Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Negotiation Tips: Give Examples

A quick note, this post is about D/s relationship negotiation, not BDSM play negotiation.  There are similarities between the two of course but at their core they are quite fundamentally different.

Pet and I have been doing LOTS of negotiating over the time we've been together, not just at our re-evaluation times every three to six months, but just in the day to day when we talk hypothetically about the future.  And I've been talking about it with a lot of people who express interest in knowing how we do it.  Negotiation is one of those things in WIITWD that everyone says we should do, but no one really tells you how to do it.  There are checklists and so on and so forth but those only get you so far.

After talking with a few people about negotiation and communication and making sure you're understood and all that, I thought I'd offer up this tip.  First of all though, this isn't the be all to end all about relationship negotiation, I don't have the energy right now to write up a post in great detail of how we do it, but this is something that might help if you've had trouble making yourself understood or understanding your partner.

Give examples.

Lots of them.  Not just one or two.

Don't worry about "going too far".  Because this is a negotiation.  It's not set in stone.  You're not laying down the law at this point, you are discussing options.  You're offering what you do and don't want, and then they offer what they do and don't want in return, based on your wants and not-wants.  That's negotiating.  Examples are hugely useful for this.

Don't just say, "I want to control your eating habits".  Explain what that might look like.  Tell them you want to be able to specify how often they eat, what they eat, what they're not allowed to eat.  Tell them you don't want to be asked about every meal though.  Maybe you only want it when you're around.  Or maybe you do want it all the time, maybe you want to construct some kind of schedule meal plan for them.  They might ask, do they get time off from your plan?  Do they get exceptions?  Can they eat a chocolate if they've been good?  Do they get to have x number of cups of coffee every day without asking?

Don't just say, "no body modification".  Think about and explore what that means.  Okay it means no tattoos, what about piercings?  Probably not.  But what about hair colour?  What about clothing?  That's modifying presentation.  Are those okay?

Don't just say, "I want to mark you as my property".  Marking with what?  Words?  Symbols?  Pictures?  In what medium?  Tattoos?  Piercings?  A collar?  Branding?  Sharpie-on-skin?

Don't just say, "I want you to respect me as your dominant".  Jeez.  What does respect mean?  What does it look like?  Respect might just be a feeling, are you okay with your sub just feeling it and not expressing it?  Do you want them to show you respect by worshipping you every day?  Bringing you coffee?  Sitting at your feet?  Never interrupting?  What does "respect" look like, to you?  What does it look like to them?

The reason examples become so useful is that talking theoretically will only get you so far.  You can talk about an idea and it sounds great to everyone, but everyone might have different ideas of what it looks like.

For example (heh):

Pet and I originally had a protocol that if she was around me, she would have to ask before drinking or smoking.  When she was on her own it was her decision.  Something that changed this most recent negotiation is that that no longer applies.  She now has to ask every time if she can drink alcohol or smoke.  When we discussed this, she said, how do I ask?  I said, send me a text.  And to pre-empt her next question, I added, if you don't get a reply, assume "no".  She was concerned, what if she's in vanilla company and someone offers her a drink, and she can't exactly say "oh hold on, I need to text Sir and ask"?  I replied, then she can say "Oh, I'm not sure," or "I'll think about it", and then quietly text me.  She was satisfied with that answer.

Without that example, she might have been floundering a bit should that situation actually come up.

We had a conversation when we were discussing, can she play with other people without permission?  My stance on it was, she can play, but she can't submit.  She submits only to me.  And that threw her a bit, and we had to define what "submission" meant to us.  For me, it's as simple as - if she's playing for her, then that's fine.  If she's doing it because she's told to do it by someone who isn't me, that's not fine.

I'm running out of brain juice for this entry (stupid brainfog, stupid chronic illness) but I hope that's given people some ideas, if you've had communication issues around D/s previously.  :)

1 comment:

  1. This is a really great piece of advice, and something that I hadn't really run across before. It also applies to all kinds of other situations where mutual understanding of expectations is important. Thank you for putting this out there.

    (P.S. I have read some of your more recent entries and I hope things get better for you soon.)