Safewords, not just for the bedroom anymore.
A conversation a few days ago sparked a train of thought that led me to realize just how entwined the concept of safewords is with all of my interpersonal interactions; not just those that involve some BDSM element.
Due to the nature of play that I engage in with my wife, I have what you might call a background process that is always watching for an unexpected reaction to whatever I am doing at that moment. I’m not saying my sub is perfectly predictable, but if my swat of her ass with the flogger normally gets a moan, then a sharp intake of breath or scream is something that triggers that process. At that point, I will do a safety or mood check to make sure everything is still in the green.
That’s one small example of a mindset that allows us to push each other’s boundaries into ever higher and better places. When you get to that point where you can, almost automatically, take in all those little queues, gestures, vocalizations, body language and know that what you’re doing is good or that something is out of sorts or even safe-word worthy, then you can trust *yourself* as much as you trust your partner. From that place of trust, you can achieve things within a scene that would be dangerous, if not out right impossible otherwise.
That being said, that same level of automatic situational analysis in the mundane world is something to strive for as well. The mental habits we develop in scene, when carried over into the rest of our interactions, allow for a much more peaceful and trusting relationship with everyone around you.
For example, have you ever been in a discussion with your signifacant other only to have that seemingly innocuous discussion devolve into something ugly, loud, mean and confusing? Everyone has. The difference when you keep those same levels of awareness you take into a scene going in your mundane life is that at the first, or nearly first, sign that the conversation or interaction is off kilter, you can use some method of disengagement which is a fancy way of saying ‘safeword’ for mundane situations.
My wife and I do this routinely. In the five or so years I’ve known her, we have had countless times done the verbal equivalent of a safe word. “Whoa, you’re reacting to what I just said in a way I didn’t expect. Can you tell me what you just heard?” is much more productive than “what the hell’s your problem? That’s not what I meant and you know it!”
This also applies when you are reacting to something you SO says or does. I know, deeply and with frequent reinfocement by her actions, that SAM does not want, nor mean to hurt me emotionally with anything she says. She’s not a mean person. Smart-assed, yes, but that’s what I love about her. So when she says something that I take as an attack, as mean, or hurtful, I first stop and *think* about what she said, not just react to the emotional impact.
I then ask her. “You just said X which seems to be pretty intense. Are you angry or upset? Did you mean for it to be an attack?” or something very similar.
This kind of interaction is the same thing we do in scene when something’s not quite right. Over time these little checks have become automatic and not even verbal. Just as I know when to adjust the strength of my hits with the flogger, I have learned to read her social queues as well to adjust my verbal ‘flogger’. She has done the same.