This section is currently being revised and linked to our Risk Profiles workshop. We hope what is here will be useful, even though many sections are incomplete, but please check back again soon for revisions and additions. Thank you!
We strongly urge tops and bottoms to become familiar with the concepts of consent, negotiation, and risk profiles before engaging in rope play. Further, we believe it’s not enough to just “understand” these concepts: you need to decide what these concepts mean to you personally–how you define and understand them–and then be able and willing to share your understanding with others before you engage in play. Taking the time to do this work in advance will almost certainly save both yourself and others from emotional and/or physical harm.
We have found no better discussion of what consent “means” than the one provided by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). We provide a brief overview below, but we highly recommend you read their Consent Counts Statement in full.
more coming soon …
Before you do any tying with someone else, you should take time to discuss mutual expectations. It’s no fun to be tied up and unable to escape before you realize the other person had something completely different in mind for this interaction!
Below are some suggested questions to ask yourself and discuss with a potential rope partner.
How do you want to feel during and after this interaction?
The goal of negotiation should be to find an enjoyable way to share rope with another person, so we like to start with this positive question. It’s important to note that this question is for both tops and bottoms. Finding an answer that all participants can agree on is an important first step.
Some examples might include: I want to feel cherished. I want to feel powerless. I want to feel ashamed. I want to feel strong and beautiful. I want to feel skilled. Etc.
What type of rope interaction is this going to be, and how much are you willing to risk for it?
All rope bondage involves risk, but the degree to which that risk can be mitigated changes based on the type and intensity of the interaction. Will this be a casual practice session? Is this a “scene”? Will there be D/s or SM play involved? Sexual play? If you’re tied up and have an orgasm, how will that affect the tie? Think about the possible implications for what you have planned.
Are you ready for this and right for them?
Both parties are responsible for building knowledge and skills to prepare them for the type of interaction intended / desired. Know your limits. Be honest about your knowledge, skill level, and physical health. Know your desires, and be honest about what you would like to do.
Are they ready for this and right for you?
Don’t assume someone is safe just because they are well known, have been around for a long time, know a lot of people, organize events, or have lots of cool pics on their profile. Get references and check them out. If their skill/experience level doesn’t match with your own, are you both able and willing to play on common ground?
Have we discussed the major areas for negotiation?
We really like Tifereth’s “big three” areas (with a few slight additions):
- Health Conditions and Injuries – physical or mental conditions that should be considered (including medications, recent injuries and/or medical care, drug or alcohol intake, circulation issues, triggers or emotional concerns, or other conditions)
- Placement and Preferences – known preferences (natural vs synthetic rope, thick bands vs thin, don’t touch my ears, etc.) and placement concerns (no rope between the legs, no toe rope, place arm bands higher/lower than most, etc.)
- Sexual Play / Ds / SM – the type of dynamic that will be acceptable and the amount of sexual intimacy/touching
What will we do if there’s a problem?
Depending on the type of interaction, you may need to establish specific methods of communication if a problem occurs during the interaction. One of the most common protocols for this is establishing a safe word. In addition, tops in particular should be constantly considering the potential “what ifs” during any given scene.
What will happen after this interaction?
What will signal the end of the scene and the beginning of aftercare? What do you prefer for aftercare (top and bottom)? What kind of follow-up are you comfortable with (check in later that day, text tomorrow, phone call next week, etc.)?
Coming soon …