You. If you’ve ever had trouble saying “no” to things you did not want, or had trouble safewording during play when you really, really needed to… I want to talk to you about a few things.
People in our community are going to say nasty things about you, perhaps without realizing they are talking about you. They will say you are an unsafe bottom or you are dangerous. They may say something worse than that.
None of these things are necessarily true.
You may very well be a wonderful bottom.
First of all, I want you to know that the reason you can’t say no might not actually be related to you being a bottom or a submissive at all. I, for example, am known for being a really tough and intimidating d-type who usually sets more boundaries than are necessary — and yet I have had trouble saying no to my lovers before when I really should have said no! And I know a lot of dominants and tops who have said “yes” to play when they should’ve said “no.” I’ve even known tops who were so vulnerable to the requests of others (including bottoms) that I had to put them under my protection and help them negotiate their boundaries personally to help avoid them being violated.
On the other hand, maybe your difficulties ARE related to your role in the lifestyle. You may be having trouble saying no because you enter a submissive mindstate and you are so determined to please that you can’t say no. And that’s okay too.
We can work on this. We can work with this.
There are a lot of reasons you might have trouble saying no. Sometimes, you might be so intent on pleasing your partner that you forget your own needs temporarily. Other times, you might suddenly have so much fear of the reaction of your partner you cannot stand up for yourself. Or you might suffer a PTSD reaction that makes you freeze up, go quiet and be completely unable to speak.
I don’t think you are an unsafe bottom. I think if you know you have trouble saying “no” or using your safeword, and you want to try to play anyways, you are very brave and I would be very lucky to be trusted to play with you if I was the top you selected to try this with.
A lot of tops aren’t comfortable playing with a bottom who can’t say no when they need to. And that is their right, although it isn’t right that they should shame you or say hurtful things. But they do get to set their own limits, just like you do. They really should say something like, “You know, I don’t really feel comfortable playing with someone who has trouble communicating boundaries. But I like you, and I care about you, and I’m really flattered you would consider me.”
One of the reasons why I wouldn’t turn you down for play because of your hesitation when communicating your boundaries is because I DO care enough about you to not want to violate your boundaries, and because stepping over them accidentally scares the shit out of me. … And that is why I would want to try to find a way to play with you despite this difficulty. Because I would be scared even more shitless of the idea of you finding someone else to play with who DOESN’T care. Someone who might take advantage.
So, if you trusted me enough to play with me, here is what I would do:
I would try, first of all, to see if I could coach you a little to be able to say no and use safe words. I’d try doing something with you that we knew was very, very safe. Something you knew you absolutely would be consenting to. And we would agree that during it, you would say no, or use your safewords. While we were doing this activity, at a certain pre-arranged time, you would say “yellow” and I would change activities, and then later I would go back to that activity and you would say “red.” If at any point you didn’t say your safewords when we had arranged for you to do so, I would end the scene and we would try this again later.
After we had practiced it a lot, if we both felt safe with it, we would pick a more triggering activity to try. Like, for example, if one of your triggers was caning, I would do a bunch of really safe comfy things and then try one tap with a cane, and you would say “yellow” and then I would praise you and thank you for telling me and do other fun things. Or if you didn’t say “yellow,” I would end the scene and we would try again another time.
This would be some really risky stuff and we would have to trust each other a lot to do these things, so I would want to be really close with you and do everything I could to make sure you felt safe with me before we would try this stuff.
As we moved into real play, I would do everything I could to negotiate scenes to the letter so we knew exactly what we would be doing before we did it. If possible, I would avoid any activity that would even come close to a “yellow” for you .
… Unless you had told me you craved or needed some activities that would come dangerously close to a “yellow” for you. Then, I would sometimes do those things, but only for a very short duration of time at first so that if there came a point you were no longer consenting but couldn’t vocalize it at least it would only be for a very short time period to reduce the trauma. I might arrange regular check-ins with you, where you would be expected to convince me of your desire to continue the activity or I would call the scene (and praise you for expressing your needs by not saying anything, in fact!).
I might see if you could find a best friend or a buddy who could watch the scenes you had and look for signals of distress and call the scene for you, if that might help you. Maybe you could have a pre-arranged signal with your protector that I wouldn’t know about.
If PTSD triggers were an issue, I might seek a kink aware therapist to help you work through the PTSD triggers some.
And most importantly, I would ask you to tell me what you need to be able to learn to communicate your boundaries and stay safe. I would ask you to sometimes reassure me when I get scared that I am hurting you or doing something wrong. I would ask you to be as gentle with me as you could, because sometimes I might feel like a bad person if I accidentally tromple over your limits or even get close to them. That feeling is part of the burden of being a top who gives a fuck about their bottoms, and I am happy and honored to be burdened with it. I am even more happy and honored if you would support me when I am scared and hurting, too.
I’m aware that some people might think my approach is wrong. They might believe you should go through your life never exploring your sexuality or fetishes.
I believe that whatever approach you want to take is your decision, and I will support you.
I have chosen to play with people who get afraid and cannot indicate when they are withdrawing consent, like you. I have even chosen to play with people who have such severe PTSD reactions they might actually attack me in a flashback — people much, much larger than me. If I care about you, I am willing to take this risk if you are and if you will try to work with me to keep yourself safe and comfortable as much as possible.
By the way, I wrote this article hypothetically: I’m not presently “on the market,” as it were. But if I WERE to be dating you, and in love with you, and ready to start play and relationship with you, this is what I would feel about exploring as safely as we could.
I hope you might find this helpful, and if you are struggling to tell a top what kind of help you need, you could send it to them for some perspective and an option. Please remember never to force or coerce your tops into anything, and to reassure them how badly you want to try this. Remember if your top tries to force or coerce you into anything, you can reach out to people around you for help. A protector may be able to set your limits for you. You can reach out to ME if you need help, even. I will try, if I can. Safest might be to find another bottom who knows what it is like to struggle with setting limits, though. There are many others who understand what you are going through — many wonderful people who will respect you and never shame you.
Originally posted on my Fetlife. See the discussion war rage on there.