This is the second in a three-part series.
As bottoms, many of us are naturally inclined to serve others, take pleasure in others’ pleasure, and put our own desires last.
As we saw in the last article, we often struggle even to name our needs and wants. And once we have done the work of looking inward to discover our fantasies, there is yet another challenge: communicating them to our partner(s).
Anyone who has attended a kink class or event has probably heard that we must negotiate scenes before we begin. When people speak of “negotiation,” we think of what we can or can’t do during the scene. Certainly, establishing boundaries and limits is vital to good, consensual play. But it may not go far enough. Pre-scene conversation must include an opportunity for everyone to state how they’re feeling and what they want in the scene that day.
Many of us have found ourselves in pre-scene discussions only giving answers to questions put to us, but not asking any questions or feeling as though we can’t share anything beyond what we are asked.
If we wait for an invitation, we lose the chance to advocate for our own happiness and fulfillment during play.
Even though our partners may be wonderful, and scenes with them often nothing short of magical, they cannot read our minds. When we do not communicate our desires, our partners are left in the same position as a chef who only has half of the ingredients needed to make a meal. They might be able to create something pretty good, but think of what they could do if they were fully equipped with all of the food needed—possibly something extraordinary!
Every piece of information we communicate is another tool we’re giving our partners to use, allowing them more freedom and creativity as we play together. At first, however, sitting down with your partner for pre-scene discussion may seem unsexy or awkward. If that’s you, imagine this scenario:
You and your partner sit facing each other. Maybe you’re cross-legged, maybe kneeling. There is a bit of touching, as you acquaint yourselves with each other’s body in that moment. You’re each gauging energy, focus, and mood. One of you asks, “How are you feeling right now?” and the conversation has begun.
2) Leader/Follower Models
In some relationship/play dynamics, there is a leader and a follower. Some follower bottoms express that their leaders don’t always proactively make space for the followers to share their feelings. For some followers, it can seem presumptuous or inappropriate to initiate those conversations. Followers who find themselves in this position might need to have a discussion with their leader about how they can give this information when it hasn’t been requested. Here are a couple of sample questions you might use (please modify to fit your situation):
“Sir, could I please have a moment before our scene to share with you how I am feeling?”
“Mistress, before we play, I’d like to share how I am feeling and some desires that I have. How would you like me to express those to you?”
From this point you can flow easily into questions of how you would each like to feel, what forms of play or implements you’re interested in trying, what you would each like to get out of the scene, etc. You have created an environment in which you can each be vulnerable with the other(s) as you express your desires. You can begin your scene with confidence, knowing that everyone will be fulfilled by playing within the boundary of overlapping desires.
In some cases, pre-scene discussions reveal the uncomfortable reality that there isn’t enough overlapping desire to make a good collaborative scene. Sometimes bottoms may also realize that they’re not being heard, or their partner is not showing respect for their desires. There is no shame in acknowledging the mismatch and deciding not to move forward with play.
If, as bottoms, we feel any discomfort at any time, we are under no obligation to continue playing, discussing, or explaining ourselves.
It’s really okay to walk away.
Whether the outcome is a fun, glorious, transcendent scene, or not playing at all, our efforts to speak up about our desires will position us for scene success. We will be able to walk away feeling satisfied and more confident as we approach our next experience.