What's your BDSM safeword? How often do you use it? If you don't use it often, why? Writer Abi Brown investigates five reasons why people don't use their BDSM safewords.


1. I wasn’t completely panicked and desperate

A lot of people new to kink get the impression that a BDSM safeword is only for emergencies, and that if they’re managing to bear what’s going on there’s no reason to stop it just because they’re wishing it was over already. The truth is, though, moments like that are no good for either you or your partner. Healthy communication means letting them know when you’re struggling in a way you’re not enjoying, no matter what the reason.

Whether it’s pins and needles or something right at the edge of your tolerance but not quite over it, you can and should let them know what’s going on if you feel like you want to. A safeword doesn’t need to completely stop play. I’m a big advocate for using them to mean “I need to stop and talk about this” rather than “this entire encounter is instantly over”. They’re a lot more useful that way, in my experience.


sign up banner fetish.com


2. The sub next to me was taking more with no trouble at all

Kink clubs and fetish events are often amazing, but there can be a strange atmosphere of competition at some of them. Many submissives seem to be quite competitive people, and that means not wanting to be seen to crack first. However, that really isn’t a healthy way of thinking about your play.

We all know really that what’s right for someone else might not be what’s right for us. If you feel too awkward using a BDSM safeword in front of people other than your partner, it’s worth talking to your partner themselves about that. Between you, you might be able to come up with some kind of more subtle signal you can use to communicate with when playing in public.


3. I thought using my BDSM safeword would freak my Dom out

It’s true that some Dominants take the use of a safeword as meaning that they’ve failed, and that’s probably not a feeling you want to give them. A healthy approach to safewords means you need to work through that together, though. They need to reassure you that you’re being heard and you need to reassure them that everything’s okay now you’re communicating. If this is something you’re worried about and you’ve never actually used your safeword as a result, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised if you do.


Article Image Template - Fetish.com (2)-min.png
Both the submissive and the dominant should use their BSDN safeword when needed.


4. My ex could go further without me having trouble

Every experienced sub knows that pain thresholds are strange, fickle things. I have one friend whose pain threshold reduced after she lost a lot of weight and another who enjoys actual red-hot-iron BDSM branding but can’t cope with nipple clamps. I also have one particular ex who could cane me till I almost bled despite the fact that I’m a total wuss about canes with literally everyone else I’ve ever slept with. Go figure. If you find that you handle different things differently with different people, that’s okay.

5. I was the Dom in that scene, and I didn’t think I could

This is the one thing on this list I’ve never dealt with personally, but I’ve heard other people mention it more than once. If you’re not the sub in this situation, it’s important to remember that you can stop play too if you need to. If your partner doesn’t understand that you also have things that are past your boundaries, that’s something you need to talk about with them ASAP.

Important note: Some BDSM safeword related issues are not touched on in this list. If you feel like your safeword might be ignored or your partner might get angry with you for using it, then you’re in a situation much more serious than the ones we’re discussing here. It’s worth giving serious thought to the state of your relationship with that person. In BDSM relationships, not respecting safewords is actively abusive - and that’s not something you should feel you have to cope with under any circumstances.

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. 

Signup banner fetish.com


What's your experience using safewords during a kinky scene? Share your best BDSM safeword stories in the Fetish.com forum.

BDSM Forum. Join the  discussion | Fetish.com

Images: via Shutterstock.com



Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



[…] true, of course. In practice though we all struggle with this from time to time. My article Five Bad Reasons Not To Safeword looks at some of the problems people might have in this […]

Share this comment

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Excellent write. Some very fine point you've covered here. It is important that people have and use the safeword. It's not a cop out but rather a way of communicating just as much as any other form.

Share this comment

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BDSM Magazine

Similar discussions