I don’t negotiate play in my relationships. The key part there being ‘in my relationships’.
To get to the ‘in my relationship’ part, we have already done the work, we know what’s in scope, we’ve established boundaries, we know each other, and he trusts me to make judgement calls about what we do when, and how. I know that kind of blanket consent is a thing some folks are uncomfortable with and I understand that it’s not a model that works for everyone. But for me and mine, I will get us there. And my submissive always has a safeword: I trust him to call it if he needs to.
I negotiated very specifically with richie because it was casual play: That’s a very different thing. I didn’t know him well, he was new and very nervous, and I wanted us both to be clear about what was in scope and what wasn’t. No ‘winging it’, no ‘whatever I feel like’, nothing like that was going to happen.
But in my relationships, we learn each other well enough for blanket consent to work well.
We have general discussions at random times. I learn what his interests, fears, turn-ons are in that, I watch how he reacts to ideas, I find out what his experiences have been, and I use all of that input to decide where to go with him. And when we play, we both rely on my judgement to bring him into it with me, to keep him safe, to assess how it’s going, to communicate with him while we are in it, and to respond accordingly.
My negotiation for this punching play looked like this:
Me: I want to punch you…
Him: *perks up, eager smile* That could be fun.
[some general chat about punching, what we’ve seen, what we’ve done, what’s hot about it, our experience…]
On the day:
Me: *smile* Punching?
Him: *grin* Okay.
We didn’t discuss anything more. He trusted me to be smart and careful and watchful and to look after him, and he went willingly into it with that mindset. I honour that trust by doing all of those things.
It’s a little different if I am working with him to get him to try something new, especially if it’s something frightening for him (like needles, for instance). In that case, often the negotiation is more about easing his fear with familiarity than it is about anything else. Talking about it gently and calmly, sometimes for weeks before, is part of bringing him into it with me, and often talking him through exactly what is going to happen before and during is almost like part of the play (that is, hot and scary and vulnerable-making).
I don’t advocate this approach for ‘people in general’, and certainly don’t ever advise new folks to take this approach: I think it’s ripe for capital T Trouble.
But I trust my instincts, I trust the submissive men I choose to be involved with, and I trust that they enjoy (and crave) me genuinely doing what I want with them when I feel like it.