Article on Negotiations


By continuing to browse this web site you are certifying your agreement to its terms of use; please read them if you have not done so already.

"Negotiation 101" - by Michael Decker

Reprint from "TASTE OF LATEX" #6

"Why should I talk about it when I just want to do it?"

Often sexuality is confusing - we feel frustrated and don't get what we want.

Sometimes we feel abused and our ability to trust falters, we question the quality of our relationships.

Negotiation can help. It is asking for what you want - in a format designed to assist you in getting it. Pretty hot, huh?

The purpose of negotiation is to figure out what two or more people want to do together, make agreements, and form a plan to achieve goals. This requires clear communication. This is win-win, not adversarial, negotiation. Keep talking until all parties find a balance between selfishly serving one's own needs, and unselfishly providing for someone else's needs.

First though, determine what it is you want to experience, and then communicate that, articulately, to another. You must be ruthlessly honest about your likes and dislikes and truthful about how far you're willing to push yourself to find out who you are. Trying something new is risky, but discovering what does not work for you should be just as valuable as finding out what does.

Practicing negotiating will enable you to more accurately access prospective partner's intentions, avoid risky situations, and choose actions that will meet your needs. Don't be afraid to open negotiation with someone who interests you. Often, the reputation that precedes a person is bigger and scarier than they are, or is simply inaccurate.

Take time to insure that all players involved understands what's expected of them and what they are agreeing to do. Always assume a "no" response if there is any doubt or hesitancy. Do not start until a clear, non-coerced "yes" is received.

During negotiation all players must have equal power to say no, as well as yes, to everything. None of the negotiators should feel they have to live up

to anyone else's expectations. This can be difficult if you prefer to be submissive, but assertively choosing allows you to find out what works for you, so you can spend more time doing what turns you on.

When negotiating an encounter with someone new to sexual exploration or new to you, it's helpful to know why they have an interest in the specific area of exploration. What is underlying their desire to play? Is it something they saw on television? Is it a childhood abuse issue? What's their emotional history?

Some responsible physical questions to ask: Do they wear contact lenses? Are they epileptic? Do they have a bad back? Are they on medication of any kind? Asking such questions helps you make knowledgeable assessments of risk. If a person has a trick back, it doesn't mean you should automatically shy away from anything that might endanger it. It means you must assess the risks and accept or reject them, or choose ways to reduce them.

Negotiation typically includes an agreement to use one or more "safewords", words that allow a participant to alter or to stop an encounter in progress.

It is preferred to choose an uncommon word that will mean "whatever I say next, I want you to pay attention to and respect." It shouldn't be a word that might come up in the course of a scene, such as "no," "stop" or "mercy", etc. Use the names of colors, green (continue), yellow (caution), and red (stop) for instance. I like to use "safeword," it's easy to remember and the meaning is perfectly clear. If one of the participants cannot speak - either from a disability or because she/he is gagged - or if the encounter calls for discretion, use a body movement signal or have the partner hold something which, when dropped, means stop. If any participant wants to change the agreement during the encounter, she/he can use a "safeword" to fine tune the scene. The encounter must stop and negotiations resume to reestablish agreement.

Here's an example of pre-scene negotiating. This partner, liked to write so she wouldn't forget anything important. This was her format:

"Physical Considerations: 1. Slight upset stomach - no upside down, bent over tight, or tight restraints around my waist, please, at least for a couple of hours. 2. Slight stiff neck/shoulder, right side. 3. Shaving cut in folds of skin of outer labia will need to be bandaged prior to any frictional activities.

Emotional Considerations: I had a rough day. Please no heavy humiliation/mindfuck.

Personal Considerations: None, but it's nice to be back!

Requests/Suggestions: 1. Practice with rechargeable vibrator. 2. Flogging (mainly shoulders, maybe feet?)"

Her communication was clear, simple, and to the point. It left a lot of room to negotiate my agenda and told me about her well-being and desires, a good opening to pre-scene negotiations.

What should you do when a scene or encounter stops working for your partner and they use their safeword, followed by a few lines saying what's wrong? First, listen to them. Don't add anything to their communication. Follow their instructions.

The problem may be simple, e.g. "Safeword, my hands are going numb. Would you please loosen their bindings?" or "Safeword, my leg is cramping. May I please have my position changed?" All you have to do is grant the request to get the scene back on track.

Sometimes the problems are a bit more complex, e.g. "Safeword, I feel like a little kid and I'm frightened," followed by crying and emotional withdrawal.

Again - you need to first listen. You may have accidentally activated a childhood memory or trauma - a fairly common event when engaged in sexual exploration. In this example, if you were playing with unequal power, drop the roles and speak to your partner as an equal. Ask "What do you need right now?"

Be attentive but neutral and don't try to modify or prevent the experience. Calmly change the setting, release your partner from any restraint and lead him/her to a neutral environment, e.g., move from the dungeon to the living room and let your partner find a comfortable position. Then, again calmly, ask "Can you tell me what you need?" It may be to be cuddled & held, or not to be touched at all. It may to be left alone to figure it all out. Your partner may need some time to tell you what she/he needs. Be patient. This is when your love needs to be greater than your ego.

By letting your partner deal with the experience, and not compounding it, you'll help her/him grow through it and let go of it. However simple or complex the issue, listening is the key to avoiding a repeat. Pay attention to the things that don't work for your partner so you can both spend more time doing the things that do work. When you are confused and uncomfortable and don't know what to say, say that. Don't stop communicating. You may find the answers in your listening.

Scenes or encounters usually end with support, cuddling, and loving, but this too is subject to negotiation. Some people just don't want support at the end of their scene, or cuddling, it doesn't work with their fantasies. An after encounter discussion is always a good idea: "What worked? What didn't work? What should be avoided? What should be embellished? Get all the information you need to continue the sexual relationship and set boundaries.

The negotiation skills taught here work equally well with any consenting adult sexual practice, from main stream straight to even the most bizarre fetishes and fantasies. Whether you are haggling over the price of a new sex toy, negotiating the finer points of oral sex, trying to borrow your best friend's leather jacket, requesting which piece of lingerie you want your lover to wear or screaming "Don't stop I'm almost there!", negotiating will get you more of what you want. Your self-image will strengthen and you will become more effective.

Now, tell the truth, did you ever expect self-gratification to be so simple and easy?

COPYRIGHT 1991 - M.J. DECKER.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING REPRODUCTION.


This document is in the following section of this site: Main Documents > Contributed Documents > BDSM Archive

If you're new to this site, we recommend you visit its home page for a better sense of all it has to offer.