How to Explore Your Kinky Limits Safely

30 Days of D/s by Loving BDSM and Kayla Lords

As I started looking into positive discussions on BDSM limits, I found an incredibly large amount of documents out there available for free. The intention of these is to read through each listed kink, mark them in one of several categories (haven’t tried it, curious, soft limit, hard limit…), and discuss each as a couple. Some of these packets are extremely detailed, numbering up over 30 pages. While others are quite short, sometimes only a single page (though I didn’t feel those had much to offer). Try searching “BDSM limits checklist,” and I imagine you’ll be just as overwhelmed with all the possibilities as me.

Before embarking on the task of delving into hours of kink discussion and boundary pushing, I felt it was important to define soft limits, hard limits, and even the word boundaries. Mostly because I found the definitions of these three terms varied significantly online. With that in mind, I saw how easy it would be to have a miscommunication before we’d even started. If Mr.R and I had different definitions of these foundation terms, we could easily have different ideas about where we (or maybe more so – me) should be pushed.

LovingBDSM has an excellent podcast on this topic titled, Understanding Boundaries and Limits. I love the podcast in general, but this episode is a pretty great one. Kayla Lords and John Brownstone create a great dynamic talking together, even if Kayla gets a little chatty. 🙂 I listen to it most frequently on the treadmill, and will commonly laugh out loud – literally, so everyone in the room turns and stares at me, unable to hear my thoughts or headphones (thank God – I’d give way too much away!). One great topic they cover in the Boundaries and Limits podcast is the definitions of these foundation terms.

While, I love the topic as they discuss it, I disagree with their definition of soft and hard limits to some degree. But I loved their definition of boundaries, and used it to expand my thinking, which is written out below.

Boundaries – A fluctuating line that moves with your current mood, physical health, and desires. It is molded first by your limits, and then by the variables of the day or moment. For example, a stressful day, illness, or an injury may shrink your mental and emotional boundaries for play later that night. Boundaries are also open to be pushed, broadened, and grown beyond. To thoroughly understand someone’s boundaries, you need an intimate, trusting relationship. The deeper your relationship, the easier it is to see a person’s boundaries.

Kinkly has its own definition of boundaries.

Soft Limits – Soft limits are not what I would call a limit, but are actually a boundary. However, they are a boundary that should be discussed before being pushed, and should always be done with support, care, lots of communication, and – of course – after care. Pushing these boundaries is a place to tread lightly and carefully.

Kinkly’s definition of Soft Limits.

A lot of online definitions of Soft Limits, including Kinkly’s, place things you haven’t tried on the soft limit list. I wouldn’t do this. I feel the unknown, is just that – unknown. It needs its own discussion, its own set of categories; a yes, no, or maybe. It is something you are either curious about, and thereby want to bring it into play, something you would be willing to try for a partner’s sake, or something you are uninterested in trying – possibly pushing it into a hard limit list.

Hard Limits – Hard limits are a no-go line; a place that is not to be pushed at all, under any circumstances. They are an actual limit, a line in the sand you do not cross. These activities may be a trauma trigger, unsettling for the person to experience, or possibly just an absolute mood killer. It would be a break in trust for either party to bring something from a Hard Limit list into play.

Kinkly’s definition of Hard Limits.

Pushing Boundaries is part of our play. In our dynamic, I am sexually submissive, and sexually available for my Dom. I not only expect him to push my boundaries, but want him too.

Pushing Boundaries – A mutual agreement to try the new, to go beyond a place where the sexually submissive is comfortable, to create cognitive dissonance in a sexual context. It may involve pushing an already loved and enjoyed kink into a deeper level, or it may involve trying a new kink. New kinks to be pushed may be a fantasy of their own, or their Top’s, or something from their soft limit list.

In general, I would say that it is the submissive who is pushed. However, I think a Dom can also be pushed and have their comfort zones tested, but this is rarely acknowledged. They may be trying out a new kink or fantasy of their own, or testing out something new their submissive has requested. They may also be pushing their own limit, along with their bottom’s. The fact that the Top (in our case that is also my Dom), is in the driver’s seat, does not remove them from feeling pushed or possibly insecure in trying new things.

Kinkly also has definition on Pushing Boundaries.

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