I’m a bad submissive. I mean, I try really hard to be a good girl, and overall I’m not that bad, but communication-wise, I’m a terrible sub. I don’t talk. During play, I want to withdraw into myself, and either enjoy the sensations or overlay them with my fantasies. I hate being pulled out of my inner world for something silly as saying my arm’s tingling while in bondage or that the spanking is way harder than I can endure. I’m a big girl. I can take it.
I’m a grown-up. I’m a mature woman who understands the need to speak her limits, even when saying these words might mean the scene has to be paused or ended. I might hate having to speak my mind, but deep down, I know safewords are essential.
When my husband and I first started playing together, we also decided a safe word should be implemented. I chose the word ‘hyacinth,’ inspired by the novel ‘Cushiel’s Dart’ by Jacqueline Carey. There’s this meme going around the internet with the text: ‘If she’s screaming ‘Pineapple, Congressman, Philadelphia, Fettuccine,’ she probably forgot the safe word.’
My first safeword reminds me of that. It’s an irregular word, but I don’t know whether I would have remembered it during intense play. It’s also a tough word to pronounce, so chances that I would have used it when I needed it, are slim. I never did use it.
Green = Good
Today we use the stoplight method. Green means ‘everything is okay, continue.’ Orange means ‘I’m okay, but maybe slow down a bit or take a small break.’ Red means ‘You’ve gone too far. Play needs to stop.’
The way we use it is not so much that we’re afraid of crossing limits, but we use this method as a way of monitoring how I’m doing. I use the ‘green’ and ‘orange’ religiously. I hardly ever use ‘red’ in a scene. When asked for a colour, I check myself, I check my state, and really consider if everything is all right and if I can take more. While playing, this is one of the most honest answers you can expect to get out of me.
Next to these three colours, we also have the colour ‘purple’ as a stopword. For us, this means a trigger has been pushed. Because of my history, a phrase used can land wrong, or a particular position can trigger certain memories. Luckily, we’ve not had to use it often, but it’s an easy way for me to express what’s wrong. I may be in tears, and it doesn’t have to be about something my Dominant did, and with this simple phrase, I can still sort of explain what is happening.
More or Less?
Apart from the use of safewords, there are other forms of communication during our play sessions. For example, my Dom asks me regularly whether I want the next spank to be harder or softer than the previous one. Nothing more humiliating than having to ask to be spanked harder. Or he asks whether I want ten soft taps or one hard hit. I often choose the first, only to be disappointed and left wanting after. It does force me to speak, and it keeps me from withdrawing entirely into myself.
Sometimes Too Safe
The use of safewords has a double edge for me. I love being safe. I know it’s necessary for my well-being. I trust my Dom one hundred per cent that he would never hurt me or go too far on purpose. On the other hand, it gives me so much control that it’s easy for me to hold back the play long before we get close to breaching any limits.
It’s a tough balance between what I can safely endure, to what my inner slut wants to bite through.
No Limits Required
However, I do cringe when (usually new) subs say they don’t need a safe word. In my opinion, yes, you do need one. If only because your limits change from day to day. And even though some may claim they’re almighty, a Dominant cannot know everything.
It’s your responsibility to let them know how you’re doing. And in our situation, some replies will come instantly, some after consideration. Still, I always give a ‘green’ or an ‘orange.’ And that’s how we keep our play safe.
Brilliant post! I wish I’d had a “trigger state” colour. That would have reduced a lot of my building resentment.
Thank you for sharing your private communication
It’s a useful tool for us, and we use it a lot.
It’s a great.
“its definitely me, not what you’re doing” thing
I enjoy reading about real life couples and working through everything that crops up during play. I never had that.
Thank you. Looking back, I think this is the first relationship where I have safewords and use them too. Cause trust me, my ‘Please, no, stop,’ during sex is unreliable as hell. And the trigger safe word has its uses too, cause I might freak out at the weirdest of times, seemingly for no reason at all.
Brilliant post Liz… thanks for sharing ?
Interesting when you say you don’t like to talk during play because I find that unsettling if that happens when I’m sessioning with a new person. I like to hear the feedback as things progress. But, of course, do take your point that some people like to loose themselves completely within their own world where dialogue is unnecessary and unwanted. (Difficult for me as, apparently, I never stop talking!!!)
But, I too use the traffic light system as I think most people do, as it is the most universal . . . and therefore easiest for all to remember.
Loved reading your post !!!
Xxx – K
Of course I talk during play, and I make certain to give feedback during bondage and spankings. It’s just, in my perfect world I would be bound and spanked by my mind-reading Dominant who magically could read my body and mind, so that I could focus on everything that is happening to me. Deep down I don’t want to have a say in what’s going to happen to me.
But real life is different, my Dom is very close to me and sometimes he can read my mind, but not always, so when he asks for a colour, I answer. I tell him where the rope pinches my skin, or that my shoulder starts to hurt. I try to be a good girl ?
Thanks for reading ?
Great post, thanks for sharing. I agree with you on the importance of one because limits and reactions do change day to day depending on mood, hormones, pain tolerance and a myriad of other things.
Yes, exactly. Often enough I can’t even pinpoint what’s different from the day before and why you can only use a quarter of the force you use earlier. It happens, and the traffic light system helps me in communicating these differences.
Thanks for reading ?
My first safeword was gazebo, and definitely belongs in that meme you mentioned, lol. I also have my doubts as to whether or not the person who implemented that safeword would have adhered to it, or if they did, they would have been pissed as hell afterwards for me using. Luckily I never needed it, so didn’t have the misfortune of confirming my theory. This is a great post and really relatable on so many levels, thank you for sharing x
Thanks for reading ?
Fab post Liz. I too could use the “purple” word as have some triggers and suddenly I don’t want to play but it is not because of the pain etc -x
Often it’s obscure, even to me, what’s wrong and why I’m suddenly out of the scene cause my mind took a different turn. I can’t fault my Dominant for not magically sensing something’s off.
Thanks for reading ?
It’s quite a dichotomy, to descend into the pain and sub-space is in many ways quite irrational and yet we require to be rational in considering how to do it safely.
Traffic light colours are a very good system and their meaning is generally understood in the wider community. I do like your addition of purple as saying ‘it’s no one’s fault, but I need to stop’. I know many people consider saying or hearing ‘red’ as failure and can have guilt associated with it.
I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a no limits, no safeword sub. I know of several dommes that enjoy taking 5 minutes to painfully educate them on that error.
However, I think a key thing you write that can be missed is that safety is the responsibility of both in whatever way works.
Great post xx
I agree with everything you say here ?
It’s hard enough for me to shut off my rational, worrying mind, and it’s even more difficult that I need to keep one part ‘sane’ so that I can keep track of my limits.
It’s not easy being a sub ?
Thanks for your post, Liz. I can totally relate to the difficulty in stopping a scene when you’d rather withdraw into yourself. I’m a terrible verbal communicator. Because I don’t have the sort of relationship you have, I easily shy away from situations where I may need to communicate. Your ‘purple’ is a great example of expanding the safewords to communicate something that your dom could not have known. It all goes back, I think, to finding the right way to communicate during a scene, and so much of that depends on the relationship you have and the sort of scene you’re in. Great post!
The times when I did experience a trigger, I couldn’t even put into words what was wrong, and what the supposed memory was referring to. It just felt wrong, and play needed to be paused. For those time, I’m real thankful for my ‘purple’ safeword.
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