Communication is vital – y’all have heard that. Everywhere. All of the time. In fact, I bet a whole bunch of you are sick of hearing about how important communication is. Talk more, dig into what meaning you’re giving words, check-in, ask for consent, speak our desire, name your emotions.
For whatever it’s worth, I’m sorry. At least, a little bit. I’m noted for being direct with my desires — but when I’ve got emotional skin in the game? The kind that makes me hope you like me too? You best believe that I’m nervous about rejection, not explaining myself correctly, coming across as needy. I unabashedly long for the days of using mixtapes to declare my feelings. I also realized in my 30s that the mixtape my friend made me in our undergraduate days was a declaration of her feelings for me. Nostalgia aside, perhaps not the most effective method of delivery. What I’m saying here is there are times when I’d rather not communicate as well. But I still know it’s the better choice and worth pushing myself for.
When it comes to sex, desire, and kink, communication becomes even more critical. We’ve set up the stakes high, and that makes the fallout from ‘miscommunication’ high stakes too. Violation. Betrayal. Abandonment. Assualt. None of these are easy to bounce back from, so I’m going to come down strongly in favour of confronting your fears rather than leaving things to chance. Plus, there’s so much benefit to providing clear, ongoing communication between parties during play. Being able to get or give feedback on how to make something just right in this moment turns a good scene to an excellent one, and can shift a failing scene into a win for all.
One of the easiest things you can do to make communication during scenes easier is find your voice. Not the one you heard barking orders on kink.com or the sobbing pleas that you witnessed at last month’s play party, but your actual voice. This is the one that’s going to help communication flow during play. And here’s the funny thing, you might not know what that voice is. That’s okay. Finding our way in kink is a journey, something we grow into – and hopefully, keep growing into over many years. In the meantime, I’ve got some tips for helping you communicate in a style that feels comfortable and powerful for you.
5 Tips for finding your voice:
Do be prepared to feel awkward at first
There’s a whole theory of conscious and unconscious competence to back this up, but the short of it is that anytime we step into a new area, our awareness of our incompetence in that area will be painfully obvious. Feeling awkward is not a sign that you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be afraid to try on different styles
Think back to that porn scene that got you all hot. Rather than trying to mimic a paid professional, think about what qualities are attractive and how you can bring them into your voice. Is it the tone, pitch or volume that turns you on? Are there specific words that sound hot, but you’d prefer to coo them then bark them?
Don’t stay committed to a style that doesn’t fit
The sooner you can let go of the idea that BDSM needs to fit in a box (beyond consensual) the better. Letting go of what dominance should look like allows you to hold power in a way that truly leaves you connected to power. Releasing judgements around what a good pet ought to do, think or feel allows you to deepen your personal relationship with submission. If what you’re trying ain’t working for ya, it ain’t working for ya – you’re allowed to pivot.
Do ask your partners what they find sexy, comforting, or endearing
Know how I’m always pushing for folks to treat challenges like a team-building exercise? Yep. That again. Communicating in ways that evoke positive feelings from our play partners not only help the scene overall, but it gives us an angle to try out that we know will be a hit and that boosts our confidence. That confidence, in turn, can play into a yummy feedback loop that extends well beyond the current play session.
Related – not everything needs to be ALL SEXY ALL THE TIME. In times of intensity, our partners can desire reassurance and comfort more than something that will make their lust spike. And what you think of as awkward might be the very thing your partner finds irreplaceable about you. Sexy is one flavour, not the only flavour.
Do practice compassion for yourself and your partner(s)
It’s not always easy to speak up. It’s hard enough to know what to say, nevermind say it in a way that feels like it won’t spoil a moment. Cut yourself some slack if your attempts fall flat, cut your partners some slack, and if you must laugh, pair that laughter with enough compliments to cushion your partner’s ego.
Bottom Line: flow is great, but communication is more important than flow. Even if it’s bumpy at first, building a solid base of communication will bring flow *and* keep your care for each other front centre in your relationship. And remember – I’m always available for coaching to help you find your voice and get even closer to the kink life you really want to be having.