Clarification: Rescinding Consult Credits

I typically offer some amount of the scene consultation to be applied to a session. I have stated that I reserve the right to rescind this offer if I have to do some unusual amount of work prior to the scene, such as you providing inaccurate information for your references which I then may spend my time helping you sort out.

I want to explicitly include situations in which people are not prepared with their interests and limits. So now you’re aware if I tell you that the $X credit I offer is removed, you can’t tell me you did not understand this could cause that to happen. This is usually an issue with new people.

For suggestions about how to figure out your interests, go to the question “How do I explain what I like? What if I don’t know?” on my FAQ page.

For suggestions about how to figure out your limits, go to my BDSMlog entry Know Your Limits.

If you do not like the idea of your consult credit being taken away know that you have control over this by being prepared when you ask for a scene.

I’m happy to help you figure all of this out, but I will be tributed for offering my time to help you instead of you doing it by yourself.

Know Your Limits

When you approach me for a scene please make sure that you can tell me your limits, not just your interests. Lately, I have noticed more people are not prepared and don’t know what theirs are. They’re approaching me for a session and have sometimes no idea about what they’re not okay with.

For my play-style, this is a problem. Your limits are actually more important than your interests as they tell me important boundaries that I cannot cross. This is essential for me to know so I, you know, don’t cross them.

What’s happening is that during the scene consultation I start asking about limits and I’m getting “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know” kind of answers. Then I’m spending valuable time asking if this or that is okay when I should be spending it on other things. The consultation is not the place for me to help you figure out your own rules but to ask you clarifying questions about them, if needed. Figuring things out can take a lot of time and will quickly eat up the call.

If you’re not aware, there are (at least) two categories of limits: “hard” and “soft”. Everyone seems to be in agreement that “hard” are things that are completely off the table, but “soft” has some confusion. I see most people define it as “things you don’t really like doing but will do if the Mistress wants to do them”. I don’t think that definition makes sense as you are not telling me a limit but a preference. A limit is a boundary. There is no boundary in that you don’t really like wax play but will do it if I like it. So, I define “soft” as something that falls between being completely OKAY or completely NOT OKAY.

In short:

HARD limit: done under NO conditions.
SOFT limit: done under CERTAIN conditions.

For example:

If femme play (aka “feminization”) was a hard limit it means you’re not okay with any kind of femme play. There are no conditions by which you’re willing to do anything femme related.

If femme had a soft limit, it means you have specific conditions around it. It could be that you’re only okay with panties OR panties and stockings OR everything but makeup, etc.

If femme play has no limits, then you’re okay with anything femme related.

I realize that new players may honestly not yet know their limits. I get that. However, you still should have some idea of what you are absolutely not interested in incorporating into a scene, or even what kinds of things you’d be okay with as much as you can imagine having them done to you.

I have hard new players say things like, “Mistress, I’ve never done bondage before. I think I’d be okay if you tied my wrists or ankles down but I’m not sure about both yet.” You have just given me a soft limit.

If you’re having a difficult time coming up with your list a good place to start is my interests page. Go through the things I have listed there and add anything that you would not want in a scene to your hard limits or things that you have particular requirements about to your soft limits. Don’t worry about being afraid that you don’t get it right or that you end up wanting or not wanting to do something. You can change your limits at any time. But you should have this ready when you ask to play with someone. All good players — tops and bottoms — should be familiar with their partner’s limits.

If you would like personalized help I recommend scheduling a coaching call with me before you ask for a scene. I can go through a variety of things with you and we can hone in on your boundaries. I’m very good at this so you can feel confident that you will learn something about yourself during our call.

So, again, PLEASE BE PREPARED!

Hard Limits and Soft Limits

If you have spent any time experimenting with BDSM, you probably very quickly heard the term “hard limit”. Hopefully, you also heard about its close relative the “soft limit”. While they are both refer to limitations placed on the activities performed during scenes, they mean different things.

Before I discuss what they are, I want to mention that people have varying definitions of what they mean. So, you may run into explanations that differ from mine. This is how I define them.

First, I want to talk about a couple of common misconceptions. The first is that people (usually newer players) think that “hard” and “soft” refer to a to a scale of play intensity. So, when asked about their hard and soft limits, will say something like, “medium”. Another even more common idea is that a soft limit refers to something you have done and might not like very much, such as CBT or electrical stimulation (“e-stim”). Often this is followed by a, “but I’m okay doing it if you enjoy it, Mistress.” Those are not soft limits, they are preferences. Limits have to do with boundaries.

Then, what is a soft limit and how does it differ from a hard one?

A hard limit is non-negotiable. It is something you are not willing to do under any circumstances. This can be a never, ever kind of thing or it could be only for this one scene you’re negotiating with this one person(s) you’re about to play with.

A soft limit is negotiable but within certain parameters. It is something you are willing to do as long as certain conditions are met. Like a hard limit, a soft limit can be something that is static across time or it may depend on the scene and who’s involved in that scene.

Hard and soft limits apply to both physical or mental/emotional activities. Some examples of physical hard limits could be impact play, spitting, or anal stimulation. Turning the above examples into physical soft limits could be liking impact but only on your butt;  liking spitting, but not on your face; or enjoying anal stimulation as long as there is no penetration. Some emotional hard limits could be degradation, abandonment, or brainwashing. Turning these into emotional soft limits could be finding it hot to be called a slur as long as it’s playful and not “mean”; liking to be abandoned as a part of your scene but only if followed by a particular type of aftercare; or enjoying being verbally brainwashed about what your gender is but not your sexuality.

An easy way to determine if a limit on an activity is hard or soft is to ask yourself: “Am I willing to do this activity under ANY circumstances?” If the answer is NO, then you have discovered a hard limit. If the answer is YES, and you have specific requirements that must be met in order for you to do it, then you have identified a soft limit.

When you realize that you are willing to do an activity in some instances, think carefully about what those instances are. Imagine what circumstances would need to occur in order to allow something to be done or said to you. Inversely, imagine what circumstances would absolutely stop you from wanting to do it.

People often seem confused about the circumstances part. I regularly have people tell Me something like, “I have a hard limit on marks. They can’t last more than a day.” What you have actually just told Me is that you have a soft limit on marks. The reason is because you’re actually okay with being marked, it’s just that those marks have conditions. The condition is that they last no more than a day. If you could not be marked at all — that is, you cannot leave the session with a trace of anything — then it would become a hard limit.

Some limits are very clear for people and some limits are not. Physical limits are usually easier to determine. Emotional limits, on the other hand, are often nebulous territory. It’s common for people to say they are unsure about their emotional limits. They may indicate they enjoy being degraded, for example, but are not really sure where that enjoyment may end. Then, someday, during a scene, they hear a word or phrase or end up feeling a certain way after a particular scenario and realize they have just discovered at least one fence post in the field of their emotional landscape.

It’s okay if you’re not sure about what your limits are. Even experienced players may not be sure of what they will enjoy — especially with a new play partner — or be aware of all the conditions around a particular activity. One way to become more sure is to go into your play consciously. Have conversations about your scenes, maybe take notes or even journal about them. This will help you become more aware of what is working and what your limits may be and why.