Safewords are important, but reading your partner and being in touch with their signals is even more so. It’s easy to just rely on a safeword and to let your guard down, or to get lost in what you are doing not who you are doing it with. Always stay in tune with the energies of the scene and always, always be focused on who you are playing with. Remember, play with them, not at them.
There are so many non verbal signals, and sometimes being aware of those little tells can save you a lot of hurt and heartache. Breathing – does it grow shallow? Deep and relaxed? When does the breath catch? The pulse – you can see it quicken, watch the neck, look at the face, is it flushed? The eyes – do they look away? Are they frightened, looking for a way out? What is your play partner like? Are they an introvert? An extrovert? Do they have a still surface, where the smallest signs become large as billboards when you focus in on them, or are they an open book, reactions riding on the surface? Does their demeanour change? Their body language, are they shutting themselves down to hide or opening up? There are so very many, and when you begin to play harder this becomes all the more important to monitor. Even what seems like light innocent play can trigger someone, and you need to see if they are shutting down and hiding internally, or if they are on their way to a bad place – one that you may need the skills to pull them out of, to bring them back to safety. Remember, how you get consent is just as important as whether you get consent. Just because you push someone into saying yes, or find someone who says yes readily, doesn’t always mean that you should accept that as a yes. Be sensitive and aware, especially when you’re engaging in the edgier forms of play. And especially be aware of someone’s aftercare needs. The element of care and compassion is one that is sometimes skirted along in discussions on play and in “everyday” interactions in BDSM, but you may need to adapt, and quickly. If you aren’t willing to lay your self on the line, then be aware of where you are pushing your play partner. This goes both ways – always make sure your top knows what you need, and about anything in your past or makeup that may alter the dynamics of play – we are all people and not mind readers, and the very best intentions can be inadequate when assumptions are made.
I like to play right along the edge as well as in the more comfortable zones, and open communication as well as reading people becomes so much more important in these situations. Nothing is ever completely safe, just remember that all play carries some form of risk, just like walking out of your front door carries some risk. I look at edgeplay as being the extreme sports of BDSM. You can mitigate the risks, but you can never make it completely safe – which, to be honest, is the excitement of extreme sports, isn’t it? Especially when you play with rope, suspensions, rough body play and hard psychological play you play with death, you play with madness. It’s not for everyone, but to me it can be so very rewarding.
Remember, just because it’s a game, doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Look after your play partners, and look after yourselves.
Play hard, play safe. <3