Updated: Aug 22
I work with a lot of kinky folks of all identities and levels of experience. When I talk to folks from the left side of the slash, they all say one thing. “I am not a mind reader.”
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about how to make scenes hotter, how to improve D/s dynamics, or what frustrates them most with the submissives they encounter, every dominant hates the assumption that they can read your mind.
I am not a mind reader. Every Dominant, ever.
It is easy to understand why D-types experience frustration with partners who assume they should “just know” what to do and what we want. Just like we don’t know what our D-types prefer without communication, they don’t know what we want without communication! The problem is, many submissives believe it is the dominant’s role to plan scenes, to set the parameters of the relationship, and to make decisions for us.
While that may be true AFTER we negotiate power exchange in an area, it is NOT TRUE if you have not already communicated about things. Even if your dominant has a lot more expereince than you, if you are training with them, and if you are in a relationship with them, they cannot read your mind!
How Do I Figure Out What I Need to Communicate?
Some sub-types fear being accused of ‘topping from the bottom’ or not being ‘real submissives’ because they have opinions and needs. These statements being lobbed at some s-types come from D-types who either do not want your input because they couldn’t care less about you, or they are very insecure in their own skills and believe ruling with an iron fist is how you are “dominant.” Neither of these cases is a reason to shut down and not speak up!
When it comes to being submissive, there are some key things we must ALWAYS communicate to a partner:
LIMITS – hard and soft limits must always be discussed
Triggers- true triggers (not just dislikes) need to be communicated to develop boundaries with a partner.
Relevant Health Information- if you have a health condition (mental or physical) which could impact the way you play or respond in a session, you need to let your partner know. Asthmatic? Let them know and where your inhaler is! Epileptic? Let them know what a seizure looks like and what to do (unless you want them shoving a wallet in your mouth for no reason).
Safe words and signals. Agree on a way to stop the action. This might be through q/a feedback, yes/no/stop/don’t, hand signals or the like.
Aftercare needs. What do you need/want as aftercare? Make a plan for a good scene and a bad one!
You can never assume a D-type should just know any of this. If you want aftercare, you have to say so. If you have limits, you have to say so. Just because you are submissive you do not give over all power and let go of all boundaries with a partner. You have to talk.
Depending on the partner and the scene, you will need to communicate different information. If this is pick-up play and you negotiated for a specific set of activities and have a safe word, you may not need to communicate health issues which generally won’t interfere with the play. For example, if you are being treated for high blood pressure and it is well-controlled, this may not be an issue you need to make a partner aware of before a scene. However, for a long-term play partner, they might need to know about medication changes, episodes of uncontrolled blood pressure, and the like.
When it comes to listing hard and soft limits, casual partners may not need the distinction. If your soft limits are off limits with casual partners, you can just list it as a limit.
Feedback DURING Play
Good kink scenes include communication during play. This may be verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and specified signals. You and your partner(s) should have established ways to communicate if things are all good, need changing, or are all bad. The stoplight safe word system works well for some people For others, having moments to check in verbally work. For others, having a D-type ask yes/no questions and accepting head nods and shakes may work best. You have to talk about in-scene communication BEFORE a scene!
For established play partners, you may want to set up time to debrief about a scene. What went well? What did you not enjoy? What would you like to add? For a regular play partner, these types of debriefs can be useful for deepening and improving play over time. For casual partners and pick-up play, you may not have a debriefing session. If you still need to process a casual scene, having a good friend or support group of submissives can be a great option here.
Do Not Hold a D-Type Responsible for STARTING Communication
Some submissives like to follow the lead of all D-types. You cannot be sure that a new partner will ask you the pertinent questions if you don’t bring stuff up first. If you are vetting a new partner, setting up pick-up play, expanding your play or power exchange with a current partner, or any other point where communication and negotiation is needed, you are as responsible for making this happen as your dominant.
Communication about needs, desires, limits, and boundaries is part of finding your voice as a submissive. The closed mouth does not get fed. So speak up! Its part of being a good submissive.