Turned on by the idea of bondage for beginners? 9 simple tips for giving it a go tonight

Thinking about giving bondage a try? Here are your need-to-knows...

Bondage for beginners: A woman in pants
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Googling "bondage for beginners" and thinking about giving tying-up-and-teasing with your partner a go? Then you’re definitely not alone. One YouGov poll found that 12,727,272 Brits have been tied up for sex and that Penrith in Cumbria had the highest number of sales of BDSM equipment in the UK per capita. Who knew?

Yep, while some couples are committed to finding the best sex toys, others opt for bondage as a way of spicing things up in the bedroom. 

It's far from a new phenomenon - bondage has been a fixture of erotic novels and art for centuries - from Rembrandt’s Andromeda Chained to the Rocks in 1630, through to the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, which made both jiggle balls and bondage mainstream back in 2013.

In fact, a staggering 150 million copies of the Fifty Shades trilogy sold worldwide between 2015 and 2017, allowing countless women to indulge in sexual fantasies about BDSM that they might not otherwise have owned up to. Suddenly, S&M was everywhere. In fact, the movie made it so popular sales of the spreader bar sex toy sold out after Fifty Shades Darker hit cinemas and viewers witnessed that erotic scene between Christian and Ana.

But why is bondage so alluring? Well, a variety of reasons. Play-struggling against restraints can build an exciting adrenaline rush while being blindfolded heightens the senses in the rest of the body. Think of all the times you’ve closed your eyes during a massage – feel good, right?

You and your partner have likely tried one of the best sex toys for couples. But how do you introduce something that conjures up images of leather fetish gear, gimp masks, sex chairs and twisted rope into your sex lives? Keep reading for our guide to bondage for beginners, with comments from a handful of sex experts. Don't miss our guides to the best sex toys on Amazon, best sex toys for beginners, and best anal sex toys, while you're here. 

Bondage for beginners: your guide

What is bondage?

In short, the act of being tied up or restrained during sex. It normally involves one partner taking more control in the sexual scenario.

BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism, with the bondage part referring to consensually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory (tactile) stimulation.

Speaking to TIME magazine, certified sex therapist Dr. Stephanie Hunter Jones explains that BDSM is an expression of the uniqueness of your sexuality.

Bondage for beginners: A product shot of bondage straps

Some of the harnesses and restraints used during bondage

What if my partner has tried bondage but I haven’t?

So, your partner has tried bondage but you haven't, yet you're still keen to give it a go. Fear not - this is quite common and can be easily navigated. "Ask them to explain what they’ve tried and what they haven’t, plus why they liked it," recommends Lovehoney’s bondage expert Jess Wilde

If neither of you has tried it but you're interested in giving it a go, communication is still key, she goes on. "If you’re the one who is interested in fetish play, it’s important to communicate that you don’t need this to get off – it’s just an enhancement, like having ketchup with chips," she shares. 

While the expert encourages everyone to be open-minded and try everything once or twice, remember if it doesn't work for you, that's okay, too. "You must be prepared for your partner to say, "I’m not into it." Mutual respect comes into all aspects of a relationship, including bondage for beginners."

5 best sex toys for bondage newbies

Toys play a large part in most bondage fantasies, with props like whips, rope, restraints, flaggers and crops helping to bring the fantasy to life for many.

Remember, as above, to discuss with your partner pre-investing to get a feel for what might turn them on and what will be a no.

When you've discussed your mutual preferences, you're good to go. Sites like Ann Summers and Lovehoney offer a wide range of products for couples looking to explore bondage, and their products are delivered in discreet packaging. No knowing looks from the postman, here.

Satin and Leather Spanking Paddle - £16.99, Lovehoney

Satin and Leather Spanking Paddle - £16.99, Lovehoney

Image

Bondage Boutique Black Skip a Beat Silicone Heart Riding Crop - £12.99, Lovehoney

Bondage Boutique Black Rose Beginner's Flogger - £19.99, Lovehoney

Bondage Boutique Black Rose Beginner's Flogger - £19.99, Lovehoney

Silky Bondage Restraints - £16.99 for four, Lovehoney

Silky Bondage Restraints - £16.99 for four, Lovehoney

Bondage Boutique Red Hot Passion Bedroom Bondage Kit - £39.99 for six pieces, Lovehoney

Bondage Boutique Red Hot Passion Bedroom Bondage Kit - £39.99 for six pieces, Lovehoney

5 tips for trying bondage, according to top experts

1. Don't try it with strangers

First things first: Experts recommend that you don’t embark on your first bondage experience with a near stranger. Being comfortable with your partner is important, as is being able to trust and communicate your wants, needs, and boundaries with them. 

PSA: brand new Tinder dates are out, as is anyone you've just met online – even if you did find them through the very best dating sites the internet has to offer.

2. Drop some hints first

Many people are put off experimenting with bondage for beginners because they don’t know how to broach the subject with their partner. This is something that Wilde is used to: "Never mind not knowing what to buy, a lot of our customers don’t necessarily know how to say to their partner, "Oh hey, honey, can you tie me up and spank me tonight?." It’s not the easiest thing to throw out there."

She recommends getting hold of some erotic fiction or maybe a DVD to watch in the comfort of your own home. "That’s the very first step before you even look at products. Plant the seed in your partner’s mind that it might be something you want to try. Getting them used to the idea might change their perspective a little bit."

Our guides to how to be intimate and how to talk to your partner about a fetish might help.

3. Don’t be put off by misconceptions about bondage

Bondage has something of a reputation, but it can actually be a very romantic way of enhancing a relationship. According to Wilde, "The world of bondage is like the world of curries. When you say "bondage" to someone, they think "whips and chains and scary stuff." In the same way, when you say "curry" to someone then they might think, "Oh my god, that’s hot and spicy and I can’t stand spicy food – it’s vindaloo.""

And yes, that does exist, but there’s still korma. Bondage for beginners is like the Korma of fetish play. Or to put it in best vibrators speak, it's like a bullet – entry-level, she goes on. There’s no reason why when you’re in a curry house, anyone’s going to force you to have a vindaloo. If you want to stick to Korma, that’s fine.

Just because you’ve tried something once, that doesn’t mean you have to keep trying if you don’t like it – as she explains, no one’s going to make you eat a second korma.

4. Trust and communication is key

Bondage for beginners means starting slowly and trying it with someone you trust. Bedroom games, like the best sex games, could be a good place to start as they require and imply a surrender of control by the restrained partner to the active partner. 

Do note: Wilde says that it’s important to establish a safety word before you begin. "‘It means everyone knows that there’s complete trust in the scenario, and you know that just saying one word will stop play immediately." Sure, the concept of a safety word can be daunting, be she assures it makes for the best experience all around.

Why? Well, "Some people who are complete novices might think, “If I need a safety word, this must be some really scary play”, but it isn’t. Safe words allow you to fully relax into the situation knowing that you can stop at any time without confusion."

This is where bondage and fetish play can even build a relationship and create trust. "You’re giving yourself to your partner," says Wilde. "It’s not just about sensation – it can be quite romantic." Relationship counsellor Cat Williams agrees: "The couples that stay together in the most enriching relationships are the ones that can be really honest. If you feel secure enough to say, "Let’s explore what we really love," you're on the right track." 

5. Choose your a position carefully

When couples are broaching the subject of bondage, they often feel pressure to label themselves as either the submissive or the dominant partner.

Wilde says that for first-timers, this is irrelevant. "A lot of people think, “I’ve got to pick one”, or “I’m the guy so I have to go on top”. Throughout experimentation, you might well find that you favour one over the other, or quite dramatically hate being a sub. But when we’re talking about absolute beginners and novices, I would say sample both at the beginning."

Did you know? There’s a third category entirely, known as a "switch." The clue is in the name really - it describes the people who like to switch between the two positions depending on their mood and partner. "In one relationship they might always be a sub, or Saturday they’re a sub, and Sunday they’re a dom," shares Wilde.

6. Be the first to jump in

According to Wilde, the best way to make something non-intimidating is to volunteer to do it first.

"I might say, "I've got this really great idea. I’m going to wear a blindfold tonight and I'd love you to massage me while I’m wearing it." Once you’ve done it, tell them how great it was. It’s almost reverse psychology. Show them what a great time you had while you were tied up, or whilst you had the blindfold on, and more often than not, they’ll be gagging to try it later."

7. Keep it simple

When it comes to bondage for beginners essentials, Wilde recommends starting out simple. Sure, a sex position like pegging may be the end goal, but you'll need to warm up to it. "Don’t start bringing in loads of tools – that can be intimidating, or overcomplicate things and become more of a distraction than an enhancement.’" 

This is why blindfolds are so handy - most of us have one or something that can be used as one at home. "As soon as you block off someone’s vision it heightens all of their other responses, so they’re going to become really sensitive to touch. Bondage is this idea of heightening both psychological and physiological response and playing with what your body already does. If you’re slipping a blindfold onto your partner and massaging them, they’re going to be really sensitive to every touch and get more pleasure from the simplest of things. Plus blindfolds are non-intimidating because you can usually get them in satiny materials."

Wilde says that a lot of Lovehoney customers have been put off exploring bondage for beginners by the materials usually associated with it. "People conjure up this idea of leather and chains and metal and spikes, which can be quite off-putting. What’s changed over the last few years is that we’ve got a lot more gear that appeals to people who want to keep things soft and sensual, so it feels more like lingerie. It’s not about being hard and intimidating."

She adds that a blindfold can also be a confidence boost. "You might be in control for the first time, which can be daunting.  Covering your partner’s eyes gives you the freedom to do whatever you want without worrying what your partner is seeing." Don't have a blindfold? A silk scarf, shirt tie or pair of tights will do.

Bottom line? "It's all about exploring the way things feel and listening to each other’s body language. The possibilities are endless." 

8. Play it hot and cold

Once you want to explore a little further, there are things around the house you can use. "Ice cubes are brilliant for temperature play," says Wilde, "and you don’t need to buy anything except an ice cube tray. Warm honey is also great, and you’ve probably got it in your kitchen cupboard already, so you don’t need to run out and start buying loads of sex toys."

That's right - you can give bondage for beginners a go without buying anything at all. "Knowing what to buy can be daunting enough as it is," shares the expert.

9. Experiment with bondage restraints and sex knots

That said, when you’re ready to move into more advanced bondage territory, it's time to get the toys out.

Test the water with restraint by holding your partner's arms where you want them. "If you’re on top, try pinning their arms to the mattress, and if they like that, you’re likely ready to take it to the next level," says Wilde.

‘Suggest something like, "Let’s do this again but maybe we’ll use handcuffs this time, and then my hands are free to do other stuff to you while your hands are above your head," It’s the same with spanking – just use your hands to explore and see if you like where you’re going psychologically with your erotic play."

When it comes to tying your partner up, Wilde recommends against using a shirt tie: "We get a lot of people who are trying bondage for the first time and will rummage around in their drawers and go, "Oh we can use this stocking or shirt tie." Although both those items are great for a blindfold, they’re not ideal for actually tying someone up for the first time, simply because you could tie a knot that someone might struggle to get out of."

No one wants to be panicking because they can’t undo a knot in a tie, and with things like tights that have nylon in them and are stretchy, and can get tighter whilst it’s tied – it’s a recipe for disaster.

Wilde advises steering clear of knots and opting for Velcro instead:"‘You can pull and twist and tug and it won’t come free, but your partner can pull you out of it in a snap if they need to. The same goes for anything with an easy-release clip – something that’s easy to undo in the heat of the moment. Chances are that people won’t ever want to take advantage of that benefit, but knowing it’s there can help you relax and enjoy the situation more."

If you really fancy using rope, sexpert Girl On the Net recommends the SexToys site. "They have bondage rope for less than a tenner and it works really well. Just make sure you practice the knots you want to use, know how to undo them quickly, and make sure you have some safety scissors on standby."

For her, bondage means being able to get into sex positions you couldn’t otherwise. "My favourite thing is when he uses the rope to tie my ankles together, and then pulls them back over my head. Then he loops the ropes around the bedposts and pulls on it while we're having sex. It gives him something to grip onto and means I can stay in that position for much longer without getting cramp. It also gives super-deep penetration, too." (Read our guide to the best sex positions, while you're here).

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by products? Don’t take it too seriously – respect each other and take each other seriously, but have fun, advises Wilde. "It's about taking baby steps. No one’s expecting you to suddenly own a dungeon or a crucifix."

Now you've read our complete guide to bondage for beginners, most important of all: have fun.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.