The Vibrant Blog

What’s in a Safe Word?

Sex can be awesome. When there is open communication and partners are on the same page, sex is a fun and exciting way to discover your sexuality and explore your relationship with your partner.

Sex can also not be so awesome. When there isn’t open communication and partners are not on the same page, sex can be overwhelming, triggering, or even scary.

To keep it fun and safe, communication is necessary, especially if you are trying out something new, specifically BDSM (bondage, discipline/dominance & submission, and sadomasochism).

If you have decided you are ready and want to try BDSM, congrats! Exploring a new consensual sexual activity is exciting and opens the door to discover more things about your sexuality.

In any sexual experience, there must be enthusiastic consent from each partner before continuing the activity. Consent means something different for every individual and doesn’t give permission for all activities, so it’s important to be very clear about your limits.

No one should ever be pushed beyond their comfort zone before they’re ready. Awesome partners recognize and respect where their partner is at in their sexual journey.

BDSM is a balance of trust between partners. Part of establishing that trust is setting boundaries beforehand. Also, by talking beforehand you go into the situation on the same page and most likely won’t have to stop and restart play as often.

A great way to establish trust and ensure partners are on the same page is establishing a safe word. A safe word is a word a partner can use to stop play if they’re feeling uncomfortable.

During a BDSM encounter or “scene,” a partner can use the safe word to jolt the other partner out of a scene and be attentive to their partner’s needs.

Because “yes” and “no” can be part of a scene, it’s good to pick a distinct word that won’t have any confusion. Some people use “red” for stop or “yellow” to say they’re reaching their limit. But, you can use any word you like. Rose, dragon, Batman, grapefruit, you pick! As long as you and your partner agree on the terms of the word, it doesn’t matter which one you pick.

Never hesitate to use your safe word if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Whether out of pride, inexperience, or eagerness to please, some people don’t communicate about their limits during sex. But speak up! No one should ever feel pressured to do something they don’t want to. Good partners respect boundaries and readjust the situation to make their partner feel comfortable.

The bottom line is consent isn’t a one-time deal. Consent should constantly happen throughout any sexual act, BDSM or not. Did you like being spanked the last time you had sex but don’t want to be spanked today? That’s totally fine. Are you in the mood to have more aggressive sex? That’s totally fine. Do you love your partner but just don’t feel like having sex right now? That’s totally fine.

Your choices about sex are always respectable. When you honor your thoughts and feelings about sex, you own your sexuality. When you honor your partner’s thoughts and feelings about sex, you respect your partner’s sexuality.

Open and clear communication makes for fun and explorative sex. Play on!

Vibrant Staff

The Vibrant Staff writers are a group of sex-positive women employed by Vibrant. Our contributors are passionate about advocacy, women's rights, relationships, and sharing their experiences with you!

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Vibrant Staff

The Vibrant Staff writers are a group of sex-positive women employed by Vibrant. Our contributors are passionate about advocacy, women's rights, relationships, and sharing their experiences with you!

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