Limits are something that many people discuss within the lifestyle yet few seem to take the time to really analyze what a limit is. The dictionary defines limit as:
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In other words, a limit is a boundary. The question is where is this boundary and how is it known? Obviously, if we are looking at a map, it is easy to see the boundaries. However, how do you map out the boundaries you have for yourself? How is one to know when he or she reaches a limit?
The answer to this question is simply experience. A person uncovers his or her limits over time. It is through the interacting with others where we come to understand our limits. For example, growing up, we all know the limits our parent(s) set down for us. How did we come to know these? The most direct way was to test the limits which usually resulted in some form of punishment. Of course, now, perhaps the tables are turned and you have a child(ren) that tests your limits. The bottom line is that through interaction and experience, we are able to uncover the limits for ourselves and others.
In the BDSM world, the tendency is to label limits either "soft" or "hard". Soft limits are those that are open to discussion under certain circumstances. Hard limits, on the other hand, fall into the "no way, never, not on your life" category. These are those areas that a person is unwilling to engage upon. It is a boundary that one claims an unwillingness to cross.
The problem with these ideas is that most of the things we discuss/encounter in the BDSM world are fluid. Definitions can be a personal thing in their understanding. What something means to me can be entirely different to you. For example, we know that "abuse" is a limit or boundary people should not cross. One should never take anything to the level where it is considered abuse. I think this is a fairly common outlook by most within the BDSM way of life. However, the difficulty in this concept is defining what abuse actually is. What I might define as "abusive" someone else could consider appropriate. The difficulty arises in that my definition or appraisal of the situation might not be accurate. We all know the vanilla world looks at this way of life as full of abuse when, we who are involved in it, have a much different perspective. Those of us who operate under the premise of safe, sane, and consensual do not believe that BDSM is abusive. Nevertheless, we can see how a perspective plays a large role in how we define things.
Getting back to limits, one of the things I encountered is the fact that limits can be fluid. What is a limit today is not necessarily the same in the future. For example, in the area of weightlifting, a person might encounter a certain limit today yet be able to surpass it in a few weeks. The same might be true in one's work life. What is difficult to achieve today could be rather simple in a few months with experience and training. The limits that previously existed were removed (or at least moved further out). This individual can handle more. Therefore, over time, as one learns and grows, he or she is able to handle more, changing the limits that were once there.
We see this fluidity on a daily basis too. Using the gym example again, for a variety of reasons, I might not be able to lift the same weight I was able to do the last time. The result is that my limits actually contracted from the previous session. The same thing can occur in the BDSM world. In the area of pain, I have noticed that a sub/slave often can take varying degrees of pain depending upon the day. There is rarely a continuous level that she can achieve. Some days, for many of the same reasons as the weightlifter, she can take much less than she did in the past. Her body simply contracted the limit area. It is for this reason that a dominant needs to be ever mindful of how the sub/slave is responding during the session.
The final area that pertains to limits is simply our area of interest change. What is a "no way, I never would do that" becomes an "okay I will try it" 6 months or a year down the road. We evolve as people in all areas of our lives and BDSM is no different. Over time, as our experience and knowledge grows, certain things become of greater attraction to us. Perhaps our understanding changes or we meet someone who can safely teach us what that particular aspect is. For example, one might abhor the idea of fire play until she meets someone who is experienced in it and describes the wonderful benefits while stressing safety when done properly. After such an encounter and, perhaps, a live viewing, suddenly this is an area of intrigue for our sub/slave. Notice how, over time, the limit was removed.
Therefore, what are you limits? How did you arrive at them? What do the limits mean to you? Are they there because it is an area that you do not like? Or is it a physical/psychological limitation that is holding you back? Have you had someone who helped push you to that limit while trying to gently move you beyond it? What if you could overcome one of your limits, how would that change things? What limits do you hold onto the hardest? Which ones are you willing to never change? What are the ones that you will change?
Consider all the different possibilities from the perspective that limits are fluid. Of course, there are things that each of us is unwilling to engage upon, no matter what. However, ponder some of the less rigid ideas that you have. How different would things be if you were able to overcome what is holding you back? Would you experience more freedom, and less fear, if you were to change this limit? It is best to remember, BDSM is about the freedom to live how you choose. Do not allow preconceived ideas to handcuff you. Shed light on all that you believe and conclude to determine if they are truly your beliefs and conclusions. If you are like most, you will realize that society has a way of imprinting ideas upon our psyche which we embrace and hold dear. Limits can be another form of bondage unless you determine they are for you. These are the ideas that we must work to rid ourselves of.
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8 hours ago