Boundaries are how far you’re willing to let your kink go in your life. Most people will talk about their physical boundaries (often discussing their limits), but there are other boundaries worth considering as well. In this article, we will be discussing each element of boundaries and how they look on both sides of the Dom/sub divide.

It is impossible to talk about boundaries without mentioning consent. A great acronym for consent is FRIES.

Consent must be:

Freely given. People shouldn’t use coercion (“do this or I’ll get angry/leave”) to get what they want. The other person shouldn’t be drunk or under the influence.

Reversible. Your partner is free to change their mind at any time.

Informed. If your partner doesn’t know what something is, how can they consent to it? For some acts, this might mean allowing the sub to try something before agreeing to a session that will include it. For example, allow a sub to feel what electro feels on their dick – but don’t complain about the time to set up if they decide they don’t like it.

Enthusiastic. “Uhmmmm, maybe” is not good enough.

Specific. Just because a sub has met you, doesn’t mean you have the right to do anything to them. You should have discussed what is and isn’t allowed beforehand.

There are plenty of resources around consent, so I’m going to leave that aside for now and discuss other boundaries.

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are what you’re willing to do, and have done to your body. I’ve found that some subs are unwilling to explicitly state some of their boundaries, only to find that they don’t want something. For example, some people will say “I don’t like anal much” when they mean “Please don’t go near my arse.” It’s important to consider the unspoken boundaries.

For some Doms, there may be things you’re not willing to do because of your own physical issues. For example, if you’ve got an injured shoulder, you may be unable to whip for extended periods of time.

Many Doms have physical boundaries around sucking or being fucked. However, just because you don’t see it in videos, it doesn’t mean you have to have that boundary for yourself. You set your own boundaries and limits.

Time, Energy and Attention Boundaries

Your time is your own. You can decide when you’re going to meet someone, for how long, and what you want to do on that occasion. 

For example, I once met a sub at 3am on the way back from a club. It was too late for both of us. I didn’t have the energy to put into the scene he wanted, and he was too tired to play in the way that we both wanted to play. We called it a day and met again once we had some daytime space. 

When I first started Domming, I collected subs like football cards. This led to ridiculous amounts of my time being used in keeping ‘The pack’ involved and together. I realised that I was spending more time texting and messaging subs than actually living life. I reduced the number I ‘owned’ and started valuing my own time more, and building far deeper and more quality relationships with the fewer subs I had because I had more time on my hands. 

It’s really difficult to ignore notifications and that little red circle on your phone. But if you want to give quality time, set some boundaries around how much attention you’re going to give people. And if anyone ever dares to send me a “???” – they’re demanding my attention and they’ve crossed a boundary. Consequently, they’re blocked immediately.

Scope and People Boundaries

One of the wonderful things about kink is you can choose exactly how far you want it to go in your life. Whether you want to limit your kink to an hour in a hotel room now and then, or have a kink relationship that’s all encompassing, you can choose your boundaries. 

Often, we have to take other people into account. Whilst the sound of locking a sub in a cage for a week may sound fun, you may have to take the sub’s partner into account. And while many subs say they want TPE (Total Power Exchange), often there are clear boundaries around things like permanent marks and financial domination that mean the scope of the TPE is limited. 

English Leather Master’s sub on boundaries

The first thing that I would like to say is be true to yourself about boundaries and your thoughts.  As a sub, I am driven to please my Master and do things for Him.  However, Master affords me the right to express my thoughts.  Before I met Master, I found myself sacrificing my own thoughts and not listening to my ‘gut instinct’ which resulted in scenes going wrong, getting myself into dangerous situations, or even causing long term trauma and damage.  So, I would always urge you to be true and honest to yourself.  You cannot expect a Dom to look after you and own you effectively if you are not 100% up front and honest. How can he be if you aren’t being open? Master calls my thoughts and opinions data.  He often says to me, how can he be in control and Dominate me effectively without knowing my own thoughts and what I think?  It’s true. By having the ability to say exactly what is in my head, and giving Master real time data, it actually enables us to go to the deeper and extreme places because it becomes a never ending cycle of trust. So, never be afraid to say what your boundaries and thoughts are.

I’d like to talk about hard and soft boundaries.  Again, this is an area where one must be totally up front and honest to make sure that things do not go wrong.  A hard boundary is something that at a point in time is a no go area. Whereas a soft boundary is a thought but is something up for discussion and could be subject to who is involved, location, the intensity etc.  For example, a hard boundary for me is animals, under age (obviously) and women.  Whereas a soft boundary maybe CBT and pain intensity.  If I look at myself on this, if I get my balls whacked hard instantly, I will roll around in agony.  If I am built up gradually, you can practically swing me around the room by them and I’ll love it and get hard as a rock.  Another example of one of my soft boundaries is other people. For example, I am not permitted to be fisted by anyone other than Master, although it has happened twice through discussion between us, because the person we were with and environment we were in were correct.

Finally, it is important to be aware of mental boundaries, and especially mental impacts.  Try to notice, identify and own your own behaviours and triggers.  By this I mean that whilst a Dom/sub relationship needs time to develop, you also need to be able to explain things and the impact on you.  For example, I really love being humiliated be it privately or publicly, but equally if someone calls me a certain name that taps into some childhood matters, it can destroy me.  The point is here that there are also mental boundaries that should be discussed and communicated because they also have consequences. It is a fine line and you must be open and honest and communicate with your Dom about it. 

I think that it my overwhelming point on boundaries is be real, be you, be honest.  Only then can you really get into the total power exchange stuff in a very positive way that truly works for both sides. 


by Matthew (English Leather Master) and His boy

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