For the majority of the time I have been involved in the lifestyle, there has been a common theme amongst kinksters. It is the belief that communication in the cornerstone of BDSM. Anytime newer individuals ask for advice, we tend to repeat the same mantra.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Kink, and BDSM, allow us to delve deep into our darkest desires. It often can leave you vulnerable and sometimes a little broken. It can be cathartic when done right and dangerous when done wrong. You can laugh and cry. You can scream or moan. You can curse, and growl, and talk in tongues. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do (within the lines of consent).
However, to get to a place of trust and security, to which you can achieve these things, you must communicate.
Unfortunately, I think there is one aspect we, as seasoned kinksters, often overlook when offering this kind of advice.
What happens if you don’t know how?
What if you have learned (through past trauma) that your thoughts and opinions don’t matter? What if you were trained to obey and never question? What if you have low self-esteem and do not know how to express yourself to a partner? Why if you are shy? What if your knowledge is limited and you do not know how to ask for help? What if you are overwhelmed by the endless possibilities?
What if you cannot figure out how to navigate the commonplace answer that tells you, “kink is what you make it and it is never the same for two people?” (And yes, while I agree this is an accurate description, it does nothing to help new individuals who are reaching out for advice).
How do you communicate?
My family has faced these challenges. In fact, for the last year, we have had such a breakdown in communication with one partner, it has threatened the strength and security with our other partners.
Three of us have learned to communicate. We have learned to talk to each other logically. We have learned to listen. We know how to barter and negotiate. We know how to trust.
We assumed our other partner knew how to as well. We have learned, quite painfully, that they have not learned to express themselves in the same way that we do. Our communication methods do not match, and because of that, we have been at odds for a long time.
Through much trial and error, we have come up with alternative methods of communication. While it sometimes takes more effort on our part to understand what is trying to be said, it has opened the pathways for better understanding.
I wanted to share some of these methods with you, just in case you have been where I am.
1. Journaling— write down your thoughts, questions, wants, needs, desires, problems, triumphs, dreams, and nightmares. They do not need to make sense. Write as chaotic as your mind is. Put your thoughts to paper so they stop cluttering up your mind. If you wish to later, you can refer to it. You can choose to have a partner read it or keep it for yourself. Writing everything down allows you to reflect on your thoughts and feelings when your mind is clearer.
**I find that journaling is a technique often used in a D/s dynamic. Master required I journal as well. He rarely read it. However, he wanted me to be able to track my own growth. He still has me refer to it from time to time, just to see my own strength of character as well as how my own interests have changed/shaped my development as His submissive.
2) Writing/Emailing/Texting—I referenced writing above as a more “old-school” journaling aspect. However, I am aware of how everything has turned digital now. Regardless of what medium we use, sometimes it is just easier to not look someone in the face when you talk to them. Whether you struggle to formulate your thoughts or experience anxiety when your words may upset a partner, writing it out, in any format listed above, gives you time to put the thoughts together concisely. It allows you to add or remove bits and pieces until you are satisfied with what it is you are trying to say. You can use it to express everything or just to get the conversation started. It is a wonderful way to work up to face-to-face conversations.
**I do caution against relying solely on written communication. It is often hard to read moods in text form and is negates the option of reading body language completely. Both of those are important forms of communication for humans.
3) Share your playlist— have you ever had a song just resonate with you? One that comes to mean more than just another song on the radio. I have. I use this method often. I send the lyric videos so that they can read the words as they listen. Most often, the genre of music doesn’t matter, it’s the message behind the music.
**If you need an example, go to YouTube and search “control” by Zoe Wees. You will get a small glimpse into my mind.
**If you need a second example, search out “A little Piece of Heaven” by Avenged Sevenfold (it is definitely NSFW). For those of you who follow my writings, you will remember a scene I wrote that involved listening to a song because it incites rage within me. This is that song.
4) Be Clear Headed— Never discuss anything under the influence of high emotions. Take a breather. Come back to it when you are calm. The same principle applies to any mind-altering substances. Alcohol and recreational drugs can also cloud your judgement and will not aide in solving any issues that arise.
5) Listen— Sometimes all you need to do to communicate is to listen. If everyone is trying to be heard, but nobody listens, nothing changes. Listen, repeat back what you understand, rinse and repeat until you reach an understanding.
6) Recognize the Right to Privacy— There are things you discuss with one person, that may need to stay between just you two. That is understandable. We are adults. This rule does more often apply to poly relationships but can refer to individuals who have multiple play partners, Service Tops, Friends with Benefits, or has an ex that they stay in contact with for whatever reason.
**Keep in mind, anything that is a danger to yourself or others should not be kept private. It should be shared with the necessary individuals (such as doctors, police, etc) who can provide the help that person may need. This is also true when talking about fluid bonding and the risks for STIs.
7) Patience— Remember, everyone processes things differently. Some individuals may need you to repeat yourself, reword a sentence, or explain a definition. This does not reflect badly on either one of you. It simply means you each need to have care in how you say things.
8) Separate Topics– Keep the “good job” conversations separate from the “this needs work” ones. Avoid the word “but” when possible.
I’m glad you did this but…
Thank you for that but….
You are such a good girl but….
I know you tried but…
**Each of these sentences will simply bring your partner down. If your partner already struggles with anxiety, low self-esteem, or mental health issues, this may lead them to just shut down and stop communicating all together.
An Alternative Example:
I appreciate your help with the laundry today. I wanted to make sure you are aware that we wash clothes on “cold” to prevent them from shrinking.
- This is a legit conversation I had to have with someone. They tried to do something nice by helping with the laundry. My favorite shirt was dyed pink and half my clothes shrunk because they washed the load on hot. I also ended up with an allergic reaction because they used the wrong detergent. This does not negate that their heart was in the right place. So, I thanked them and then calmly informed them of what to do the next time to prevent such issues. While this may not be a major issue in your home, these principles can be applied to almost any situation.
This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. Communication is about two (or more) people sharing what is in their mind. It is about listening and understanding. Whether you are negotiating a kinky scene or figuring out what is for dinner, communication is key. Regardless of how well some of us read body language and anticipate your needs, we are not mind readers. If you do not know what you want and need, we won’t know either.
Take what you will from these options. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you communicate. It simply matters that you are.
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.