Cause of Triggers During Play

frustrated young business man

Triggers are things that should be acknowledged in a relationship and are one of the things we look at especially when we are going to play. This article can’t cover all the specific triggers you may or may not have, however, it will cover what various things can cause a trigger. You can be triggered in a positive way as well – which is lovely and not in need of an article! 🙂 Unfortunately most triggers are discovered because they happen during play. If this happens, whether you continue the scene or not, it is something to discuss and process – and then add to your future negotiations. The following are examples in each category and certainly not an all inclusive list.

TYPE OF IMPLEMENT/PLAY – You may be triggered by a specific implement or type of play. Maybe your punishment as a child was being hit with a belt. For many it’s a fetish and for some with a similar story, they may have turned it around into an enjoyable experience. However, if it creates a bad association for you, then it’s a trigger. Perhaps you were assaulted in the past and now a scene that includes “consensual non-consent” floods you with those awful memories.

POSITIONING – Being tied to a cross may not be a big deal, however, if told to take a spanking in the “diaper” position (basically laying on your back and pulling up your knees, similar to a baby getting a diaper change) you feel humiliated, and not in a sexy way.

PART OF BODY – There may be one or more places on your body that you don’t want touched, exposed or impacted. Sometimes this is because it just makes you angry if it happens and takes you out of your headspace. Sometimes there is a certain body part(s) that is linked to trauma or bad memories, etc.

WORDS – There are words that can trigger negative feelings. I might be really into sexual humiliation, yet if you call me fat or stupid (or the equivalent) I will be triggered. Being called certain titles/names can also be a trigger.

SOUND – The best example for this that I’ve seen is a Veteran having a PTSD response to someone cracking a whip. It could also be something as simple as a specific song.

SMELL – Our sense of smell is largely connected to our memories. You may be triggered by a certain type of cologne/perfume, cleaning products, lotion, etc.

Nothing is silly or unimportant. If it triggers you negatively PLEASE include it when you negotiate your scene. Your Top will appreciate it!

Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.


  1. i never thought about positions as a trigger…there is so much to remember and to take into account.

  2. unfortunately sometimes triggers aren’t realized until they are.

    great article!

  3. Tonight I was punishing my sub (wife) and then after I was done she didn’t want me touching her and she wouldn’t talk to me. I’m new in the bdsm world and I’m trying to make my marriage more fun. She has been in the bdsm community for a while and I’m trying new things (like tonight) someone please help me fix or comment somthing to help me fix what I might have don’t to trigger in her. Thanks in advance

    • An outsider can’t really answer this question. All I can suggest is communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. Talk about what happened when she’s ready. Discuss what it was about the event that effected her. Figure out how to handle it differently in the future. I wish you all the best!

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