I was talking with a friend about limits in preparation for Wednesday’s PTNG Discussion Social on limits, negotiation and consent. She asked me, seriously, if I personally knew what my limits are. Honestly, it was a hard question for me. I don’t like the idea of being labeled as a “hard player”, despite the fact that I know I sometimes am one, but I know that a lot of my friends, especially my local friends, see me that way. I’m certainly not one of those “no limits crazy people” that sometimes show up on fetlife, claiming they’d let their Dom do anything to them. I do have some sense of self preservation: it’s just less than a lot of other people’s. I had to admit that there are some limits that I’m not sure of. I don’t mean what types of play or activity I am or am not comfortable with. I find that to be straight forward and easy to categorize. I do so like this:
Ethical Limits:The following are things that I won’t do, even under duress, because I feel that they are ethically inappropriate. These limits are constant and universal.* Play involving parties that do not or are unable to consent. This includes play involving minors, animals, the dead, the unconscious et cetera. * Play where the validity of consent is questionable. This includes people who are not mentally stable enough to give proper consent or those who have a track record of consenting to activities and then retroactively “removing” their consent to play the victim. I believe that consent must remain cut, dry and clear for a scene to function.
Solid (Unbending) Limits: I don’t like to use the word “never.” There was a time when I had “themes of bodily possession or belonging to another individual” on this list, and now belonging to Malignus is one of the greatest joys in my life. I’m always open to the idea that I could change dramatically in the future. That said, I can’t see myself ever doing these things if my life keeps going the way it is right now: * Sexual themes or contact in play. * Degradation or humiliation.* Inserting anything into any of my orifices, including my mouth.* The sharing of bodily substances other than my tears and blood.* Contact with my sexual organs, including my breasts, of any sort during a scene.* Religious, spiritual or occult themes in play. * Permanent bodily damage or transformation. * Consensual non-consent.* Infantilism.* Age-play where a character is younger than teenaged.* High Protocol.
Hard Limits: These are things that I have absolutely no desire to ever do, but that I would engage in if sufficiently driven by submission and in a physically and emotionally safe environment. Those in bold carry significant emotional weight:*Wet and Messy play, especially including food.*Suction or vacuum play.*Electrical play.*Breath or choking play.*Drowning or water-boarding scenes.*Fire play (including fire cupping).*Knife/ Sharp object play.*Whipping and flogging (or any kind of impact play on the back).*Needle play.*Sensory deprivation.*Medical play.*Things involving feet.*Tickling.*Confinement.
Soft Limits:These things aren’t my preference, but I’m willing to do them if they are useful in a particular situation or are for a video:*Full nudity during a scene.*Teenage ageplay.*Bondage or restraints.
These are the limits that I understand. The ones that are lost on me are the limits of physical tolerance within a scene which is emotionally comfortable. There has to be an end to what I can take, right? If there is, it’s eluded me thus far. I’ve never reached the moment where a spanking becomes physically unbearable before (although I did once reach the point where I had to throw up because I had eaten way too much ice cream cake before the scene and another time because the emotional side of things wasn’t right for me). I’ve touched on the rumored “terminal hurt” –– the place where the body simply stops processing pain and things feel awesome, once, and it was an amazing experience. But I often hear people talk about thinking that they “can’t take any more” and that is something that I don’t feel. I choose what I can endure. I have never seen a photo of a scene or created a scenario in my mind that I did not have full confidence that I could endure unless it was permanently damaging, against my other limits or far too dangerous. I’m not being cocky: I know what my abilities are, if I desire to use them. I’ve been severely injured in the past (from reasons not related to the scene!) in ways that the majority of people I interact with will never experience. I endured. I’m able to endure a considerable amount. What influences me, what creates my not yet understood limits, isn’t my ability: it’s my desire.
I’ve come to the conclusion that what I can take is based entirely on what I want to take, which makes the idea of the end point very flexible and sort of unnecessary. There’s romanticism in the idea of “going all the way” and finding the end of what I am willing to endure, the place where I no longer have any desire to continue. If I enjoy pushing myself, it would follow that I would enjoy pushing myself all the way. The problem with this is that it isn’t practical. It’s a nice fantasy, but it would involve an amount of force that would certainly be injurious and the satisfaction of proving what I can take wouldn’t be worth the effort and possible physical consequences to me.
As it is, I take pleasure in engaging in play which is severe and “pushing myself” from time to time. It isn’t my usual thing. I don’t consider myself a particularly hard player in my daily life. When I do receive spankings that are particularly severe, I have the confidence of knowing that no matter what happens, it is something that I can take. I don’t need to have physical evidence to know that. I really only play to that level of intensity with Malignus, and I trust him entirely. Perhaps more importantly, I trust myself to be responsible for my own well-being if it comes down to it, and to endure appropriately if it does not.
Whether you’re seen by others as a hard player or not, do you know where you draw the line? Are you comfortable when others mark their limits in vastly different places than you do? I’ve often been uncomfortable talking about the level of play that I’m alright with because I fear that others will judge me negatively for it. Thoughts on that?
We do everything in our power to have an open and honest discussion about limits with a spankee. We very much appreciate a spankee that has your approach too, and can clearly state what doesn’t work from them. It can be a REAL challenge to deal with “gee, I don’t know”… and we’ve learned to avoid that (gee, I don’t know = hard limit in our book).
It is tough when it comes to a spanking tolerance level limits though, even when there is great communication. What might be a moderate spanking to one person would feel like an absolute beating to the next and then a playful warm-up to the one after that. That makes it hard to explain/understand what the words used to describe the limit mean. Then where the actual limit is can sometimes change. It’s different based on the type of spanking, the emotional atmosphere and so on. The more a spankee can offer and explain though, the better.
That said, it’s best to aim for the lower side of pain tolerance and then build up from there.
We’re comfortable with most tolerance limits too. Never really run into a spankee that was “too light” when it came to a spanking. Have one time had a spankee that wanted more than we were comfortable with… and when that happens, there is nothing that can be done but to wish the other good luck and move on.
Now when it comes to Suzy getting spanked, she is open about being a harder player… and she is totally fine speaking up if something isn’t working. Communication is always a good thing, and if someone judges her harshly because of it… we look at it like dodging a bullet.
~Todd and Suzy
Thanks for your awesome reply, Todd and Suzy!
I agree with you on the dangers of “Gee, I don’t know.” If there isn’t good understanding of what’s desired and good communication, a scene opens up to a lot of risk.
The first time I play with someone, I try to keep open communication the entire time until we hit a good level. I usually say “That’s a 4 out of 10 for me” or “You can go a bit harder” until we reach a level where I’m happy. I’ve also let people know when we get to a level of intensity that I don’t want from that particular scene even though it’s totally tolerable: “I’m not really in the mood to go any harder than that.”
Despite being a harder player, I never insist on anything severe from someone! I can’t imagine someone wanting to play harder than you were comfortable with, but I’m glad you said “See ya!”
Glad you liked the topic! Take care, you two 😀
I’d say I know where I draw the line on most things. But I can have different limits with each person I play with. It’s certainly not a one size fits all sort of thing. And they definitely change. When I was new to the spanking world, the idea of implements was terrifying and I figured I’d only want to be spanked by someone’s hand. And now who is the girl who purchased her own custom made wooden paddles? *raises hand*
I’m far from a hard player, quite a wuss really. But it is what it is. I could see that when you have the “hard player” rep, others may think it’s okay to always go to that level with you. But just because you CAN play hard doesn’t mean you ALWAYS want to play hard. I’m on the other end of the scale that people sometimes go really easy on me because of said wuss rep, plus the rainbow of bruising that appears so easily can freak some out. I’ve had to say “it’s okay to go harder” a few times.
I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, and I will share a few of them. In relation to limits, I have a set of limits with my Dom that is constantly fluctuating and evolving as we delve deeper into the D/s aspect. I have another set of limits with regards to public play at parties and meets. Those are more standard and include rules such as no inappropriate touching of sexual areas, no nudity, etc just to protect my own interests.
I also try to avoid the “never” thing, however, there is one thing in which I will never partake. I cannot do breath play or asphyxiation play. I sometimes hesitiate to say why, because most of my limits reamin on a need-to-know basis, but the whole idea of asphyxiation bothers me too much to ever allow it. That said, I lost a family member in a fit of fatal domestic violence, and that was how she lost her life. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the idea of willingly allowing myself to be in that situation. I know, of course, that the contexts are completely different, but the lingering idea still remains. I cannot bring myself to do something that cost the life of someone I loved.
Jai- Thank you for your honest and thought provoking comment. I relate to you: the reason why I am uncomfortable with drowning play is because two of my friends were murdered by being drowned and both submersion and asphyxiation were used against me non-consensually when I was younger. The only reason why I consider these to be Hard Limits and not Solid Limits is because I could see myself potentially wanting to experience them in a safe environment as a sort of fear facing, healing exercise.
I really appreciate you sharing.
Lea- I totally agree that there are different limits with each person one plays with. It’s about establishing trust and comfort first! A lot of the reason why I worry about my reputation as a hard player is because I don’t want to play that way with the majority of people.
Great topic. Since I am so new to the scene, and only had two spankings so far, I had no idea where I was with what I could take. I did communicate the limits I did have, however, and that was just fine. I think most would say I’m a very light player.
There are things that I will not do that are written in stone. I will not consent to being tied up, will not engage in anything of a sexual nature, no BDSM stuff, no medical stuff, nothing that I consider will be damaging to my body. This goes for some of the other things that have been mentioned, such as role playing and getting into DD stuff. I am not into any kind of discipline stuff. I am strickly into spanking and only that. I allow it over my jeans, which are rather faded and have no back pockets. Right now, I will only do OTK where I can stretch out on a couch or bed and relax so I can experience the spanking without having my head and feet dangling over the side. Besides, my poor stomach wouldn’t handle that in the first place. I am not into impliments except for one that my top has that is a little leather paddle shaped like a hand. It has a nice sting to it and that is what I am wanting. I don’t think I will ever submit to a cane. I have seen too much of what I call real damage done with them. I don’t like bruising, but it happens and some bruise more easily than others which can make a relatively moderate spanking look like a very hard one. What I want is to have release and catharsis and I am getting that. One strange thing (well, sort of strange to me because I didn’t expect it) I have found is that after I have been spanked, I feel very relaxed and a major plus is that for a time, I have no other pain in my body except for the warmth in my bottom. Since I have fibromyalgia, that is a big deal. I just wish it lasted longer. But for the time I feel that freedom from that kind of pain, it is wonderful.
So you can see that while I didn’t know just were I was with all of this, I definitely had limits. It is very crucial to define those limits before engaging in any kind of play.