BDSM Limits Explained
Limits are a topic that is sure to come up in any Dom/sub relationship or contract negotiation. Even if you don’t have a BDSM partner yet, it’s good to have clear BDSM limits and boundaries so you’ll be a prepared Dominant or submissive. But what exactly is the difference between hard BDSM limits and soft BDSM limits? Here, we’ll define what limits can mean for you, and I’ll even give you a list of examples.
Why Have BDSM Limits?
Having limits while engaging in BDSM allows the submissive to explore their sensuality safely. Because the submissive sets clear BDSM limits and communicate with the Dominant, they never have to be afraid that their Dom will do something they don’t want, or will hurt them physically or mentally. They can give up all control, and be free from making decisions. For pro-BDSM safety tips, check out The Ultimate Guide to a Safe BDSM Lifestyle.
Dominants benefit from set rules also because it takes the guesswork out of what their sub will and won’t do. Therefore, both individuals can let go, and fully enjoy living the BDSM lifestyle. However, there are some critical differences between being a good Dom and a bad Dom – look through The Ultimate Guide to Being a Dominant for more information.
There are two kinds of limits: soft BDSM limits vs. hard BDSM limits.
Examples of BDSM Soft Limits
These are things the sub may be interested in but is hesitant about exploring. You cannot assume that just because someone has agreed to be submissive, they are OK with everything.
Soft BDSM limits are flexible as the Dom sees fit, and the submissive agrees to push and expand slowly. However, once something has been decided upon (hopefully, in a contract), it can be freely asked or demanded. Learn more about how to create a BDSM contract here.
Here are some examples of BDSM soft limits.
- Oral sex
- Swallowing semen
- Nipple clamps
- Being blindfolded
- Butt plugs
- Wax play
- Bondage with tape
Another soft BDSM limit is the sub’s tolerance of receiving pain, which can be worked up slowly and with consent. Light bruises might be acceptable and tolerable, but permanent scars or marks may not be. Always discuss what types of pain, punishments, and discipline are allowed and the intensity and severity of each. Learning How to Punish a Sub Effectively will teach you how to keep things fun and safe.
Examples of BDSM Hard Limits
Both parties must specify and respect each other’s limits. Here are some examples of hard BDSM limits.
- Anal sex
- Electro play
- Suspension bondage
- Fire play
BDSM limits can change over time, and some can be more fluid. For example, a sub may only be comfortable with rimming occasionally, but their Dom must ask first. And sometimes boundaries can soften in the presence of alcohol (which is why BDSM shouldn’t be engaged in while players are intoxicated).
But no matter what, the Dom should always ensure the sub is willing and is giving their full consent.
Dom/sub Requirements for BDSM Limits
Requirements are not always discussed online when discussing the subject of BDSM limits, but they deserve to be mentioned. These would be things that a partner has to have. It could be, “I need you to pull my hair when we have sex in doggie style.” Or, “If a punishment makes me cry, good aftercare is necessary.” This is where it’s best to learn the 10 Ways to Have Better Aftercare, or you can get our free aftercare checklist.
Remember: Safe words can help establish BDSM limits too. If a couple is exploring something new like anal play, safewords can help guide the Dom on what is acceptable and too far. One of the roles of a good Dom is to push the boundaries of their sub a little, to see what they are and aren’t OK with, and to help them grow. Check out the 6 Things You Need to Know About Safe Words for more insights.
How to Discover Your BDSM Limits
If you’re new to BDSM or don’t have a lot of sexual or kink experience, it can be hard to figure out your limits. But you should still take the time to meditate on what you think you like and don’t like.
Here is a list of my recommended ways to discover your BDSM limits.
- Research different kinks and sexual acts online
- Watch other Doms and subs play at dungeons and play parties
- Talk to someone you trust who is active in the lifestyle
- Fantasize about engaging in different BDSM practices
- Experience the kink on your own (self-bondage, for example)
Caution should be made if someone offers to help you “explore” and “learn” your BDSM limits. Knowing the 9 Red Flags of Fake Doms vs. Real Doms are vital here. Usually, those truly experienced in the lifestyle take their time to get to know someone who is brand new slowly. Only then and after lots of educating and communicating will they play with someone inexperienced.
What if Your BDSM Limits or Contract Aren’t Respected?
If boundaries aren’t respected, it depends on the situation and the individuals involved. Sometimes for a seemingly minor offense, the Dom could be warned never to do it again. But for more major breaches of trust, a submissive always has the power to terminate the relationship. And it’s always a good idea to discuss the consequences of breaking a contract beforehand. For more tips on being a good sub, check out The Ultimate Guide to Being a Submissive.
So as you can see, BDSM limits are for the benefit of everyone involved and are in no way restrictive. Try creating a list by yourself or with your partner to make it easier for you. Ultimately this will bring more pleasure and trust to the relationship.
What are your thoughts? Share your hard BDSM limits and soft BDSM limits list below.
Read more about The Ultimate Guide to a Safe BDSM Lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions About BDSM Limits
Can BDSM Limits Change Over Time?
BDSM limits can change over time as a person’s interests and boundaries evolve. It’s important to check in with your partner regularly to ensure that your limits are still aligned and to discuss any changes or new boundaries that may arise.
What is a “Safeword” and How Does It Relate to BDSM Limits?
A safeword is a pre-agreed upon word or phrase used to signal that a person’s BDSM limits have been reached or crossed during BDSM play. It’s important to establish a safeword before engaging in BDSM activities so that all parties involved can feel confident that play will stop if things become too intense.
Can I Change My BDSM Limits in the Middle of a Scene?
You can change your BDSM limits during a scene if you feel uncomfortable or your partner violates your boundaries. It’s important to communicate any changes and use a safeword to signal that play should stop.
I’m learning so much on this website this really helps alot thanks
I love how informative you are!! Thank you for sharing all this information. 🥰
You articles were very nice to read as I enjoyed it. Now a search will be on to find me a submissive/dominant partner for there are things that I have to work out.
I learned a lot from this email. I had almost always thought The Dom ran the show. I like it when someone else is in charge and tells me that I should have to do something that makes me a bit uncomfortable. What you are saying I should NOT BE uncomfortable at all, right?
You shouldn’t ever be uncomfortable, you should always decide together what is allowed and what’s not.
I didn’t think about limits in BDSM relationship much before, and thanks to your article I became know of this importance and should know my boundary and partner’s limit if I have partner in the future to maintain better relationship thank you
Plz do keep up the good work thanks 🙂
There is an ancient adage: Know Yourself! When we familiarize ourselves with what our body can and can’t take, we can enjoy our earthly and bodily pleasures.
I have learned so much from these blogs and sites, thank you so much!
Scott Raymond says
this should be a must have for anyone new to the lifestyle
I’ve just found myself, unexpectedly in the role of a sub, I think, having read your article, that although I’d like to know and do more, the Dom I’m with isn’t the right person. We’ve set limits etc, but he hasn’t even said this is a domsub relationship. Thank you
Myeshia Jean says
I can’t even begin to discuss how this website has helped me already And I just discovered it 2 days ago! I’ve been learning so much and already it’s helping to boost my confidence! I’m a BDSM beginner And I’m reading these key points like a Bible.
It’s great reading all the comments from people who have done this before. The info is great, the tips and advice are fantastic. I’m learning a lot
loving this page!
This is a great article!, has helped me alot as I am new to this, and eager to learn.