Your ultimate guide to BDSM for beginners

Everything you needed to know

We know you’re probably tired of hearing about how Fifty Shades changed the sex habits of a generation – but seriously, it caused the spreader bar to pretty much sell-out nationwide and it got everyone googling stuff like bondage for beginners but, don’t just rely on a film to tell you what you want to know. Here’s your essential guide to BDSM from expert Lucy Litwack from Coco de Mer.

What is BDSM?

BDSM is a term used to described certain aspects of sex that can be split into these major groups:

Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, Sadism & Masochism

Although some people think that BDSM is ‘kinky’, in some cases it doesn’t have to involve sex at all – the mental connotations of some acts are more of a turn-on than the prelude of a particular act leading to sex.

Many specific practices by lovers who indulge in BDSM are performed in neutral, mutually consenting relationships. This emphasis on informed consent is of paramount importance when carrying out a BDSM act because BDSM often involves varying degrees of pain, physical restraint and servitude (tying your lover up, making them your sex slave, spanking them or putting a dog chain around their neck and making them crawl around on all fours are just a few examples of various BDSM themed acts).

What does it mean to be a dominant?

To begin with, you and your partner must first decide who’s going to play the dominant role and who’s going to play the submissive. It’s extremely important for both of you to interchange and play both roles so you can both experience being in control of your shared sexual destiny. Quite simply, the dominant role will demonstrate skill and power and will control the submissive role. Men and women who are normally responsible for enforcing morality and standards in their jobs or home life are said to enjoy being the dominant partner. Conversely, those of you who have powerful jobs or tons of responsibility may like the feeling of being free from decision-making and being told what to do, so the submissive role will appeal to you. Another way to describe the dominant/submissive dynamic is ‘tops’ and ‘bottoms’.

In BDSM, the ‘top’ is the dominant partner who dishes out the spanking, bondage, clamping and whipping, and the ‘bottom’ is the submissive partner. However, bottoms can also be the more dominant partner by demanding the top to perform certain acts of their choosing and even insist on switching roles.

With the trust of your partner, you can test each other’s sexual boundaries and discover new turn-ons you’d never have imagined.

Placing someone into physical bondage while you remain free does not necessarily place you in command. If you take all of the power but have no idea what to do with it, you are in pretty much the same boat as your captive. Couples can gain much more from power play by leaving out the equipment at first and focusing entirely on one another. Becoming accustomed to a role as a dominant lover takes time, even if you’re used to leading sex.

Although your previous dominance probably hasn’t gone unnoticed, it has been unspoken and hasn’t been the focus of your or your lover’s attention. All lights are on you and what you’re going to do next.

Bondage toys

The popularity of bondage toys has skyrocketed over the last couple of years; the use of a blindfold stops the wearer from seeing what is happening and cuffs prevent them from moving.

This sensory deprivation – which is of course one of the best and most important aspects of bondage – can be a little unsettling for newbies.

Taking your time and moving through the gears not only reassures the restrained partner, it’s also a wonderfully tantalising way to tease them to even greater excitement.

There’s plenty of time for wheels, chains and dungeons once you’ve got the basics down to a science.

What does it mean to be a submissive?

The position of the ‘submissive lover’ is one of trust and learning, of giving away the reins to your mind and body and allowing your lover to take them fully. Your experiences will depend entirely on your partner and how they choose to embrace your submissiveness, but this isn’t to say that you will cease to have a voice.

A submissive lover should always expect a level of balance and to be able to guide sex within the boundaries of their own desires without pressure to exceed them. Many people with sexually submissive desires have concerns about the effect it may have on their day-to-day living.

By allowing the reins to be taken, will they somehow lose their dominance in other aspects of their lives? Will it affect their ability to assert dominance in a working role or a paternal/maternal role? The answer in short is no, not unless you’re looking for a complete lifestyle change and seek to implement one. We have a conscious choice to act and by submitting to your lover in the bedroom, you will not find this choice has been invalidated. It is in fact incredibly common for confident and socially dominant individuals to act on their sexually submissive fantasies.

By taking a sexually submissive role, you are not giving your lover carte blanche to use you in any way they see fit. There are sexual games which focus around one partner being at the beck and call of the other, but these are usually short-lived scenarios. There are couples that choose to live in a 24/7 dominant/submissive (D/S) relationship, but just because you have identified submissive desires within yourself, it does not mean that this is where your relationship is heading.

If you feel like your partner is taking advantage of your submissiveness by making you spring clean the house, do the gardening, defrost the freezer and walk the dog before you get yours, then feel free to tell them where to go. You get to set the boundaries of your sexual play just as much as they do, submissive or not and if you’re unhappy with any part of play then raising the issue is a must.

Your relationship may develop into a 24/7 D/S arrangement, but it won’t be without you wanting the same. On a side note, it’s worth remembering that sex slave games are fun and can really heighten your experiences. Being made to sing for your supper can be an arousing act, if you’re supervised in the right ways, so don’t fly off the handle immediately if your partner suggest this as a role-playing game.

BDSM terms

Informed consent by two individuals is known as SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) or RACK (Risk-aware Consensual Kink), and it’s common practice for lovers who indulge in regular BDSM acts to introduce a ‘safe word’, which when spoken ensures that the current act stops immediately if things start to get out of hand. It can be a word unrelated to sex, such as ‘Lamppost’ or ‘Twiglet’ for example, just as long as you both agree that your chosen safety word means everything must stop until the situation has been resolved.

Best sex positions for BDSM

Using handcuffs or ties. Be they silken and luxurious or plastic and fuzzy, are many people’s first introduction to bondage play.

Missionary

A basic position in bondage is one in which the submissive lies on their back with arms and legs apart and with their limbs tied to the corners of the bed. This position is perfect when the dominant is a man and the submissive is a woman, allowing for a pleasurable penetration. If the sub is a boy, the same position can be applied, but there is no need to also bind the legs, unless we want our partner completely immobilised which can be very exciting for us.

Up in Arms

The position we typically picture when we imagine sexy uses for handcuffs or restraints. Using one cuff on each wrist, the cuffs are used to tie both hands together. They can be threaded through the headboard (if you have the right kind of bed) or something else, like the banisters of a staircase, with the restrained partner lying on their back or stomach.

Up against the wall

Sometimes the sexual energy is too much to be confined to a bed, and that’s where this position comes in. Whether it’s against your bedroom wall or somewhere more exciting, letting your partner pick you up requires a great deal of trust as he supports your body completely, and allows him to show off in a macho way. Because it can get so energetic, it can also be quite tiring, so you can also be bent backwards over counters or a high table if extra help is needed.

This position puts you face to face for greater intimacy, and if you wrap your legs securely around his hips, he’ll be able to pin your arms to the wall. Even using the wall for support, this can be a pretty tiring position, and is best for a passionate quickie, or as a starting position.

Divide and Conquer

You already know that propping up your bottom during missionary positions allows for deeper access, but letting him pull you up into his lap puts yourself in a more vulnerable position, with most of your weight on your upper back and shoulders. If he has larger hands, he should be able to hold your hands to your calves, though if you’re up for it (and flexible enough to keep your legs straight) he can tie your wrists to your legs, freeing up his hands to rove all over your body. If you start to bend your legs? Well, it’s up to him to think of an appropriate punishment.

Guys, you’ll be able to watch her every gasping reaction to your movements, and be at an excellent eye level for intense dirty talk. As mentioned, this may take a bit more flexibility to keep your legs and arms spread, but they can also be moved over his shoulders if you need a break.

If you’re having a go at bondage you’re presumably looking to have a little fun exploring something that you haven’t tried before and it’s important to remember that, as with all the good stuff that goes on in the bedroom, the top priority should be exactly that: having fun. Staying relaxed, going with the flow, being respectful to your partner and being prepared for the fact that everything might not go exactly according to plan will increase your chances of a successful introduction to BDSM, adding an exciting edge to your sex life that will always keep your lover guessing.

For more expert tips on BDSM and BDSM products, come to the Coco de Mer boutique at 23 Monmouth Street, London, WC2H 9DD

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