Bondara Sex Toys Blog - Hard & Soft Limits: Yes, No, Maybe?

Hard & Soft Limits: Yes, No, Maybe?

In this instalment of Kink Aware, we’ll be looking at hard and soft limits, and how to communicate them with your partner.

While generally discussed within couples practising BDSM, such limits can also apply in any kind of relationship or intimate pairing. Especially if you’re curious about trying something new!

What Are Hard and Soft Limits?

A hard limit is something you have no interest in and cannot, will not be persuaded otherwise. This could be out of personal preference, an ‘ick’ or phobia, medical or trauma-related necessity, or – more so on the extreme end of play – against your own moral code.

Whereas soft limits are boundaries that we’re willing to bend with exploration. These are the kinks, acts, and toys we have no or little experience in but are curious to try, usually up to a limit. A good example is being okay with having your bottom spanked by hand, but a wooden flogger is too much.

Why Are They Important?

Whether kinky or not, in a new relationship or celebrating your silver anniversary, everyone benefits from communication. The more we know about what gets us and our partners going, the better the sex.

Limits within BDSM help you avoid harm, whether that’s physical injuries or triggering trauma. If you don’t know your partner’s boundaries, you could unintentionally hurt them – and none of us want that!

Some people will say they don’t need limits. To which I say; some people shouldn’t be kinksters. Very much like safewords, if your partner won’t respect sensible precautions, do you trust them to respect you?

How Do I Figure Out My Hard and Soft Limits?

Some limits may be obvious; readers with heart conditions probably aren’t jumping to try electro sex. Otherwise, limits can be difficult to define. Especially if you don’t have the vocabulary or confidence to discuss desires that lie outside the norm!

This is where a “Yes, No, Maybe” list (sometimes called a BDSM checklist) comes in. It works exactly how it sounds! Yeses are things we like and want, nos are off-limits, and maybes are open for experimentation. These lists also leave space for you to expand on. So, whether you prefer to be on the receiving or giving end (i.e. strap-ons), as well as your previous experience and level of interest.

You can make your own, but we’ve already done the hard work! Use the button below to download your copy of our Yes, No, Maybe List, it’s got all the instructions you need too.

What’s great about checklists is that they open up dialogue, like an icebreaker, and may introduce concepts or kinks we’ve not considered before. For example, active versus passive consent! You know what ‘consent‘ is, but have you thought about whether your consent style is active or passive?

Active Consent: Consistent verbal or non-verbal consent being given during sex, i.e. a confirmation of enjoyment and permission.

Passive Consent: Verbal and implied consent at the start of sex, somewhat assumes everyone’s having fun unless consent is revoked.

Also, because the checklist is filled out individually, you get to determine what you want. It creates space for explicit boundaries where some may feel pressured to relax limits for the sake of pleasing their partner. Honesty is essential for consensual BDSM.

What Now?

Once you’ve filled in your checklist (privately), you have to discuss your hard and soft limits with your partner(s). Negotiate just how you might incorporate anything missing and/or how to explore soft limits. Say, you want to be restrained during sex, but your partner isn’t comfortable with using rope. Suggesting to being restrained by hand, or using fuzzy handcuffs, may be a way of making restraints more approachable.

Hard limits are not up for negotiation and should be considered off the table. This may change later, but if they’re not into it, they’re not into it.

You might choose to have smaller conversations as the need arises. For example, if you are setting up a flogging scene, you may not feel the need to discuss group sex. However, as you learn about your preferences, you’ll probably find your limits shift over time.

So, it’s good practice to come back and review your checklist. Remember, this is a dialogue and open to change. This is not a legal contract – you can, and should, say no if you’re uncomfortable.

Now you have an idea of your hard and soft limits, and how you can use those limits to practice kink safely. Remember our BDSM golden rule: keep it safe, keep it sane, keep it consensual!

Any questions or tips? Feel free to pop them in the comments below, and don’t forget to save your copy of our Yes, No, Maybe Checklist.

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