From the outside, the BDSM world can look pretty intimidating; some of what you see might appeal to you, but it's hard to know where to start. What if you wind up with someone who wants something you're not into? What if you don't even own a cattle prod? And what's with those black leather outfits everyone seems to wear? They must be expensive, and they're not always flattering. I can't blame you – there's a lot of information to take in at once.

 

The good news is that, as usual, TV and movies are (mostly) lying to you – and you don't have to be some kind of dedicated kinkster to understand and enjoy the basics. As you may know, our sister site Fetish.com caters to a specifically kinky crowd, but for the more generalist sex-haver, here's a quick guide to some of the elements of BDSM you're most likely to have heard of – and most likely to run into. This is just a quick intro, though, not a comprehensive guide.

 

Safewords

 

The many different forms of BDSM don't have a lot in common, but one thing you'll find almost everywhere is the idea of a safeword – a code phrase or signal that lets you know when something's making your partner uncomfortable. These are just as important when you're starting out, if not more so – if you've never really choked someone before, you won't know how much you're restricting their air, and you certainly won't know how long they can take it. You need a way for them to communicate with you.

“Communicate” is a word you're going to be hearing a lot in this overview.

 

Spanking

 

When movies or television want to show that someone is playfully kinky, they suggest that they're into spanking. It's a common fascination, even for people who don't really think of themselves as into BDSM; it involves powerlessness, humiliation and our widespread cultural fascination with bums. Spanking is safe if you're doing it correctly, but just make sure to avoid vulnerable areas around the tailbone, spine and kidneys. As a general rule of thumb, the parts of your partner that look soft and spankable probably are.

 

Handcuffs

 

getting-into-kink-2

 

Again, a pair of handcuffs is one of those symbols of being sexually adventurous, and that's fine. Lots of people have got a set of novelty cuffs in a drawer by the bed. But just try spending an hour or so in a pair of cheap metal cuffs; you'll wish the person who put you in them was in actual jail. Everybody has a favourite type of restraint, but flexible (well, more flexible than steel, anyway) leather or fabric cuffs are common. If you care about the unyielding feel of metal, spend the extra money and get a good pair of heavy-duty cuffs with a solid bar in place of the flimsy chain. In the name of all that is holy, remember where you put the keys.

 

One thing cuffs do really well is teach the most important part of kink: communication. People sometimes find being honest about how they're feeling with their partners difficult, but when the alternative is having your wrist bones hurt by over-tight restraints, the necessity becomes clear.

 

Rope

 

Rope seems like it should be simple, right? It's just… rope. But rope bondage is actually fairly complex, and it can be easy to hurt a partner if you do it wrong. If you meet someone who's just got a big old coil of hemp rope and a lot of enthusiasm, you might want to ask them some questions about their experience. If you value your joints and skin, anyway. This form of bondage is definitely something you want to read up on before you get started.

 

That goes for almost any form of physical BDSM, actually. Even just being restrained can put stress on your joints or cut off your circulation if it's not done properly.

 

The whole D/s thing

 

Power is sexy. Having total control over someone else, or having your control taken away, can also be sexy – although not for everyone. For some people, it's the only thing that's sexy. Again, no two relationships between a dominant and a submissive are exactly alike, so – and I know I keep saying this – communication is important. If you're expecting someone to pull your hair, pin you down and call you names and they're expecting you to do their dishes, there's going to be a little bit of a disconnect.

 

Honestly, the need for communication is the most fascinating thing about the whole BDSM experience. Not only is it necessary to make it work, but it reveals to you how much we don't talk about in “vanilla” sex. In BDSM, the huge variety of kinks out there means you can't assume that you share assumptions with your partner about what to expect – you have to talk about it. Once you've had those conversations a few times, you start to realise how incorrect the idea that you can rely on shared assumptions outside of BDSM is. It could be worth talking to someone you want to have sex with even if you're not going to choke them. Crazy, I know, but I think it could work.

 

 

© istolethetv / Flickr and Jason Clapp / Flickr

 

 


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[…] to your bedroom routine? These are available in virtually every sex shop and provide a safe but mildly kinky way of exploring your fantasies together – without feeling like you both just accelerated […]

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