A Guide To Etiquette In Online BDSM Scenes Part 1
In my eyes there is one key to a fun time for everyone participating:
Before, during, and after a scene.
There is nothing wrong with jumping into a game or scene and having fun without talking. If that works for you - perfect! But if it doesn't, or you feel like there is room for improvement, and you are looking for a guideline or some ideas of what may be missing then I hope these few paragraphs can give you some inspiration on how to improve your sessions.
The list of topics here is something I started writing down when thinking about what I'd like to know about my sub, or what I would like my dom to know about me, and how I'd like my partner to behave with me.
I'm sure that if you've already had a little experience with online sub/dom scenes there will be no surprising piece of information here. But maybe this can still help you - as it does for me - to collect your thoughts.
In the following text I'm talking about the dom(inant) and the sub(missive). Both terms are of course meant to be gender neutral. Even when I'm talking about both participants most things should apply to other scenarios (such as multiple doms or subs - or both) in a similar way.
Please keep in mind: I'm in no means an expert on this matter. Take everything mentioned with a grain of salt. Many of these things are my personal opinion and you are allowed to disagree with me.
And without further ado, let's begin!
Preparing The Scene
Behind the screen there is a real person. Respect each other as a person and get to know your partner a little ... and then jump into some sexual action!
Get to know each other a tiny bit before a scene. You don't have to discuss every detail (you better not otherwise there are no surprises which makes it boring) but since the variety of options is so large, trying to get on the same page with your partner is very important.
There is a wide range of topics that could be discussed in varying levels of detail. These are some examples - most of these topics are directed towards the sub, but some of these apply to the dom as well.
Knowing the timezone of your partner is a very useful piece of information. It gives you a rough idea when they had their last meal and how long a scene may be (granted you know when their usual time to go to bed is). It also helps you adjust the scene and aftercare knowing if your partner will sleep after the scene or get ready to start the day. Ask your partner about how much free time they have so you don't engage into an hour-long scene if they should be working or sleeping to recharge for the next day.
Room of the Scene
Talk about the room the scene takes place in. What kind of room is it? And what furniture is in the room (bed, chairs, ...)? This can be important for resting or the usage of toys (e.g. attaching rope).
The temperature of the room should tell the dom something about the comfort of the sub and whether there will be a need of times to cool down with a drink or warm up under a blanket.
If the sub is open to talking about it, also cover the environment in this discussion: Does the sub live alone or do they live together with a partner or friends who need to be considered when planning a scene? Is it possible to make a little noise (e.g. spanking, moaning, ...)?
A rough understanding of the size, body type and/or flexibility can help the dom especially in the context of bondage. Maybe discuss areas of the sub's body which can be teased to easily arouse the sub. Other areas of the sub's body could be very sensitive because of injury, trauma, discomfort or other reasons and may need to be handled with care or avoided all together.
Different people need different things to cool down after a scene. Both participants should discuss what they need in the moments after a scene to feel physically and mentally cared for.
The mood of both participants can of course vary. Being in the mood for something more gentle or rough can and should determine what kind of scene you agree on. Ask them about the style of scene they like. Maybe they do enjoy a RP approach, additional visuals or tasks.
If this is not your first match with your partner you can also ask them about any changes in their likes and dislikes as well as any fantasies they like to play out.
For some activities toys or even the sub's body may need some preparation (e.g. complicated ties, anal play, ...). Giving the sub time to prepare or telling them in advance is a great idea.
Getting to know your partner and the setting you are playing in is really important to get the right feeling for the scene, but please be respectful of their privacy.
Don't pressure your partner into answering questions if they feel like it reveals too much personal information or makes them uncomfortable. Reassure them that they don't have to answer any questions they don't want to.
Kinks & Limits
Try to find some common ground with your partner. The more overlap in your likes and dislikes you have, the better the conditions for a good chemistry between you and your partner. And most importantly: Consent to the things the dom may do to the sub!
There should be a discussion about the sub's and the dom's kinks. Remember this is for the pleasure of both, so talking about the dom's kinks is just as important as talking about the sub's kinks. To get a faster understanding about the general direction of someone's kinks there are useful sites that can assist you, like a bdsm test, filling out a kinklist or a sex map. These can be especially helpful when someone doesn't have a clear idea about their kinks, what they like, don't like or are keen to explore. There are probably a lot of other tools and websites out there. If you don't like any of those listed, you will surely know or find another list or map that suits you.
The answer "I don't know" to the question "What kinks do you have?" is perfectly valid. Not knowing what you like or dislike is perfectly fine. Communicating that is important though, since that lets the other person know you are inexperienced, so a rather gentle approach to start exploring and experimenting is probably the way to go.
Soft & Hard limits
When talking about limits, differentiating between soft and hard limits is a good idea. Soft limits are limits a person is not comfortable with at the time of the talk but may be keen to explore under certain conditions (trust, specific person/gender, situation, ...).
A hard limit on the other hand is something that must be avoided under every circumstance. Not respecting hard limits should at the very least lead to the end of a scene, if not the relationship.
If a talk about limits did not happen prior to the scene (which I strongly advise against), avoiding kinks which diverge a bit from the norm (whatever that means) is probably a good idea. For me this includes but is not limited to:
- Strong pain (permanent body damage, blood, heavy bondage, ...)
- Taboo play (e.g. incest, age, bestiality, ...)
- Bodily wastes/fluids
- Non-consent play (especially blackmail, drugs & alcohol)
- Degradation (name calling, humiliation, ...)
Meaning: Keep it vanilla or try to gently steer it into a direction to see if the other participant is following. Or just talk before the scene, which makes things just easier.
Accepting "I have no limits" for an answer is probably not the best idea. As an interesting article on the matter of limits states:
Never say you have no limits! Do you want to sleep in a dog crate? Are you keen on suffocation? Would you like to be interrogated or branded? Somewhere along the line, you will encounter something that you do not want to do. For a new submissive (...), I highly recommend knowing your limits and expressing them.
Under the term soft limit I'd also like to put things a person is used to. That can include (but are not limited to) things like:
- Duration of orgasm denial/time without full orgasm
- Amount of orgasms within a scene
- Duration of scenes
- Duration in chastity
- Pain threshold
These are limits a person can be open to get pushed. Knowing these things helps you understand what your partner is used to and allows you to adjust the scene accordingly.
In an ideal world a safeword would never need to be used but, since you can't be sure everything will going according to plan,
it's better to have a safeword and not use it than need one and not have it.
Before starting the first scene between a sub and a dom, both participants should agree on a safeword. A safeword is a signal both participants can use to signal physical or emotional discomfort to stop the scene.
Additional safewords can be used to signal the other participant to slow down the scene because the "stop"-safeword is about to be used. Having such a "warning"-safeword can be a good idea since it allows the dom to adjust the intensity of a scene in a way that the "stop"-safeword is (hopefully) never used.
A popular example for a set of safewords is a traffic light:
- Green - We're clear, go ahead.
- Yellow/Orange - Slow down, this is getting intense
- Red - Stop. Now.
The safeword can be anything (usually a word, phrase or even emote/emoji) and is usually decided by the sub, since it's more likely that they will need to use it.
That does not mean the dom can't use the safeword - on the contrary. If any participant feels like they need to pull the emergency brake on a session they should do it!
Safewords are there to be used when things get out of control or move in a bad direction. Make sure to reassure each other that it's perfectly fine and good to use the safeword if needed.
If the "stop"-safeword is used, stop immediately. No questions asked. Stop. Immediately. Instantly go into aftercare mode and make sure the dom or sub is okay. Comfort them and do what makes them feel their best (see section: Aftercare).
In each of my encounters where a safeword was used, guilt played quite a role. Guilt in the dom for pushing the sub too far and guilt in the sub for using the safeword in a scene and disrupting it. That's why I put such an emphasis on making sure my partner knows I never want to put them into a position or push them so far that they must use their safeword. And when they do, they should not feel bad about it. As stated above the steps after using a safeword should be:
- Comfort your partner until they are in a good state, both physically and mentally, and don't feel bad about what happened
- Talk about it to make sure something like that doesn't happen again.
I hope you could take away a few things from the first part. In the next part I will cover a little more preparation about toys and get into etiquette within and after scenes. Hope to see you there.