May/June 2001
Establishing Limits: Going Full Circle
by Maria Hunter


For those of you who are unsure of what a limit is, let me explain. There are activities we all consider as "acceptable" and "not acceptable". Acceptable activities are ones we normally enjoy experiencing and attempt to do on a regular basis. What we deem as unacceptable are
actions we do not enjoy; in some way we find them offensive, repulsive, or morally wrong. Those activities that we enjoy and accept are within our sphere of "limits". What we don't enjoy, for whatever reason, tends to end up outside that acceptable sphere.

What is termed as a "hard limit" is something you will not do under any circumstance and is outside our individual sphere of acceptance for any reason: spiritual, physical, or emotional. A hard limit is non-negotiable and will not and should not be pushed upon you. You should not have to explain to anyone but yourself and your Dominant why a certain activity is a hard limit. Others have stated to me that their hard limit is something that never changes. In a perfect world, this unchanging aspect may be so. But humans are not perfect, life is not static, and as we grow, we change within, as our sphere of "acceptable" grows and shrinks. Therefore, hard limits do change at times.

A "soft limit" falls right on the line of that acceptable sphere: neither in it nor outside of it, but instead is on the boundary of what is and is not acceptable. It's something that intrigues us, but also something we may still find to be a taboo subject. With the right person, and under the right circumstances, we may agree to those soft limits. Thus, these limits are a "testing ground", where the opportunity to advance toward more difficult, scary, and untried activities can be explored, but at our own pace. The purpose of this article is to show how limits can be set, and also how, with time and under the guidance of the right person, limits can also change. This information is provided from my own perspective, as well as from my own experiences. Please remember, i am writing from the perspective of a slave who lives with, and is married to, her Master and who lives this life 24/7. Our interaction initiated as that of a Dom/sub, but as time progressed, has grown into a Master/slave relationship. my hope for you is that, in reading this information, you will be able to better understand some of the reasons why limits are set. i also hope that my perspectives and experiences will assist you in recognizing and developing your own limits. By no means do i intend that everyone should do as i have done. Nor do i wish to see those new to the lifestyle stick with the "no limits" they originally started with. What i do wish however, is for people to better understand the reasons underlying limit setting, as well as to look within themselves when establishing their individual limits. The circumstances, person you are with, as well as your stage of learning all go hand-in-hand with helping you set your limits. For this article, i am assuming that the 3 basic taboos will remain so. Thus, activities involving children, bestiality, or necrophilia are not even a possibility to me, and in my own view, are not safe, sane nor consensual (SSC). The limits i establish in this article are ALL encompassed under the rules of SSC.

When i first began this lifestyle, i thought there was nothing i wouldn't do. Sound familiar? Seems almost everyone new to the lifestyle says that there is nothing they will not do. Then they start reading and hearing of the totality of possibilities, and reality sets in. When i completed my first BDSM partner checklist, there were many more "no's" than "yes's". i wish now that i had a recording of my thoughts at that time. The were a lot of "oh gross!", "oh my god!", "what the heck is that?", and more than a few "no way, people can't really do that!". Some of these activities immediately became hard limits to me because they were taboo and something my upbringing had taught me was "wrong". Other activities became a limit because i honestly did not know what they were, or what they meant. i didn't want to agree to something when i had no idea what it was. Needless to say, there were a lot of things on that checklist i said i absolutely would never, ever do. i laugh at myself now as i remember something i always told my children: "Never say never."

Being a very curious person, i eventually learned what those items on the checklist were that i had not understood. As time went on, i learned more and more about what these activities really entailed, and more importantly, the underlying significance of the acts. my curiosity was piqued. Two months after that first checklist was filled out, i completed it once again. To my surprise, i found that i had fewer hard limits than i did the first time. i had become intrigued with "edge play": activities that bordered on what i found as unacceptable, but was intrigued with the concept. A part of me really wanted to try these things, but i had yet to
break through all of the barriers within myself first. When i completed the checklist the second time, there were a few less hard limits and a lot more soft ones. At the time, i felt these soft ones would be ok if i was coerced or forced to perform them. Note: i said at the time. i have since learned that i cannot be forced or coerced into anything. i realize now that, even though i gave my power to my Master, that it is still my choice which activities i will or will not accept. i can choose not to do something and earn his wrath (if my reason is not good enough) or i can simply do it and experience a new level of obedience. There is no coercion or force involved, but that is the topic for another article in itself.

The next few months were a time of introspection for me. i felt that, if i wanted to select my limits correctly, i really had to look at my reasons for identifying a certain activity as a hard or soft limit. i found that many other activities now became "no limits", because i had come to know and trust my Master so well. As i poured over the activity list for a third time, there were a few items that i honestly could not remember why i had previously chosen them as a limit. Why were golden showers a hard limit? The answer to that one was easy enough: i perceived that type of activity as not socially acceptable. Ok - not a good enough reason for exclusion,
but it was the only one i had. Without a valid reason, that activity was now no longer a limit. With this new mindset, i proceeded down the checklist, and everything that i had previously made a limit solely because it was not socially acceptable to me, was changed.

Next, came the activities i had originally perceived of as "morally wrong". Those items i had to really dissect, and figure out if it was within me to change my perspective and to see them in a different light. Most of those items involved changing parts of me that touched at the very core of who i was. An example of one that i struggled with was swinging and couple sharing. Could i do this and still live with myself? i found the answer to this one wasn't so easy, but in the end, it remained a hard limit for me. This limit had never, and would never change. Sharing goes against everything that makes up my being, and changing this would make it so i
couldn't live with myself. Next, i struggled with a few of those limits that i had originally thought were beyond me - like mummification. i suffer from claustrophobia, and was sure that i could never do anything that involved a form of this. Yet, i had never thought to make basic bondage a limit that activity involved restriction and confinement. Through time, trust, and love, my Master showed me that, through His guidance, i could be totally bound and only have occasional pangs of fear. If we could overcome my fear together, i felt we could achieve just about anything else. So activities involving confined spaces, such as mummification, were no longer a limit.

Anyone who knows me can just picture me as i write this next little bit. What about limits based on overt fear or revulsion? The hard limit of NO NEEDLES needs no explanation to anyone who knows me. To those of you not acquainted with me, let me tell you that my head ends up literally buried somewhere so i don't have to even see or hear about them. my stomach does flip-flops, and i get dizzy just thinking about them. This limit was certainly the most difficult one for me to contemplate. It took me a long time to figure out what to do with it. But i finally realized that, if i could trust Master with all parts of myself, i should entrust Him with this one as well. Needles are no longer a limit, though i pray that i will never be tested on this one. If i am, i hope He allows me something to burry my head in!

In a few months, Master will be giving me my formal collar. In that ceremony will be something i never would have dreamed i would agree to, only a year ago. my Master will be placing His brand on me. i look forward to this with much excitement, but also with more than a little fear. i focus more on the rewards that long-term identity His mark bestows much more than the sort-term pain i must suffer to be honored in such a manner.

The reason i am sharing all of this with you is not to try to change your mind about your limits. i simply want you to look within yourself and determine the reasons why you decided to make limits on certain activities. In my search to find myself and to be honest about what i want and who i am, i have found that i have come full circle with respect to my limits. i now have precious few, just as i did when i first came into this lifestyle. The big difference now is that my choices are made from a more informed, and less prejudiced viewpoint as well as a fundamental trust in my Master. i will honestly say that the a few limits i removed from the list i did so because, in knowing my Master, i also know they are hard limits for Him, and these didn't need to be a limit for me. What if He should change His mind and want to try them? Well, they aren't a limit for me, and it's His right if He should so choose. Those limits that would go against who i am will never change. Would i scene with just anyone and have so few limits? HECK NO! And i would pray you wouldn't either. Filling in a BDSM partner checklist can seem like only a chore to you. If you view this task in such a manner, you are really missing a tremendous opportunity to get to know yourself. In many ways, completion of this form, and the deep consideration that needs to be applied to each activity, forces one to be
honest and real with oneself: a fundamental requirement so very important in this lifestyle.
Lesson learned: The sky's the limit only when you know how to fly!

Rick's miria