With the release of the third Fifty Shades of Grey film, many of you might be eager to try your hand at some whips and chains, a la Christian and Anastasia. But before you go diving into the BDSM scene headfirst, here are a few tips to ensure that your foray into bondage is safe, sane, and most importantly, consensual.

Talk About BDSM Rules

As with any healthy adult relationship, good communication is key here. Before you and your partner embark on BDSM play, the two of you need to have a sit down. Discuss what it is you want, and even pull out a piece of paper and take notes. You need some guidelines that you can both refer to and to agree to what you’re willing to try, what you don’t want to do, and any maybes you both might have. We call this discussing your limits. Firm ‘No’s are known as Hard Limits, ‘Maybe’s are called Soft limits. But remember –if you’re unsure about something, make your uncertainty known. You both need to be 100% on board as BDSM is about trust. 

Research

When you’ve established your baseline rules, don’t feel you have to jump right into it. Now that you know what you and your partner are wanting to try, crack open your browser and do some research. I highly recommend this blog post by Debra Macleod. She gives some great tips that allow you to dip your toes in the water without getting soaked.

For more intensive research, ask questions on the FetLife Message Boards. These can prove to be a great BDSM resource with people who are in the inner circle. You can also look for local workshops, and maybe find a ‘munch’ nearby (a Munch is a vanilla meet up for people who live the BDSM lifestyle, but the meet ups are more for asking questions and networking).

Start Small

A blindfold is such a simple thing, but taking away one of you or your partner’s senses will enhance the others. You could also buy a simple pair of bondage cuffs (not handcuffs, see BDSM tips below). Simple restraint of the wrists, either alone or with a blindfold, is a good starting point.

If you want to try more, add a feather to your repertoire, or maybe some ice for sensation-play. If you or your partner are interested in trying out impact play, start with a spanking. Many times that’s more than enough to excite you both, and you can easily judge how light or how hard your strikes are – something that can be difficult with a paddle or a flogger.

Safe Words and the Stoplight System

For beginners it’s best to avoid a safe word and use the stoplight system throughout any type of play. ‘Green’ means continue, of course, ‘Red’ means stop, and ‘Yellow’ means ease up, or check in on how either of you are feeling. Even the person who is topping can call out red or yellow if they feel uncomfortable at any point. Lastly, always listen to your partner. Do not ever continue play if red is called, and stop and check in if yellow is called.

Once you get more experienced in BDSM play, and have done more research, then safe words may be used instead of the stoplight system. Always make sure you pick a word (or words) that won’t accidentally be called out in the heat of the moment. And it’s also recommended that you ask the person bottoming what their safe word is regularly through play, to make sure they are still cognizant enough to USE it if they need to. Being the top or dominant partner holds a lot of responsibility, and the bottom or submissive partner needs to feel as if they can call a halt or a slowing down of all play if they need to.

As you continue to spice up your BDSM play, make sure you also do your research. If you find that either of you aren’t really into something, don’t feel bad or try to force anyone into doing anything not within your comfort zones. Also keep in mind that bondage might not be the right fit for you. But if it is – Happy Playing!

More BDSM Tips:

  • Handcuffs are not good for beginners – not even furry ones. If used improperly, one can actually damage the nerves in the wrists. Instead, invest in a nice set of padded bondage cuffs. You don’t have to spend lots of money on them, but you definitely want to make sure that whoever is going to be wearing them is comfortable.
  • If you or your partner find that impact-play (for example, spanking) is enjoyable, you could invest in a nice paddle that has fur or velvet on one side. The texture of either is wonderful, and you could choose to run the fur or velvet over your lover’s skin for titillating sensation, or use it soothe after a form paddling. When using a paddle or flogger, however, I do recommend that you test it against your leg so you know what it feels like, and how much force to use. Also, stay away from the spine and the lower back where the kidneys are to avoid injuring your partner in a not-fun way.
  • Nipple stimulation is a lot of fun. There is a huge variety of clips, clamps, and suckers on the market for you and your partner to try. Clips (also commonly called pincher clamps) employ next to no pressure, and many have beautiful jewels and other embellishments attached. If you and your lover decide that you want something that has a former grasp, adjustable clamps are a great option. Just make sure that they have rubber grips, and that they actually open widely enough if your partner’s nipples are on the larger side. Vacuum suckers are also a wonderful alternative to clamps. The sensation is similar, and leave the nipple highly sensitized, but they won’t leave your lover’s nipples sore after they’re removed.
  • Rope is a bit more advanced, but even the tying process can be highly erotic. If this is something you and your lover want to try, I highly suggest finding tutorials on tying online. Also, Bondage Basics: Naughty Knots and Risque Restraints by Lord Morpheous is a gorgeously-illustrated, easily readable guide that offers up a bit of history, step-by-step guides to several common (and not-so common) ties, and different types of ropes used in this art. Also, as I had mentioned above, check out FetLife for rope workshops available by you. Think of these workshops like classes; the people running these events are highly trained, and both you and your partner will be able to practice your rope-tying in a safe, relaxed environment under the watchful eye of someone who knows what they’re doing.

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