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Safe signals are nonverbal cues that submissives can use to show they reached their limit during a BDSM scene. When dominants see their submissives using safe signals, they should immediately stop or slow the scene, depending on what was agreed upon. Safe signals can take the place of safewords in certain BDSM scenes.
Safe signals are commonly used during scenes where submissives cannot easily talk or make sounds. For example, submissives might use safe signals while wearing gags or full-face masks, when engaging in animal play where they are non-verbal, or if they’re losing consciousness.
Some safe signals may rely on external tools, like dropping or jangling a set of keys or activating a dog training clicker. Others may rely on the submissive's motions, like squeezing a hand or blinking or clicking fingers in a distinctive way. Submissives could also tap out, as wrestlers do, or use pony signals, especially if they’re involved in pony play. Noise patterns like grunting in a rhythm can also be classed as safe signals.
Just like safewords, safe signals should be negotiated and agreed upon before BDSM play. This process ensures there is no confusion during a scene.
Dominants should constantly monitor their submissives to look for safe signals, particularly in scenes where verbal communication may be difficult. This is essential for responsible sub care and a pleasurable scene.