Negotiation in a BDSM scene is something I have been asked about several times. How do I do it? How does it work? What would it look like? I would love to say here you go, this is the formula for a successful negotiation and just remember to follow each step without deviation. It would be neat and easy, just bring a list of expectations and say this is what you must do. If I did that when I negotiated it would be quick fast and easy; as they ran away, probably screaming.
By personal admission I am a Sadist, Top, Dominant, bisexual, polyamorous male. I do enjoy what would be considered vanilla sexual interaction as well. That being said, where I think the negotiation first begins is with attraction. If the attraction is not mutual then nothing would happen anyway so walk away. As the saying goes, there is no use in beating a dead horse.
Next there would be a flirting and getting to know the person phase, we talk and see if we share similar likes and dislikes. A joke or saying here and there to see how the other person reacts. Eventually this can build into more daring and suggestive comments. At this point I determine are we just friends, sexy friends who can have risqué discussions or something more.
Once that threshold of something more is crossed It is time for more personal digging and discussion. Up to this point is looks like typical every day personal interactions evolving into a romantic relationship many people have. Now that that line has been crossed and it is apparent that we can be something more I seek a more private and personal interaction with the person I am interested in.
The one on one comes in various forms, from text to face to face meetings. At this juncture I ask point blank if they have other relationships, not that I mind, I just do not want to be blindsided by a jealous lover. In the same token I would let them know have a primary relationship and have no interest in replacing my primary partner. My primary partner has already been informed about the new person of interest and we have talked about the new person in some depth. At this phase I also discuss in greater depth the likes and dislikes of the person I am interested in as well as sharing my own thoughts and ideas. This is the point most people would consider the negotiation to begin, for me this has all lead up to a point where is an established base to continue from. This of course does not apply to a one-night stand or chance meeting encounter, for the most part those are rare and not the kind of dealings that are generally part of my desired interaction.
Now we have arrived at the part many think of when talking about the negotiation process. The open communication about likes, dislikes, curiosities and desires all spun around till a type of scene or relationship can be agreed on. It is a process that can go quickly or take months or longer to come to a agreed on plan.
What do you like? This question is an open-ended exploration of the other person. The answers range from an extremely specific type of engagement to I do not know, I just want to see what is out there to learn. If they know exactly what they want, and you are comfortable with it then congratulations and move to the planning phase, most often that is not the case. Then I start asking about what I like to see if there is a match. Often I will ask what do you think about (insert type of activity). I expect the yes, no or I am not sure about that, if they still are vague or say I want to try everything I get rather snarky. Everything is a huge list, from as soft and easy as petting, to hard core and full contact forced play. As I tend to be into heavy type play I say I would like to just (fill in the blank at the moment) Normally it is something on the extreme line and often they do a knee jerk oh hell no, that is not what I want to have done. If they still do not know after I have explained a few things I like, then I just walk away. I do not mind teaching or helping someone explore their boundaries but there must be a starting point.
Once there is an established set of boundaries then we set a time and place for a scene. Enjoy as many times as you both wish. Negotiation is knowing what you want and finding someone who wants the same or similar things. It can seem intimidating the first few times but after finding your own style it gets easier. Just remember, if you do not have the same likes then it probably will end in disaster. Also, if they want something you are not comfortable with then express that too, if the other person is insistent you must do or try it then excuse yourself and walk away. It is not worth putting yourself in a situation that you will regret later just to please someone new. Things can change over time as trust builds so negotiation is not just a one time thing but an ongoing process.