fbpx The 10 Commandments of BDSM

Sex - Exploration | February 10, 2021, 6:30 CST

The 10 Commandments of BDSM

There’s no reason for sex to be routine or boring. Perhaps all you need is a new direction.
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Photography by David Heisler

In your libidinous but largely abstinent adolescence, you probably never imagined that sex could ever get old. Two naked people, maybe more, touching each other. What more could you ever want?

Sadly, the more experience you get under your belt (literally), the more the novelty begins to fade. Fortunately, human sexuality—in all its wonder and weirdness—is an endless mine of fun and frolic, begging to be explored.

Here’s a suggestion: If your sex life with your long-term partner has become a little too routine and your consumption of romance novels during COVID-19 has you ready to experiment, you might want to check out BDSM. Or maybe you’ve always been a kinkster at heart?

Before you jump into the deep end, though, read through our list of ground rules for BDSM, a combination acronym for bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism.

1. Do your research

Depictions of BDSM in porn and pop culture are often rife with problematic power dynamics, risky activities and less-than-stellar communication. If you just act out what you’ve seen on screen, you and/or your partner(s) could get hurt physically, psychologically or emotionally. To make sure everyone involved has a good time, you’re going to want to read up beforehand.

Educational books, videos and websites are legion. A few to check out, in particular, are The New Topping Book, The New Bottoming Book and kinklovers.com.

You can check your favorite social media sites and forums for discussions and threads on the subject of BDSM. Some of the most reliable knowledge you can get will be from other participants’ firsthand experiences.

2. Initiate a discussion

As tempted as you might be to kick off your BDSM exploration in the heat of the moment, have the initial discussion outside of the bedroom. It doesn’t have to be a “big, serious conversation,” though.

An easy way to start is by sharing a fantasy of yours. For example, you might say, “I think it would be really hot if I blindfolded you.” It’s OK to start small. Afterward, invite your partner to share a fantasy or two.

If you’re on the bashful side, try Mojo Upgrade, a questionnaire that helps you and your partner identify shared kinks.

3. No kink-shaming allowed

Over the course of the conversation, your partner might mention some fantasies that don’t excite you, or vice versa. If this happens, neither partner should react in a way that could make the other feel bad—no laughing and definitely no expressions of disgust.

It can take a lot of vulnerability to open up about a fantasy, and if someone feels judged, embarrassed or shamed in response, they will almost certainly be hurt. And good luck getting your partner interested in resuming the conversation about anything kinky in the future.

4. Negotiate before the scene begins

Before any “scene” (a common term for a BDSM session), you’ll need to agree on exactly what is going to go down. Talk about what you’re interested in, what’s off the table and any other information you feel your partner should know.

Agreeing to boundaries beforehand will help prevent issues from occurring during your scene, and, as a bonus, all that spicy talk can help crank up the anticipation.

5. Come up with a safe word

Even if you establish limits beforehand, a scene may get a little too intense at times. During those situations, you’ll want a safe word, something you or your partner can say to call an immediate timeout.

Try not to choose a word that might come up naturally during your scene, so you can avoid unnecessary interruptions. When in doubt, you can always go with the ever-popular stoplight system: green means go, yellow means slow down, red means stop.

6. Start slow

When you’re trying things out for the first time, always begin slowly. If you want to dial it up a notch, let your partner know, and they—or both of you jointly—can gently increase the intensity, provided they’re on board as well.

Not only does this help prevent you from pushing past each other’s limits, it also serves as a sexy buildup. When done right, this will put you solidly into “The Price Is Right” territory: getting as close to your limit as possible without going over it.

7. Play it safe

Horniness mixed with ignorance is a recipe for danger, so be sure to read up on some basic safety practices before you dive into BDSM. Even if you’re not engaging in activities that are inherently high risk, like breath play or electrical play, you can hurt yourself or your partner if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Heed these words of advice:

  • Don’t play while intoxicated.
  • When engaging in bondage, be cautious of the tightness and placement of the restraints, due to the risk of permanent nerve damage, and keep scissors nearby to cut them in an emergency.
  • Never leave a bound person alone; nobody wants to relive a scenario like in the movie “Gerald’s Game.”
  • Use body-safe candles for wax play to reduce the risk of burns.
  • Be cautious of easily injured areas during impact play.
  • Start small and slow for anal play, and only use toys with a flared base.

This list is far from all-inclusive. Depending on your play, make sure you do specific additional research.

8. Speak up for yourself

In any healthy BDSM dynamic, the submissive/bottom should be the one who has the ultimate say in what their dominant/top does to them and to what degree. But for this to really work, subs need to clearly express themselves.

If you feel any pain or discomfort, call timeout with your safe word and let your dom know what you’re experiencing. Don’t worry about killing the mood. Any good dom will care more about their sub’s well-being than their own sexual gratification.

Of course, doms should also let their partner know if they ever feel they’re being pushed too far. Safe words work for both parties.

9. Check in as needed

In “Spider-Man,” when Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility,” he could well have been giving him wonderful advice for his future in the world of BDSM.

If you’re the dominant partner, your sub has placed their safety and comfort in your hands. Make sure to keep checking in with your submissive when you sense they need it. Beyond just listening for the safe word, keep an eye on their body language and other nonverbal cues. If anything seems off, take a break and check in.

Again, the reverse also applies. If a sub notices something off with their dom, they should feel free to address it.

10. Practice aftercare

Even the most enjoyable BDSM play sessions can be draining, hence, the need for aftercare.

During the cooldown period after a scene ends, both you and your partner can address your physical and emotional needs. Let each other know how you prefer to wind down, whether that includes cuddling, rest, a water break or playing Coldplay songs on repeat.

The most important advice is to communicate. Let your partner know that even though the scene has ended, the fantasy is over, you’re still paying attention to the original relationship.

The world of BDSM is vast, and it can seem intimidating to the beginner. After all, there are so many different kinks, safety tips and rules of etiquette to keep in mind. But don’t let the learning curve scare you. Just put in a little work now, and before you know it, you’ll be kinking it up with the best of them.