BDSM Beginners Guide

Introducing BDSM into Your Relationship – A Beginner’s Guide

Books like Fifty Shades of Grey have brought BDSM to the mainstream, encouraging couples the world over to explore their kinky desires. The stories make it sound so exciting, but introducing BDSM into real-life relationships can be trickier. You know you want to experiment, but don’t know where to begin. From communication to safety, this beginner’s guide to BDSM will help you start your journey into kink.

So, what is BDSM?

So, what is BDSM anyway? The term, ‘BDSM’ is an acronym, with each letter representing another word. Often, the letters will be grouped together in corresponding pairs, so BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.

BDSM Meaning

What is Bondage and Discipline?

Bondage is the practice of binding or tying limbs so that movement is restricted. When you remove the ability to move or resist, there is a power exchange. The bound partner feels powerless and/or vulnerable, which can heighten their desire to submit. There are many different tools you can use to bind your partner, from handcuffs to bondage rope.

The term ‘discipline’ can be interpreted in a few ways. To some, it means enforcing a set of rules, often through training, to achieve the desired outcome. To others, discipline is a punishment used to correct bad behaviour. Discipline can take many forms, from setting tasks and denying privileges, to spanking and orgasm denial.

What is Dominance and Submission?

At the heart of BDSM play is the power exchange dynamic. The dominant partner enjoys taking control, making all the decisions and leading the scenes. The submissive partner prefers to relinquish control, submitting to the will of the dominant. What separates BDSM from abuse is that both roles are taken wilfully and consensually. Therein lies the paradox, as the submissive partner has ultimate control over what happens to their own body and mind. This is even true in full power exchange relationships, as the submissive has the choice to stay or to walk away.

Side note: The term ‘switch’ refers to a person who enjoys taking on both roles, switching between dominance and submission as the mood suits.

Sadism and Masochism:

BDSM SpankingAs with dominance and submission, sadism and masochism are opposite sides of the same coin. A sadist is a person who derives pleasure from inflicting pain on another. A masochist is a person who enjoys receiving pain.

The pain inflicted/received could be physical and/or emotional, but it is important to remember that pain is subjective. What one person finds pleasurable, another will find intolerable. Some examples of physical pain include spanking, scratching and biting. Examples of emotional pain include humiliation and mind games (also called mind-fucks) which create a state of confusion, fear or conflict in the submissive partner’s mind.

In a broader sense, indulging in BDSM is to partake in any activity that falls under one (or more) of the above terms. As you can imagine, those activities are incredibly diverse. Because of this, BDSM means different things to different people; including those who fall under the same labels. It is also important to note that none of the above terms are synonymous with each other. Not all dominants are sadists and not all submissives enjoy pain. BDSM is simply an expression of your own kinky desires.

BDSM – Getting the Foundations in Place:

Now you know what BDSM is, but how do you explore your own kinks? First things first, it’s important to get the foundations in place.

Communication:

If you want to indulge in BDSM in a safe and enjoyable way, you need to be able to communicate honestly with your partner. This is the only way to be sure that you are both on the same page. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and go into details. Now is not the time to be coy, or to tell your partner what you think they want to hear. Take time to understand your own desires. What appeals to you and what would you rather avoid? Share this information with your partner before you play together.

Trust:

Trust, like communication, is one of the cornerstones of a fulfilling BDSM relationship. You are opening yourself up to a host of new experiences, both physical and psychological, so it is of utmost importance that you trust your partner. Will they respect your limits and honour your safewords? Will they tell you the truth when you ask how they feel? Trust takes some time to build and you should let it happen at a pace that feels comfortable to you. Stay away from people who try to push you too fast, too soon.

Knowledge:

Before indulging in BDSM play, you should spend some time researching your own particular interests. Want to bind your partner’s limbs? You should learn about rope safety and how to tie some basic knots. Want to spank your partner? Find out what parts of the body are safe for impact play and what areas you should always avoid. Discovering the psychology behind your desires and discovering how others play can also help you to grow.

If you decide to purchase some new toys, you should try (where possible) to test the products on yourself before using them on your partner. This is especially true for spanking implements and any other item designed for sensory play (nipple clamps, pinwheels etc). When you test the product on yourself first, you get to experience the sensations it provides during use. You can use that knowledge to decide how best to tease and/or torture your partner with your new toy.

BDSM – Your First Play Session

The foundations are in place and you have shared your kinky desires with your partner, but how should you approach each new BDSM session? Before you grab the blindfold and whip, make sure to discuss the following with your partner.

Setting your limits:

BDSM BondageA limit is a line or boundary that you (or your partner) does not want to cross. Everyone has their own unique set of limits and you should discuss yours with your partner before play begins. In the BDSM scene, you may hear the terms ‘soft limits’ and ‘hard limits’. A soft limit is an act that the individual may struggle with or set conditions upon, but they still consent to it happening. For example, “I think I would like to try spanking, but I am not sure if I am ready for whips and paddles. Perhaps you could spank me with your hand for now”. If you plan on pushing your partner’s soft limits, do so with care, caution and a great deal of communication. A hard limit is an act that is completely off the table. Respect your partner’s hard limits.

Choosing a Safe Word:

As we discussed previously, BDSM play can sometimes involve pushing limits and testing boundaries. In some instances, using the words “no” and “stop” may even be part of the fantasy (rape play). For these reasons, you should agree on a safe word before play begins.

A safe word is a random word which, when called, let’s your partner know that play must stop. You want to choose a word that wouldn’t come up naturally during a scene. Many BDSM practitioners use the traffic light system. The word “red” is used as a command to stop the scene immediately. The word “yellow” is used to let your partner know that you want to continue playing, but you are approaching your limits and you need the intensity to drop.

If you plan on gagging your partner (or making it difficult for them to speak clearly) it would be best to use a safe gesture instead. It is important to choose a gesture that will be noticed, as it is easy to become distracted during a scene. Some examples of safe gestures include jingling (or dropping) a set of keys and squeaking a small squeaky toy.

Don’t be afraid to use your safe words during a scene. They are there to protect you from injury and harm. Always respect your partner’s use of their safe word.

Take it Slow:

When you first discover the kinky world of BDSM, it is easy to act like a kid in a candy shop. You want to try everything and you want to try it all now. When you jump in too quickly, moving from scene to scene, you don’t give yourself time to process how you feel about your experiences. Take your time to discover all the nuances and your experiences will be so much more rewarding. It is also important not to rush a partner who may be feeling hesitant about BDSM play; unless you want to scare them away from the scene altogether.

During a scene, you want to consider the speed at which you ramp up the intensity. Most people need time to relax and to let go of the stresses of the day. Allow them time to sink into their chosen roles by starting slowly and gradually allowing the intensity to build. For most people, this creates a deeper, more enjoyable experience.

Since we all react to pain differently, you should spend some time experimenting with different sensations and intensity levels. For example; if you are spanking your partner, you should start gently and ask them to rate the pain levels from 1 to 10 (1 being feather soft and 10 being their limit). Keep building until they rate the sensations at the top end of the scale. Now you know their range, you can tease them as you see fit without going too far.

Keep it safe:

BDSM bondage bowThe two most common terms used within the BDSM community to express the importance of safety, precaution and consent are ‘safe, sane and consensual’ (SSC) and ‘risk-aware consensual kink’ (RACK). There is some disagreement over which term (if either) fit best, because safety, sanity and consent are subjective. During BDSM scenes (especially those designed to push your limits) you have to accept that there is some degree of risk. Not everything can be accounted for ahead of time. However, you should still make every effort to identify potential risks and do everything in your power to minimise them. It is also important to remember that we are all human. Mistakes/accidents happen and when they do, use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Experiment:

Whether it’s sharing kinky fantasies or shopping together for your first bondage kit, don’t stop experimenting. BDSM is as much an emotional journey as it is a physical one. Over time, the trust will build and you will grow closer to your partner. Keep an open mind; you may discover things about yourself that you never realised existed. Take your time, play safe and above all, stay kinky!

What are your experiences with BDSM? Do you have any recommendations for beginners? Leave your comments below.

This article was sponsored by forthecloset.co.uk, a UK based adult retailer, specialising in sex toys, bondage gear and sexy lingerie.

1 reply
  1. Justin
    Justin says:

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    I ordered on Amazon:

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