"SM vs. Abuse" (from "SM 101")

"Notes of a Feminist Sadomasochist"

"S/M Goes to the Movies"


Negotiation Forms

by Jay Wiseman

from "SM 101: A Realistic Introduction"

A good, basic SM negotiation should cover 16 points.

1. The people involved. Who will take part? How much experience do they have with the activities proposed? Who, if anybody, will watch?

2. Roles. Who will be dominant? Who will be submissive? Any chance of switching roles? Will the participants be acting out a particular fantasy such as teacher/schoolchild, pirate/captive, or owner/dog?

Is there clear agreement by the submissive to obey, within limits, the dominant's orders? Can the dominant "overpower" the submissive? "Force" them to do something? What about verbal resistance? Physical resistance? May the submissive try to "turn the tables" on the dominant? Will the submissive agree to wear a collar? Will they agree to address the dominant as "Master," "Mistress," or some similar term?

Warning: Physical resistance can easily be misinterpreted. I therefore strongly recommend that, particularly for the first few sessions, the dominant allow any physical resistance by the submissive to "succeed" immediately. A dominant should tell the submissive, in so many words, that they will consider any physical resistance on the submissive's part, no matter how slight, a "strong yellow" and will not even begin to try to overcome it. Major physical resistance will be considered a "red" and will result in the session instantly ending.

3. Place. Where will the session occur? Who will ensure privacy? (Usually the dominant.)

4. Time. When will the session begin? How long will it last? How will its beginning and end be signaled? Who will keep track of time? (Again, usually the dominant.)

Note: Unless deliberately built into the play, a clock visible to the submissive often detracts from the scene's energy.

5. Oops! SM play is always somewhat unpredictable. No matter how carefully you negotiate and plan, accidents, misperceptions, miscommunications, and sometimes unintentional injuries will occasionally happen. Therefore, it's a good idea to talk about these matters ahead of time, discussing how you will handle them and how you will treat each other if they do occur. It's important to agree that both parties are negotiating and playing in good faith, and that any mishaps will be discussed in a constructive, non-blaming way.

6. Limits. This mainly involves the submissive's physical and emotional limits. Do they have any relevant health problems such as a heart condition, high blood pressure, or epilepsy? Are they wearing glasses or, especially, contact lenses? How well do they see without them? Do they have any physical limitations? I would hesitate, for example, to tie someone with their arms stretched tightly overhead if they have a history of a dislocated shoulder. Any history of plastic surgery? (You don't want to deliver strong whip strokes to breasts that contain implants.)

Any history of back surgery, joint surgery, sprained ankles, neck injury, joint disorders, arthritis, etc.? Any other range-of-motion limits?

The submissive must be completely honest with their dominant about limits. Some submissives conceal information because they may feel embarrassed or fear that revealing it may cause the dominant to decide not to play with them. This is stupid. While revealing the information may indeed cause a dominant to cancel a session, withholding it may cause a disaster.

Emotional limits: Any known phobias or other emotional hotspots? Any "real life" incidents in their past that might come up? Note: Both players should understand that SM play has a small but distinct chance of touching an unknown emotional hot spot in either player.

7. Sex. It's crucial to agree clearly and specifically, before beginning the session, about exactly what kind of conventional sexual contact, if any, is mutually acceptable. What about masturbation? Cunnilingus? Fellatio? Swallowing se men? Analingus? Vaginal intercourse? Anal intercourse? Condoms? Birth control precautions? Does either person have herpes? Has either tested positive for the AIDS virus? Keep in mind that not everybody agrees on the definition of "safer sex practi ces"; before you begin your session, make sure you are in agreement regarding which activities will involve a barrier and which will not.

Don't act shy or squeamish on this point. The negotiations on conventional sex absolutely must be clear and agreed upon before going further. Failure to make sure of this point, or going into the session "hoping for the best," can set the stage for a very frustrating session -- as I have learned from experience.

8. Intoxicants. Don't play if either of you is seriously drunk or stoned. Particularly avoid drugs that make the submissive insensitive to pain or that impair the dominant's judgment or coordination. (SM often has a potent, drug-like effect on many people. It needs little outside help.)

As of this writing, I know of no serious accidents during SM play where the players used only small amounts of beer, wine, or marijuana. I suggest avoiding SM play if either person is under the strong influence of liquor, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, tranquilizers, barbiturates, or potent psychedelics. Many injuries and nonconsensual incidents can be traced directly to players using strong intoxicants, especially alcohol!

Note: Introducing any intoxicant not previously agreed upon is serious misbehavior. If the dominant pulls out hard liquor, cocaine, or something similar, the submissive should immediately call "red," get dressed, and leave.

9. Bondage. Who will be tied up? To what extent? (Some submissives allow a new dominant to bind them, but don't allow the dominant to tie them to something such as a bed or chair.) What about blindfolds? Gags? Hoods? (Wise players av oid blindfolds, gags, and hoods during the first few sessions.) Does the submissive have a history of claustrophobia? Have they been bound, gagged, blindfolded, or hooded before? How did they react?

10. Pain. How does the submissive feel about receiving pain? Can they be spanked? Paddled? Whipped? Slapped? What about nipple clamps? Genital clamps? Clamps elsewhere? How about hot creams? Ice? Anything else painful? Some submissives cheerfully admit they are "pain sluts." Others hate receiving pain, but will endure it if doing so pleases their dominant.

11. Marks. Will it cause the submissive problems if the session leaves marks? (Whipping is likely to mark.) Do they know from experience how easily they mark? Do they understand it might be difficult to tell whether a given activity is markin g them? Do they care if an activity draws small amounts of blood? If it's crucial that the submissive not be marked, then it's probably best to avoid spanking, whipping, clamping, pinching, and so forth.

(Note: Sometimes marks not normally visible can be "brought to the surface" by a hot shower. This can happen up to several days after the session.)

12. Humiliation. This can include "verbal abuse," forced exhibitionism, water sports (peeing on the submissive), enemas, slapping the face, spitting, and scat (feces) games. Does the submissive have any experience in these areas? What was their reaction? Are they curious? Are these areas definite turn-offs?

Playing with humiliation is playing with emotional dynamite. This area, therefore, is exceptionally important to negotiate. Never "surprise" a submissive with a golden shower or something similar. Their reaction could be immediate and extreme -- panic, intense shame, violent rage.

Remember, the less well you know someone, and the less experience you have with them, the more carefully you must proceed. This is especially true about humiliation.

13. Safewords. I recommend using at least two safewords: one for "lighten up," and one for "stop completely." These are usually enough for a basic session. I also strongly recommend including the "two squeezes" technique.

If the players will use a gag or hood, they must agree upon non-verbal "safe signals." Again, gagging a submissive without previously setting up a non-verbal safeword and getting their consent is asking for trouble.

14. Opportunities. Is there anything either person has wanted to try but not had a reasonable opportunity to experience? Is there anything they feel curious about? Does either have unique talents or skills to offer?

15. Follow-up. What arrangements can be made for the two people to spend "straight time" together immediately after the session? What about follow up contact the next day? A week later? If a crisis occurs?

16. Anything Else? Is there anything else to discuss or negotiate about before beginning?

Sixteen points seem like a lot, yet with practice experienced players can cover them in only five to ten minutes -- if they closely agree. On the other hand, negotiations may take much longer. As a rule of thumb, if it takes over an hour to agree on all points, you may not be compatible enough to play together then. Stop for the time being and schedule another meeting.

Caution: Negotiate only when both of you are alert and in good spirits. If one or both of you feels tired, sleepy, sad, angry, fearful, or otherwise upset, negotiate (and play) later.

I have used this 16-point checklist with many new partners, and for more than eight years. In all of that time, I have never had a bad session after reaching clear agreement on all 16 points prior to play.


To Help You Remember

The sixteen points are: people, roles, place, time, oops, limits, sex, intoxicants, bondage, pain, marks, humiliation, safewords, opportunities, follow-up, and "anything else?" The first letters of these words, respectively, are: P, R, P, T, O, L, S, I, B, P, M, H, S, O, F, A. I've devised a saying to help you remember. The first letter of each word matches the first letter of a negotiation point.

"Placing Ropes Properly Tight Only Lets Sex Intensify. Binding Penises May Hurt, So Only Fuck Animals."

Its delightful nonsense-ness helps you remember it. (Please don't fuck any animals. I only put that word in because its vividness will help you remember the saying. I oppose bestiality.)

To review:

Placing		People
Ropes			Roles
Properly		Place
Tight			Time
Only			Oops
Lets			Limits
Sex				Sex
Intensify		Intoxicants
Binding		Bondage
Penises		Pain
May				Marks
Hurt			Humiliation
So				Safewords
Only			Opportunities
Fuck			Follow-up
Animals		Anything else?

Say this aloud a few times. Write it down. Post it somewhere. With only a little repetition, it's easy to remember and use.

It helps to prepare a negotiation form and fill in the blanks as you negotiate. This helps both players stay clear about what they agreed upon (and what they didn't).

Finally, remember that neither player, especially the submissive, must do anything they previously agreed they would do. While they should make a good-faith effort to obey, they may call their safeword if the session becomes too intense for them.< p> The dominant has no right to "really" force the submissive to do anything, even if the submissive previously agreed to do it. Also, the submissive has no right to insist the dominant do anything to them that the dominant feels uncomfortable about doing or incompetent to do. Dominants, too, have the right to use safewords.


"Pre" Pre-Session Negotiations

Few experiences feel more frustrating than sitting in the playroom, negotiating an imminent session, and discovering your potential partner won't agree to something you consider essential.

Running into a "deal-breaker" in this situation is awful. Your basic options are (1) cancel the session, (2) proceed anyway, hoping "it'll work itself out" (it almost never does), or (3) begin prolonged negotiations to try to resolve the situation. (Not likely.)

I have learned that by far the best way to deal with this situation is to avoid it. You do that by negotiating your deal-breakers well ahead of the time when you and your new partner might meet to play. If you know that something likely to come up is be yond your limits, let your prospective partners know this (diplomatically, please) early.

Basic Point: The earlier you discuss deal-breakers, the better. Also, make a point of asking about your potential partner's deal-breakers. Find out early -- as soon as possible after it looks like the two of you might want to play together.

In my experience, the most common deal-breaker is sex. A surprisingly large number of players are willing to get together for bondage, whipping, and so forth only if nothing likely to produce an orgasm will occur. If you know you strongly want (or stron gly don't want) masturbation, oral sex, intercourse, or something similar to occur during the session, mention that early in your pre-session negotiations.


Group Negotiations

When play involves more than two people, everyone should participate in the main negotiations. Afterward, the dominants can send the submissives away and negotiate who will do what. (Among other things, making the submissives wait while you decide their "fate" is itself a delicious torture.)


Post-Session Negotiations and Feedback

Post-session negotiations and other feedback are usually done at one of three times: (1) Immediately after the session. (2) The next day. (3) About a week later.

Immediately after the session, it's good for the people involved to spend some "straight time" out of role with each other. Spending this time in a place other than the one in which the actual play took place is an excellent idea. Going to a nearby rest aurant or coffee house often works very well.

This time allows the people to reestablish a "genuine" relationship with each other. It also allows them time to decompress and relax after sharing an intense experience.

I have found that this time is not an especially good one for detailed analysis of what happened and the participants' reactions to it. Instead, just relax and get to know the other person again as a person, not as their role of dominant or submissive. If this is not your regular partner, then this is probably not the best time to ask about getting together to play again. The experience is often still too fresh, and too raw, for them to know how they feel about that.

Caution: It's not uncommon for the dominant to experience some feelings of depression and/or guilt after a session (a phenomenon known as "top drop"). Hitting another person, or otherwise "torturing" them, no matter how consensually it was done or how much the other person enjoyed it, is taboo. The dominant has just broken that taboo, and may be paying the emotional price for doing that. A good submissive, therefore, makes sure to thank the dominant for thei r time and attention, and reassures them (t the extent they truthfully can) that they liked what happened. Submissives don't have to lie about this, and don't have to claim that they liked something that they didn't like. They do, however, need to make sure that the dominant feels thanked for th eir gifts of time, skill, and attention.

The negotiations that take place the next day are often the "real" post-session negotiations. By this time, the people have had a chance to think about what went on and react to it. One retired professional dominant used to question her submissives by u sing the following formula: What was the best thing about the session? What was the worst thing about the session? What was the most memorable thing about the session? After her submissive had answered those questions, she would then answer them herself from her point of view. After these questions were answered, general discussion followed as appropriate.

I have used a similar approach successfully on many occasions. I ask, on a scale of one to ten, with ten the top, what is your overall feeling about the session? I then ask what was the best thing about the session, and on a scale of one to ten how good was it -- and what was the worst thing, and on a scale of one to ten how bad was it? The additional information is valuable. Among its other benefits, it often reveals that the good things were very good and (hopefully) that the bad things were not all that bad. We then go on to discuss other aspects of the session as needed.

Asking about getting together for future sessions at this time is usually acceptable. Your partner has usually had enough time to work through their reactions and can give you a realistic answer.

One-week-later negotiations and feedback are mainly to check for complications. Monday Morning Rebound Syndrome, top drop, and any injuries not readily apparent have usually emerged by this time, and can be dealt with. It's certainly all right to ask ab out getting together again at this point.


Second-Session Negotiations

If the first session goes well, negotiations usually take much less time for a second session. Again, make sure you agree on the 16 basic points. Be sure you cover limits, sex, bondage, and safewords. Incorporate feedback from the first session. Still , negotiating the second session usually takes much less time. Additional sessions usually take even less.



The minutes spent negotiating are usually the most important minutes of the entire session. Rushed or sloppy negotiations open the door to disaster. Good, complete negotiations open the door to a future containing many pleasurable sessions. I have neve r met a good negotiator who turned out to be a bad player.


Negotiation Forms

To help clarify matters as you negotiate, and to help you remember what your agreements were once the play begins, I've included two "negotiation forms" in this section. They proved to be among the most popular parts of the first edition.

As with your income tax, you can use either the "short form" or the "long form" as appropriate. Among other things, looking over these forms, particularly the long form, helps people realize how many different aspects of SM play can come up during a sess ion. That in itself can be highly educational and clarifying.

Notice: Permission is hereby given to photocopy (only) the negotiation forms in this book.


Negotiation Short Form

Note: Please use the back of the form if additional space is needed.

  1. People___________________________________________________________
  2. Roles___________________________________________________________
  3. Place___________________________________________________________
  4. Time___________________________________________________________
  5. Oops___________________________________________________________
  6. Limits___________________________________________________________
  7. Sex___________________________________________________________
  8. Intoxicants___________________________________________________________
  9. Bondage___________________________________________________________
  10. Pain___________________________________________________________
  11. Marks___________________________________________________________
  12. Humiliation___________________________________________________________
  13. Safewords___________________________________________________________
  14. Opportunities___________________________________________________________
  15. Follow-Up___________________________________________________________
  16. Anything Else?________________________________________


Negotiation Long Form

Note: Please use the back of the form if additional space is needed.



Who will take part?

Who will watch?

Note: The session will involve only those people specifically named above.

Will any permanent record be made of the session (photographs,audiotapes or videotapes)?

[ ]Yes [ ] No




Who will be dominant?

Who will be submissive?

Type of scene:

[ ] master/slave

[ ] mistress/slave

[ ] captive

[ ] servant/butler/Etc.

[ ] cross-dressing/gender play

[ ] age play

[ ] animal play

[ ] other

Any chance of switching roles?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Will the submissive promptly obey?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


May the dominant "overpower" or "force" the submissive?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


May the submissive verbally resist?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


May the submissive physically resist?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Does resistance equal a "strong yellow"?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


May the submissive try to "turn the tables"?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Does the submissive agree to wear a collar?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


The submissive agrees to address the dominant by the following title(s):




Who will ensure privacy?


Begin at:


Beginning signal:

Ending signal:

Who will keep track of time?



Does everybody involved understand that there is some risk of accident, miscommunication, misperception and/or unintentional injury?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Does everybody involved agree to discuss any mishaps in a constructive and non-blaming manner?

[ ]Yes [ ] No



Submissive's limits

Submissive's physical/emotional/SM activity limits:

Any problems with the submissive's...

heart [ ]Yes [ ] No

lungs [ ]Yes [ ] No

neck/back/bones/joints [ ]Yes [ ] No

kidneys [ ]Yes [ ] No

liver [ ]Yes [ ] No

nervous system/mental [ ]Yes [ ] No


Is the submissive wearing contact lenses? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Does the submissive suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or related problems? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Does the submissive have a history of...

seizures: [ ]Yes [ ] No

dizzy spells: [ ]Yes [ ] No

diabetes:[ ]Yes [ ] No

high or low blood pressure: [ ]Yes [ ] No

fainting:[ ]Yes [ ] No

asthma:[ ]Yes [ ] No

hyperventilation attacks:[ ]Yes [ ] No

Describe any phobias:

Submissive's other medical conditions:

Any surgical implants (breast, face, etc.)? [ ]Yes [ ] No


Is the submissive taking aspirin?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Is the submissive taking ibuprofen, Aleve, or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Is the submissive taking antihistamines?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Other medications submissive is taking:

Allergic to:

bandage tape:[ ]Yes [ ] No

nonoxynol-9:[ ]Yes [ ] No

Other allergies:

In case of emergency notify:

Dominant's Limits

Dominant's physical/emotional/SM activity limits:

Any problems with the dominant's...

heart [ ]Yes [ ] No

lungs [ ]Yes [ ] No

neck/back/bones/joints [ ]Yes [ ] No

kidneys [ ]Yes [ ] No

liver [ ]Yes [ ] No

nervous system/mental [ ]Yes [ ] No


Dominant's other medical conditions:

Medications dominant is taking:

In case of emergency notify:

Is the dominant currently certified in First Aid/CPR?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Safety gear on hand:

paramedic scissors: [ ]Yes [ ] No

flashlight:[ ]Yes [ ] No

first aid kit: [ ]Yes [ ] No

blackout light: [ ]Yes [ ] No

fire extinguisher:[ ]Yes [ ] No

Will the play be in an isolated area such as a farmhouse? [ ]Yes [ ] No

If yes, what will ensure the submissive's safety if the dominant becomes unconscious?

no bondage to chair, bed, etc.: [ ]Yes [ ] No

no gag: [ ]Yes [ ] No

silent alarm: [ ]Yes [ ] No

third person present: [ ]Yes [ ] No

telephone/radio/panic button within submissive's reach: [ ]Yes [ ] No



Does any participant believe they might have a sexually transmitted disease?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Does any participant believe they might have herpes?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Have participants been tested for HIV? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Has any participant tested positive? [ ]Yes [ ] No


Circle which of the following sexual acts are acceptable:


[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

[ ] self-masturbation by submissive

[ ] self-masturbation by dominant


[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant


[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant


[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

Anal fisting

[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

Vaginal fisting

[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

Vaginal intercourse

[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

Anal intercourse

[ ] dominant to submissive [ ] submissive to dominant

Is swallowing semen acceptable? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Is any participant menstruating? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Will sex toys such as vibrators, dildoes, butt plugs, etc. be used? [ ]Yes [ ] No


Which of the above activities will involve birth control pills, diaphragms, spermicidal suppositories, lubricants containing nonoxynol-9, or contraceptive foam/suppositories/gel?

Which of the above activities will involve condoms, gloves, dental dams, and/or other barriers?



The dominant can use (only) the following intoxicants during the session:

Acceptable quantity:

The submissive can use (only) the following intoxicants during the session:

Acceptable quantity:



The submissive agrees to allow (only) the following types of bondage:

hands in front: [ ]Yes [ ] No

hands behind back: [ ]Yes [ ] No

ankles:[ ]Yes [ ] No

knees: [ ]Yes [ ] No

elbows: [ ]Yes [ ] No

wrists to ankles (hog-tie): [ ]Yes [ ] No

spreader bars: [ ]Yes [ ] No

tied to chair: [ ]Yes [ ] No

tied to bed: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of blindfold: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of gag: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of hood: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of rope:[ ]Yes [ ] No

use of tape: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of handcuffs/metal restraints: [ ]Yes [ ] No

use of leather cuffs: [ ]Yes [ ] No

suspension: [ ]Yes [ ] No

mummification with plastic wrap, body bag, or similar techniques: [ ]Yes [ ] No

Any past bad experiences by either person with bondage, gags, blindfolds, and/or hoods?: [ ]Yes [ ] No




Submissive's general attitude about receiving pain: [ ] likes [ ] accepts [ ] neutral [ ] dislikes [ ] will not accept

Quantity of pain submissive wants to receive: [ ] none [ ] small [ ] average [ ] large


Dominant's general attitude about giving pain:

[ ] likes [ ] gives [ ] neutral [ ] dislikes [ ] will not give

Quantity of pain dominant wants to give: [ ] none [ ] small [ ] average [ ] large


Will the "now" technique be used?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Will the "nod" technique be used?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Will the "one to ten" technique be used? Will the "now" technique be used?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


The following types of pain are acceptable:

spanking: [ ]Yes [ ] No

paddling: [ ]Yes [ ] No

whipping: [ ]Yes [ ] No

caning: [ ]Yes [ ] No

face slaps: [ ]Yes [ ] No

biting: [ ]Yes [ ] No

nipple clamps: [ ]Yes [ ] No

genital clamps: [ ]Yes [ ] No

clamps elsewhere: [ ]Yes [ ] No locations:

hot creams: [ ]Yes [ ] No

ice: [ ]Yes [ ] No

hot wax: [ ]Yes [ ] No

tickling: [ ]Yes [ ] No

Other types/methods of pain:

Additional remarks:



Is it acceptable to the submissive if the play leaves marks? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Visible while wearing street clothes? [ ]Yes [ ] No

Visible while wearing a bathing suit? [ ]Yes [ ] No


Is it acceptable to the submissive is the play draws small amounts of blood? [ ]Yes [ ] No


How easy or difficult has it been to mark the submissive in the past?


Erotic Humiliation

The submissive agrees to accept being referred to by the following terms:


The submissive agrees to the following forms of erotic humiliation:

"verbal abuse": [ ]Yes [ ] No

enemas: [ ]Yes [ ] No

forced exhibitionism: [ ]Yes [ ] No

spitting: [ ]Yes [ ] No

water sports: [ ]Yes [ ] No

scat games: [ ]Yes [ ] No


Any prior really good or really bad experiences in these areas?



Safeword #1 and its meaning:

Safeword #2 and its meaning:

Safeword #3 and its meaning:

Non-verbal safewords and their meaning:

Will "two squeezes" be used?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Will the "extended hand" technique be used?

[ ]Yes [ ] No


Opportunities/Special Skills

Anything in particular either party would like to try or explore?



(Please include a note about who will initiate contacts.)

After the session:


The next day:


A week later:


In case of a crisis:


Anything Else?

What will become of this form after the session?


Post-session notes


Overall feeling: one to ten scale (ten tops)

Best part: one to ten scale

Worst part: one to ten scale

Other comments:


Overall feeling: one to ten scale (ten tops)

Best part: one to ten scale

Worst part: one to ten scale

Other comments:


(prev.: "S/M Goes to the Movies")


return to main page