It’s one of the terms that gets tossed around a great deal when we’re talking about BDSM relationships. As we discuss BDSM, I think this is one of the basics we all need to understand. Knowing about negotiations and contracts can keep you out of a bad situation, or help you make your current relationship better.
This series of blog posts is aimed toward giving us all a better understanding of contracts and negotiations as they apply to both vanilla and BDSM relationships, but other areas of life as well. Before you skip over, assuming this discussion has no place in your life, take a good look. Are there areas in your life, not just your romance, that could be improved with a few guidelines? A outlined plan of actions and responses? We all need to work on something, right?
The dictionary defines a contract as:
- an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.
- an agreement enforceable by law.
- the written form of such an agreement.
But we aren’t talking about contracts between businesses or tenants and landlords, etc. It’s a formal agreement between consenting adults who want to lay their relationship out in writing. It can cover whatever the people involved need it or want it to: safewords and what happens when they are used, hard limits one doesn’t want to go beyond, what’s allowed in public, special privileges, and anything else that might pertain to the D/s relationship. There should be a LOT more items detailed in fact.
BDSM contracts are NOT for the purpose of enforcing an agreement, they are to specify conditions of a relationship.
If someone needs to enforce a particular aspect of a contract, likely it’s due to the fact that the enforcee, for whatever reason, decided they didn’t want to do that thing anymore, or there is a disagreement on interpretation of an item in the contract. But one CAN NOT legally negotiate their free will or the freedom to change their mind in a contract of this sort. EVER. This is not a cleaning service contract, this is your life you’re negotiating with and your kid’s lives, if you have any. Unlike marriage vows, D/s, Master/slave, or whatever you want to call them, contracts are NOT LEGALLY BINDING, and not enforceable in a court of law or any other way. However, like marriage vows, both parties should fully honor the terms of the contract until a decision is made to renegotiate if desired or needed.
Don’t let BDSM kink your common sense with contracts. Contracts are for the simple purpose of not leaving all the negotiation details of a relationship to memory. Also, contracts should have a clause that says the entire contract can be renegotiated to the satisfaction and health of both parties at any time as the relationship grows and matures.
A good Dom isn’t about power and control, he’s about loving his sub the way she needs. His job is not to use his Dominant qualities to exploit her weaknesses and past pains, playing on her insecurities and low self-esteem to groom her for his self-serving kinks and fetishes. A good Dom should use his Dominant qualities to engage in an ongoing negotiation that allows them both to learn that flawless dance between soul mates. And really, a good Dom doesn’t need a contract to do that, a good Dom writes the contract on his heart and soul. Okay, maybe he’ll write it on paper if he’s ADD *guilty* lol.
Despite the common usage of contracts in casual ‘scenes’, it is my strongest conviction that they are not for two strangers. You have NO business entering a contract with a stranger. When you hire anybody that must enter your house, at the very least you would check the contractor’s references, or the plumbers, right? And that person is only going to be in your house, not your body, heart, and mind. Would you want your daughter signing a sexual contract with a stranger? Or someone she doesn’t know really well? Would you MARRY sombody you don’t know really well? It’s the SAME thing for a BDSM contract.
You are asking for trouble if you play with this. If you enter a contract with a person who is in it for the sex or fun or just for the “play” then there’s a huge chance you will get “played”. Maybe you want to be played and used, if that’s you, I’m sorry about that. But it is my conviction to warn you that contracts outside of the boundaries of love come with their own set of problems that no contract will protect you from. Your self worth and self esteem is your first line of defense against harm of any kind, and that is what should dictate how contracts should be formed or even IF they should be.
Now, if you continue or decide to go with a contract of negotiations, it is vital to remember that both people have the same rights, even if one is giving up certain rights or powers as part of the deal. Just because you agree to them driving the vehicle on the trip doesn’t mean you can’t say “hold the fuck up and stop the car.”
So if you still want to enter into a contract knowing the risks, you’ll need to make sure you have an iron clad contract that protects all of you, not just your body parts, but your mind and heart as well. That means specific terms and clear wording is everything. An underhanded person can use your agreement to try to influence you into doing something you don’t want. This makes it especially important to understand exactly what you’re agreeing to, so you can make sure your best interests are represented.
While such contracts might not be legally binding, it is expected that both parties will honor them fully. If you aren’t prepared to do so, don’t sign. Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss terms that can have different meanings, look at various parts of different contracts, examine the good parts and bad, and figure out how to make them better. We’ll talk about a “bail at will” clause, and we’ll examine actual contracts, and yes, I’ll talk about my beliefs on the subject and encourage you to think about, and discuss, your own.
As always, feel free to head over to the Vanilla BDSM Forum and discuss today’s post.