Let’s assume you’ve met someone that you want to tie up, and they’re interested in being tied up by you.
Do you a) just tie them up with no further discussion?
Or b) have some talks about it first? In other words, negotiate?
Here’s a hint. Don’t go with A.
This post will discuss:
- The expectations of a scene
- Learning about physical and mental health
- Establishing communication guidelines
- Negotiating aftercare
- Discussing the other activities that can take place during the scene
- Personal preferences
- And a wee bonus tip that saves a lot of hassle
The key to a very successful rope scene is not in the skill of the ties involved. It is not in the artistry, or in the effectiveness of the bondage.
The key to a very successful rope bondage scene is in making sure that both you and the other person involved are having a very good time; and the more you know about what both you and the other person involved enjoys and expects and can do, the more likely you are to have that very good time.
As an example, you may be into rope bondage in a sexual context. The other person may be into rope bondage in a non-sexual, masochistic context. If you are not aware of this, or if you assume that they’re going to be expecting sex, and attempt that while they’re bound, this could wind up with the other person feeling violated, and charging you with rape.
Knowing where the expectations lie and what the both of you want to get out of this is IMPORTANT.
So this is why you have your discussions and your negotiation about where the boundaries lie, and what the both of you want to get out of it.
Knowing what the other person is looking for, hoping to experience, just what they get out of rope bondage and associated activities is hugely important. It’s the difference between doing things they like and don’t like; and also the difference between someone interacting with you this way again, or disappearing and possibly even telling other people that you’re crap. Generally speaking, if person B hears that person A had a terrible time during a scene with you… person B isn’t going to be interested either.
Another issue is that some people like to discuss what’s going to happen in a scene beforehand, the process and structure of it, and other people like to be surprised. Knowing which is which before it happens can save you a lot of hassle.
So ideally, you and the person you are going to tie have talked and have the same expectations of the scene. This makes it much more likely that you and they will have an awesome time together.
Fun fact: Most rope bottoms and submissive types also really like to know what you want to get out of it, as the top. That way they know whether this rope bondage session or scene is meeting your needs, and whether they’re performing well. It’s very reassuring to them. So discussing what you want is just as important as discussing what they want. It also means you have a higher likelihood of getting your needs met – which is definitely what you want!
Physical and Mental Health
Pre-existing health conditions have a huge impact on what you can and can’t do in a rope bondage scene. And nearly everyone has had something in the past that might impinge on your scene.
This isn’t necessarily a problem – if you know about it. Because then you can plan around it.
Example 1: Person A has poor circulation.
Scenario A: If you know, then you can adjust how you monitor safety, by not relying on temperature and instead relying on things like finger movement or verbal check ins.
Scenario B: (where you didn’t ask) is fifteen minutes in when you check their hands, you get a terrible shock at the cold and IMMEDIATELY start to worry about where your rope is cutting off their blood flow. Panic. Undo rope. Disrupt the whole thing, while they try to explain that this is normal for them.
Example 2: Person B used to be a gymnast. They’ve broken lots of bones, including wrists. The wrists can still cause problems when they’ve been placed under strain.
Scenario A: You don’t learn about this – you put their wrists in a double column tie above their head while they’re standing. The weight of their arms is now supported just by their wrists; and after the scene, their wrists are severely strained and not functioning well for the next two weeks. They’re also in significant pain every time they try to do something with their hands; WHICH IS ALL THE TIME.
Scenario B: You do learn about this; you use a chest harness instead connected to an overhead point to support their balance. No problems ensue.
There are lots of other things that can happen. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, you can come across a lot that will impinge on your scene. But they can generally be planned around, as long as you know.
A significant section of the population have experienced mental illness of some type or other. Again, this is manageable, when it’s discussed and known about.
Example 1. Person A has PTSD. They’ve had some traumatic events involving assaults etc in the past, and maybe they now have specific things which cause them to have a panic attack. Like, say, their arm being yanked up hard behind their back.
Scenario A: You don’t know, because you didn’t ask. It didn’t occur to them that it might be a thing. You pull their arm up behind their back to start a harness and they suddenly go rigid and start hyperventilating. They freak out. You freak out. Scene over.
Scenario B: You did know. You still do your harness; only you do it much more slowly and gently, with appropriate reassurance, maybe some stroking of the arm as well. They feel safe because the feeling and attitude of the situation feels much nicer than that traumatic event; there are no problems; you have a great scene. (Note: this may or may not work; I now choose to avoid doing anything that might remind them of that event until we have a good rapport and several good trust building experiences)
Generally speaking, the right combination of medication, managing the mood and circumstances around a scene etc (refer back to Emotional Safety) will generally get you through. You may need to create specific strategies, but they can definitely be worked out.
A Tip About Medication:
Most medications have side effects of some kind. If the person you’re tying has a physical or mental illness and they’re on medication, it helps to ask what side effects (if any) they tend to experience, so you can adjust for that as well.
Establishing Communication Protocol
Discussing communication is really important.
The person you’re tying needs to know that they’re going to need to offer feedback or alerts if something feels wrong. They also need to know that you’re going to check in, and how you’re going to check in.
Some people like to do so in such a way as not to break the mood of the scene. As an example, the Top may ask “What colour?” In a stern and imperious tone. The code reply generally goes “Green” – all good, we’ll keep going; “Yellow” – I’m not sure about this one thing, or I can’t take more of that for long” or “Red” – this needs to stop, now, I’m overwhelmed and can’t deal.
Or you could just ask about wrists etc in a straightforward fashion. Up to you.
You do need a protocol for gagged play; something to drop, or a squeeze system, some signal if everything is okay.
For example, I like to squeeze hands. If I squeeze someone’s hands twice, and they do it back the same number of times, then I know that a) they’re fine, and b) their motor control isn’t at all compromised by the rope. It’s a two for one benefit.
If they hang on and don’t stop squeezing, or if they can’t squeeze back, that’s a problem. I remove the gag and check in verbally.
The important thing is to have discussed these things and to have agreed upon your own communication protocols before play.
Appropriate aftercare can be the deciding factor that makes a scene a “positive, empowering experience” or “that terrible thing that that person did to me that left me feeling awful”.
It’s the closer. The icing on the cake. The reassurance that despite having done some fairly unusual things, the two of you are good, connected human beings and it really was a good intense time. It cushions all that intensity nicely.
Both Tops and bottoms tend to need aftercare of some kind. Something to wind down from the scene.
But taste in aftercare differs between individual, so it’s useful to ask what the other person needs and wants.
- Person A may want cuddles, reassurance that they did well, that everything is okay.
- Person B may want to get up and walk off all that energy.
- Person C may have a very violent desire for sex or an orgasm to top everything off.
I’ve known Tops who like to cuddle and get reassurance that the person they tied up is really okay, and that they really did have a good time. I’ve also known Tops who like to stride off and have a smoke and get some time to themselves, because they’ve just been monitoring and engaging in a really intense interaction with someone, and now they need to decompress by themselves.
It goes lots of ways – again, the idea is to establish what’s going to work for the parties involved in the scene, so they can work out a mutually agreeable solution or protocol for both.
Other Activities in The Scene
It’s actually pretty rare that rope tying is the only thing that happens during a bondage scene. It does happen; sometimes that’s all a person needs to get into a blissful space.
However, more frequently, other stuff happens too.
This can include but is not limited to:
Sex, rape fantasies, humiliation, biting, scratching, pinching, use of equipment such as clamps, use of pain, use of feathers or sensation toys, vibrators, flogging, caning, belting, whips, electro play, breath play, blindfolds, etc.
The list goes on.
Not everyone likes everything; you really, really want to negotiate both what you want to do and what activities are okay, and WHERE it’s okay to apply them.
“I like floggers on my back but not my butt”
“I like floggers on my ass but not my back”
“You can clamp my labia but don’t you fucking dare put those things on my nipples”
“You can belt my whole body, but please avoid nipples or genitals. I have piercings and I don’t do sexual scenes”.
Etc. It really helps to have some idea of what else is okay before you get in there.
Introducing surprise things with no discussion sounds fun, but it’s often not the wisest course. You want to have at least some idea of whether or not the person would find that sexy or fun.
Pro-tip; you can actually make this negotiation part of a casual talk about sexy things and fantasies if you like. It doesn’t have to be a long formal process, it can be several fun discussions about various things you’ve thought about or wanted to try. This becomes a great opportunity to get the other person’s view on these things and whether or not they’re excited about the idea. Much sexier than a clinical discussion.
Everyone has personal preferences about various things. Often it’s things like words; Person A may really enjoy being called a “slut” Person B may be violently repelled by the notion, but “whore” is actually a secret favorite part of their fantasies (*slap* “You shut your whore mouth”).
Some people absolutely hate having their feet touched; other people get wet as soon as they feel rope sliding across the soles of their feet.
Everyone’s different; try to take note of these things, because sometimes you can really exploit them to have a fantastically hot time.
Bonus Section: Cheatsheets.
I have several negotiation templates which I use. A general one, an “extensive one” which I tend to not use as much, and a short one for “pick up and play scenes” which might occur at a party. These are very useful; because they act as prompts for the questions you want to make damn sure to cover.
The more you practice negotiation, the less you need the cheat sheets, but they’re very useful.
You might include
- Previous experience with bondage?
- Physical conditions or illnesses? Medication?
- Mental illnesses? Past trauma?
- What’s the fantasy that being tied up is part of for you?
- Sex? No sex? Where’s okay/not okay to touch?
- Personal favourite words? Personal turn off words?
- This is what I like to do; what I get out of things; does that make sense/work for you?
- Marks? Photos? Any preferred music in background?
- Tied to furniture okay?
Protip: if you get Evernote for your phone, keep the template on there, and then add the answers in, then you then have a reference sheet for the next time you play with that person. I freaking love Evernote for reasons just like this (The featured image at the top shows a screenshot of one of my templates).