What Are Your Limits?

It’s hard to say. Of course it is. And tools to help you? Maybe they aren’t as helpful as they seem, to the numbers-oriented male nerd who dreamed them up.

Not an Odalisque wrote a fun and thoughtful essay about her difficulties filling out one of the “check the boxes, scale of 1 to 5” list-your-limits BDSM sheets. I’ve seen them; they seem useful as stimulants for discussion, maybe, but not really much more useful than the “purity tests” that circulated in photocopy when I was in college. Anyway, she tried to fill one out, didn’t get very far, and then:

As a compromise, I proposed a conversational approach, with more nuance and less quantification. That fell through when HH printed himself a copy of the list and got out a pencil. I tried my best to answer his questions; I definitely communicated my aversion to feet, incomprehension of rubber and physical factors preventing me passing for a Japanese schoolgirl. Other areas were harder to address. By the end, HH was interpreting my silences; apparently my most eloquent communications take the form of blushing and looking away.

My most insoluble silences, though, are rooted in the central paradox of a desire for pain. The things I like best, I don’t like at all. They hurt. That doesn’t diminish the high or the delicious feeling of being in someone’s power, but that power would be demonstrably false if it was only used to do things I like. I want to hate it. Then I want a hug. I’m pretty sure that’s a sound, if ill-expressed, position. When people ask what I’m into, though, “whatever you like that I really don’t, except feet and some other stuff I probably haven’t heard of yet,” doesn’t feel like a useful answer.

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