NEGOTIATING BEFORE THE SESSION
A good negotiation generally follows this workflow:
This approach to negotiation helps to ensure that both partners are informed and responsible for their own choices.
If we are in a situation where one of the partners is a novice, the more experienced one can initially help – obviously without taking advantage of it – to manage the negotiation. At the same time, it is important that those who approach certain practices or certain types of relationship commit themselves to take care of their own preparation. There are now live meetings and numerous online resources, so we can find information enough to at least get a general idea of how to approach a certain practice, and topics such as negotiation, consent and safety.
Once discussed the various aspects of the negotiation, it may also happen that we realise that our needs and wishes cannot be reconciled. There is nothing wrong with that; nobody is forcing us to play if we do not feel like it.
There is no need to feel guilty or forced to justify our choice, no need to make excuses or leave false expectations. On the contrary, we can thank our partner for clearly expressing their wishes and limits, explaining that these are not in line with what we want.
We can still show ourselves willing to find a different solution if we want. We can propose a different activity or we can see whether it is possible to do what we talked about in a different way.
Not only that: a “yes” or a “no” may not be unchangeable choices. For example, a certain person may not feel comfortable in one context but fine in another, they may have a temporary health problem or they may not feel like it at that time for various reasons.
Finally, it may happen that the negotiation went very well and the desires match, but for some reason – for example, the need for more in-depth acquaintance, a suboptimal situation, etc. – we still don’t feel like playing. We can always decide just not to.
Negotiation has no point of no return.