Want to spice things up a bit in the bedroom? Been naughty and feel in need of punishment? Exploring the exciting world of BDSM might be just what you need to put some serious zing in your sex life.

Read on to find out how you can get in touch with your inner bad girl or boy!

What is BDSM?

BDSM stands for Bondage Discipline/ Sadomasochism with other words occasionally being swapped in place: Domination, Submission, and so on.

Basically, it is a collection of sexual practices or fetishes that use control, pain, and restraints in order for both partners to achieve satisfaction.

The BDSM world is permissive and very welcoming, allowing under its umbrella almost anyone with a sexual kink that might be described as being ‘alternative’ or otherwise too much for ‘vanilla’ society.

Conventional society used to frown upon BDSM acts, calling them perversions. Nowadays, we are more accepting of sexual difference, and the occasional mention of a little light bondage or spanking barely even raises an eyebrow anymore!

A Brief History of BDSM

Records of BDSM tendencies go back hundreds of years – centuries, even – and the practices go back to when humans began having sex for fun (as opposed to procreation! Not that procreating can’t be fun too…)

Ancient Romans and ancient Greeks had terms for sexual activities that include bondage and spanking, with an illustrated advert for a female dominant’s services carefully picked out on the wall of a brothel in Pompeii, along with a pictorial menu-style list of other available – ahem – products and services!

The Kama Sutra, that ancient Indian text which is best known for its advice on the multitude of possible sexual positions but which is actually a guide book to living a complete and full life out of bed as well as it in, offers advice on four different types of spanking – obviously being naughty is a very human trait!

Many sexual practises were ignored by the medical and scientific community for centuries, with the generally accepted belief that what consenting adults get up to is their own business.

But in the late 1800s, psychiatry began to hold its own as a medical discipline in its own right, and practises like homosexuality and some BDSM preferences were categorised as mental illnesses, deficiencies, or degeneracy in one way or another.

This is because some BDSM practises can approach fairly close to self-harm, and uncomprehending family members or close friends can worry, not understanding the distinction. However, with sexual openness now coming to the forefront, moves are afoot to remove any safely practiced consensual BDSM act from treatment guides, as they are personal choices, and not symptoms of underlying conditions as previously believed.

Japan has a rich history in BDSM, with bondage sessions often using silk ropes and creating beautiful tableaux in the playing out of a session. The practise arose sometime between the 1600s and 1860s (the late Edo period) and is called Kinbaku, which translates to ‘tight bindings’.

Kinbaku refers to the erotic art of tying a partner up with intricate knots. Often thin string is used, and many knots are tied, to create an aesthetic effect. Who would have ever thought that those macramé and crochet lessons would come in quite so handy, eh?

Other cultures have elements of BDSM – especially bondage and spanking, sometimes well-hidden from public consumption, but the Western world, with its liberal tolerance of sexual difference, has fully embraced it, allowing safe spaces and clubs (sometimes called dungeons) to spring up, not exactly well-advertised, but there for those who know where to look or who to ask…

Why is BDSM So Popular?

bdsm couple

To someone who does not know anything about the BDSM subculture, who is not turned on by the thought of restraint or selective pain, or any of the fetishes that are embraced within that world, it can seem slightly alarming to learn that so many people are into – even in a small way – the world of BDSM.

But it is one of the safer ways to have a sexual adventure should boredom with the plain and normal ever strike!

Because some of the activities indulged in can be dangerous, there is a culture of ‘safety first’ that has permeated almost every layer of the experience. In fact, for many dungeons, the catchphrase: ‘safe, sane, consensual’, is taken as seriously as a biblical commandment.

The opportunity to try out what might be considered to be risqué behaviours in a safe and anonymous (if so desired) environment can be a big draw to people who have never thought of indulging in such things.

Of course, there are also many people who are drawn to these more extreme preferences as it is simply in their nature to be. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nor to be proud of: our desires and preferences simply are what they are.

A Statistic For The Curious:

Twelve per cent of women and up to twenty-two per cent of men reported feeling a surge of lust, sexual curiosity, or even desire at hearing of or watching sadomasochistic play unfold.

Interestingly, there is said to be a higher percentage of interest in BDSM practises within the LGBT world – although the links are tenuous and not yet confirmed by research. It is also important to note that BDSM is not a single line in the sand, and that once you have crossed it you have to always adhere to BDSM practises.

On the contrary, you can take just one element of kink, as it is called, and add it to your normal routine – or you can go the whole hog and fully immerse yourself in Fifty Shades of Wow.

But you do not have to do things that way all the time: many BDSM fans have ‘vanilla’ sex as or more often than they play.

Research into the broad arena of BDSM practises has tended so far to focus on male-female relationships, mainly because of the discrimination and even legal persecution faced by LGBT people just trying to enjoy normal relationships: no one wanted to bring down even more opprobrium onto their own heads! However, same-sex relationships are, broadly speaking, widely accepted and research into BDSM practises within the LGBT community is currently underway.

Types of BDSM

There are three main components to BDSM: bondage and discipline, sadism-masochism, and submission-domination, the latter often shortened to sub-dom.

In these practises, there is often an imbalance between the partners: one likes being tied up and/ or spanked, the other enjoys doing the tying or the spanking – but what is crucial is that the actions, and the partnership, should always be consensual and informed.

It is possible for a person to enjoy performing on both sides of the equation, being dominant on one occasion, but submissive on another – these people are known as switches, and they are fairly rare. Let us take a closer look at the BDSM world:

Bondage and Discipline:

Much as it sounds, this is when one partner enjoys being restrained and controlled, either physically or verbally, by the other. Bondage is often erotic and sensual, but the bondage session itself is often satisfying of its own right, without the need for sexual gratification to accompany it.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this, and people who are new to the practise often try it out as a form of new and exciting foreplay. Bondage, specifically, refers to the physical restraint part, and can take the form of being tied up with ropes, handcuffed, or suspended in a constrained positions.

Often there is an aesthetic element to bondage: the body must be in a particular formation, or the ropes should make an attractive design – this is seen especially in Japanese Kinbaku, where the aesthetics of the session is one of the more important elements. Discipline is a little woollier and can take place even while not in each other’s company.

The more dominant partner – the one doing the disciplining – can make demands of the other partner such as: going without underwear, wearing fetish clothing under everyday clothing, performing certain actions at certain times, all while apparently having a normal work or leisure day.

More often, though, discipline is face-to-face, and happens during a session, often combined with bondage – hence the pairing of the terms, even though they can be quite separate from each other

Sadism and Masochism:

The term is often portmanteaued to ‘sadomasochism’, and refers to the twin desires of wanting to hurt and wanting to be hurt. It must be stressed that masochists do not like just any pain, for example, suffering a broken leg or sprained wrist will not delight them any more than it would the man on the street.

No, the pain enjoyed by a masochist needs to be applied to a specific area of the body, under certain circumstances, and often needs to be inflicted by a unique instrument too.

This distinction can be hard to understand by someone who sees all pain as being unpleasant and to be avoided at all costs, but it is an important one to understand.

Likewise, there is a difference between sexual sadism and psychopathic sadism. The latter tend to have no empathy, and enjoy causing pain because they find the reaction it elicits is entertaining. In some cases, these psychopathic tendencies lead to non-consensual actions in which the causing and viewing of the partner’s pain is necessary for the sadist to become aroused – this is a criminal deviance because it is non-consensual, whilst in the BDSM world, consent is king, with safety not far behind.

The pain inflicted and enjoyed during a sadomasochistic session will usually be agreed upon beforehand. People may desire the pain to be on a certain body part, or to be inflicted with a certain weapon, and it is a real connection when the masochist and the sadist both want the same thing! Or the opposite thing? You know what I mean!

Interest in sadomasochism can occur at any age. Men interested in S&M tend to have become interested in it before the age of eighteen or so, while women tend to get into later, in their twenties.

It is often said that the first sadomasochistic experience is the best, with all subsequent sessions merely attempts to live up to that first glorious time! So if you are about to have your first S&M playtime, be sure to enjoy every minute of the experience!

Submission/ Domination:

dominatrix bdsm

This particular kink is not always sexual and is sometimes not even particularly erotic. It involves one partner controlling the other according to a set scenario, usually set out in advance before a session.

The dominated partner might have to wear the clothes the other tells them to, perform tasks – anything from the mundane, such as housework tasks, to the sensual, such as going to the shop wearing only a big coat. Of course, this could cause embarrassment to the sub, but that is part of the illicit thrill of such sessions.

There is jargon associated with the BDSM world, much of it to do with the people taking part, and the activities in which they partake. Here is a quick run-down to get you in the know:

  • Sub-Dom: as mentioned above this refers to a relationship in which one partner is controlling (dominant) and the other is meek and deferent (submissive). This is common in BDSM practises which often require one active controlling partner and one passive obedient partner for sessions to play out ideally.
  • Dom/ Top/ Dominant/ Master or Mistress: these are terms for the active participant. They often hold the responsibility for their partner’s safety, and are in charge of how the session unfolds. Either gender can be the dom or the sub, although popular pulp fiction usually has the male partner as the dom and the female as the sub.
  • Sub/ Bottom/ Submissive/ Slave: the passive partners are those who want to abdicate responsibility for a little while, allowing their partner to completely control their bodies, and even their lives, during a session. Oddly enough, often people with very high pressure, responsible day-jobs can like to be dominated in this way. This is because having someone else call all the shots can be a release for them.
  • Switches: these are people who are happy to take either role in a BDSM session. Most people have preferences one way or another, switches can play either way.
  • Dominatrix: unlike in the movies and in the trashier graphic novels and paperbacks, the word ‘dominatrix’ is seldom used in seriousness within the BDSM world. Instead, a female dominant would term herself: domme, dom (as would a male dominant), femdom or simply dominant. This is possibly because the word dominatrix has become something of a joke, used to cartoonishly describe a vampish woman who is both sexually demanding and insatiable – a far cry from the actual scene as those within the lifestyle know all too well.

BDSM Essentials

BDSM Essentials

What BDSM guide would be complete without some essentials being listed for the eager novice? A pretty poor one, obviously, so here are some essentials that you might want to think about!

Depending on what your particular kink is: bondage and discipline, sadomasochism or sub-dom, you may need certain tools or you may not need any at all.

Some sub-dom relationships use voice commands and occasional check-ins to ensure that the sub is being obedient to previously issued instructions, while some bondage or masochistic sessions might need a wide array of equipment.

Bondage gear can be very basic, using items you find around the home, such as scarves and belts, and a host of other everyday items. You might be inspired with BDSM ideas based on spaces in your home, or tools and equipment that you already have.

On the other hand, you can spend a fortune, if so desired, installing your very own dungeon in your home, lining the walls with sound-proofing and kitting it out with whips, fine chains, gags, handcuffs and the best quality ropes and restraints that money can buy.

There are ranges of clothing to be worn during sessions, items made of latex or rubber, studded or not, and some with exciting cut-outs in them to allow ease of – ahem – access.

One caveat to using your own personal items: do not use items of great sentimental value! Sometimes knots tighten unexpectedly and cannot be untied. These might have to be cut through in the end to release your partner – occasionally without much notice if the rope is tied around a vulnerable area or if it is exerting too much pressure and beginning to cause harm. Which brings us neatly to the next section which deals with:

Safety in BDSM

It is fairly common knowledge that BDSM play involves the use of a safe word upon which the uttering of, play will stop immediately. What is not so well known is that there is a whole culture behind BDSM play that works to keep participants safe while they indulge their kinks.

Safe Words

The safe word is usually a set of phrases or words with graduated meanings. The simplest set is the traffic light colours: green means ‘this is good, please continue’, amber or orange means ‘slow down’ or ‘ease up a bit’ or may simply indicate that things are progressing in a way that the partner (usually the sub) is not fully comfortable with, and red means, fairly obviously, ‘stop right now’.

Any breach of these safe words can result in the offender being denied entry to the club or can ruin an entire relationship. BDSM partnerships are very strongly built on trust and ignoring a safe word to enjoy one’s own fulfilment is an enormous no-no.

Trauma

Sometimes people have situations that cause them great distress or recall previous trauma. These events can be triggered by some BDSM play, causing what is known as a freakout or meltdown. These triggers are called ‘squicks’ and when a player is overwhelmed by one, it can be difficult to use the safe word in a timely fashion.

Body Language

For this reason, doms are encouraged to pay attention to their partner’s body language and incorporate welfare checks if their body language seems to change in any negative or withdrawing way. If you have such a scenario that might cause you to react, let your partner know in advance, so that any triggering actions can be avoided before it becomes a problem and ruins the session.

Doms should have a basic understanding of anatomy and physics, especially for situations that might border on dangerous to life. Subs tend to put all control in the hands of the doms and can even urge them to push beyond previously agreed upon boundaries. Doms must know how much further they can safely go, if at all, and be the responsible party, taking it upon themselves to say ‘no’ if necessary.

Potential Injuries

Another point to remember is that injuries and even scarring can happen during a session, depending on the activities being undertaken.

Be aware of and acknowledge this. You cannot commit to BDSM activities and expect to come out completely unmarked – so make sure you have a credible explanation to family and friends if you don’t want to come out to them about your proclivities.

Basic first aid knowledge is always useful, but will be especially so if the activities that you like can cause minor injuries that will need prompt treatment.

Top Tips for Fun!

  • Try swap dom and sub roles with each other. Even if you think you are really a sub, you might very much enjoy the feeling of power and responsibility that comes with being a dom too!
  • Do not be hesitant about entering into a long term sub-dom relationship. While research is not terribly long-lived into the subculture, there seems to be an indication that sharing an interest in a kink like BDSM can strengthen the bond between you. Of course, if you are in a long-term relationship already, and your partner is definitely not into it, you may need to quell your urges for the time being…
  • Plan the session before you play. Both say what you would like to do or have done to you, and agree on a system of safe words and get out actions – and then remember what they are!
  • Adopt a different persona for play. You might feel a bit self-conscious and silly inhabiting the sensible day-to-day person that the rest of the world sees and respects while indulging in such activities. So become someone else, whose only pursuit is pleasure! Once you get into it, you will really enjoy the experience of letting yourself go.

How to Encourage BDSM With Your Partner

bondage girl

Firstly, speak to them about your BDSM ideas! They may well have longed to try spanking, or lust to be tied up, or hanker to be told exactly what to do – it might be the easiest conversation that you have ever had!

If they are mildly interested you could broach the subject again, and ask them what would make them want to try out some things – or even what things they have always been interested in. The best route is to start small and, if they like it, build up from there, becoming more adventurous over time.

Always honour your agreement: if they use the safe word for stop, become too upset, or otherwise show that they have had enough, stop immediately and comfort them until they can resume, or leave it until another time – persisting will only reinforce whatever it is that has upset them and they will not trust you enough to try again.

There are some apps and websites that you could visit, either as a couple, or as a single looking to meet a like-minded person to play with: some of the best are www.fetish.com, KNKI, and KinkD.

Final Thoughts

So there you have a complete BDSM guide: what is BDSM, the history and terminology used, and a few tips on how to get started. If you yearn to be dominated or want to spank a willing partner, then the world of BDSM might be just the ticket. Of course, there is only one way to know if you will like it or not – and that is to try it out and see!