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A Guide For Beginners, Because The Most Important Thing You Do Is Probably Not What You Think
BDSM means different things to different people. Some may be pretty sure they aren’t into it, while many of us can’t help but be really curious. But what do you need to know if you’re new to BDSM? Like open relationship, kink is a term that covers a variety of activities and forms of sexual expression.
“It is a catch-all word for sexual practices and interests that are outside the mainstream — from role play to dominance and submission, a vast array of fetishes, and sadism and masochism,” says Patricia Johnson, co-author of Partners in Passion, Great Sex Made Simple, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality. We’ll explore some of the terminology of the kink world in more depth a little later, but at the outset, it’s important to take note of this diversity because outsiders often think of kink in limited and perhaps somewhat sensational terms. You may already have certain fantasies that you want to explore. If that’s the case, you can do research online or consult one of the ever-growing number of BDSM/kink-centric books that are available, says Johnson. You can also take classes online at kinkacademy.com.
When starting to explore BDSM, remember that there’s no need to rush to create your own “Red Room of Pain” a la 50 Shades! “To begin, you might simply try being blindfolded and let your partner tickle you with a feather, or lightly stroke your skin with a whipper. If that turns you on, move towards slightly racier bondage play, like binding wrists with a silk tie or handcuffs, a massage candle being dripped on your skin, or exploring the sensation of playful spanking,” says sex expert and Booty Parlor founder Dana Myers.
If you really want to take your new venture into BDSM seriously, come up with safe words for your sexy session. Safe words should be used as a way to say let’s pause, or stop. This will allow you to feel safe and have some control during this new experience. “Just as Anastasia and Christian discussed her Hard and Soft Limits, you want communicate with your partner before you bring any BDSM into the bedroom. Discuss who’s going to play the dominant and submissive roles, and be clear about what you’re willing to try and what’s simply too far outside of your comfort zone. Having this talk will strengthen your communication, build intimacy, and create a strong sense of trust so that you can let go of your inhibitions and explore some kinkier sex play safely and comfortably in your relationship,” says Myers.
Here’s what else you need to know.
1. Avoid shiny object syndrome.
That is to say, go slow and take your time, says erotic coach and sex educator Dawn Serra. BDSM is a wide network of countless activities. “From spanking and bondage to Dominance, needle play, and beyond, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you first begin exploring this new world. At first it can feel like you’re a 5-year-old let loose in a candy store. Many people who are brand new to BDSM immediately want to try all the things and end up over-indulging,” says Serra. Take it slow, go in knowing there will be endless temptations, and have fun in a smart way. 2. Consent, consent, and did we mention consent? If you don’t know the basics of consent, you MUST start there, says Serra. “All BDSM is based on this very important concept. Skipping this means you risk doing significant harm to others and to themselves. Oh Joy Sex Toy has a great infographic on consent,” says Serra. Just remember, consent must be enthusiastic, on-going, informed, and voluntary. Which is to say it’s a fully engaged, un-coerced, un-manipulated yes.
2. Have fun.
You are probably going to feel silly or awkward the first few times you try to tie a fancy knot or command someone to their knees. “You’re going to make mistakes. BDSM is all about having fun and exploring new parts of desire and fantasies,” says Serra. Keep it all in the spirit of adventure. Also remember that many BDSM activities are dangerous, so find a trusted educator (this is not necessarily the most popular, vocal, or charismatic person in your local BDSM community, either) and enlist their help, suggests Serra.
3. Determine your role
Remember that if you’re doing power play (Dominance and submission or Master and slave or Sadist and masochist), both of you have equal power when you negotiate the activity ahead of time, says Serra. “Everyone has an equal say as you decide on the framework for how things will unfold, especially in the beginning. As you get better at negotiating a scene, you’ll learn how to make it endlessly sexy and even an important part of your foreplay,” Serra says.
4. Safe words are critical
Some people like simple colors like red (stop immediately, no questions asked), yellow (I’m uncomfortable or reaching my limit or need to slow down), and green (keep going!). Other people like plain language — stop, I’m OK, etc. Just remember that any kind of “I’m unsure” or “I don’t know” in a scene is equivalent to a stop. Some people come up with really usual words for use in their scene, but just remember — if you are in a highly intense scene where it’s difficult to think or form words, simple is usually best, says Serra.
5. Know your boundaries
Just because you are doing BDSM in the bedroom doesn’t mean you need to give up control outside of the bedroom, says Cassie Fuller from Touch Of Flavor. “Some people are not interested in anything more than using BDSM as a way to spice up sex and that’s fine. In fact, most people don’t have a Master/slave style relationship and just like to have a little kinky sex. You and your partner should understand what the other is looking for and respect each other’s boundaries,” says Fuller.
6. Always be honest
Honesty is the most important aspect to BDSM. ”Your partner(s) need to know basic information about you such as past experiences, health concerns, emotional triggers, and turn-offs. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind-reader and to instinctively knows your needs, wants, and limits. If the person that you are thinking about engaging in BDSM activities with doesn’t ask you these things, make sure you speak up and tell them,” says Fuller.