When we look around the rope scene, a few or so years in, the one thing that becomes glaringly obvious is the vulnerability and over eagerness of those new to it. Some people join already experienced and looking to further their knowledge and understanding of rope, realising just how challenging and complex it can be. Others may have read 50 Shades of Grey or watched porn or the like and thought they’d give it a go. Or maybe somewhere in the middle. Whichever way you’ve found rope, there are some really, very important things to remember to avoid causing harm to yourself and others.
- Those photos you’ve seen of beautiful models in wonderful positions looking all dramatic and intense, if ethically produced, were years in the making. It takes years to build the physical and mental strength for those people to take intense ties. It takes years of self reflection and integrity to truly know what you’re doing and capable.
- It takes years for rope tops to build the skills and know how to tie safely. It takes years of continuous practice. We need to know how different rope works on different people at different times in different ways. We need to know human anatomy. We need to know health and safety concerns. We need to know about mental health issues. We need to be as prepared as possible for different reactions to what we do.
- It takes months or years to build the trust and communication to be able to do extreme ties on your partner(s). For example, a person in a TK suspension looks absolutely amazing, but is at a very high risk of damage. You can’t just do it because you’ve been shown once how to do it or seen a YouTube tutorial. You need hands on experience, face to face guidance and continued support. You need to take harsh criticism and feedback, parking your ego at the door, to learn.
- It takes patience and fortitude to slowly build an arsenal of consent tools to use. These tools are there to prevent you from causing harm. You use them proactively to establish consent, never assuming you have consent. You need to be a skilled communicator. You never take anything for granted.
- It takes time to build a good reputation for people to trust you. And it also requires you taking a long time to get to know anyone you choose to tie with. Playing with anyone willing is reckless and naïve. You need to build friendships and vet through others’ experience with them to see how suitable you might be. People are far more likely to be incompatible with you than not – wanting different things for the experiences. You won’t know that if you don’t take your time to get to know them. (Yes,we may casually tie and play in a pick up scenario, but even then you need to know your limits and be 100% confident they’re being honest with you about theirs and their intentions).
At the end of the day, learning anything new takes time and effort. It takes lots of self awareness and willingness to own mistakes. It takes understanding the ambitions and needs of each person you tie with as well as your own. It takes slowing down and appreciating the wonderful journey rope provides us, not forcing the process out of a need to compete for admiration from others. A trained eye knows a good tie, not just for it’s well structured and precise method, but for the meaningful connections it creates. Someone tying above their level, not aware of the risks they’re taking, perhaps more concerned about what other people think, is in it for the wrong reasons. Do rope because it’s a way to be you, not to be someone else or for others to admire you.
So, don’t rush. The are no shortcuts. Take your time. Embrace the journey. Reach out and learn from others step by step. Rope is edge play and extremely risky. To be good at anything, remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint.