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By Bellesa Team

A safeword is a predetermined word or signal used to call for the pause or stop an activity in progress, typically used in the context of a BDSM scene or sexual interaction. It it a safety measure put in place in order to communicate consent, to report their current status or willingness to continue to their partner, if a boundary is being approached or crossed, or if they need to stop for any other reason.

Safewords can be personal and unique to the people selecting them. They are determined and agreed upon by any involved parties prior to commencing any play. It is typically a word, phrase, or signal which differs from anything that could be communicated during a scene so there is no confusing the signal for anything else that might be said in the heat of the moment during their consensual activity.

Organized BDSM communities will often have standard safewords that all members agree to use and respect. This helps to avoid confusion and affirm the safety of all members at group play events.

Traffic Light System

A popular method of safeword communication is the traffic light system, where the colors of a typical traffic light (i.e. green, yellow, red) are used to describe how the participants are feeling at any given moment. Green means enthusiastic consenting to whatever is afoot, yellow means to proceed with caution, slow down, or take a pause, and red means the immediate termination of the activity or scene.

Safewords for Vanilla Sex

Safewords are most familiar as commonly practice in the context of BDSM relationships and communities, but they can be used in any sexual scenario. A safeword can be useful to communicate one’s physical and emotional state to a partner from one sexual engagement to another, regardless of the style or perceived intensity of the sexual activity.

Having the safeword determined ahead of time can provide peace of mind when experimenting with something new or any time one might feel uncertain of how to ask to adjust or stop an activity which does not feel good or comfortable. It is simply another way to assure wellbeing and communicate consent between partners.

Foregoing a Safeword

In some cases, individuals may choose to renounce or abandon their safeword completely as a part of their risk-aware consensual kink play or relationship. 

Deliberately challenging one’s boundaries is a form of edge play; the renunciation of a safeword can be what enhances the trust in a more extreme expression of a BDSM relationship, as well as the freedom of surrender experienced by the submissive person during a scene. 

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