A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM

It’s that time of year once again, when all the singles and couples and polyamorous families break out their toy chests and get weird. As some readers might remember, I put together an intro to BDSM two years ago. Well, we’re back, and things are going to get much spicier.

As a quick refresher, last time around, we focused on the importance of self-affirmation, communication, and self-care. Or, to put it another way:

·       Your desires are valid as long as you explore them through healthy avenues

·       You should always be able to clearly communicate with your partner(s)

·       The time after a scene is just as important as the scene itself

This time around, though, the scene is exactly what we are going to be talking about. A scene, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a BDSM activity involving one or more people. It also does not explicitly involve sex. Some of you might be surprised to learn that. It is a pretty common misconception, that the two activities, sex and BDSM, are synonymous. And there certainly can be overlap: some creative vibrator use for orgasm denial can make for potent foreplay. By the same token, if you just want someone to spank you with a belt and then cuddle you sans coitus, then that is also totally fine. Your kinks and your sexuality are valid.

Now, the sheer variety of activities available are too vast to cover here, but we can go over some common ones, as well as good practices to keep in mind no matter what you are doing. And I cannot think of a better place to start than at the bottom.

 

 

Spanking and Safe Impact Play

Spanking with a bare hand (as opposed to with a toy) is an exercise in rhythm. The actual force of an individual impact is a small part of a larger experience. It is a single note in a song. When you are spanking your partner, tempo, variance, and location are the key aspects to keep in mind. For instance, establish a pattern by alternating cheeks and then deviate from it. Do a flurry of light impacts and then switch to something heavier. Give your sub something to expect and then switch it up.

Play that involves a toy or focuses on the whole body just expands on that concept. But whether you are using a flogger, a riding crop, or a whip, you should avoid certain areas, like the face and spine, in addition to anywhere that the sub has said is off-limits. It’s also especially important to switch up where you are hitting so as not to hurt or exhaust your sub. Five powerful hits in the exact same spot in quick succession will push them past their limit much faster than anything else.

But you also need to know how to use your toys for maximum effect. For instance, a riding crop is light, simple, and intimidating. It can make a very loud sound, and as such is excellent for establishing an air of dominance. It also only requires a small flick of the wrist to elicit a nice sting. For something more versatile, look no further than the flogger. It can create a whole host of sensations from soft to stingy to thumpy, according to intensity and distance. Floggers can be made from a variety of different materials, including leather, PVC, and yarn. No one of these is necessarily better than any other. They simply offer a different set of sensations at your disposal. But these are only tools, and any tool must be used safely.

 

 

Safety is Sexy

You might have noticed that intensity is a recurring subject when talking about BDSM. That’s because it is paramount in all forms of safe play to monitor intensity. Even if you aren’t doing impact play, any kind of scene can be physically or emotionally overwhelming for the sub. And it can be really hard for that sub to keep track of their own status when they slip into “subspace,” a trance-like euphoric state brought on by endorphins and epinephrine from pleasure and pain. As such, it is the dom’s responsibility to monitor the situation.

Now, a lot of inexperienced doms might worry about that ruining the atmosphere of the scene. Those fears are completely unfounded. That’s because, if you know what you’re doing, every aspect of a scene can contribute to atmosphere, including checking on how the sub feels and taking care of them. For example, it is important to keep your sub hydrated during longer play. As such, make sure you have a water bottle on hand—but be creative about it. Feed it to them, but let some drip onto their chest. If you have been going particularly intensely for a while, then switch to some sensation play to give them a breather while still maintaining the mood.

And while this might sound repetitive, it is the basis for all healthy BDSM play: communication. It is the backbone of any kink you might want to explore, from chastity, pet play, and edge play, to electrostimulation, voyeurism, and rope suspension. As long as you keep safety and communication in mind and set clear boundaries going in, you can explore whatever you want.

So this Valentine’s Day, stay safe, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Tell your partner(s) about that thing you have always wanted to do, because if they really love you, they will be happy you trusted them enough to share. And you deserve to be happy.