Monday, January 27, 2014

How An Appointment Reminder Card is A Lot Like BDSM Negotiations

My dentist (whom I love) has this bad policy of sending out "appointment reminder" postcards when it's time for a checkup. See, what they do is, they make you an appointment, put it in their calendar, and then do you the favor of letting you know they've gone ahead and put you in their schedule by sending you a postcard. What ends up happening is you get a little card in the mail with your appointment date and time stamped on it, with the message "please call!!" politely scrawled beneath.

The first time I got this postcard, I ignored it. The office manager called me a week later, asked me if I'm coming to the appointment, and I said no, I couldn't make that time. She rescheduled me.

The second time I got this postcard, I was a little bit more pissed off, but ignored it. The office manager called me a week later, asked me if I'm coming to the appointment, and I said no, I couldn't make that time. She rescheduled me.

The third time I got this postcard, I decided I could make the day and time the office manager had graciously allotted me. I called up the office to let them know.
"Oh thank you," she said, albeit a little sarcastically, making me bristle. "It was nice of you to call this time." Her tone got me defensive.
"Well I assume you know if I don't call, I'm not coming," I said.
"Funny, some people think the exact opposite," she replied.
"What do you mean?"
"They think if they don't call to cancel, that means they are coming. We really wish people would just call and let us know."
After getting into a small but heated discussion on the wisdom of their policy of making appointments for people without their knowledge or consent--which resulted in her putting a note in my file, 'call patient first before making appointment'--I hung up.
But the conversation got me thinking.

Preliminary negotiations between a Top and bottom work much the same way as an appointment reminder postcard. A Top sends out the message he wants to play with a bottom; the bottom indicates she's interested. Now the negotiations start.
Too many times, I've heard of cases where things go bad during the scene because the bottom did not make her wishes and limits clear enough. The Top (if he's experienced at all as a Top) will know to ask certain questions, and keep a checklist in his head of things he needs to know. But there is no way that checklist is going to encompass everything the bottom wants him--needs him--to know.
It is up to the bottom to tell him.
But what if she doesn't?

The bottom assumes, if they haven't discussed it, it's off the table. If she hasn't made it perfectly clear it's ok, then it's an automatic no.
But the Top assumes if they haven't discussed it, it's a possibility. If she hasn't made it perfectly clear it's a no, then it's a maybe, which he might be able to slide into a yes if he plays his cards right. And hey, she's always got her safeword, right?

If the play is light, the differing way they view the situation doesn't have to become too much of a problem. The Top will do something, or say something, which rubs the bottom the wrong way; she'll let the Top know what he did was not ok with her; he'll likely apologize, and tell her he didn't know, since she didn't mention that limit in the negotiations; she'll accept his apology, and the scene will move on.
Hopefully, she'll be a little wiser for it.

But if the play is heavy, things get more perilous. The bottom may sink down into subspace far enough that she no longer has the headspace to protest what the Top is doing. Whatever he's doing is not life-threatening, it's nothing that hurts hard enough to pull her up out of subspace...but it's definitely something she would not have agreed to if he's asked her during the negotiations. It may well be something she regrets later. She's just unable to formulate her response to it at the time, to voice her opposition.

What ends up happening is that after the play is over, and she's had time to recover, the bottom feels like something happened to her that she did not want, and did not ask for. She may well feel violated, or at least uncomfortable enough to refuse to play with the Top again.

The thing is--and I know I may get some flak for this--these situations are not the Top's fault. Or at least, not solely the Top's fault. It is up to the bottom to make her limits clear; it is up to the bottom to decide on the extent of the scene; it is up to the bottom to communicate her wants, wishes, aversions, edges, triggers, rules and restrictions.

I was bottoming in a scene one time where I had told the Top in advance not to pull down my panties. He had nodded; he got it. But I had not specifically told him not to let the flogger he was using touch my cunt, even over the panties. It had not occurred to me. So when those flogger strands whipped over and up, biting into my pussy, I jacked straight up and turned around.
"Don't let that happen again," I said.
"Okay," he answered. He nodded; he got it.
That was all. The scene went on. And the next time I bottomed for someone I had never played with before, I specified: no touching my cunt, with anything, even over the panties.
Live and learn.

Tops aren't mind readers. They don't know what's going on inside your head; they don't know where you've been. You need to tell them.
Believe me, they (the good ones, at least) want to listen to you explain things to them as precisely as possible. They want to know every last detail about what you want (and what you want to avoid), so they can give you the best damn scene possible. They want you thinking about them every time you touch yourself for the next week. Hell, the next month. They want you remembering your scene with them and thinking, that was so fucking hot.
The aim, of course, to get you to want to play with them again.

So bottoms, remember this: tell your Top what you want, and what you don't want. Be as specific as possible. Don't assume he knows how to 'play' a certain way, or to use a certain toy; don't assume he'll be like the last Top you had, who used a certain technique you liked (or didn't like). Don't assume he'll know not to do that.

And if you fail to mention it to him, and he tiptoes over your boundary line...let him know, quickly, firmly, but politely. Don't assume the worst. Don't let it ruin your scene. Let him make it up to you.
And enjoy.

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