Safewords Aren’t Just for Sexy Time (Old Post)

This was originally posted on this blog in January 2014. I’m finding it especially relevant right now, as my partner and I have said in our vows that we will leave events or social situations in which the other is uncomfortable. This also reserves us the right to walk out on political conversations with family or acquaintances.


So, before I begin, let me define what I mean by “safeword” in the sexy time sense. Safewords are words (wow!) used mostly by people who are into kink/BDSM (I’m hesitant to say “people in the BDSM or kink community” because some don’t identify community members) to signify, during sexy time, when they’ve had enough. Or when it’s okay to keep going or if they want their partner to slow down. Sometimes people use words like “red,” “green,” “yellow,” “beige” etc. One of the important things about choosing a safeword (aside from all parties involved being privy to the word), is that it should be a word that is something you wouldn’t normally say in the situation. Avocado. Badger. Ford Fiesta.

My safeword is “David Hasselhoff,” something that I (nor anyone else?) would scream during sexy times.

I’ve started using the term “safeword” in my everyday vernacular in a way that makes it synonymous with clicking the heels of my ruby red slippers. “Can I safeword out of this staff meeting?” or “I wish I could safeword out of this awkward social situation” or “This food is gross. I’m safewording out of this meal.”

Recently, I had a friend ask me for relationship advice. Hilarious, I know. I don’t give “relationship advice” but I certainly give advice on communication, which amounts to the same thing but doesn’t sound as lame-tastic. The couple had repeatedly fallen into the trap of one person doing something negative in public (a snide comment, a dirty look), then the other person reacting negatively in public, which would then result in another negative reaction, and downward spiral until one or both are unhappy, especially by the time they get into a private space where they can talk about it. But it gets tricky when the offense happens in public so I recommended using a safeword and that safeword would signify “hey, what you just did makes me feel icky and I have negative feelings about it. I’m not going to react negatively in public but I want you to know how I feel” and then they could talk about it in private later. That way 1) negative reactions and the resulting downward spiral are avoided and 2) the fact that one of the parties is feeling bad about it isn’t kept inside to fester.

Try this at home!

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