This Journal Entry will center on limits, negotiation, and communication in S&M play, and how not to go about pushing them. For those who are not yet aware, a “Limit” in kink play is a player’s boundary between what they will consent to experience and what they will not consent to. There are two widely used types of limits, HARD-LIMITS, and soft-limits.
A person’s hard-limit is the line thou shalt not cross. If a person deems an activity a hard-limit, it is something they will under no circumstances consent to experience. Very common hard-limits include: play with certain bodily fluids (e.g. blood, feces, vomit), play that will cause permanent scarring or long-term damage, or play that will cause immense psychological trauma to the player (triggering PTSD, claustrophobia etc…).
NOTE: This does not mean that these types of play are bad or that people should be discouraged from engaging in them. Generally these types of play pose some higher levels of risk to players. Before playing with blood or bodily fluids, for instance, players should educate themselves about personal safety and proper clean-up techniques.
Soft-limits are kinds of play which a player is uneasy or unsure about. They may be willing to consent to play with their soft limits, usually under stricter and simpler circumstances, and generally only with partners they’re more familiar with. A person’s limits may be subject to change, a normal type of play can become a limit, a hard-limit can become a soft-limit, and vice-versa. This is the nature of experimentation in BDSM.
Anyways, the weekend before Christmas, my boyfriend and I were at The Crucible’s Queer Party, and we decided to do a rope suspension scene. This was nothing new for either of us. iamthesexfairy has spent the last few months developing his abilities as a rigger, and he’s been testing and honing his skills on me when we meet.
Rope suspension for me has always come with a greater level of discomfort than any other type of bondage. I don’t let this deter me, and instead welcome this as a challenge. As someone who has always been tall, scrawny, and thinly built, I’ve always felt physically weaker in comparison to many other young men. Pain play is therapeutic and empowering for me in this regard.
We chose to add something new to our scene this time, by adding a device to the rig that would allow me to spin 180° without twisting the suspension lines, such as the device pictured here. So the problem came when he had finished securing my rope harness to a winch in the ceiling and proceeded to raise me off the ground. I knew that spinning around in circles in mid-air would be quite disorienting, but my testosterone was flowing full force, and I can become quite the exhibitionist and performer at large parties. I wanted to push myself, to do something that would be challenging and painful, and come out on the other side stronger than before.
I kept telling iamthesexfairy to raise me higher, and spin me faster, despite the mounting pain in my torso from the harnesses on my chest and hips. He objected, and said that he wanted it to stop, but I urged him to continue, that I was fine, that I could handle it. The rope lines were digging painfully into my limbs, and tugging on the hair on my legs. He was getting steadily more nervous. Eventually I had reached my peak, the dizziness and pain took hold, I finally gave the signal to stop the scene. He untied me, and we both began to drop mentally. We ended up leaving the party early, unable to continue playing, and unable to watch anyone else continue to play.
My takeaway from this, and the lesson I hope others can learn, is to exercise greater caution when experimenting with limits or dangerous modes of play. In my arrogance to prove my physical prowess and grit, I hurt myself, and I pushed my play-partner and lover unnecessarily past his own limit. I failed to engage in proper communication with my partner. Like the mythological Icarus, I flew too close to the sun, and thus I was burned.