If you’re exploring the world of kink and BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism), establishing a safeword with your partner is vital in making sure the sex you're having is safe and consensual.
What is a Safeword?
A safeword is a word or phrase that puts an immediate end to BDSM play. It’s a firm, decisive call to stop, and shouldn't be used lightly for any occasion. It can be any word that isn't a part of common play speech. Choosing a common word such as 'stop' is discouraged, as people tend to use stop playfully. This can cause confusion and lead to play ending when you don't really want it to, or someone not realising when you do really want it to stop.
If you're engaging in role play, the word 'stop' might not always mean 'stop.' For example, your character might say 'stop' or 'oh, that hurts' when you really want to keep going. Having a safe word is a no-frills way to indicate you want to take a break from the scene without any confusion.
Using a safeword the best way to ensure you maximise pleasure without either of you getting hurt, physically or emotionally. Once the safe word has been said, all sex has to stop — and does not resume until you've checked in with each other about why the safe word was said.
How to Choose a Safeword
The first step is to have a conversation with your partner or playmate. Come up with a safeword that is simple, and something you'll both be able to remember. Pretty much any word or short phrase works as long as it's totally non-sexual and would never normally be used during sex.
If you’re stuck for ideas, use our safeword generator below!
The Traffic Light System
Many couples use the traffic light system – green, orange, red – because they’re easy to remember in the heat of the moment, and each colour communicates to your partner how you're feeling. GREEN means you like what your partner is doing, you feel totally comfortable, and you want them to continue. ORANGE means you're reaching your limit or need your partner to slow down. RED means you want your partner to stop everything they're doing immediately, and should be used when you're not comfortable, things are getting too much, or you no longer consent.
Some BDSM play might involve gagging, or using sex toys or equipment that stops you from being able to speak. Obviously, it’s pretty difficult to use a safeword when you have a ball-gag in your gob. Instead, you can agree on some simple hand signals with your partner in advance, and it’s important they pay attention to those gestures throughout the entirety of your play to ensure you are safe. Alternatively, you can hold a squeaky toy and squeeze it to indicate that you want to stop.
If you or your partner will also be bound while wearing a gag, holding an item – and then dropping it to indicate you want to stop – can be a good option. If you use something you drop, make sure it’s tied to you. For instance, tie a scarf around your wrist and ball it up to hold in your hand. If you let go, it will hang there like a flag. A bell can also be a good drop item, though have your partner tie it to your wrist – that way, when you drop it, it will hang from your wrist and jingle rather than falling onto a surface where it might go unheard or unnoticed.