One of the key differences between BDSM and abuse is the respect of limits. Along with limits, one of the key needs that we need to be communicate is when we are approoaching our pain limit. To do that, we in the BDSM community use safe words.
Introducing the traffic light system
One of the most commonly used, most frequently understood safe word systems in use in the BDSM community is the traffic light system. Most people understand traffic lights, and so this system works as the perfect metaphor in BDSM:
- RED – Something has gone very wrong, I need you to stop immediately
- AMBER/YELLOW – I’m beginning to find this too much, I’d like to slow down or ease off a little
- GREEN – I’m fine with this, carry on (Note: Not everyone uses Green in long-term relationships, but it is sometimes used in infrequent sessions with casual partners)
Now I’d like to introduce you to the other two colours that I use:
- BEIGE – Please be rougher with me (I know that I am far from the only brat to use “beige”!)
- BURGUNDY – In a social setting, this discreet play is making me uncomfortable and I’d like you to stop
Do I have to use colours?
Absolutely not! You could use absolutely anything you like, provided you and your parnter will remember it. For example you could use:
- First names (this works very well to pull your partner back to realityin the event of an emergency)
- A favourite food
- A favourite place
- A favourite word
- Abracadabra! (surprisingly popular!)
- supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (only for true sadists)
Safe words with gags
Sometimes using safewords isn’t appropriate, such as when we use gags. For this reason, we need to use an alternative approach, namely body language. You could use:
- Dropping an item
- Blinking (provided you aren’t also using a blindfold, of course!)
- Clenching a fist for “yellow”, two fists for “red”
- Opening a hand with the fingers outstretched for “yellow”, both hands for “red”
Are safe words only for submissives?
This is a common misconception. While safewords are are generally for submissive parties (because they are the one having things done to them), any party can use a safe word. Let’s say for example a submissive is calling a Dominant all kinds of names and the Dominant finds it offensive and unacceptable, they would be well within their right to use red or yellow to communicate to the submissive that it was something they weren’t happy with. If you’re uncomfortable, speak up!
Do I really need a safe word?
My partner doesn’t want to use safewords. Now what?
Woah there! If your partner doesn’t want to use safe words to communicate when things go wrong, that’s a BIG red flag and many, many seasoned BDSM practitioners will not play with someone who doesn’t use or refuses to have a safe word. A safe word is just that, it keeps you SAFE. Would you go rock climbing without a safety harness? Canoeing without a lifejacket? Treat your safe word like you would treat your life jacket – it could quite literally save your life!
So you’ve told me all about safe words, but what’s a danger word?
Danger words were actually something I have only very recently heard of. Even in my 13 years, I have only just heard of this idea. Nonetheless, I was so impressed with it that I thought it warranted a mention on my blog!
Most people have no difficulty suggesting sex, but what do you do when you’re out and about and you fancy something a little kinkier? If you start flirting then it’s reasonable for your partner to just assume you want sex, so how do you convey your darker interests?
Behold the danger word, or phrase.
Imagine being able to say a simple word or sentence that only your partner knows and understands,that expresses your interest to play. This is marvellous wherever there are kids, but also works when within earshot of inquisitive minds as well.
For me, that word is ‘swimming’, thrown most inconpiculously in the sentence as “would you like to go swimming after work?”
If my husband is interested, he might say “I’d love to! I haven’t been swimming in a while”, or if not. he might say “Not tonight, I’m not feeling well”.To anyone else, we’ve discussed a bit of after work fitness, to us, we’ve just potentially scheduled something else.. all the while without sharing what we were really talking about.
I hope that this article inspires you and enables you to find fun ways to play safe and remember, no safe word? No play! What’s your safe word, if you have one already? Let me know in the comments!
Hugs & Kinky Cuddles