BDSM and kink have become more popular in the last few years, but it can still be very daunting to try. It can feel like there is so much involved, from techniques, toys and even risk levels. But it doesn’t have to be so scary. Whether you’ve been thinking about it for a while or are newly curious, we’d like to give you some tips on how to explore the world of BDSM in a fun and safe way.
What is BDSM?
Before you jump in, it might be useful to know what BDSM means. BDSM is an acronym that is broken into three subcategories: Bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism. Most play falls under at least one of these categories, but everyone’s desire is different, and no two people’s play looks the same. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first but remember you don’t have to be an expert on day one!
Good communication is always our #1 tip when it comes to any kind of relationship, and that goes double for couples who want to try BDSM. It can be hard to share our desires for things that seem outside of the sexual “norm”, especially if we are affected by years of internalized shame about those desires. What many people don’t know is that BDSM activities have been a regular part of human sexuality for thousands of years. There is no reason to feel shame for having perfectly normal and healthy sexuality!
When opening up to your partner about an interest BDSM, it is important to be as honest as possible. Set aside some time where you can have a relaxed discussion about your wants and needs where you don’t have to feel rushed. It can feel scary to share this vulnerable part of ourselves but if you and your partner trust each other, the experience can bring you closer. When you start to negotiate specific details, it can be helpful to start with a guideline. You might find a Yes-No-Maybe sheet to be an invaluable resource. These can be filled out by both you and your partner, and it’s basically a list where you write the activities that you are and aren’t interested in. Click here to find one of our favorites, where it not only lists activities, but also language to be used in play and feelings that you want to feel.
BDSM is certainly a step up from regular sex, so you don’t want to go jumping in without researching first. Many activities people engage can be a risk to either physical or mental health and it’s best to consider your personal risk profile before you play. You also want to investigate safety logistics for whatever kind of play you want to try. If you are interested in any kind of impact or whipping, make sure to look up what parts of the body are safe to hit and which are not. Movies and TV have been portraying BDSM for many years but those are not good resources for safety information! Researching before you play is important for safety reasons, and it can also give you ideas for things you may not have thought of before. If you don’t know where to begin, the New Topping Book and New Bottoming Book can be a good start.
It may be a trope, but safewords are a very important part of safe BDSM play. When you negotiate play with your partner, you will both want to let the other know what activities you are okay with and not okay with. Sometimes things may get a little too intense during play, so you want to make sure to have a word or action that will stop the scene in that moment. Many people use the stoplight system: Green means good, yellow means slow down or pause, and red means stop. You can discuss the specifics of what each color means so you’re both on the same page. Some people like to pick their own as well. If you plan to engage in play where someone is gagged, you can make that person hold onto a ball or scarf that they can drop if they need things to stop. There are many ways to communicate during a scene so talk about what works best for you.
Take it slow
Often some of the biggest mistakes we make when trying BDSM happen because we jumped in head first. Remember to take things slow and pace yourself so you don’t hurt yourself or others. Limit your play sessions to trying sensations, or only do one or two activities at a time. After your scenes you can decompress with your partner and talk about what was most enjoyable so you can build upon it next time. Remember that you will always have time to do more in the future, so don’t rush and have fun!
BDSM is often an intense experience, so it’s important to have some kind of aftercare when you’re finished playing. Aftercare looks different to a lot of people. It can be just you cuddling with your partner and talking about what you did afterwards. Some people like to watch movies or eat chocolate. Talk to your partner ahead of time about what kind of aftercare you would both want to come down from your play. It can be difficult sometimes to know what you want before you play, and that’s okay! Just give each other the space to ask for what you need and you can figure it out as you go.
Though it may feel overwhelming when you start, taking it slow and having good communication with your partner will be the best way to go about it. So long as you are having fun, there are no hard rules as to what your BDSM play should look like! We hope you’ve been inspired to try something new and have fun.