Creating Connection With Rope

Creating Connection With Rope

Rope is about connection. It’s about two (or more) people engaging in a type of play that can be sensually stimulating, mind transforming, physically demanding, and sometimes deeply erotic. Usually, one person is the rope top/ rigger and one person the rope bottom/bunny (though sometimes more than two participants work together). Even before the first strand of rope is placed on a person’s body, even before a shank of rope is lifted, there is a process that occurs between participants. Each person will have, on some level, come to an agreement of what will be happening and in what way, for how long and all safety matters discussed. Well, that’s what should be happening….

Unfortunately, it’s extremely common when I’m watching people tie, or even when I tie new people, that the essence and purpose of rope is lost. Unfortunately, many are preoccupied with images and videos they’ve seen online, that look stunningly beautiful, and crave a piece of the action. They want to feel what the people in the posts are perceived to be feeling. They read the journal entries and comments people have made, and they assume to fully understand. Unfortunately, they more often than not don’t get it. They don’t get just how hard it is for tops and bottoms alike to create those moments; the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into those precious moments; the years of self reflection, personal growth and vulnerability it takes to trust someone to do the things they decide on mutually. Unfortunately, they make the mistake of learning a few ties, look for someone to work with, do all the prenegotiations needed, but forget to think about connection.

To clarify, that practice isn’t necessarily wrong. So long as all issues around consent and safety are fully understood and negotiated between all parties, and everyone gets what they want out of it, then that is awesome. What I find, however is that, at some stage people get to a point where their rope experience touches a deeper part of them. It becomes more than pretty pictures and/or kinky play. At some point we want to let our guard down, and allow ourselves to swim within the deep waters of our bodies and minds that rope allows is to do. It’s a difficult step to make, one I’ve rarely been able to witness with those I tie. That vulnerability is scary, after all.

Whoever I tie, I make it my business to get to know them and what sort of experience they want from their time with me. All consent and safety issues discussed and health needs met, I look at them and in my mind I try to express myself with my rope in a mutually beneficial way. Create a win-win dynamic. This, I find, is the most effective tool to creating meaningful connections through my rope.

So, if you want to create connections with rope, I’d recommend the following:

  1. Know your partner (s) – their background and experience, their understanding of what rope is to them, their physical and mental needs, what they hope to achieve with practicing shibari. Know their personal circumstances that might affect their time with you.
  2. Let them know you – where you are on your journey, and any physical or mental needs, any desires you have with rope, also. Let them know of any circumstances that affect your ability to tie together, too.
  3. Slowly tie together – don’t rush the process. It takes time to build up the trust and openness to communicate with each other. Rushing into more complex or challenging ties, when either of you are not ready will bring about a negative energy to your dynamic – through the unnecessary pressures. Being physically in contact with another person’s body or rope requires a big leap of faith. Being emotionally connected, even more so.
  4. Start with basic ties and ties you know really well, ones you know you’ll be comfortable with. If you have a reaction to the rope, positive or negative, it’ll be easier to determine if this is from your dynamic with the person you’re working with rather than the tie itself, or both.
  5. Consider energy flow. Sometimes your and your partner’s energy is determined by your/ their motivations to tie with you. If it doesn’t feel “right”, that you feel uncomfortable in anyway, it’s totally ok to end the session together. Relying on your instinct is a good idea, especially when you’re unsure if what they’re saying and doing quite matches up.
  6. Once you have started building the dynamic, keep focused on what is mutually beneficial. If you’re tying with a different objective to your partner, you really need to articulate that early. For example, you may be sexually attracted to that person and want to create sexual intimacy, but they may not. Or perhaps you only want photos for Instagram, not to build a friendship beyond the tying times, but the other participant might perceive it as part of a wider relationship. Failure to be clear on motivations will be seen as manipulative later on down the line. Again, it’s about honesty, and maintaining it throughout your journey together.
  7. Give each other plenty of space to reflect on your experiences together. If you ever need a break from your rope journey, take it. It’s a tough journey sometimes, lots of buried emotions can come to the surface. So, if you ever feel overwhelmed for whatever reason, it’s ok to slow down and take a breather for however long is necessary. If your partner is not understanding of this, they are not safe to tie with, so walk away from that situation.
  8. Respond to each other’s needs – whether it’s making sure you’re both in a good state to tie, carrying out your tie with continued avenues for feedback, carrying out any agreed or in the moment aftercare needs, and/or planning any future sessions. Remember, just because you’ve done a tie 100 times and it’s been fine, the 101st time might not be fine and your and/or their needs may change.
  9. Keep communicating. Be honest with each other regarding how your connection with each other is developing. It may stir up deeper emotions with each other than expected or it may fall flat, or one may feel closer than the other. The nature of any relationship is that it can change, so be honest and open. Know when it’s best to walk away, rather than prolong a difficult situation.
  10. Keep your ego under check. Sometimes we feel the feedback is unjustified, but you must remember that their opinion is as valid as yours. Growth can only happen if you respect different opinions of the same tie session.
  11. If you ever mistakenly and unintentionally violate your partner’s consent or cause an injury (as a top or bottom) then own the mistake and learn from it. If you don’t, you will lose all trust and the connection will understandably be severed.

My final thoughts…

In my experience, everyone wants something different from rope. People react very differently to rope, and it can vary from session to session. Sometimes they float into a tranquil subspace, sometimes they giggle like a child, sometimes they want to escape, sometimes they’re deeply aroused by rope. Subsequently, the possibilities are endless. Limiting ourselves to what we think we want from rope, rather than allowing rope to inform us on how to practice it with others, will hinder your practice around those possibilities. When (or if) you’re ready to step deeper into what rope has to offer, be cautious, be wise and be present in those wonderful moments.

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