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?