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Setting Sexual Limits and Boundaries

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An obvious and essential note on sexual limits and boundaries:

If someone says they have a sexual no-fly zone, it must be respected. No means no, stop means stop. No exceptions. Always be sure to:

  1. whenever possible, discuss boundaries beforehand
  2. learn and remember the chosen safe word*

*For those of you who are “new”, here’s a definition of safe word, conveniently provided by the fine folks at Urban Dictionary:

In BDSM community, a word (usually irrelevant and strange in the context of the sexual situation) agreed by the participating parties to cease the activity. This is so that the submissive partner(s) can say “stop” and “no” as often as they want during the session and use the safe word when they actually mean it.

NOTE: Despite its typical use in BDSM, the term can apply to anyone, from any community.

BUT—before you start perusing the Oxford for clever safe words, take a moment to consider the following:

With the exception of slamming on the breaks in order to avoid pain and discomfort (physical or emotional), boundary-setting is sometimes non-sensical. There can be other reasons why someone might think they need to set boundaries.

  • fear of trying something new
  • ignorance of how awesome something can feel
  • societal expectations and judgment
  • control-mongering

None of the above are necessarily positive reasons for setting boundaries in terms of how far you’re willing to go sexually. It always surprises me to hear someone say they “don’t do oral” because “it’s wrong”, or they won’t try anal because it would make them a “slut”. Here’s one, “I won’t do [that] unless we’re married”. Hardly healthy boundaries to foster a long-term sexual relationship.

To those meeting someone who’s laid down boundaries: follow the given rules, or take a pass up front.

To those who insist on boundaries: just be sure you’re not denying yourself pleasure for an unhealthy reason.

The best approach is this: be honest with yourself about sexual compatibility. Trying to conform someone to your own sexual blueprint will only—eventually—bite you in the ass.

And no safe word can prevent that.

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