Why we use them and why they are important
Hard limits are things (be they actions, words, items or spaces) which an individual does not wish to use in kinky play. A hard limit could be literally anything, some of the most common ones I have come across when negotiating play scenes have been: tickling; spitting; blood; humiliation; pain; golden showers; caning; claustrophobia…
A violation of the pre-discussed hard limits can range from making the individual feel uncomfortable to being traumatising or triggering. These potential reactions are why, when playing kinkily, people are often encouraged to tell people of their hard limits, so that the scene remains safe and consensual for all the individuals involved.
When playing kinkily it is imperative to express your hard limits to the person you are playing with, so that they can remain conscious of keeping the scene safe. This is true for both parties, whether the players are tops, bottoms, switches, submissives etc. Tops and dominants also have hard limits which need to be understood and respected and types of play that they are not interested in exploring. Without expressing your hard limits, there is a chance that your play mate might accidentally violate your hard limits and make you feel like your boundaries or safety have been violated. Trust and connection are hugely important within a kinky play scenario and therefore discussing hard limits is imperative.
Knowing what these hard limits can take time to work out or can be instantaneous. For example some people have lots of experience of being tickled against their will as a child and they hate it and know intrinsically that they do not want to experience this. A hard limit can also be abrupt and come up in a kinky play scene; sometimes we do not know that something will trigger us or scare us until we explore it. That is why safe words are also important to discuss (I will write a blog post on this later). Our lives can change and things that in the past were no longer triggers, can become so due to a change in life circumstances. This is why when negotiating play scenes, it is always important to come back to these, as every time we play were are in a different space. I personally ask about hard limits when I ask a variety of other health related questions (I will write a blog on the importance of health questions in the future).
One of the most paramount aspects of play is the connection with those you play with. As a top or a dominant, if a bottom has not thought about their limits or does not tell me of their limits we are not in consent. There will always be things that we do not want to explore and the more I know about your desires and dislikes, the more able I am of co-creating a delicious or depraved scene with you. It is also ok if you do not know what they are yet (a previous blog talks about my love of spitting, this is often a hard limit for people) but it is really important that you tell me if we come across things that you do not like or would not like to explore again, I want to hear if you don’t like something, as much, if not more so, than if you do. As someone who works with power dynamics, I do not want us to fall into the trap that, because I am the dominant, you believe your experience of pain and discomfort should not be raised or noticed to me. I cannot read your body language if we have not played together before, I do not know if your toes curling mean pleasure of pain and without you communicating that to me I am left estimating, which can produce incorrect results.
Discover your limits, tell me or whoever you play with about them so that the play can be as safe and fun as possible or to use a kink term RACK- Risk Aware Consensual Kink.