Facts & Info

BDSM Contracts and Why You Might Want One

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Do you need a BDSM contract for your casual kinky encounters or your dom sub relationship?

As a kink lover or fetishist, consent is always of crucial importance. Do you need a BDSM contract, or is consent by spoken word or implied consent through participation enough?

BDSM contracts can make sense for navigating the intricate world of kink and fetish play. They can protect both (or all) lovers involved in BDSM sessions by defining exactly what each party is consenting to.

Dominant and submissive contracts and other BDSM contracts are also useful in helping to articulate and communicate boundaries, limits, needs, and desires.

What Is a BDSM Contract?

A BDSM contract is exactly the way it sounds. It is a contract between lovers in a BDSM encounter or kinky relationship.

Rather than relying on each lover’s personal interpretations of definitions, kinks, hard and soft boundaries, desires, and body language, a BDSM contract spells out the nitty gritty so everyone can be on the same page.

Read: Boundaries to Discuss in BDSM Relationships

In the same way any contract between two or more people makes agreement official, whether a major purchase or terms of employment, a BDSM contract lets everyone know exactly what is on the table.

The contract is a communication between dominant and submissive lovers (or an agreement to other kinds of kink or fetish play). It might stipulate terms like what name or titles are acceptable, what the boundaries are, safe words or safe gestures, consent to sexual play, permission for specific acts, expectations, health concerns and conditions, medications, STI or HIV status, no-go zones, and anything else that is important to those involved.

Some BDSM contracts are more playful, along the lines of “This hereby certifies that Bella is Ben’s love slave for the holiday weekend,” but most BDSM lovers see the BDSM contract as an opportunity to lay out the nitty gritty of informed consent and to communicate needs and boundaries.

Read: Implied Consent or Expressed Consent?

Why Have a BDSM Contract?

A BDSM contract makes sense for kinky lovers, whether you are more playful or on the hardcore side.

Ethical kink means that power dynamics are ALWAYS the result of a contract and consent, not by assuming force, or physical violence, or psychological coercion. In kink, power exchanges are always agreed to. That agreement or consent is not always signed on paper, but it’s there or assumed to be there.

Read: Ethical Kink Values and Responsible Dating

The BDSM contract makes it certain that all the signs and signals were properly interpreted.

Since definitions and interpretations can vary widely from person to person, spelling it out in a BDSM contract makes sense. The BDSM contract is, more than anything else, the chance to itemize and analyze and define our needs, wants, and limits. It is a tool of communication that gives each lover a chance to have their say and interpret and define things for themselves, sharing those needs and knowledge with each other.

For example, what do you mean by the word sex? The word pain? The words master or slave? What does your lover mean when he or she thinks hot or cold, or bruise, or aftercare? Discipline?

A BDSM contract makes sense also when one lover is more experienced than another. If someone is a newbie, do they know what they’re getting themselves into, and is it really what he or she or they want? The BDSM contract can help spell out what will happen and communicate their limits and experience levels too.

Read: New to BDSM? 8 Dos and Don’ts

What to Include in a BDSM Contract

A BDSM contract can look official or can be typed up and signed without aesthetic fanfare.

It can include a simple permission and signature from both parties but usually includes a variety of important details. Some information that may be included could be:

  • Titles used by dom and sub
  • Where kink play takes place
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Safe words or gestures
  • What kinds of sexual contact are acceptable
  • What kinds of pain and humiliation are allowed
  • Intensity preferred
  • Health considerations such as asthma, allergies, STIs
  • Whether physical marks are okay and what kinds
  • What equipment or paraphernalia are accepted
  • Aftercare protocols
  • Kinds of bondage or restraint accepted
  • Fantasies and desires
  • Whether alcohol or other intoxicants are acceptable
  • Safety concerns and considerations
  • Permission to record audio or visual, if applicable
  • Definitions of terms
  • Consent to participate
  • Permission for others to watch or participate, if applicable
  • Experience level for certain kinks and fetishes
  • Triggers and trauma insight

Types of BDSM Contracts

The most common types of BDSM contracts are for dom and sub or master and slave.

Along these same lines are Daddy Dom-Little Girl, Mommy and Child, and even cops and robbers if that is what floats your boat.

BDSM contracts can be for any kink or fetish participants, even if power dynamics are not the main thrill. For example, not everyone who enjoys the experience of pain is a submissive. Two masochists can play and should know each other’s boundaries.

Bondage can be about restraint and anticipation rather than subservience, but knowing the permitted terms would still be practical for kinky lovers.

Are There Drawbacks to BDSM Contracts?

Some people find a BDSM contract to be too much hype or “overkill.” It might not be something you want for a more playful romp that includes lite bondage or spanking.

One lover I had said he didn’t want to fill something out with his name on it that left evidence of his proclivities. He said he may as well leave a sex tape behind for future wives or his boss, if such contracts got into the wrong hands. I’d never thought of that.

BDSM contracts are not legally binding, so they do not give anyone permission to be a douche if someone changes their mind. That’s not what they are about, how to take what you can get, but more about how to take care of each other.

Read: How to Build Trust in BDSM Relationships

Have you ever signed a BDSM contract?

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