Whenever I research a topic, I like to go back to the basics. So what does negotiation mean exactly? According to the dictionary, negotiation is: mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.
Seems pretty simple, right? Both parties talk and find common ground.
In vanilla (non BDSM) relationships, this process is often lumped in the 'getting to know you' category. But should it be?
Negotiation is one concept where I feel those that practice BDSM tend to get it right more than those in more conventional relationships. Because of the exaggerated dynamics that can usually be found in BDSM relationships, expectations are clearly laid out and discussed in most cases. What does each party want out of the relationship? Do they desire something long term or short term? What are eaches hard limits (things they are not willing to do). What do they want to try, experience?
In vanilla relationships this can be anything from getting married to children to career goals for each partner. These same things are often on the negotiating table of a BDSM relationship as well, but it goes a step farther than that. Not many vanilla couples I know talk about their expectations of each other in the bedroom. Many times, sex is allowed to develop 'naturally'. The problem with this, however, is that the partners can't read each other's minds.
So what does negotiation mean in a relationship, BDSM or otherwise? It can actually mean a great many things. There are some couples out there that write everything down. In BDSM, this is known as a contract. Others take a less clinical approach and discuss things on a regular bases with open communication. If one partner is interested in trying something new, they bring it up to the other partner, maybe do some research, and then decide as a couple if it's something they want to persue.
How about you? How do you and your partner address new facets to your relationship? Do you have a specific time and place for discussion? Do you have a contract that lays everything out?