"I've heard that even when you meet a Top who can be trusted, a bondage or SM scene can leave you feeling upset afterwards. My friend had a really bad experience and the Top wasn't even doing anything heavy at the time. Is there way to prevent this?"
Although bondage and SM can be exhilarating and leave you on a high from endorphins flooding your body, it's also possible to stir deep emotions in the Top or bottom that are not so much fun to deal with. Sometimes one player or other might feel irrational anger, sadness or fear with no apparent cause or trigger. There is no guaranteed way to prevent a scene from going wrong in this way, but the risk can be reduced by breaking the scene down into five stages:
STAGE 2 - WARM UP
The key to a good scene is for both players to get into a good frame of mind or "head space". Although someone might enjoy being flogged very hard at the end of the scene, if you belt them unexpectedly before they're ready they could be justifiably upset with you. Likewise, someone who can take a great deal of nipple play if you build up gradually might not feel the same way if you bite his nipples hard in the opening two minutes of the scene.
Use your first few minutes to set the tone. For some that might involve hooding them and carrying them off to a playroom, or gently warming up their back with a soft leather flogger, or tying up their hands while you remind them how helpless they are .... it prepares you both psychologically for what's coming next.
STAGE 3 - INCREASING INTENSITY
This is the main part of the scene where you both go on a journey together. I'll leave it up to you what you get up to, the list is endless.
STAGE 4 - COME DOWN
When the main part of the scene is over don't kick the bottom out immediately, unless that's part of the prior agreement during your negotiation. If the bottom has been encased in bondage for a while it will take at least a few minutes for his circulation and mobility to return. You both might be on an endorphin high or in a very Dominant/ submissive head space and it will take a while to return to normal. Enjoy this time - it's all part of the scene. Make sure the bottom has something to eat, drink or keep him warm, if necessary.
STAGE 5 - AFTERCARE
I've always been put off by the word "aftercare" - but all it means is contacting each other a few hours or days later to check that the other person is okay. Just because they seemed to be alright at the end of the scene does not mean that they feel the same way a few days later.
Even if you follow these guidelines one or other of the players might still have a bad emotional reaction in a scene. There's nothing you can do to stop this, but you can make the other person feel better about it by stopping the play and reassuring them both physically (hugs are great) and verbally. It might not be either person's fault that it happened and you may never discover what the trigger was. By dealing with each other with compassion and respect you can make it less of a negative experience.
Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003