Dear Madame Sordid,

So, my partner and I have been into BDSM for a while. And we have good open communication and we discuss stuff, and we do all the things you’re “supposed to” do. But he’s pretty much the worst at knots. So about a year ago we were doing a scene and the script called for him to tie me up and leave me for a while with a vibe in, etc. I know I’m better at knots than he is but because of the angle it was really hard for me to check his work. Well, he left the room, and he’s a little bit deaf, so when the dog came in and got into an unsafe situation (she found the clothespins, okay? laugh now. It’s definitely funny at this point but in the moment, no.) I couldn’t get his attention and when I pulled the panic cord he had screwed up the knot and it didn’t work. Fortunately he’s THE WORST at ropes and I was able to free myself and rescue the dog. The problem is, we’d like to try something like that again but I’m having a hard time trusting him. What are some “baby steps” we can take to get back to a point where I feel comfortable letting him immobilise me? Because we both miss that :)

Just Tie Me Already

Dear Just Tie Me,

I was at a rope workshop a few years ago, and there was a famous guy there – a guy who has done professional bondage on stage, a guy who has tied with the likes of Lew Rubens – and he had a lady tied up, and was going to go into another room to get a soda.  When he started to go away, the event organiser stopped him, saying the rules of the event were that nobody should ever leave a tied up person unattended.  The famous guy huffed and puffed, but the event organiser was right!  Even for the most skilful of bondage artists, basic safety rules apply; in fact, the more confident you get, the more important it is to have those basic protocols in place, as hubris can be – literally – a killer.

It can sometimes be okay, in a private space where looky-loos aren’t going to come up and grope a tied up person, to go into the next room as part of a scene, but in order to do so, you need to be extra-super-safe.  For example, put the dog away, in its crate or in a spare room.  If your top is hard of hearing, maybe keep a walkie talkie in your hand and have the other one in his, so it bleeps at him when you need him to come back.  (But really, for 99 percent of us, just don’t leave a tied up person alone.)  Panic cords (or, even better, panic snaps tied into your bondage) should be tested before he goes out of the room.

As for trusting him, it’s actually a good thing that your gut is telling you not to trust him at the moment.  It’s nothing personal, but the two of you need to get your safety stuff down pat before you do that scene again.  When I have fucked up, in order to reintroduce the type of play that I fucked up about, I start out again slowly – perhaps even from the beginning.  In your case, maybe try some bondage with him in the room, perhaps using some stuff that’s safer and easier to get out of, like cuffs with panic snaps that you can easily reach.  Run through it like an army drill; like a scene for the stage.  Test all the different ways it could fuck up, and test your safety mechanisms for each of those ways.  Practice makes perfect, and it builds confidence.  A bondage workshop can be great for this – he can improve his skills, and learn new and creative ways of tying you up effectively, in a safe and supervised environment.  Once you’ve worked out the bugs, and determined ways to make your play safer, you can do that scene again – and when it goes off perfectly, and you’re both confident and horny as hell, you’ll have earned it.