each other on things that you are unsure about. Essentially, when you look at these forms, you are looking hard at the 0’s and 1’s, and the 4’s and 5’s, as these give you the things your partner feels strongly about one way or another.
Certainly, sometimes just knowing somebody is interested in something to a moderate degree is important too. But, generally, wanting to know things that are absolutely great and absolutely bad are things that bring up the most important conversations.
To start off, you might look at the form and say:
“Gee, I see you put a 5 for tickling.”
Which might be a bit mystifying to you as you never thought of tickling that way. So you might say:
“I do not even understand what you mean by tickling. You get excited by tickling?”
And your partner may tell you something you never knew: that for their whole life they’ve had a fantasy of being restrained and tickled.
To you, that may sound very silly, but to them it may be a life-long fetish that they want to explore. Remember, be careful and be kind here. Your partner may be telling you things that are deep dark secrets that they have never told anyone else in their entire life because no one has ever given them the opportunity to speak to them about it.
You have the opportunity to make this a wonderful experience or terrible experience for them. If you judge them or make them feel silly, they will probably shut down and never give you any more information or at least not for a very long time.
It’s important to know that you do not have to like everything that they like or even be willing to participate. Going back to our example about tickling, you might feel that that is a very silly thing and you get nothing out of it. It does not excite you whatsoever, and you do not understand it. That is fine, but you still want to know.
However, in this example, where your partner told you that this was a #5 fetish and a lifelong fantasy, you will hopefully at least try to find some common ground here and maybe even find that it has become interesting to you. Maybe not because you ever fantasized about it before, but because you just found a way to make your partner extremely excited.
This is a very important concept. Playing around with games of dominance and submission are very much about knowledge and power. When you acquire knowledge about your partner, this can be used to heighten the sexual experience or the power dynamic.
So, your new excitement may be happening because you now know that you can make your partner react in a very extreme way with something that seems very innocuous and would not normally be something that you would have ever thought of.
We include a copy of our negotiation form here for you to review, but you can download it on our website in either a PDF or Word Doc format right now at:
50 Shades of Curious Negotiation Form
The more information you know about your partner, the safer and more exciting your playtime will be. Remember, communication is the key to all relationships, kinky and vanilla alike!
Below is a long list of KINKY/BDSM activities. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list. You may have no idea what some of these things are, and that’s OKAY! Some things might seem extreme or even shocking to you. Don’t worry, you NEVER have to do anything you don’t want to do. Sometimes we might only be interested in fantasizing about certain things and not actually doing them in real life. That’s what negotiation is for, to share with your partner what you will, won’t, and might do.
Take your time and answer as honestly and as best you can. Let the list give you new ideas, spur communication, and remember your answers will change over time and depending on what person you are filling this out for. Some words have similar meaning and are left ambiguous, to see what they mean to you. This form can be filled out by the top/dominant, bottom/submissive or switch!
Please put two to three answers next to each item:
The first answer should be, if you’ve ever tried that activity before
Yes = I have participated in this activity before
No = I have not participated in this activity before
The second answer should be your interest in engaging in that activity on a scale of
0 – 5, NO,?, +, ! or a combination.
0 = I have no interest/don’t like this, but would do it to please you.
1 = Not very interesting/don’t really enjoy this too much
2 = This is OK
3 = This is nice/fun/interesting
4 = I really enjoy/think I’ll enjoy this activity
5 = I LOVE THIS/CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THIS
NO = Hard limit. I will not participate in this activity at all, at this time
? = Unfamiliar with this activity
+ = I’m scared of this but would possibly like to explore it
! = I’m embarrassed to admit I like this
Flogging: Yes/5 (Have done it before/LOVE IT!)
Biting: No/+ (Have never tried/scared of this but might like to try it)
Tickling: Yes/5+! (Have done this before/love it/scared of it/embarrassed I like it)
The third answer would be to write any explanations or more information after your answers. Remember, the more information you share, the safer/hotter/more fun things will be.
Flogging: Yes/5 – I especially love to be flogged on my back!!!
Tickling: Yes/5+! – My feet are my most ticklish place but I didn’t tell you that! <s>
Chosen Clothing for:
Chosen Food For:
Fantasy Gang Rape:
Full Head Hoods:
Golden Showers (piss play):
High Heel Worship:
Homage With Tongue:
Humiliation In Private:
Humiliation In Public:
Intricate Rope Bondage:
Mummification (saran wrap:
Punching (beat down):
Serving as Ashtray:
Serving as Furniture:
Serving as Maid:
Sex in Scene:
Single Tail (light/sensual):
Single Tail (moderate/heavy)
Whipping (cat o’ nine etc.):
Physical Concerns – Do you have any medical conditions, chronic or otherwise, that the top should know about, such as epilepsy, weak shoulders, skin allergy, etc.? Are you on any prescription medications?
Mental Concerns – Do you have any phobias or mental conditions that the top should know about (fear of heights, claustrophobia, etc.)?
Limits – Are there any specific scene-related things you will not do?
Fetishes – Are there any specific scene-related things that you really like or dislike? Something that has not been mentioned above:
After you have discussed your negotiation form with your partner and read it yourself, you will have a lot more knowledge about what your partner likes, hates, wants, loves, etc.
This leads us to the third part of the triangle, which I call homework.
Homework is simply checking in with your partner after you have had playtime with them or enter into any activity that would be power, BDSM or kink related. What you decide should warrant a homework assignment is up to you and your partner, but anything other than your usual lovemaking may apply.
Once such an event occurs, you might say something like:
“I expect some homework on this. I want you to go home and write me an email telling me how you perceived what happened tonight.”
It is very important that you tell your partner that no matter what they say, you will not look at them badly or punish them in any way. If you do not do this, you will never get the information you want.
You will really need to have no ego here, if you can’t do that then do not even bother. You will need to be ready to hear the cold, dark truth that your partner may not perceive the experience the same way you did.
It is a common occurrence for someone to come up with an idea for play time and then put a lot of time into thinking about it. Finally, the day comes to act out that scenario and they are naturally very excited about it. The play time unfolds and everything seems to have gone really well!
You request homework from your partner and when it comes you notice that there are thirteen paragraphs about some small little thing that you have not even planned to do and only a brief sentence about the actual thing you planned and worked so hard on.
Welcome to exploring the human sex drive, It can be very humbling, but if you can deal with the fact that maybe you are not always going to be
Master Great Grand Poohbah of All Space and Time
You can learn more than you’d have ever thought.
Let’s say, again using the example from before, you were inadvertently tickling them during one part of your scene. When you get your homework back, if it has been done properly by someone who is not afraid that you are going to punish them or be disappointed in them, they will write something like:
“We did the scene, it was very fun. I have always had a tickling fetish. My partner tickled me for a few minutes and it was absolutely amazing. All I could think about for the next three days was how I wish they would have continued to tickle me until I was begging and pleading for them to stop.”
That is the kind of information that changes relationships. If you are willing to hear it, you will find information that can be extremely valuable. Remember, knowledge is power, and knowledge is safety.
Homework is the last part of the triangle of communication, and the three things together truly can be more than the sum of their parts. By combining all three and doing your very best to get as much information as possible, you will learn how, what, and why your partner desires what they do.
The negotiation form should not be confused with the act of negotiating. A negotiation form is one excellent way to negotiate, but there is more to negotiating then just a form.
Verbal communication is even more important than written communication in this situation. We want to talk to each other about what we want, not just write about it. Having a give-and-take conversation helps to build trust.
You want to do your best to tell your partner what it is you will and won’t do, and to do that, we have to make sure we are on equal footing with each other. Meaning, don’t negotiate with someone somewhere you feel too intimidated to talk freely. Perhaps when you walk into your partner’s home, you immediately feel submissive and powerless to them. This is not a good place for you to negotiate. Go out to a coffee house, take a drive in the car, but make sure you are negotiating somewhere you feel equal and can accurately represent your concerns, fears, wants, and desires.
At its best, negotiating is a way for both of you to talk about what you each want. It’s not just for the bottom, it’s for the top too. This should be a chance to talk about your desires, fantasies, fetishes, and find common grounds.
Then, before you actually engage in a scene with someone, you’ll want to negotiate that specific event. It’s really impossible to negotiate everything that might happen in a scene, which is why we have safewords. Safewords help ensure that you can always stop a scene any time you need to and are discussed in the next chapter.
Here is an example of a negotiation you might have with someone you’ve never played with and don’t know very well. You have spoken a bit and he’s asked if you want to play. You’ve talked a bit about spanking and that he enjoys that and you think you will too.
So you might start out by limiting the play only to spanking. Saying that:
“You only agree to participate in a spanking scene.”
Next you might want to negotiate the severity, so you’d say:
“I’ve haven’t done this very often, so I’d prefer you don’t go too hard, I’m still getting used to this.”
Then thinking ahead you might add:
“My safeword is “RED, but if you put me over your knee it might be hard for you to hear my safeword, so if I grab your ankle consider that another safeword.”
Your proposed partner might then ask:
“Are you interested in any touching or sensuality while we are playing?”
And you would then answer accordingly as to what you are interested in. Let’s say you reply:
“Yes, that would be great.”
You have now negotiated a nice simple scene, which:
Will include spanking only
Should not be too hard
Can be sexy and include touching
And made sure that:
Everyone knows both your safeword and safegrab
This is a well conducted negotiation where you both have input and you have both agreed to a scene. It’s perfect for a simple scene. Of course, not everything will be so easy. You might be negotiating a much more complex scene and so a lot more discussion will be warranted.
NEVER make the mistake of just assuming that the person you are playing with knows what you want. Neither of you are mind readers, both parties are responsible to make sure the other knows what’s important to each of you.
Also if you are playing with someone that you don’t know well, it’s a great idea to remove some of the role play element that could potentially require a safeword. You can role play to your heart’s content when it comes to everything except consent.
You can be the teacher disciplining the student, you can be the naughty little girl who has displeased her uncle, you name it. But it’s a great idea to remove the need to rely on safwords in the beginning and just say.
“Let’s not role play with consent. If I say stop or ask you to change something, you need to do that please.”
If you want to beg and say no, no, no, and not have your partner stop, there is plenty of time to do that in future scenes, after more trust is built. STILL MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SAFWORD. Just in case your partner gets a little carried away you can still yell RED or SAFEWORD if there is any type of miscommunication.
As you play more with a partner or if you are playing with your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse you will have more trust for your partner and feel more comfortable negotiating scenes with less restrictions. But regardless of your relationship with the person, you should negotiate until you feel completely comfortable with what’s about to happen.
Often after playing with someone quite a bit, almost no negotiation needs to be done because you’ve negotiated all these things in the past and unless something has changed you already know what the rules are.
In that case you might only need to negotiate new activities or if you have changed your mind on something. It’s common for you to come back to a partner and let them know that you are newly comfortable about a particular type of play and “since it went so well last time”, you’re comfortable with it being more intense OR maybe it was too intense last time and you need it to be different this time, etc.
While contracts certainly are negotiating, they are usually more of a formal and fancy way to lay out the negotiated parameters of a more serious BDSM relationship.
Contracts are absolutely not needed. Quite obviously, real slavery was thankfully outlawed long ago so there is no legal element, and even though you might agree to certain terms in a contract and do your best to uphold them it’s important to realize you can withdraw this consent at any time.
This said, having a contract between partners can be a deep and very important document that lays out your relationship and what is important to you.
What’s in a contract varies greatly depending on what purpose it is serving. Contracts usually contain the hard limits of each participant, safewords, any promises or agreements that have been made and generally lay out the parameters of the relationship.
Sometimes contracts are just for a period of time, like a weekend or a month or some longer amount of time. Other contracts are more open ended like a marriage, and may have a clause that they are in force until one of the parties decide to terminate it.
Basically, contracts are a ceremonial way for you to lay out the parameters of what you’ll both be responsible for in the relationship, both physically and emotionally.
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