Everyone needs something to feel safe. Whether or not you’re aware of that and what those things depends a lot on the experience you’ve had in the past, especially if there have been times in your life that you sense of safety (or actual safety) have been compromised.
Part of navigating the kinkoverse, it’s spaces, it’s people – and also the relationships/interactions we have with its inhabitants means figuring out our thresholds of safety and security. What do we need to know about a person, space or activity to feel comfortable being in that space, or sharing an activity with that person.
That can be more challenging than it sounds, especially when you’re new to a experience. After all, it’s pretty hard to plan for the unexpected. Think of it like trying to get a container for an unknown quality of an unknown substance – how do you plan for that? How would you decide how big a container to get? How would you know if you needed a firm or flexible container? Does that container need a lid that’s sealed tight, or would it be better for that substance to breath a bit?
Sometimes choosing the wrong container isn’t that big a deal; other times you end up with tomato soup all over your counter and a big mess to clean up.
Part of the problem that comes with not having a strong personal understanding of our individual needs around safety and security (or our thresholds, boundaries, containers, etc) means we can’t effectively and efficiently communicate our needs to others. This leads to a number of different things: awkward conversations, inaccurate or missing information, or sometimes finding out too late we’re on wildly different pages about what container we’re building together.
Clarity makes for hotness. Be it in conversation, kink, or good old vanilla sex. A great place to start when looking for clarity within yourself is by answering a “simple” question:
What do I need to feel safe in this moment?
The answer might be that you need to communicate a boundary, you might need to ask a question, you might need to know where the quickest route out of the room is – or it might be a more complex, multi phase request and that’s okay too. It’s better to take the time you need to sit in this and find our what you need then to be playing catch up when you’re already activated.
You can also apply that question to specific situations – What do I need to feel safe to kiss my partner? What do I need to feel safe to go to a new play party? If you wants the bonus points exercise, consider different stages of risk in a particular scenario: What do I need to feel safe to kiss my partner? To kiss this person I’ve known for 6 months? To kiss that hottie I met 6 minutes ago? What about letting that person hold a knife to your throat? What about letting that person tie you up when you’re naked and alone?
Your answer is never nothing – even if it that’s what comes into your head. What nothing really means is that your conditions/needs/threshold for risk has already been met, so you don’t need anything on top of what you already have – this is important distinction because on a long enough time line we all come to a place where our past experience fails us we’re exploring new territory. And when you get there, whether it’s an exciting opportunity or because something familiar when spectacularly off the rails this is an answer you’ll want to be able to access.
Start asking yourself these important questions. Start building your ability to hear yourself advocating for your needs – even if you don’t choose to grant yourself those needs. Start now because accessing this kind of knowledge doesn’t come overnight, and the only way it gets easier is with practice.
Start practicing now.