Sunday, 22 December 2019

Emotional Intelligence and BDSM

Emotional intelligence is the skill of recognising emotions in yourself and others and to use that knowledge and apply it to situations, maybe to communicate, negotiate or resolve conflict.  Emotional intelligence can be said to comprise of four components:  Self-management, the ability to manage your emotions and control impulsive behaviour and seize opportunities. Self-awareness is the ability to understand your own emotions and how they affect your own thoughts and behaviour, “knowing how you work” and then being able to actualise this into self-confidence. Social awareness, often referred to as empathy is the ability to recognise emotions in others and act accordingly, being aware of power dynamics in groups and picking up on emotional cues.  Relationship management is about being able to have productive relationships over time, inspiring and influencing others, working well in teams and managing conflict.

Much of the literature around emotional intelligence is focus around use at work or for personal development but clearly these skills are useful in BDSM as well.  Given how much I talk about the importance of communication and how we treat others, I think emotional intelligence is an underrated kink skill that needs to be spoken about more.

I will also add that I’m talking about emotional intelligence in a positive light, it is also very possible for people to use skills in negative ways and to encourage negative behaviour and to pressure and manipulate.  As ever, if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or is trying to make you do things you don’t want to (just this one, no one will know etc) then disengage and make sure you are safe.

So what kind of situations can we apply emotional intelligence to BDSM?  Well, as I’ve said, all of BDSM is about good communication, but it seems particularly important to be during the negotiation phase – when you are getting to know someone, work out what you are both into and what the limits are.  You may be talking to someone who has different expectations than you, they may want to meet right now and play immediately while you might be a planner.  This is an obvious different and may be a fast deal breaker, but if play now doesn’t work for you, you may be able to suggest a date and time that does.  But you might need to watch for other cues, maybe they are messaging because they are horny (or high and horny) so they may be a potential for ghosting.

There is also the discussion around the activities and what it is you both want to get up to.  Emotional intelligence can be applied here to help make sure you both get what you want, for example if you have something that you really want and it’s a deal breaker for a scene but the other isn’t that into it, you may be able to offer something the other person is into, so you both get what you want – give and take.

Likewise with gear it can be expensive and people can be hesitant about bringing gear and letting others use it until a few meets in, in some cases people may have emotional and personal attachments to gear and may not want to let you wear it or try it on at all, it’s important to be respectful of this.  But again, you may be able to get further by offering to share your gear and let them try some of your stuff rather than just asking to use theirs.  If you are just asking of the other person and not offering in return it may come across to them that you are more interested in their gear than playing with them.  If you want to play with someone’s gear and they refuse, be respectful of that, trying to pressure them or asking if they don’t trust you will only cause resentment and may result in them not wanting to play with you.

There may be a delay from your initial discussions and getting around to play, and this is where skills around relationship management can be helpful.  You may want to keep in touch with them and let them know you are still interested and looking forward to it, but try and do this without being overbearing.  Talking every day for example may be too much, but saying hello and checking if the date is still good and letting them know you are looking forward to it can be good.  They may also get in touch and if they do great, but make sure you make the effort to say hello first sometimes.  Keep it two way.  Sometimes people appreciate a message, and maybe a photo geared up, you might get a horny chat out of it too!  There may be times that aren’t good for people to chat, be mindful about when they work, or if they give cues that they are busy in which case let them be and try another time.

Another key place for emotional intelligence is during a scene.  I wrote before about how a sub reacted badly to a consensual beating and was unable to safeword.  I picked up on “something” changing and checked in and they couldn’t reply.  Look for body language (tight, close off, defensive, crossed arms), breathing and tone of voice as well as what they are saying to make sure they are ok and if you’re not convinced it’s better to break the scene and talk about it rather than push on.  I’d always rather break the atmosphere of a scene to check in with someone, rather than not check and have gone too far.  Especially if having them gagged, it’s ok to remove the gag while you ask they are ok, then shove it back in if all is well.

I’ve written before about post scene care in the context of looking after Doms, but the same things apply to subs.  Even if they don’t ask for it if someone has had an extreme session with a lot of endorphins they may need help coming down and want cuddles and contact.  Hard scenes can also even make people cry and again if you take someone that far you need to help put them back together.  Let them know that it’s ok, they can let it out and that you are there for them.  Caring for people is an essential part of BDSM.

Then there’s the off days and the days it doesn’t work.  If someone ghosts I’m unlikely to give them another chance, if they cancel and let me know and I don’t know them, I’ll give them another chance to rearrange, we all know what life can be like and responsibilities and stress can get in the way.  Sometimes with regularly playmates if they’ve had a rough day they may not feel it and in that situation I’ll offer to do something else instead, go for a drink and hang out or grab some food somewhere.  Again, this is relationship management at work.  We’re friends too, today didn’t work but we’re both happy to play the long game and try again another time!

Hopefully this helps gives some insight to how you can apply emotional intelligence to BDSM, a lot of it is common sense, but a bit of thought in how you communicate with people and how you respond do them can go a long way in helping have good relationships with kinksters and help you get the most out of your sessions.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Hard Scenes and Aftercare for Doms

Last month I did a hostage scene with a sub friend who I’ve known for a long time.  Someone asked what it was like and I described it like:

“Driving a high-speed train, keeping it on the rails while patting your head and rubbing your tummy”

The scene had a fun shock component to it and incorporated a few harder aspects of play, pain, psychological torture and water boarding.  Suffice to say that there was negotiation and a safe word in place but the sub didn’t know everything that was going to happen. 

In a scene of this nature, for the Dom there is a lot to manage.  I’d scoped out the venue beforehand and placed gear ahead of time in handy locations where I would need it and reminded myself of physical hazards.  I’d also warned people who would be around (it was at a play party) what was going on so to give them opportunity to stay out the way if anything was too much for them. 

But to go back to my description of the train, there is a lot for a Dom to manage in this type of scene: 

  • As I’ve already said, the physical environment and physical hazards
  • Gear and safety of the gear involved, any bondage and movement restriction etc
  • Planning and looking ahead for new hazards and heading them off
  • Managing the headspace of the sub and making they are having fun and OK
  • Managing your headspace (the Dom) and making sure you are in the right place and not going too far

You can get the idea that while such scenes can be very fun, they can also be exhausting, physically and mentally.

In fact, with this scene it was me that ended it.  We’d got through the activities I’d had planned, and 4 litres of piss for waterboarding and the sub was in an obstinate headspace.  I’d been keeping a lid of my headspace and balancing holding back on the waterboarding so it was fun rather than over the top.  However, the subs obstinance was making me want to push and get the answer I wanted from the interrogation (his safeword).  Given that I’d run out of planned activity and being aware of my headspace, I decided to end the scene rather the push on.  I felt there was a risk of me going too far if I continued.

The sub went and got cleaned up, I re-joined the party and after a break had another fisting session.  But the scene played on my mind for a few days, I was glad I’d ended the scene when I did but that headspace I was in concerned me.  As much as fun playing with dark sides in kink can be, it can be difficult when we are confronted with our shadow selves and just how far we can go.

This leads me to aftercare for Doms.  There is plenty of writing about aftercare for subs and looking after them after intense play, them needing time to come down from endorphins, making sure they are warm, hydrated and that hot drinks, snacks and cuddles are all good things to help.  But how do you know a Dom needs aftercare and what do you do?  Things to look for include:

  • Seeming quiet, distant or thoughtful or withdrawn
  • Tight or insular body language, arms crossed, huddled up, or facing away or blocking
  • Taking time to return from dominant headspace, still being demanding or aggressive out of scene

As a sub, if you spot these kinds of signs you may need to accelerate your own come down and pull yourself together to look after your Dom.  Make sure you are hydrated and warm then tackle helping them. 

First, sort the physical. Get them to a spot where they can be comfortable, preferably away from where you were playing.  Make sure they are warm, comfortable and likewise hydrated and fed.  Their blood sugar may be low too after a long scene so a tea with sugar or a sweet fizzy drink may help along with something light to eat.

If they are struggling to come back from a dominant headspace make sure you use their real name and talk to them as a person (within the confines of your relationship with them).  If it’s appropriate it’s better to call them their name rather than Sir or whatever term they identify with when Doming.  I often tell people if I’m doing a harder scene that if they need me address me and talk to John, not to Vulf. Names and language matters!

Then provide reassurance, if you enjoyed the scene, tell them that.  They may be worrying about that and feeling concerned or guilty about what they have done.  Provide physical assurance as well as this, they may want hugs and to cuddle and to feel small, maybe a blanket to wrap up with.  At this time, it may be a good opportunity to apply some gentle music (don’t carry on with whatever music you were playing to) or to watch something light on TV/Netflix.  Keep offering snacks and drinks at regular intervals – without it being often enough to be pestering.  Maybe offer to run them a bath or fix them a shower.

When they are more together and can be left, offer to clean up from the scene so they don’t have to do the work.  This helps them out but also saves them physically reengaging with the scene that they have just started to leave behind and process.

Then later that day or the next day if you played in the evening, check in on them.  Ask if they enjoyed the scene and if they are doing ok, give them opportunity if there is anything they want to talk through.  Keep in touch and check in for up to a couple of weeks after, don't just vanish after a scene. 

Being a Dom can be hard work and hard scenes can take a lot out of you.  Please look after your Dominant!

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Mercurial Limits

I’ve noticed that when people discuss limits in BDSM they tend to come across as being something fixed and static.  Some websites allow you to create yes/no/maybe lists and often people have what they are into and hard limits on profiles on sites such as Recon.  It’s occurred to me recently that this is too simplistic and actually limits are more fluid and changeable.

When I started out in kink I had very firm things that were hard limits and were not up for discussion.  Things like fisting and scat were definitely off the menu to me, they were too extreme and I didn’t want to go there.  However, as I did more kink and started playing more, my limits shifted.  As I got more into being a pig, I got curious about scat and wanted to try it, and now it’s something I enjoy.  Likewise, I started watching videos of fisting and wanted to try it and experience what all those deep moans were about.  It’s natural for limits to change over time as your experience increases, but it’s worth keeping a check on things to make sure that in the cold light of day you’re happy with that.  For example, bareback is now much more open and being talked about, if you’re barebacking make sure it’s because you want to, rather than just because “everyone” else is doing it.

Limits can also change with the people you are playing with.  When I meet someone new, we’ll discuss what things we’re into and what’s on and off the menu and limits.  But for the first few sessions I’ll very deliberately keep things simple and not throw the kitchen sink at a scene.  Yes, you might be horny and want everything, but it’s far better tactic to keep a few session simple and build up rather than to do everything and end up safe wording and then have to have a discussion and if it goes wrong maybe loose a good playmate.  As a Dom, I’d much rather build up scenes and take someone to a place at a slower place, together even if that takes longer.  When subbing, I’m very fussy about who I sub to and I want to make sure that they “get it” in terms of safety and how to manage a scene and my headspace. So, it’s ok to start simple.  It’s also ok just to have different limits with different people, maybe one person is good at X but you don’t rate them at Y.  For those of us into many things, it’s natural to have different playmates into different areas and for some things to be off the menu with different people.

More than this, limits can also change day to day or week to week because of stuff going on internally with you.  Maybe work has been stressful and a session with lots of verbal isn’t ok today.  Maybe work stress means actually getting tied down and made “helpless” is way up the list.  The stuff you’re into can ebb and flow, and it doesn’t even need a reason.  What you want to do in a session is always a conversation and discussion and it’s important you speak up if for whatever reason there is something you don’t want to do, even if it’s usually on the menu.  Likewise, even as the subbiest sub if there is something you do particular want – ask for it!  Personally, when I’m Domming I hate it when people start exhibiting bratty behaviour to try and get something.  I’m more than happy to terrible things to you, but ask, don’t’ try and push me into it, I’ll just disengage.  An angry frustrated Dom isn’t a safe scene.

So please, don’t view limits as something fixed.  They are much more fluid than most of the discussion around them suggests and it’s ok for them not to be rational and to ebb and flow.  But if someone is trying to push you and it’s something you don’t want to do and aren’t comfortable with then say no and if need be walk away from playing with them.  Don’t be pressured or manipulated into something you don’t want to do.  Your time is precious and giving people your kinks as a Dom or a sub is a gift to someone that should be treasured and respected.

Friday, 18 October 2019


Crystal meth (methamphetamine) photo credit The New York Times

Chemsex used to be something that was fairly rare - I knew about it, but messages asking for it or offering chems were few and far between.  But over recent years it’s become far more prevalent.  On Grindr, people are very open about offering chems and dealing. Particularly, I’ve seen an increase in people coming across meth.  This begs the question; how do we look after our friends and ourselves?

It’s important to note, I’m not a health expert of any kind; these are just small practical things I’ve gleaned from people – this is not a substitute for advice from experts, and I can take no responsibility for the suggestions here. You do things at your own risk. 

If you are using chems, even if it’s just been the once, please talk to your local clinic and get some advice and support - most can refer you to specialist services.  If someone is unconscious or unresponsive having used chems, please call 999 immediately.  You may have concerns about the police getting involved, but it’s far more important that person gets treatment and their life saved!

If you’re about to do meth, slamming it (injecting) is the riskiest way to take it and has a harder comedown.  Smoking it is somewhat less harmful as is booty bumping (putting up your ass).  Consider how you do it, as well as the drug you’re taking when thinking about risk.
Make sure you don’t mix meth with other drugs or with alcohol, if things go wrong it’s much more difficult to treat with more substances in your body.  In particular – make sure you don’t take caffeine in any form, it increases the effect of it in the body and is really dangerous – avoid all caffeine while you’re wired. 

So, you’ve taken meth?  Now what, you’re probably feeling something pretty amazing I guess, really horny.  If you are at someone else’s place, make sure you get home safely, get an Uber or registered taxi rather than public transport and certainly don’t try and drive.  Ideally set a time with a friend to check in so someone can make sure you get back home safe.

But the comedown is rough with meth.  You’ll find you won’t be able to sleep for a few days, it’s important you do rest otherwise you are liable to just crash out exhausted and may collapse or go unconscious.  Take it easy, lie in a dark room, maybe with some gentle music on.  Not being able to sleep can be very unsettling in itself, it will pass and you will get some rest, but it might take a while. 

As you come down, you’ll find you have no appetite and may not want to eat.  Given that this again, can last a while, try drinking some protein shakes (ones with extra vitamins in are good) to make sure you are getting something in you, maybe try snacking on fruit.  Stay hydrated - watch the colour of your piss to keep an eye on this. 

Particularly if you’ve slammed, you may find the come down harsh and may experience paranoia.  This can be very frightening; it may be feelings of being watched or followed, being judged, or may even be physical sensations.  Find a friend you can trust and talk to them about it, if you can get them to come and sit with you and try and make you comfortable - again gentle music, a blanket, maybe watching something very easy going on Netflix.  Don’t watch anything with action or drama, as that can make things worse. 

As you come down and feel more normal you may experience other feelings, such as guilt, or regret. Worrying about what you have done, especially regarding sexual health.  If you take PrEP, make sure you keep taking it.  If you think you have missed doses, or don’t know what has happened, get to a clinic or Accident and Emergency as soon as you can.  You have a 72-hour window after having unprotected sex to get PEP. 

Even with PrEP it’s important to get to a clinic and get a check up as other STIs are easily passed around and if you have injected meth there is risk of Hepatis C if needles were shared and precautions were not taken for safe disposal.

Unfortunately, it does also happen that people get raped while on meth and having chemsex, as your ability to consent may have been reduced, and you may have done things you would not normally.  You may have put yourself in a situation by taking chems, but that does not mean it’s ok for people to push you or take advantage.  Talk to your local clinic, who will be able to refer you to specialist services and support, reach out to friends and people you can trust.

I think we need to change the message about drugs.  Saying don’t do it and they are bad and stigmatising it isn’t stopping the problem.  We need to talk about it and focus on harm reduction and keeping people safe.  Please talk to people and don’t be alone. 

Monday, 22 April 2019

Butt play for beginners

This post is based on some advice I gave a friend who was having trouble with butt play.  It always hurt and it made him nervous.  I’m now happy to say he is down the road and starting to enjoy larger butt toys.  Some people loose bottom confidence from a top going at them too hard, or having a go at them if there is mess.  Change your top!  A good top should work with your butt.  And if they have a problem with a little mess, then they don’t deserve your butt!  It happens, just take a break and re-douche.   If you’re struggling with butt play, here’s my guide to rebooting your butt play.

Get the right equipment

Start with the smallest toy you can find.  Get some lube, I prefer something a bit thick that stays put on a toy.  Water based is probably easier than silicon lube.  I used to like lubrifist, but get a couple and see what you like.  Get some poppers too if you want to. Get a small bulb douche too and grab some puppy pads from the pound shop (easier clean up than towels!).


Often when I’m playing with toys at home I don’t bother douching. If you’re not that squeamish then just feel free to play.  If you’d rather avoid shit when playing, have a clean out with the douche.   Use body temp water and three to six cycles of water should clean your butt out.  You don’t need to clean deep at this point.  There are other articles with advice on douching online but note - don’t add anything to the water when douching.  I don’t find douching that fun and usually shove some cheese pop music on, your mileage may vary!

When you are sorted out, make sure your environment is right.  Comfortable temperature, sort the lighting, put some music and/or porn on.  This is your time for playing with yourself, put the same effort you would put in to preparing if someone was coming to play.  You’re worth it!  Wear something sexy too that gives you good access to your butt.

And go!

Put a puppy pad down or towel where you play.  Get comfortable, maybe it’s on your bed on or on the floor.  I put my toys on the toilet and then squat down on it.  Then lube up, plenty of lube on the toy and stick some lube on your hole.

Then gently start playing and exploring.  Don’t try to shove the hole toy in at once, start with a little and feel your hole and notice how it feels. Rather than pushing in, focus on relaxing, take nice long breaths and as you breathe out imagine your hole opening up and sucking the toy in.  Focus on playing and exploring, work out how your butt feels.  Keep using lube on the toy and your hole, you can never use too much lube.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t take all the toy, if you’ve had a session exploring your butt that’s great!  Play the long game, you don’t need to do it all in a session.

If you find yourself pushing and shoving, stop, take a break and refocus on relaxing nice big deep breaths and try and take a little more of the toy as you breathe out. 

Clean up

When done give your butt a wipe with the pad or towel so you don’t leave lube everywhere.  Clean up the toy with soap and water, and then give it a soak in some water with sterilizing tablet(s) in – follow the directions on the packet. 

Then fix yourself a cup of tea and a treat.  Good job!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Anti-social Media

Social media has been on my mind of late, as I’ve had a few conversations with people around the impact of it on them and how they try to manage it.  I asked recently if social media made people feel better, worse or it depends.  Most answered it depends.  I am sure there are people far more qualified than me who can go into the psychology of our relationships with social media.  I however, am going to talk from my experience.

There have been definite benefits of social media.  I signed up to Facebook in the early days, and for some of my friends use it to organise get togethers, and it’s the only place I can get hold of them all to do it, as they are spread across different messaging apps – so it’s the common ground.  But after the period of Facebook games and oversharing, I now rarely post to the platform.  A number of school friends post about their jobs and fancy holidays and after doing the same, I realised that it wasn’t making me happy and was just everyone waving their dick around showing off.  So, I stopped.  I now have an occasional Brexit rant and post rubbish.

On Twitter, things have been different.  It’s helped me meet people and make new friends, share experience and learn things.  It’s also helped me feel better about my body.  I used to struggle with being hairy, thinking it was unattractive.  Positive comments on twitter and the opportunity to play with more people have helped me get past that.  I think on balance, it’s been a positive thing.  But it too is not without its pitfalls.  Like Facebook, it is the aggregate of everyone’s best bits, but for most of us in a kink setting, it can seem like there are days when everyone is playing and having more hot sex than you and where everyone has new gear and amazing playrooms.  In this showcase of the positive prefect kink life everyone seems to have, it’s easy to lose perspective.

There’s been two things I have struggled with.  The first is feelings of missing out, when my friends were at events that I couldn’t go to, I’d find myself on twitter looking at what was going on and all the photos and wishing I was there.   Then, related to this have been feelings of envy.  Of actively resenting friends and playmates having fun and playing when I’ve not been able to.  Clearly, not an attractive or healthy thing, so what to do?

The missing out issue I’ve learnt to manage much more easily.  If there is an event on, I’ll plan to do other things.  Go out, read, do some music, watch some Netflix.  I will deliberately be on my phone less during these events.  But I will then catch up and message friends /after/.  I still want to know what happened and that they had a great time, but I don’t need to expose myself to the aggregate of everyone’s amazing weekend in my face.  I can choose how to engage.

Then envy.  This is more difficult.  But on one occasion I stepped back and tried to consider why I was envious.  Because I cared about the person who was posting a great deal, and I was missing out on the fun they were having and resented it.  But in realising that I cared about the playmate who was having fun, I saw the opportunity to solve it.  Flip the emotion.   My envy meant that my playmate having fun meant a lot to me, and instead, I should embrace them having fun and enjoy them having fun and encourage it.  I’ll fully admit this isn’t always easy to do, but if you look at your emotional response, and look at what is going on behind it, you may see an opportunity for a more positive response.

How we conduct ourselves on social media is also important.  We know that issues occur, and that drama flares up.  I’ve written before about the old English verse:

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

We’re told by the media and social that our opinion matters, I lay the blame on this on reality TV shows like X Factor where the audience get to decide who wins.  Social media then takes this further and even the news wants us to comment on Twitter and Facebook.  But sometimes in the face of drama and things exploding, actually, the best thing to do is to say nothing and let it blow over.  There have also been occasions, when people have raised valid and interesting takes on thing but done it in ways that are directly critical of people.   It’s far better to challenge opinions than to make direct attacks if you disagree with someone.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that social media is a double-edged sword and from that poll, it seems that most people do.  It can help us keep in touch with people, share and foster new relationships.  But it can also make us feel alone and isolated, when we need actual human interaction.  Social media cannot and should not replace that direct contact with people.  It’s important to realise when it’s having an effect and to shape our response to it, with self-care and valuing ourselves and to realise that our feelings do not have to rule us and that we can take control of our responses to what our phone presents us.