Negotating sex – start with feelings

Black and white picture of the back, feet and butt of a white person kneeling in handcuffs

For some people starting with how you want to feel will seem really fluffy and not particularly helpful, but many people find starting with how you would like to feel really illuminating. For me, starting with feelings is a great tool to use in established relationships where you have previously enjoyed kinky play.  It can help enhance emotional presence and connection and create more emotionally resonant scenes. I love it for negotiating kink scenes in particular, because the same activity can feel so very different in different contexts. For example, being spanked as punishment is not the same as being spanked with the intention of being brought to orgasm. Being restrained in a scene about interrogation is a world away from a sensual rope scene where someone’s body is gently caressed with hemp before being ‘held’ by the rope. It isn’t just what you do, it is how you do it.

Sometimes it can be hard to get a sense of how you want to feel, and at other times you might know exactly what you want. If you already know, great – skip this section.  If you have a hard time putting your finger on what it is you really desire, then working through this exercise to help.

Working out how you want to feel

Take a moment to check in with your body. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. Allow your mind to wander across past sexual experiences or fantasies that feel really exciting to you right now. Bear in mind, what you want right now may be very different from what you would like another day. Don’t try to generalise about your desires, just be present with what you’d like right now in this moment. Let yourself sit with your fantasies and memories for a few moments. Think about whether they have any common emotional threads. Perhaps you liked feeling powerful/powerless or desired/objectified? Maybe it was the relaxed and slow pace or the energized intensity? Whatever it was, reflect on the emotional commonalities between the things you find erotic. Make a note of the feeling or feelings that you are most drawn to.

How to get there

Once you know how you’d like to feel, it is a good idea to reflect on the kinds of activities that get you to that place. Be specific. If you want to feel powerful and in charge, what is it that gives you that feeling? Is it being called a particular name? Is it controlling your partners orgasms or giving them a spanking? Is it being served lunch or brought gifts? Whatever the feeling you are going for, try to unpick what activities give that to you and the dynamic that they work best in for you.


When you are playing with deeply held desires that expose intimate parts of you, it is always a good idea to reflect on the kind of aftercare you might need. Think about whether you need recovery time before doing other things, whether you need your partner to be available to you after the scene in some capacity. Consider whether you have another person in your life that can offer you some emotional comfort or presence after something intense. Also think about the sort of aftercare that you can give yourself. You don’t have to ask anything in particular of your sex or kink partner, but thinking about how to look after yourself after an intense experience demonstrates self-love and self-care.

Communicating them with your partner

This communication process is going to be very different depending on your current relationship with your partner and how much you have delved into kinky activities in the past.  If you are introducing something new then you may want to take more time over disclosing your desires and try some of the previous exercises first – such as sharing porn, erotic writing and yes/no/maybe lists. If you have a longstanding relationship and have previously shared lots of kinky desires and scenes then you can often jump straight into talking through your desires and exploring your partners too. Simple questions like ‘how would you like to feel?’ and ‘how can we create a scene that will entwine the things we would both like to feel?’ are a good starting point.

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