No limits?

You’ve seen it around Fetlife or Collarspace, or maybe you’ve seen it in your inbox from an eager sub.

“I have no limits, I just want to please you.”

And I don’t quite understand the reaction that is so common among Dominants and the more self-absorbed submissives.

They scoff and roll their eyes, and assume that the one making that claim is either inexperienced, stupid, or fake.  I’ve even seen people roll their eyes if the list of limits is shorter than their liking.

One of my friends said, “As soon as a sub tells me he has no limits, or only lists the ‘Big 3’ as his limits, the first thing I ask is, ‘Oh, good, so I can cut your balls off?'”

To which the man immediately replies, “Hell no.”

“Oh, okay, so you do have limits.”

Which I can understand, to a point.  There are some people who actually are inexperienced and just don’t know any better, or have only considered the fantasy and not the reality of a day-to-day D/s relationship.  Those people do need a reality check.


Let me step off-topic for a minute and say that, contrary to (extremely) popular belief, you actually don’t have to be an asshole when giving them that reality check.  So many women bitch about all these do-me subs filling their inbox, but they can’t find a genuine sub who wants to serve them.  Have you ever thought that maybe the reason you can’t find them is because you called them all idiots for not knowing everything there is to know about BDSM and D/s relationships from the get-go?  Maybe it’s because you were a condescending bitch to the eager newbie who didn’t spend 147 hours researching D/s before messaging you.

They always say that there are hundreds of male subs for every female Domme.  Maybe if some of those Dommes were just a smidge kinder, they wouldn’t have so much trouble finding a sub who wants submit to them (as a side note, Polthus over at Grind_n_Throb wrote an awesome piece about the sub-to-Domme ratio, and it’s definitely worth reading).

In my experience, “no limits” does not necessarily mean that someone is inexperienced or that they don’t know what they’re talking about.  In fact, I get rather turned off by people with lists of hard limits that are pages long.

“No limits” is often another way of saying, “I’m open to the possibility of trying anything within a safe, sane, and consensual D/s relationship, with a partner that I trust and has proven herself to be both worthy of that trust and capable of protecting my physical/mental/emotional health.”

When a sub says he has “no limits,” that does not mean you can start cutting limbs off on the first date.  I don’t know why everyone immediately goes to that scenario.  Even subs who do have lists, but short ones, and don’t expressly forbid things like amputation or castration can sometimes be ridiculed.

Okay, sure, but my list of hard limits doesn’t expressly forbid a sub from trying to tie me down and cut off one of my limbs (granted, it would be a little harder for him to do that when he’s tied down, himself, with various things sticking out of his various holes), but I think we can all safely assume that’s a hard limit.

It’s just one that doesn’t necessarily have to be mentioned because I assume that the person I’m playing with is a sane individual.  And if the person I’m playing with is not a sane individual, and I find myself in a situation like that, then I made a whole series of horrible judgement calls that have nothing to do with what is and is not on my list of hard limits.

It’s the same for the subs who either say they have no limits, or only list a very few.  Just because an activity that no sane person would do is not on their list, does not mean that it’s an approved activity.

The short list and the lack of list means that, when a submissive man makes his own judgement calls, decides that the prospective Domme is sane and trustworthy, and offers his submission to her, he’s taking into consideration her character, her ethics, her morals, and what she will or will not do to him once he’s tied down and unable to stop her.

Amputation may not be expressly forbidden on his list, but he won’t offer his submission to a woman in the first place if he thinks she may pull out a Santoku once he’s bound and helpless.

And should he make a horrible judgement call, and find himself in that situation, do you honestly think it’s going to matter what’s on his list?  A deranged psychopath with a fetish for collecting penises is not going to say, “Oh, castration is on your list of hard limits?  Well dammit, I guess I have to let you go, then.”

And for the record, years ago I knew a sub who had forced bi listed as a hard limit.  After having dinner with a Domme he’d met on Collarme, they went back to her place to play.  She tied him down on a sawhorse and brought in her boyfriend.

It didn’t matter what was on his list of hard limits, because the person he’d chosen to submit to was not a sane person.  The presence of forced bi on his list did nothing to protect him, did nothing stop her.  An arbitrary list is not going to mean anything to a deranged person.

“No limits” is not a bad thing, and having no limits does not make someone a “bad sub.”

10 thoughts on “No limits?

  1. Mic says:

    “No limits” is often another way of saying, “I’m open to the possibility of trying anything within a safe, sane, and consensual D/s relationship, with a partner that I trust and has proven herself to be both worthy of that trust and capable of protecting my physical/mental/emotional health.”

    WORD! It’s a shame that one has to explain this over and over again. Very well said!

    • Domina Jen says:

      Thank you! I think it’s just a matter of people not bothering to think. It’s easier to just assume that the ones claiming they have no limits are dumb, or somehow unworthy. They don’t want to see the writer of the message as a person.

  2. Polthus says:

    Great post, and I was happy to see you addressed a point that I wanted to address but haven’t yet gotten to in regards to both Dommes and subs being bitchy/condescending to newbies.

    Also – Thanks for the props and link to my blog. 🙂

    • Domina Jen says:

      Thank you! Yeah, it’s a very common problem. But then they bitch about not being able to find someone to serve them.

      Fuckin’ women, man.

      And you’re very welcome! I love your blog!

  3. dave94015 says:

    Reblogged this on dave94015 and commented:
    a post that debunks the controversy surrounding “no-limits” in #bdsm…when you’re with a partner you trust, limits are implicit in their sanity

  4. dave94015 says:

    My partner and I focus on what we like to do instead of making a list of limits because things change. I find I’m doing a lot more things with her that I might have thought was a limit initially but I gradually have come to like. I try to keep an open mind as it’s hard to tell what I might like until I’ve tried it.

    • Domina Jen says:

      You’re right, things do change, and limits change. Once in a relationship, I definitely think that’s a good mindset to have. In the very beginning, though, when you first meet someone, I can understand needing to list current hard limits.

  5. pupscout says:

    Reblogged this on leather pup and commented:
    I really liked this and am going to write a similar post, but reflecting on the M2M experience.

  6. cpmandara says:

    I’d be more inclined to adopt Dave’s approach and discuss beforehand. Most new subs won’t have a clue what half the stuff is on a limits form anyway… TENS, Violet Wands, Medical Play… best to let them do some research at the outset of a scene and say what they’re willing to try. Limits will change over time, in any case. Thought provoking post 🙂

    • Domina Jen says:

      Very true, I’ve seen those lists change so much as someone learns about the lifestyle, and gets a better idea of what they like and what they can’t handle. I think you’re right, it’s good to discuss and research before a session and think about what they’re willing to try.

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