BDSM consent and negotiation guidelines

by La quarta corda

2 – A few definitions


“Consent” is a shared agreement in which two (or more) persons express their positions and respect those of the partner/s.

This agreement can lead to seeking a solution reconciling everyone’s needs through a process called “negotiation”.

We can think of negotiation as a condom: it takes very little to slip it on, but it protects very much; not using one exposes you to risk, while wearing one can become an arousing moment for the couple without compromising the magic of what they are doing. And again: if it breaks, it can cause serious problems and yet many people don’t know how to roll it on, or even think they are cool by not using it.

Negotiation is neither a competition, nor a series of concession to the partner. It is not like haggling a better price when we are buying a second-hand car, but like trying to create a shared space where we can explore common desires together.

For this reason, negotiation doesn’t end with a series of questions to ascertain our partner’s preferences and limits, but it is chiefly based on one’s self-knowledge and awareness. Negotiation is not made of demands, but of offers. It is a way of expressing ourselves, not a quiz.

This approach is different than how some people conceive of negotiation, often meant as the top bargaining with the bottom in order to be allowed to do certain practices.

The real purpose of negotiation is not just avoiding what we don’t like, but also engaging in what we desire, and which we can possibly only realize through a good negotiation!

These guidelines will refer to a kind of consent that is informed and aware. Consent can be declined in various forms – more or less specific or “open” – depending on personal inclinations, experience and trust in the partner. What is important is to always ensure the respect and well-being of everyone involved.

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1 – Introduction

3 – The negotiation vocabulary

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