The safeword minefield













A PM from a Follower, abstracted in the interests of privacy …

“just now I saw a question a submissive asked you about the possible
overuse of her safe word (well think it was a girl, don’t want to be
sexist here). Anyway, I know I need to get some reading done and
possibly find a real life mentor but life happens and some things get
pushed to the back of my mind. Point is, why do subs feel so bad when
they use their safe word? I also have seen a question where a dom asked
why his sub uses the safe word all the time and you set him straight.
Why does it seem like this is so hard for some doms/subs but can be
fixed with a little communication?“

This is an outstanding question. And you are right: a bit of communication and setting the proper tone with safewording would save both people a lot of grief. Because here’s the thing: more than any other aspect of a D/s relationship, the safeword is a fucking minefield. There’s so much going on there, emotionally and psychologically, and so many ways to screw things up …

For the submissives, their safeword is the only guarantee of safety they have. Unless their Dom is a psychopath or a dangerous noob, the safeword is going to be respected. But here’s the thing about subs: they hate to safeword. There’s a whole bunch going on there, but I think it boils down to two things. One is the desire to please their Dom, no matter what it takes (subs in my view tend to be very strong “people pleasers”). The other is a certain quiet, stoic pride: “I am very uncomfortable right now, and need it to stop, but I’m taking it for my Dom.” Both of these things make it very difficult for a submissive to safeword. And when they do, they tear themselves up:  “Could I have taken a bit more? Was I really at my limit, or was I being lazy? I deprived my Dom of something important and exciting.” And, above all, “Will my Dom still love be even though I safeworded?” So, a lot of sumissives are going to put themselves in situations where they can get hurt or get pushed well beyond their limit. This is not a good thing.

For Dominants, there’s a whole minefield to navigate as well. Let’s be clear on something: Doms are human beings, subject to all the vagaries and psychological quirks of other humans. For some Doms, when their sub safewords, they feel like they have failed, because they let things go too far and they put someone they care about in a position of doing something abhorrent to that person – using their safeword. For other Doms, there’s a twisted sense of triumph in “forcing my sub to safeword.” Sort of like the old “cuttting a notch in my bedpost” mentality. And yes, there are Doms who parrot all the right phrases about “respecting the safeword” and “letting the sub know how proud you are,” but who, when the rubber meets the road, act like sulky little bitches when their fun and games are iced because the sub safeworded. Also not a good thing.

So, as you can see, safewords are a right old mess, emotionally and psychologically. Here’s the way it should work:

Submissives: safeword any damn time you feel that you need to. Without guilt, and without shame. Period. Full stop.

Dominants: when your submissive safewords, say “I am so proud of you for trusting me enough and trusting us enough to safeword.” And when you say it, you better goddam well mean it. Period. Full stop.

This is pretty accurate, and as a sub i have made this mistake in my past.  Thank you for saying this and sharing it with us.

I’ve mentioned it before but one of the ways we get around the “not wanting to disappoint” side of safewords is to do “safeword drills”.

Every so often – maybe once every few months, Master likes to have one of us – me, Alouette or him – safeword out of play just to practise and make sure that it works when we need it. Like having a fire evacuation drill at work or school or whatever.

You practise it when it’s not an emergency so that you’re used to doing it when it is.

And we make a point of talking about it afterwards and praising each other – the one who safeworded AND whoever acted on the safeword and stopped play – whether it was a “real” safeword or a drill.

If it was just a drill, we generally get right back to playing pretty quickly, with things made a bit better by the rosy glow of being praised and told how good we are.

That may not work for everyone, but it works for us.

That’s brilliant!

Safewording, and a properly cultivated safeword acceptance zone, makes all the difference.

This is worded perfectly. Needs to be seen ans heard by all

Very ncie input from @friedcherryblossomprincess

Thank you. ❤

Worth reblogging for the good advice in the OP.

Just a brief reinforcement, that safewords go both ways, as @friedcherryblossomprincess implied in her post.   As a Dom, I’ve had to safeword before when a sub was after something beyond my limits.  It wasn’t always supported the way I would have liked… Be sure to maintain that respect on both sides of the power exchange.

Yes, yes, yes!

Dominant partners can safeword too. It’s okay and normal for them to get upset, overwhelmed, tired, to need aftercare and reassurance and hugs.

Dominants are people too and they have emotions and feelings. And they deserve to be considered and looked after, too.

Question: How do you workaround the safeword issue when bound and gagged? Currently I’ve always been sticking to one or the other, never both, but I’d REALLY like to do both, only without the time it takes to build up a super trusting relationship with the person. Is there some workaround you’ve seen for this?

@serafynn you use “safe gestures.” Common ones are finger snaps or the wrestling “tapping out” gesture. 

Key line in the original post:

  • Submissives: safeword any damn time you feel that you need to. Without guilt, and without shame. Period. Full stop.
  • Dominants: when your submissive safewords, say “I am so proud of you for trusting me enough and trusting us enough to safeword.” And when you say it, you better goddam well mean it. Period. Full stop.

Yes, you and your top might be disappointed.  Stopping during any kind of sex can seem a little jarring.  But it’s better than the alternative, hmm?  Trivial vanilla example: “I didn’t want to disappoint her so I didn’t tell him/her we needed to stop even though I knew the condom had broken.”  But “disappointed” isn’t the same as “destroyed for life.”  Your top will get over it, probably in 10 seconds or less.  Just like you’d get over it quickly if they misread your status and stopped when you weren’t ready!  (BTW you should be damn proud of your top if they call a stop to check in too.)

Point being?  I’ll always be proud of anyone who trusts me enough to safeword.  And be freaked the fuck out by anyone who didn’t!