I like the way this topic is brought up in 30 Days of D/s; Negotiation is a fancy word for talk. With 20 years of marriage already under our belt, my Dom and I have certainly gone through some ups and downs, and learned how to talk under a myriad of circumstance and needs along the way. We wouldn’t have 20 years if we didn’t. However, in the light of D/s, talk as a negotiation angles out a bit different. It plays a more focused purpose, particularly when developing rules, scene play, or adventuring into new arenas of kink.
We have gone into specific and focused negotiations over our rules. They are written like two formalized lists, and rather particular (most of the time), but they don’t feel like a contract to me. They exist in a google doc we both have access to, but aren’t printed and signed. I discussed them some here. To establish these rules we engaged in repeated negotiations, and continue to reopen negotiations whenever the need or desire arises by either one of us.
Ideally, negotiations are always carried out in a safe place, where all opinions and ideas are welcome and no one ever gets angry or judgemental. That is, of course, ideal, not realistic. Humans are apt to get defensive or upset when they feel insecure or afraid. However, we have made a safe place for discussions, be it a negotiation or any other form of communication. I call it rug time, namely because I kneel on a rug. It’s a warm place for me, emotionally speaking. I feel loved and supported there due to our morning ritual.
When at negotiations we both equally share all ideas, thoughts, desires and needs quite freely. We have also made conscious efforts to create and use positive techniques that give us the power to evaluate why we are asking for something, and open the door for someone to say yes or no. One way we did this was to establish three types of questions; an idea, a request, and a need. With a need, Master will always tell me yes, and I to him. If I make a request, it is something I desire, but he may say no. This was also established to help push us both in our roles. An idea is neither, not even a desire. It is just to add to the conversation; a what if?. I am good at throwing out ideas like water on a rainy day, so I have to be sure it sounds like an idea, not a request. Determining which of these, idea, request, or need, your question stems from is crucial. I am extremely metacognitive (being aware of your own thinking process and emotions), which can be helpful, because where you are coming from should be identified before bringing up a new topic in negotiations. However, it is possible to get it wrong.
Once, Master recognized that I was making a request as a desire, but saw it as a need. He was right. I was trying to be submissive and present him the opportunity to say no, but I would have been crushed if he did. Another time it went the other way. I felt like something was a need, when it wasn’t, and I quickly got over it. Sometimes some self reflection is required. Knowing your partner, and having open communication in others areas is an important aspect of being able to make these kind of decisions.
Do you have any tips, thoughts, or ideas about negotiations? Did you design a set of protocols to open up negotiations? What works for you and your D/s partner?