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BDSM Limits: Learn What’s Hard and Soft

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 your boundaries clear in mind so you’ll be prepared when you’re ready to start playing. But what exactly is the difference between hard and soft limits? Here, we’ll define what limits can mean for you, and I’ll even give you some examples.

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Why have limits in BDSM?

Having limits while engaging in BDSM allows the submissive to explore their sensuality safely.  They never have to be afraid that their Dom is going to do something they don’t want, or will hurt them physically or mentally.  They can give up all control, and be free from making the decisions. Dominants benefit from set rules also because it takes the guess-work out of what their sub will and won’t do. Both individuals will be able to completely let go, and fully enjoy living the lifestyle.

There are two kinds of limits- soft vs hard:

Soft

These are things that the sub maybe interested in but is hesitant about exploring.  You cannot assume that just because someone has agreed to be a submissive that they are OK with everything. The boundaries of soft 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.  Get your free Dom/sub contract here.

Some examples are: oral sex, swallowing semen, nipple clamps, spanking, flogging, being blindfolded, butt plugs, gagging, wax play, and bondage with tape.

Another soft 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.

Hard

Both parties need to specify what they won’t do, and respect it.  Examples could be things like: choking, anal sex, electro play, fisting, needles, suspension bondage, whipping, caning, fire play, and blood/urine/feces. Doms can have boundaries too.  The point is, no one should be pressured to do something that they are uncomfortable with.

Limits can change over time, and some can be more fluid than others.  For example, a sub may only be comfortable with something like rimming on some occasions, but their Dom has to ask first.  And sometimes boundaries can soften in the presence of alcohol, but even so, the Dom should always make sure the sub really wants to and is giving their full consent.

Dom/sub requirement limits

Requirements are not always talked about online when discussing the subject of 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 a must.”  Get your free aftercare checklist here.

Remember: Safewords can help establish limits too. If a couple is exploring something new like anal play, safewords can help guide the Dom as to what is acceptable and what is 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.

What to do if limits aren’t respected

If boundaries aren’t respected it really depends on the situation and the individuals involved. Sometimes for a seemingly minor offense the Dom could be warned never to do that again. But for more major breaches of trust, submissive always has the power to terminate the relationship.  And it’s always a good idea to discuss beforehand the consequences of breaking a contract.

So as you can see, limits are for the benefit of everyone involved, and are in no way restrictive.  To make it easier for you, try creating a list, either by yourself or with your partner.  Ultimately this will bring more pleasure and trust to the relationship. 🖤

What are your feelings on limits? Share your hard and soft list below.

Read more about etiquette in the lifestyle »