If you’re a practicing kinkster or BDSMer you already know the important of consent in a relationship. Without full ongoing consent of all parties involved in a play, party, or a relationship neither participants can ensure the enjoyment of the other. To ensure ongoing consent Some BDSMers might even use a BDSM contract. But even if you think you know your boundaries before diving into a play session, or If you are still experimenting with what your boundaries may be, using a safe word is paramount in ensuring yours and your partner(s)’ safety and boundaries are always respected.

Just Say “NO”?

Safewords are used when the ubiquity of the word “no” doesn’t suffice. In other words, sometimes “No” is not enough. Especially if your kink and play include any element of physical pain, torture, or scenes in which the word “no” as used as a prop in the play. For instance, if you and your partner(s) play out an abduction scene, the use of the word “no” is part of the play— “No, leave me alone,” or “no, where are you taking me?”—and as such it’s used as a prop in the scene and becomes a word that players tend to ignore.

As such, safewords re-establish the importance of consent by using a neutral word that signifies participants red-lines.    

Safewords and Kink

Safewords are a tool to ensure consent. They are the ultimate ‘off’ button, stopping the action immediately when uttered. Contrary to what movies might tell you, using a safeword doesn’t need to be some big dramatic ‎event, it could also be the equivalent of saying “I don’t feel like it.”‎

While most kinksters establish safe-words with their partners, long-term partners might rarely use them. This is simply because with time and practice comes familiarity and trust. As partners learn other’s needs, wants, and boundaries they are less likely to cross boundaries. However, this does not mean safe words are not crucial in long term kink relationships. Those who are experienced are very clear with their boundaries and know when and how to use their safe-word when necessary.

Safe words

Beginner Kinksters’ Common Misconceptions

Those who are new to BDSM or get their information on kink from Hollywood or porn sites may have some ‎misconceptions when it comes to safewords:

  1. Safewords are only used by the sub

False. Though dominants don’t tend to experience physical ‎pain or discomfort, the experience can be intense for them as well. Responsible Doms will be aware ‎of their sub’s mental and physical edge and might choose to a stop to a scene, even if the sub appears to be very much into ‎it. ‎

  1. Using a safeword is a sign you distrust your partner

False. Consent is ongoing and fickle. It can depend on the participants’ mood, physical health, the time of day, the weather, something you saw on the news, etc. Just because you agreed to something in a previous session, doesn’t mean your feeling up to it in a current session. Do not feel ashamed if you need to re-establish a boundary or ‘regress’ in your play. Most likely being true to yourself and your now boundary will make you feel more comfortable to progress in the future.

  1. You want to get to a point where you need to use your safeword

False. Safewords are not a goal to strive for. Don’t tease your partner by challenging their stamina or say something like, “I bet you’re so weak you’ll just scream your safeword any minute now”, or think you can only stop a scene if you’re really, truly suffering. Remember, play is supposed to be fun.

  1. Safewords are for wussies

False. Using your safe word doesn’t and shouldn’t reflect on your ability or inability to receive and inflect pain. Safe words and established boundaries have nothing to do with high pain tolerance or how brave you are; they are about respect. Respect for your and your partner(s) body, soul, and mind. Safewords mean you care.  

  1. “If I use my safe word, my partner won’t want to work with me again”

Big false. Experienced BDSMers have the utmost respect and admiration for newbies who know how to establish their boundaries. In fact, they may encourage it as it leads to future play and business. Think of it this way, if you didn’t have fun or felt violated, you’re less likely to come back for more. But if you use your safe word, both you and your partner know your redlines and will grow from this experience for an even better future play.   

How Do You Choose a Good Safe-Word? ‎

Now that you know why safe words are important, it comes time to choose one. There are several methods for choosing your safeword:‎

  • Consider choosing a ‎word that will not be said or used during a scene or cannot be mistaken ‎with a moan or ‎cry of pain. ‎
  • Choose a word that’s easy to pronounce and is clear to others. ‎
  • Some may choose words with hard consonants, so they be easy to utter and hear, “Blog,” “cat,” “trap,” etc.
  • Many choose a neutral word, such as “pineapple”, “umbrella”, or “Alabama”. ‎
  • The Traffic Light System can be useful as well. Using the colors of the traffic lights to describe ‎your feeling on how things are going during the play.

Red= Stop, Yellow= Slow down, and ‎green= Go ahead. ‎

  • This system is useful for ‎new partners who are in the process of getting to know each other’s ‎kinks, letting the other person ‎know not only what you like but how rough you like it.‎
  • If your planning on being gagged and unable to speak during play, agree with your partner on a safe-action: a certain movement that comes instead of a safe word.

More than Just a Kinky Stop Sign

Safewords are the kinkster’s safety net that assures that if the partners are open and trusting, nothing happens that crosses a personal boundary. Using a safeword is not just for the benefit of the sub, but also for the sake of a relationship that is built on honesty and willingness to explore kink. Saying “red” or “pineapple” means that you want to continue playing with the other person, but maybe things need to calm down a bit before going forward. In that sense, a safe word can be the most loving thing a BDSM relationship can employ.

Want to learn more about BDSM best practices? Can’t get enough of kink? Read more of our blog.