BDSM People who like “pain” and safewords

BelasariusOne of the things I usually ask in my surveys is for people to say how interested they are in aspects of BDSM interactions – things like “pain“, “control”, “service”, “bondage”, “exhibitionism“, etc.

In the context of safe words I thought it would be interesting to see how people who enjoy pain one of the intrinsically riskier BDSM practices – use safe words.

Looking at the sample as a whole (500 people answered this question) 43% of people who said “pain is essential to me” NEVER use a safeword.  27% always use a safe word. Even among those who say they dislike pain the biggest group (42%) say they never use a safe word (33% say they always do). The only group where the largest response was that they always use a safe word were among those who say they “don’t do pain”, when 57% say they always use a safe word (see table four, below).

Table 4 – Attitude to pain and use of safewords
Pain I always use a safeword I mostly DON’T use a safeword I mostly use a safeword I never use a safeword
Essential to me 27% 19% 10% 43%
I dislike this 33% 18% 6% 42%
I don’t do this 57% 14% 29% 0%
Important to me 22% 17% 13% 48%
Not important/unimportant 26% 19% 9% 46%
All 25% 18% 12% 45%

Things get even clearer if you combine the responses to “I always use a safe word” and “I mostly use a safe word” together and also pair “I never use a safeword” with “I mostly DON’T use a safe word”. This then shows that, when it comes to inflicting or receiving pain, roughly one in three are inclined to use safewords and roughly two thirds are inclined not to. (table 5). The group that said they don’t do pain (admittedly only 1.4% of the sample – just seven people) are quite different: 86% use safe words.

Table 5 – Attitude to pain and use of safewords – Use and don’t combined
Pain Always/mostly use a safeword Never/mostly don’t usa a safeword
Essential to me 38% 62%
I dislike this 39% 61%
I don’t do this 86% 14%
Important to me 36% 64%
Not important/unimportant 35% 65%
All 37% 63%

I also looked at how the picture changes if you split respondents by their BDSM orientations (Bottom/submissive, Top/dominant and Switch) – see charts four and five below. Interestingly the B/s people (72%) and T/d people (82%)  who responded  are more likely to consider pain important or essential than switches (67%). Amongst those who think pain is important the largest groups by far never use safewords or mostly don’t use them. Amongst those who dislike or won’t do pain (a small proportion of the total sample) slightly more say they always use a safeword than those who say they never do.