Today, folks, I have a confession for you: I’m still nervous about safe-words. Nope, not about using them – I will always tell a partner if I need them to stop. What I’m nervous about is that I sometimes ‘forget’ I have a safe-word, not in a consent-y way, but in a there-is-a-specific-word-that-lets-your-partners-know-you-want-to-stop-sex-now’ way, and a your-partner-has-safe-words-too’ way.
Last week I had some fabulous sex, and – as with almost all brilliant fucking – I learned new things about myself. Like any self-aware sex nerd who overthinks every aspect of her sex life, I know that the things I learn about myself through fucking aren’t always good. Sometimes sex reveals to me that I still have a lot of work to do on myself… Like discovering that I don’t trust my partner.
Let me clarify here: I do I trust my partners in almost every respect. I wouldn’t fuck someone who I didn’t feel I could be myself around – intimacy and laughter generally need a high degree of trust and communication. And with the fuck-buddy I saw last week, I trust him completely with my physical and mental safety and my emotional well-being. We talk about sex a lot, swapping fantasies and sharing kinks, and when we’re together fucking feels like the most natural thing in the world. He makes me feel safe in ways that very few people do.
But apparently I don’t trust him to use his safe-word or communicate with me if he wants our sex to stop.
Especially when our sex becomes more BDSMy, which it frequently does, and I’m the one who is topping. I love dominating him, but I’m still very nervous about it. I can so easily imagine him curling up on the inside with the pain if I land a handful of especially hard spanks in the wrong place, and I keep going because I mistake his whimpers of pain for whines of pleasure. While I’m pushing a dildo into his ass, what if I hurt him by pushing too much or too fast even though I’m concentrating so hard and trying to be so careful?
My fuck-buddy is brilliant – but while this week we’re exchanging messages like ‘I would totally suck your dick if you were wearing a skirt’ (me) and ‘I’ll Daddy-dom you into taking care of yourself, little kitten’ (him), when we first started fucking he was mostly vanilla. That isn’t a bad thing: he was a major part in discovering my sexuality and the first person I fucked, but I feel a little responsible for dragging him with me into a world of kinky, perverted sex.
Maybe I give myself far too much credit – he teasingly tells me that I do – but while I’ve been kinky since day one, I don’t think my fuck-buddy would own as many butt plugs as he does without my involvement in his sex life.
When my fuck-buddy and I play together, we use the traffic lights system of safe-words. Green means ‘keep going’; yellow means ‘back off for a second or decrease the intensity’; and red means ‘stop!’ – simple. We don’t play with consensual non-consent, so I know if I said if I said ‘no, no, stop, please’ or ‘fuck that hurts’ he would stop. It’s at my insistence that we have a safe-word in place when we fuck, because I am very scared of fucking up.
Part of it lies in the fact that my fuck-buddy’s ‘oh you’re doing amazing things to my dick please don’t stop’ face isn’t dissimilar to his ‘fuck that hurts I’m in great pain please stop’ face, and I often need him to confirm which one he’s experiencing. I’m scared of hurting him when I’m being dominant, of pushing him too far when I’m the one in control. Of course, I do hurt him and push him, within the negotiated limits of our play. I’m scared of going beyond those limits without realising it.
Of course, him having a safe-word does not relieve me of the responsibility of having to pay close attention to all of his reactions when I’m domming him, but it gives us another tool to use to communicate. A single word signalling how he’s doing isn’t only easier for him to say in a moment of intense sensation, but also reassures me that I can go on rubbing his cock raw and he’s getting off on it. Safe-words are there to make things easier for both of us to explore more kinky ideas together, and they should be used.
Being told last week that I don’t trust him – and realising this was true – was distinctly not fun. But it did make me question why I don’t believe he will use his safe-words when he needs them. I can’t let my own fear of fucking up get in the way of respecting his consent or the trust he places in me. He’s shown me again that he trusts me with his body and his mind and his emotional safety, and he wouldn’t put that trust in me if I wasn’t worthy of it. Now I need to step up and communicate with him more, to tell him why I’m scared and ask for his help as well as his trust.
I should trust him; I do trust him. I just need to show that I respect his autonomy to advocate for himself when we’re having sex, and trust him to tell me when it’s bad pain, not good pain. And the next time I fuck him, I’m going to show him that I can.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.