Every relationship has limits. Every. Single. One. Those who tell you they do not have limits are either lying, delusional or not safe and sane. Yes, even slaves have limits. Thoughts to the contrary are fantasy.
Ok, so we know there are limits. But let’s take a moment to become familiar with the types of limits in the D/s lifestyle. There are a few common ones that you should be aware of and include in your own relationship.
A this is a line drawn that cannot be crossed. Crossing a hard limit will certainly end a scene, if not an entire relationship. This is to be taken seriously. It is not a “guideline”, it is not something for you to “test” and help her overcome. It’s a straight up, crystal clear, absolute RED. Do not disrespect yourself or your sub by even toying with crossing this limit. It’s the express lane to destroying her trust. If you ever cross a hard limit you are not a Dom. You’re an asshole and deserve to be alone. Some examples of hard limits: no scat, watersports, knives, needles, etc. Hard limits are non-negotiable. She sets them, you respect them.
Soft limits can be activities similar to hard limits, but with the expectation that they can possibly be pushed and tested. For example, your sub is very apprehensive of knives, and told you that knife play is a soft limit. This means that with the right timing and preparation, you can introduce this element and add an additional layer of tension that can be enjoyable to all. Knowing when and how to do this are part of the skillset of an experienced, quality Dom.
This is a limit that means consent is only given when a specific requirement is met. It’s not often called out by name, but it’s probably the most common type of limit. The example you are most familiar with is: is no sex without protection. Consent to sex is only given if a condom is used. Another example might be: “If you want to scene in front of others, I must be wearing a blindfold”. These are conditional hard limits that can change over time, but she must fully consent to any changes, they are not something you should “press” like a soft limit.
Limits are a key factor in safe, sane and consensual play. The Dom and sub must have the discussions about limits prior to play and any time a new element is to be introduced. New limits can be added. If you want to try something new that has never been discussed before (because you are one very kinky Dom), she needs to know in advance so she can decide if she wants it to be a limit or not.