What Are Your Limits?
Safe words and limits. If you are involved in BDSM you might understand what these words mean and why they are so important. If you aren't and you are interested in BDSM, then this information is very important to know. Safe words and limits can also be used during vanilla sex and can help keep you and your partner safe. If you are unfamiliar with what these are, and why you should use them, let me explain.
Safe words/safe gestures are a code or signal that tells your partner to stop because you have reached your limit. Safe words and gestures are set before a scene and usually are not the words 'stop' or 'no' because there are submissives who enjoy using these words in a scene, but this does not mean you cannot make them your safe words. Safe words should be something you and your partner can remember during the scene and are clearly defined. The most common safe word system uses the colors green, yellow, and red. Green means 'continue' or 'good', yellow means 'slow down', and red means 'stop'. This is an easy go-to system for many people who participate in BDSM.
Sometimes during a scene you or your partner might be gagged and can't say the safe word, so there are also safe gestures. If you are gagged you can signal your partner to stop by nodding your head repeatedly three times or by putting three fingers up if you are not bound. During scenes it is the responsibility of the dom/top to make sure their sub/bottom are okay and that they want them to continue or if they need a break. Safety words and gestures are also about consent; you still must get consent before, during, and after a scene. If you ignore your bottom/sub safe words or gesture and continue with the act, then you are committing rape. Please beware of those who tell you that you don't need to use a safe word or those who try shame you for using them during a scene. You have the right to stop a scene no matter what – if you need a break, if you need to adjust yourself, if you are uncomfortable, or if you just need to catch your breathe you have a right to use your safe words and gestures.
Limits are unique from person to person. Each of us have things that are sexually off-limits, or things we are just not interested in. Learning what your partner's limits are is apart of learning about your partners. Do not assume that because your last partner was okay with one thing that another partner will be, and also be aware that you or your partner's limits can change. The more you experiment with things the more you will learn about what you like and dislike, and if you find that you have another limit don't be afraid to let your partner know. Both subs/bottoms and doms/tops have limits, not just submissives. We tend to forget this because dominants control the scene, but there are things that doms aren't comfortable doing or may not like to do. And just like with ignoring safe words, ignoring your partner's limits is rape. If your partner tells you they do not give consent for certain things and you still do them, it is rape.
Limits and safe words aren't just something to use in BDSM – it can be healthy to use them in vanilla sex too! Using these techniques can help with communication, setting a clear line of likes and dislikes, and getting consent. So try using it with vanilla partners too! Safe words and limits aren't things you should look over, they are for your safety and should be practiced all the time. They may feel weird at first and you may even think they are useless, but if not for your own safety do it for your partner’s safety. BDSM and sex and be fun as long as everything is safe and consensual.