This is the third and final article in a series Julia Swan has written on communication advice for bottoms (aka submissives) during kinky scene play. The information she gives is valuable for any type of sexual play. To read the first article, go here.
As a bottom, one powerful tool in co-creating successful scene play is the ability to give feedback during and after scenes.
Play can go from blasé to breathtaking with a few well-timed check-ins and honest answers. Many of us have experienced moments in the midst of negotiated scenes that didn’t feel as expected and the play ended abruptly. When we equip ourselves for mid-scene feedback, we don’t have to stop, just shift.
There is only so much work we can do prior to play to understand ourselves and what we want. Sometimes our true responses don’t show themselves until we are in the middle of experiencing our fantasies.
For example, perhaps you thought you wanted to be put over your partner’s knee and spanked with a lexan paddle, but when the time comes and it’s happening, you realize that paddle hurts a lot more than you thought it would!
Scene play often includes elements that increase vulnerability and make it uncomfortable to speak up when we need to change what’s happening. Nudity, pain play, power exchange, hormones, and neurotransmitters can all create a power differential that is keenly felt when we realize that we need an adjustment.
The good news is we CAN have great communication during play that allows for real shifts in action and vibe. When we’re negotiating the activities of a scene, we can take into account the vulnerable state that occurs once the scene starts and set ourselves up for success.
Mid-scene communication begins during pre-scene communication!
Be in the habit of tracking over time your physical and verbal responses to various play stimuli. Communicate during the pre-scene chat about how you respond when things feel good, and how you respond when things feel not so good. How should partners respond if they observe you laughing, crying, swearing at them, or having orgasms? For example, do you process sensation by breathing a certain way or hopping around on one foot?
If partners know what signs to look for, they can adjust the intensity and style of play according to your reactions. By having this discussion in advance, we give our partners a chance to communicate reactions they may want to avoid, and it opens up discussion around how they can adjust the play to keep things awesome for all parties. If you’re going to be playing in a loud or public space, like a dungeon, it’s also a good idea to decide on a nonverbal signal that shows partners that you need them to check in.
Over-communication is better than under-communication
It’s true that sometimes play will self-correct through unspoken cues between partners. However, anytime we’re feeling unwanted discomfort or disengaged from the scene is the time to signal to our partners to check in. Quick comments like, “Could you move on from that toy for now?” or “I’d love it if you’d do that to my thighs too,” can make adjusting easy and helps bottoms continue active participation in the flow of the scene. These communications are not renegotiating boundaries mid-scene, but:
Small adjustments can take a scene from dull or uncomfortable to hot and tantalizing.
A post-scene, post-aftercare discussion with partners gives everyone the opportunity to reflect on the following questions:
- How did we feel during play?
- Which parts did we like or love?
- Which parts we are still evaluating?
- Which parts did we not like?
- Which parts needed reworking?
We also get to find out from our partner anything we didn’t know about how we reacted, giving us more information for our next negotiation. This time is also good to voice concerns that might be lingering or discuss any mishaps or injuries. While the goal of all this communication is to mitigate negative outcomes, if they do happen, it’s usually comforting to talk about them directly. At the same time, it’s important to follow our intuition if this step does not feel helpful. The goal of this discussion is to gain a better understanding of how to communicate with each other next time, or with other partners in the future.
Purposeful engagement mid-scene and post-scene offers us all a chance to develop a stronger sense of self, understand how to make play satisfying, and accumulate valuable information to take to the next negotiation. Knowing what we want and how to communicate it will lead us to the scene play of our wildest fantasies.