Time for another distinction!
This one comes from a semi-private part of my life. Namely – BDSM.
In case you don’t know, BDSM stands for Bondage-Dominance-Submission/Sadism-Masochism. The “S” does double duty there. (If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*)
This is the lovely, and very broad and varied, realm of alternative sexual practices and lifestyles. Gender options has it’s own acronym, namely LGBT. These two realms can overlap (often!), but do not necessarily do so. Many in the BDSM community are heterosexual.
Like any community, there are ups and downs, and challenges. By far my experiences in the BDSM community have been overwhelmingly positive. That’s my story, and other people have theres.
One of the distinctions I learned deeply in the BDSM community, while I was a more active member, was that of negotiation.
It’s my opinion that every community, and indeed every person, would benefit from learning this fine art.
In any relationship, be it familial, friendship, sexual, business, political, or religions (or any combination of those) there are a great many obligations, assumptions, and pre-suppositions to deal with.
When it comes to BDSM. There are also basic safety issues. These safety issues can be physical, emotional, and/or spiritual.
To address these possible risks the BDSM community has embraced strongly the practice of negotiation. Before an interaction is moved through, the parties involved take the time to negotiate the parameters of that interaction. Duration, intensity, allowed parameters, opening moves, after care, and exit strategies are all agreed upon. This is the ideal, of course, but from what I’ve seen it’s generally the rule with not that many exceptions. (At least among veteran players.)
This distinction can easily be taken into other realms of human interaction:
- When we take the time to set the parameters for a particular situation we can know definitively when the situation starts and stops.
- When we know the intended of the situation we can more easily steer towards that outcome.
- When we know what actions are allowed in the situation we can avoid taking inappropriate actions.
- When we have an exit plan we can graciously remove ourselves from the situation, if the need arises.
All of this gives a person tremendous freedom within the situation, or interaction. By knowing what we can, and can’t do we remove a measure of fear. We can creatively move within the situation, and it’s particular boundaries. We can also commit fully to the situation when we know that it will have an end. By understanding that we have a way out if we need it, we can avoid feeling trapped.
It’s not always possible to go through a full negotiation for a given interaction. But, we can take the portions that work for that situation. All it takes is awareness that negotiation is possible and the mindfulness to call on it. Even if it’s only setting a start and end time to a meeting, negotiation has been employed and we can get some benefits. We can get even more juice by declaring what will be discussed in the meeting.
The list of examples it endless. Anytime we go into a situation of exchange with another human being, we can negotiate the parameters, and gain a lot of benefits from doing so.
Give it a try! I think you will like it!