What is Edge Play?

by MutualRespect

Defining edge play is a tricky business. Not because the definition is slippery, but because you need to also address the prejudices of those who do not understand it. The public’s natural opinion of edge play is that it is dangerous and abusive. Everything we do in kink carries a certain level of risk, that risk is simply more acute in edge play and so we need to be all the more aware of safety and have contingencies in place for if things were to go wrong. Edge play is not abusive, edge play is working within your partners limits, just at the edge of their limits but within the confines of mutual consent.


The edge? The edge of what? Well, simply put, the edge of our limits; physical, psychological and emotional. It can be any of these, a combination or all of these simultaneously. The edge is determined by our own limits and therefore is highly subjective and personal to each of us. What is edge to one person could be WAY out of bounds or tame for someone else.

So, now we’ve defined what the edge is, what is edge play about? When you strip it all back it’s about two things;

• Pushing you and your partners limits and exploring the areas you’ve always feared to tread, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

• It is also about trust. Although you can do edge play with someone you don’t know, I firmly believe to really push your limits you need that element of trust. The more you trust your top, the further you are going to be willing to go based upon the trust in them, their abilities and their knowledge of you. You need to trust that the hands around your throat will release after you pass out and before serious damage is caused by starving the brain of oxygen.

So, what do we get from playing on the edge? Well, what do we get from doing extreme sports or driving fast or pushing ourself to our limits in the gym or in athletics or sport? An adrenaline rush for sure, but is it deeper than that? I think we also get a sense of achievement, a deeper sense of knowing ourselves and what we are capable of and a greater respect for ourselves. There is probably another big thing, living on the edge tends to make us feel alive. We grow from these experiences. There is something else that edge play has always given me, a sense of satisfaction. My appetite has always been sated following a successful edge play session.

By it’s very nature, edge play has more risk involved than non-edge play. An edge player must have safety foremost in their minds. We need to really understand what we are doing and the potential ramifications of our play. You don’t just grab someone’s throat and strangle them, you need to understand the anatomy of the throat. You need to understand where you can safely apply pressure and where you can’t. You need to know how long you can safely strangle someone for and also be fully aware of what you need to do if something goes wrong. When we are pushing the psychological limits of our partner we could, inadvertently, go too far or something may suddenly make our partner feel less safe than they need to while in that state of play.

I’ve been in a particular situation where my ex-partner and I were in the middle of a very intense fear play scene and then someone took that moment to post unsolicited advertising mail through our letter box. The sudden and loud bang in the hallway pushed her over the edge as she no longer felt safe and we had to end the scene. Luckily, everything was fine because I quickly made her feel safe by getting her free of her restraints, covering her with a blanket and then going through and checking the house to assure her there were no intruders, but this could have been much worse. The top cannot panic, you must remain in control and you must remain calm and collected.


MutualRespectMutualRespect is a Scottish firecracker. In the bedroom he’s a Dom, but outside of it he’s a self-proclaimed feminist who wants gender equality and would never be comfortable being involved with someone who felt they weren’t an equal, based on gender. The thing he finds most attractive in a member of the opposite sex isn’t their bra size or the length of their legs. He’s more of a prefrontal cortex kinda guy. You can find more of his writing on FetLife.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sometimes you can meet the right person to play with, you know each other well, your styles of SM match, you are in a location to do edge play where you won’t be arrested or scare the local population … everything on paper looks good – but the timing isn’t right. Perhaps one of you hasn’t had enough sleep, or your blood sugar level is too low, you’re under pressure at work or distracted by personal problems. When that happens DON’T do edge play. The risks are far higher that something will go wrong. Wait until you have had enough to eat, enough sleep and can concentrate fully on the scene at hand.

    Edge play is a risky activity and I don’t want anyone to try it just because they’ve read this article. It doesn’t make you a better SM player or more valid as a leatherman if you do edge play, any more than if you are straight or gay, or ride/ don’t ride a motorbike. It doesn’t matter! These are just aspects of who we are – don’t let anyone judge you because of them. But for those who are drawn to the edges, hopefully this column will help to minimise the risks of things going wrong.

    Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.

  2. boy denon says:

    Hi Playing Naughty,

    Thanks for your comments and concerns, there are this RACK Archives that may be helpful in the negotiation of understanding of Safety concerns. The link is here http://bdsminthemind.boydenon.com/tag/rack/

    hope it helps,

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