Limits and Boundaries in D/s Relationships
It is an interesting fact that both my Master and I first learnt about boundaries when we were doing volunteer work in mental health. I have always had a difficult time saying no and was known to be a people pleaser. He allowed others to drain him emotionally and didn’t have the language to say stop. In past relationships we had both not been able to openly discuss limits and boundaries without a fear of abandonment and retribution. But going into a D/s relationship, we had to start communicating and we have learnt, together, that you need to be clear about your limits, your boundaries and the fact that they are not static but change all the time.
Having the Conversation
Boundaries are important in all human connections. We all have that friend that constantly seeks support from us, or the family member who is nosy and wants to know all the latest gossip. It can be about a child who is unable to leave the comfort of parental guidance, or a colleague who is always in our space. If we don’t speak up, these people will emotionally drain us. We will start feeling negatively towards them and might eventually lash out.
But everyone crosses somebody’s boundaries sometimes, unknowingly. We can’t read other people’s minds, all we can go on is their behaviour towards us. So if we tend to give and give and give, then that is what others see us as. We become that granted support or companionship in their lives. And if we suddenly change our behaviour, of course they feel hurt and confused. I would too. And I have felt that way. The only way to avoid that is to have the talk, to communicate, be honest and set up strong boundaries and stick to them. And if someone tries to push those boundaries over and over, doesn’t show us the respect we deserve, then it is okay to walk away.
It is really hard to have that conversation though. Because we know it will confuse or even hurt the person we try to set those boundaries up with. The longer we wait, the more it will hurt them. And to be fair, I personally would want to know where the lines are and what I can do to make a connection as giving as possible for everyone involved.
In D/s relationships that conversation has to happen. There is no way to not talk about boundaries and limits when it is about a power exchange. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t go in with the same feelings and fears. You don’t want to disappoint your partner, you want to be the perfect Dominant or submissive. You don’t want to be seen as weak because certain kinks are off limits for you, or because you can’t deal with disobedience in the expected way.
Limits in Our D/s Relationship
In a perfect world, I wish I were able to be a slave that only exists for her Master’s pleasure. Someone who listens and obeys, who brings a smile to his face and who seldom denies a wish. I wish I would be able to meet all his needs and be content with what he gives me. But I am not the perfect submissive. I am a person with issues, with needs of my own, with feelings and with strong opinions. I am not someone who easily bends to someone’s will. Naturally, I am a challenge for most people that know me, and I am definitely a challenge for my Master.
Because of the open communication in our relationship, I have to be self-aware of my triggers and of my needs. I need to know what I want. And I need to be able to say stop (use the safeword) when things are too much. I understand that those things are important for our relationship to be healthy and safe. But sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. Sometimes I wish I was limitless, and I would just jump when he tells me to jump. In reality, maybe it makes me a good partner that I am self-aware and that I do discuss things often.
Knowing each other’s boundaries and limits doesn’t mean that we are perfect in respecting those all the time. We all make mistakes, and my Master and I are not exempt from that rule. I think it is easier when it comes to sex than other areas of life, and it is also more obvious in regards to hard limits. Hard limits rarely change, they are a given and always respected.
But other things can change and then it is easy to forget or to just go with the flow. I have a few sexual soft limits and I am okay with them to be pushed. But they are sort of fleeting and sometimes things need to be adjusted to outer circumstances too. And because you are so used to understanding you have with each other, you assume that your partner will remember, but they don’t always do that. It is assumptions that lead to mistakes.
I have a good example for this! I suffer from postconcussion syndrome due to a self-harm inflicted concussion I had about two and a half years ago. For me it basically means that a minor bump can still give me some pretty frustrating symptoms. It has gotten better but every now and then, it can go pretty bad still. So recently, I had a quite hard bump on the freezer door when I was getting something out of the fridge. And I was anticipating some symptoms. And they came, and have been frustrating. So we decided together that we wouldn’t do any serious impact play for a while, just to make sure that we don’t aggravate the symptoms.
But we didn’t discuss the details and when we played the other day, there was some impact play. I didn’t say anything but was worried for a second that him slapping my boobs might not have been the best idea. A quick “I hit them in a way so your head doesn’t shake” was to suffice in the moment. Afterwards we had to have the conversation though, because apparently we hadn’t discussed the new limits in enough detail. Limits change, they are not always static, and unless you clearly communicate what is okay and what is not, mistakes can easily happen.
Boundaries in Our D/s Relationship
As I said earlier, boundaries are important in all human connections. They are not as harsh as limits and they are about more vanilla needs, like giving someone space. Even here we are communicative but it seems to be more difficult to always adhere to the boundaries. I am guilty of getting angry when my boundaries are being crossed, which then in turn leads to me crossing his boundaries. And we end up hiding and sulking. We are both aware of this, and we are working on it. But as it is more a part of all relationships, and not so much D/s related, it might need a bit more focus from both of us.
We are responsible when it comes to play. And we are good at reading each other’s D/s needs. But the vanilla stuff seems to be more complicated at times as we both have baggage from previous relationships. It is messy, it is feelings and it is about changing old patterns instead of letting go and being who you feel you truly are, as it is in the D/s space.
I think limits and boundaries are healthy in any kind of relationship. They show maturity, respect and self-awareness. But they also shouldn’t be arbitrary, nor should they be used as tools for abuse. Someone pushing your boundaries or limits without consent is just as dangerous as someone putting up a lot of limits for no other reason than to make you feel bad. It is all about communication, honesty and respect. Because if you don’t show respect to each other and are afraid to openly talk about needs, then things will eventually blow up.