This week’s Ask Me Anything comes from a bunch of discussions we had on Facebook this week, some of them sparked by my Ask Me Anything from last week on good resources for getting into the kink lifestyle (read it over here), and it’s a really important one to have so I hope you enjoy! Curious what the #AskMeAnything is? Check out the official AMA page on my site over here.
Q: What’s all this about soft limits and hard limits? What are they and why do I need them?
A: Thank you invisible internet people for asking this and/or talking about it, because limits are absolutely necessary in every kink relationship. Really I think all relationships should have them, but I guess it doesn’t come up as often for vanilla couples.
What are limits? You might have asked yourself this once or twice, or you already know and I’m being repetitive, but that’s okay. To put it simply, limits are a list of things you don’t really want to do. And they should be an actual list. I keep mine in a note on my phone so I can easily copy + paste + send to anyone I’m thinking of playing with. I also highly suggest that you come up with your limits list before you’re thinking of playing with someone specific. The reason for this is that your excitement to play with a specific person might color your true feelings about an implement, or an act, or a situation, and you might let someone do something you really don’t want them to do. Which isn’t good for you, and if they’re a decent dominant it will probably make them feel like shit too. So, avoid that. Write these down as you think of them. Keep it updated and fresh.
What are soft limits? These are the things on your limits list that you feel a little nervous about, maybe a little squeamish, but there’s a little voice inside you wondering if you might like it. Telling a Dom it’s a soft limit means that if you choose to try it, they need to take it slow. They need to explain everything, and they need to check-in a lot to make sure you’re still okay. It also warns them ahead of time that you might safe word because maybe now that you’ve tried it you’ve decided that nope, you are definitely not into being covered in chocolate and having it eaten off by a swarm of bees. Sure, it sounded cool in your head, but now you’re not so cool, and you’d really appreciate him blowing his bee-summoning whistle to remove them. (ridiculous example used so as not to offend anyone’s kink!)
What are hard limits? These are the hell-nos. The fuck-off-and-die-with-that-idea limits. Everyone has these, because these are the over-the-line things that you refuse to participate in. BUT! If you’ve been playing a long time some of your hard limits may drift towards soft limits, and that is okay too, because we are always changing. It’s why I said in the first section to keep your list updated and fresh! Who knows when you’d like to try that chocolate + bees thing again, right? No matter what, a hard limit should never even be attempted in a session with a good partner. Hard limits are off-limits. Doing something on a hard limit list is equitable to assault and/or sexual assault to me, and most SSC individuals in the community. It’s a major violation of trust, of someone’s body, and of every foundation of BDSM. Hard limits are no joke, and both subs and Doms get limits. If your Dom has a hard limit on something, it’s not cute to violate it. It’s wrong. Don’t do it! Don’t let someone else do it! If they do it, you need to decide if you feel safe enough to continue in that relationship.
- Side note: If a Dom ever flat-out ignores your safe word. Not an “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you the first time, but I did the second time and I stopped”, but a flat out ignoring of your safe word. Run. Leave. Get out. Report them to someone, if not the police. This is a terrible, gigantic red flag, and behavior like that will most likely only get worse. They don’t respect you, they don’t want you safe, and that is no longer BDSM. For real. Alright, back to the fun stuff.
Why do I need this and what do I do with it? Well, once you’ve figured out all your limits, keep it easy to access. Pop it into a folder in your email, save it in a note on your phone, but keep it accessible. You need this because if you’re starting to dip your toes into the community and you think you might want to meet someone, they need to know your limits. You should also ask about their limits. When you first start out, you might have a soft limits list a mile long, and a hard limits list just as long – and this is okay. We all have different things we can handle, we all have reasons behind our choices, and if you’re going to play in this community your play partner needs to know these things or there is no way they can do it safely, sanely, and with your consent.
What all can be on a limits list? Is it just implements? Certain acts? The short answer is anything can be on a list if it’s important to you. Now, to be fair, I’m going to share my obscenely short list with you just to give you an idea of the kinds of things you can have. Please remember, I’m a painslut and a masochist, and I’ve been in the community and playing for over a decade. I’ve done a lot of stuff, and soooooo no one needs to have a list anywhere near as short as mine. Okay? Okay.
- No photography or video without express permission, that includes security cameras and “oops I left it on”.
- No marks I can’t cover with normal work clothes, seasonally appropriate.
- No watersports.
- No age play.
- Clean movement from anal to anything else.
- Condoms for vaginal/anal.
- No scat play.
- No blood play.
- No public activities.
- Name calling is fine, just never “wench”.
- Pre-determined safe word. I usually go with yellow/red cause they’re the most common. Nonverbal is three snaps or three hard taps.
So… this is pretty much all I have to say on limits, but I wanted to take one more chance to say just how fucking important they are. Before you play (or before you play again if you have been playing and never taken the time to write these down) WRITE THEM DOWN. This is me being a protective, crazy, mama bear, but I adore you lovelies and I never want anyone to take advantage of you, whether they know they are or not. As always, my inbox is always open for more questions. If you have questions about my limits, or your own limits, please ask. I’d love to talk about them.
PS – Send me more questions! I’m loving this weekly opportunity to chat about BDSM and all kinds of stuff.
What does Scat Play mean?
Does Clean movement mean what I think it means?
Scat play is anything to do with fecal matter. And clean movement is exactly what it sounds like! If anything is done with anal, go wash off, then come back and play. Some people are okay with not cleaning off, but I’m not. No yeast infections / risk of infection for me!
Hi. Was in a dynamic, that just ended today permanently. My so called sub, was living on fb 18 hours a day. Gaining weight, neglecting her health, fast food, just a social media zombie. I recognized it as a problem and imemented rules and tasks, in order to give her balance and structure, which were agreed upon and accepted. Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and have had 2 surgeries and just started chemo. The last few months, I’ve been moody, a bit insecure about everything. She had gone to a friend she trusted and completely emasculated me, betrayed my trust. I chose to forgive, gave her a rough punishment, which she never finished. Long story short. She asked me to remove her collar, I obliged. Then denounced me as her Dom, yet still expected full support and service, if ya know what i mean? We decide to try to reunite, now all of a sudden facebook is a hard limit. What in the fuck makes her think facebook limits are even legit limits? Seriously? Am I wrong here or is that just a bratty bogus ass move?
I think it sounds like you two aren’t well matched. Obviously I don’t know the whole story, but a sub can set any limit that makes them feel safe. If you don’t agree with them, you have the choice to not be in a relationship with her, and based on your frustration that might be best. You deserve to be happy in a relationship just like she does! Sorry for the delayed reply!
What do you do if the person you are playing with or even your own person you call your Dom try’s to manipulate you or convinces you politely with open communication to trust them that your soft limit shouldn’t be a limit? And since you play with other people have you ever had a situation where you want to play with someone over another because that person doesn’t have a limit that the other does? Say your Dom has a hard limit and you have a play partner who does not have a limit on a certain subject and you tell your Dom You prefer to play with this person over them due to that fact on the hard limit, is that a form of manipulation, would either you or your Dom feel hurt in any way if either of you said that due to a hard or soft limit?
Hey lovely! It’s important to recognize why we have soft limits and hard limits. A “hard” limit means never ever ever. A “soft” limit is like a giant warning sign that says “don’t ever do this without talking to me and getting my consent and agreement and planning it with me”. A soft limit is usually something you’re nervous/scared of, but are willing to try under certain circumstances, so your Dom asking you if you want to try it is really him doing his job. Now, if he’s doing it as an ultimatum “Provide anal sex or I am leaving you” then he’s a jackass and you should walk away. If he’s saying “I know anal sex was a soft limit, so I want to know if you’d be willing to try this small plug and work up until you’re comfortable with the idea” then that’s okay.
Now, on playing with other people, I think that the benefit of a successful open relationship is that we CAN find different things we want with different partners. So my answer is yes, that if I found a limit with my Dom I might look for it in someone else. However, my Dom did the same thing when we were together, and it was okay because we had discussed it and were on the same page. I think if any of it feels like manipulation then one, or both, of you aren’t actually wanting to have an open relationship. Being with another person should never be treated as a weapon in the relationship, it’s just a part of the dynamic. So, I wouldn’t be hurt, but I would be pissed off if my Dom framed being with someone else as some kind of consequence for my actions. If that’s how you’re being treated, lovely, I’d really think over whether or not this Dom respects you or not. <3 Wish you luck!
If someone (whether the Dom or the Sub) has a hard limit that is a must limit for the other person, how would you suggest that situation should be handled?
It sounds like those two people aren’t a good fit. Anyone in the BDSM community knows how important it is to respect limits, and if that limit is a non-negotiable for the other person then the only responsible thing to do is separate and go on to find people who are a good fit. I’m assuming the people have already tried to discuss it and it’s come down to Person A has the hard limit, and Person B insists on including it in play. If that’s the case… there’s really nothing else to do but move on and find someone better! I wish them all the luck!
Great post. Thanks for the information
You’re welcome, lovely! I hope it helped!
Hi, I’m new to BDSM and everywhere on the internet, I read about limits fixed by the submissive, but what about those of a dominant? Let’s say I’d like to put a hard limit to choking or strangling my submissive (because let’s be honest: I lack experience, I find it dangerous and it goes against my principles to do so)… is it possible? I mean, it would respect the SSC and the RACK for both sides, right?
Of course! I think I even mention in this article that both dominants and submissives will likely have limits that their partner needs to respect. It should always be about communication because sometimes a limit has nothing to do with SSC/RACK, but someone’s individual preferences / triggers / traumas / needs, etc.
my dom knows I want my soft limits pushed but only so far. I use stoplight to cue him. we have excellent communication and cue each other with a natural ease that doesn’t interfere during scene.
unfortunately I have been contacted by countless people claiming to be doms who are nothing of the sort and expose themselves as such almost immediately.
a GENUINE dom will be more than aware of exactly how important safety is to a woman and would never make anything close to a demand such as, “just come to my place to meet.” maybe 90% of the men who contacts me say such things and can become genuinely angry when refused.
I have had people say some truly frightening things, among them, “I don’t use safewords”, “any sub of mine (note the assumption of possession) will have to do anal”, and “I decide what your limits are.”
worse, far worse, but I won’t share those. in a nutshell, very angry desperate men who genuinely want to hurt women in the guise of a dom.
– – –
my REAL dom actually had to rein me in because I was too eager and helped me understand how important limits were.
I said, “I’m willing to try anything,” and he very firmly said, “no, you’re not.” our first scene was pretty vanilla and was obviously essential a test so he could learn about my reactions, etc…
even now, he probes my emotional state if he perceives tension or reluctance.
we had a lengthy discussion of limits which was quite enlightening. I’ve discovered the more immersed I am the further I’m willing to go. he included some light degradation during a recent scene and it was mind blowing because it took me to that place of surrender faster than I thought possible and I floated around on a cloud. I, um, actually lost spatial orientation and my safeword but it must have been obvious because he shifted into after care immediately.
There are lots of “Not” doms out there in the world, which are just aggressive people who claim the term in order to target what they see as a vulnerable demographic in the dating community. I’m proud of you for recognizing the signs and keeping yourself safe, and it’s very important to be aware of your limits (and your partners limits) and discuss before pushing them! Keep enjoying you kink and keep communicating!