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By Maître Pierre


Everybody know what "negotiation" means. Almost everybody in BDSM accepts the importance and value of negotiation in a relationship. On our website we spend a great deal of time saying that negotiation is the key to all successful relationships.

And yet.......:(

Experience has shown us that different people will have different meanings for words and ideas. The scope of this article is to clearly explain what our values around negotiation are. Some of the concepts will probably look so simple and easy that you may be tempted to just click elsewhere on our site without reading the rest, but please, do not! This is an important concept in BDSM and there are important lessons here!


    According to the Merriam Webster site: "To negotiate: to arrange for or bring about through conference, discussion, and compromise."

In any relationship, before two partners will decide to share time together, a certain negotiation takes place, so both partners will share common rules. Usually, something common, an interest, a passion or a need will bring two people together, so it is not a surprise that this common interest will be a topic important in the negotiation.

BDSM is no exception. Actually, because of the type of relationship and the fact that every aspect of the relationship is often pushed further than the limits, negotiation in BDSM is VERY important! It could be a short relationship (one night stand) or a long relationship (24/7). It could be a relationship based on cyber (virtual) or a real life relationship. In all these cases, common rules have to be negotiated. This is important in the success of any relationship.

You are going to tell me that you know all of this and I am not telling you anything that you don't already know! Well.....wait! What is a negotiation in BDSM? Experience has shown us, believe it or not, that for most people, the negotiation is the delivery of their checklist, or in reality, what is more and more referred as their "grocery list!"

Yes, most people see the negotiation as "this is what I want you to do to me and what I don't want you to do to me list!" In a discussion that I was part of, I have heard MANY female Doms talking about the "grocery lists" that some of the male submissive use as an introduction to try to get their attention and how they lost all their chances with these female Doms because of it.

Negotiation is far more than just an exchange of grocery lists, wish lists or check lists. The negotiation is the time where two people will start talking about their shared passion that is BDSM. The negotiation will be about BDSM but they will be about what in real life that which they both like and dislike. In negotiating, limits are going to be talked about....but love of things non-BDSM are as important too! In a new relationship, the first thing that need to be establish is....trust, not limits, safe words or the check list. When the trust is established then it is time to talk about these.

That's not all! In the negotiation, it is very important that you understand the meaning of the different ideas and values that you are negotiating. It is surprising how a simple notion like safeword could be so different between two people! The negotiation is far more than to inform your partner that your safeword is "red"! How do you want your partner to react when the safeword is called? What is the meaning of the safeword for your partner, is it the same importance for you? Now that you have solved the case of the safeword, how about the concept of sharing your sub or being shared with others? How about sexual intercourse in your BDSM play, do you or your partner are comfortable with it or not? Do you like to be public or is your privacy extremely important??.....and the list goes on and on.

How to start a negotiation: If you are talking about negotiating with someone, it means that you have already found something in common. Here is a secret: for any successful relationship, you must know more about your partner than just what his (hers) likes in relation to BDSM! The vanilla part of the relation is probably the most important aspect of any relationship! I said before that before you can negotiate safeword and checklist, you have to establish the trust.

If you have a cyber relationship, the negotiation will be a lot shorter, but will it be? There are so many things that happen in everyday life; what if, when you are supposed to be online with your Master (Mistress), and your internet connection goes down? How are you and your Master (Mistress) going to react? What if your Master (Mistress) to whom you have sworn your eternal allegiance....is cybering with another submissive? Have you talked about this?

My relationship with Catharine began almost 7 years ago. We always push the limits of our relationship and, very often, we encounter new situations that we had not expected in the past. To solve them, we talk about this new situation, we share our feelings....we negotiate!

Some will see the negotiation as something you do in the beginning of a relationship and then it is done and dealt with, finished. The relationship for them will be static and non-changing. What a huge mistake! A relationship is always changing! The compromise that was good for so long.....may now be obsolete! Failure to negotiate often ends in a failure in the relationship!

As long as you have a relationship with someone, to succeed in this relationship, you must negotiate all the time!

Catharine and I have been through many changes in our lives, some vanilla (jobs, sickness, life surprises), some BDSM (katy my submissive becoming Catharine the Dom (for health reasons) who keeps amazing me all the time). Our stable is composed of subs who have been with us.....on average for more than 2 years!!!!!(some of them almost 4 years!).


Update, January 2024:

This article was written in 2007. Since, Catharine and I have aged, experienced all kind of joy and tragedy together. Our BDSM have changed…..lots! In 2010, we tied the knot officially. We went through major sickness for both. Our careers brought major changes too. How about the COVID and all the situations created by it?. We lost subs, we found new ones. Now, we are retired from work. We are in the situation where aging is a concern. Our relationship went through some major changes, some more painful than others and yet, we are still together after 24 years.

How do we do it?

We negotiate.......all the time!

Maître Pierre