ASK THE THERAPIST
by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1994 by William A. Henkin
<Q> How do you negotiate at an SM play party?
<A> With the holiday season upon us, and all the opportunity to use your negotiating skills at parties, this is a great question with which to end the year.
The principal difference between negotiating at a play party and negotiating anywhere else is that at a play party you pretty well know that the person with whom you're talking likes or wants to play. At least the person knows that the purpose of the party isn't just to raise money for the PTA, which eliminates the need to hint at your desires, or to listen for subtle conversational nuances that might give you a clue about his or her interests, or to fumble around for euphemisms designed to keep calm the blood pressures of other people within earshot. Negotiating at a party can, therefore, be substantially less anxiety-provoking than negotiating in most other venues when it comes time to pop the particular question on your mind: if you ask, "Do you want to whip me?" or "How'dja like to kiss my boots?" at least you're operating within the general social framework of the setting.
The second difference is that at a play party you're more likely to have a successful scene based in SM, or sensation, than in DS, or mental control, and you can negotiate with that probability in mind. This is not always the case, and certainly beautiful DS scenes have been successful at parties. But generally speaking the boisterous public space of a party is less conducive to the intense, intimate focus many exchanges of real Dominance and Submission require, than it is to the exuberant exchange of erotic energy that frequently accompanies physical acts from whipping to piercing to genitorture. Because bottoms are less likely to have to surrender their sense of emotional control in SM than in DS scenes, those scenes tend to be relatively easier, especially for bottoms who are sensitive in front of others.
The third difference is that at a play party you may be able to watch the person you want to play with in action. People's reputations are not always as good or as bad as their abilities, and seeing someone play is the next best thing to playing with him for gaining crucial insights that will let you know if you and he belong together for an hour or so.
Apart from these differences, the procedure for a successful negotiation is much the same at a party as it is anywhere else:
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