A Beginner’s Guide to Safe & Fun BDSM

I remember walking down the cobbled streets of Amsterdam, quickening my pace towards the ‘Sex Museum’ a few years ago. It was beginning to get dark and the red-light area was starting to light up. It was a bit daunting considering the cultural shift. We come from a country where entering a red-light district is nothing short of a criminal act. “Amsterdam was safe” I mumbled to myself as I entered the museum. I was truly captivated to get a glimpse into the lives of the sex workers there, quite a few things were pleasantly surprising. I especially remember walking into the BDSM room and was in awe of everything I saw. Some suspended stuff, floggers, canes, whips, clamps and so many more intriguing things that I didn’t even know about. 

Of course, I drew parallels to the only thing I knew about BDSM – ‘The red room of pain’ in 50 Shades of Grey. I remember wondering if it was as common as people say it is? I walked into the last room that was filled with ‘Post-its’ that visitors left about their sexual experiences. I remember reading one that said ‘I tried BDSM for the first time, boy I did know what I was missing out on. My sexual journey has only just begun’. Well, it got me wondering, how many of us are truly missing out on it? 

Ladies and Gentlemen, remember the first time you read the then-controversial ’50 Shades Series’, gasped with disdain but couldn’t put the book down because it was nothing like you have read before? Quite frankly, it’s a pity that for many of us, this was our first encounter with ‘BDSM’ (on paper). What’s even worse is that it irked so many of us off BDSM, that we closed our eyes to it. For others, the unrealistic, borderline abusive and non-consensual eroticism of it all did not go unnoticed. In fact, it was much criticized within the BDSM community for the misrepresentation of a topic as sensitive as this.

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If you too have wondered about the nuances of BDSM and don’t know who to ask, don’t worry, we are here to guide you.

What is BDSM exactly & what’s the big deal about it?

BDSM is short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (yeah, take a minute to read that again). BDSM gets a bad repute because people often link it to abuse, both mental and physical. People also often link the hierarchy set-up to regressive relationship dynamics. While all of this would stand true if it was ‘forced’ or ‘manipulated’, but BDSM thrives on the pillars of consent. In fact, the BDSM community strives hard to maintain the communication of ‘Consent’ as a primary factor before getting into the act. 

There is an unhindered intimacy that this sort of ‘Kink’ offers, which makes it desirable. It can be considered as letting loose, experimenting, embracing, and safely pushing the boundaries of love, intimacy, and sex. It’s not all blood, gore, hurt, and pain, it is arousal and stimulation caused by certain techniques. It entirely differs from person to person, how much they’d like to be pushed and kinked.

Let’s dive right into the details of it:

Bondage and Discipline:

The common misconception around BDSM is that it is a physical play. Like sex itself, BDSM has a lot to do with the way your mind assesses the situation. Bondage and Discipline are all about control and restraint. This could be using handcuffs, ropes, ties, and more as you explore further. For beginners, it’s best to start with cuffs made of Velcro or ties where the knots are loose and easy to get out of. Remember we’re just testing waters here. So consistently communicate with your partner, does this arouse the two of you? Some ground rules can be set out before the act itself. Discipline involves having someone who tells you what to do, directs you, someone who leads you. It can be arousing; it can be a complete shift from the mundaneness of life. ‘IF’ and only ‘IF’ you like what you are exploring. 

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Dominance and Submission:

This one is pretty self-explanatory. One takes the role of the dominant, the other of course the submissive. You can play around the boundaries of both physical and mental arousal through the sub-dom play. Roleplaying can be a part of this dynamic. In fact, contrary to popular belief, the sub-dom could have no physical pain at all. It could be all about mental restraint. For instance, the sub has to be a certain position the Dom wishes for as long as the Dom intends. This dynamic in itself arouses the submissive as well as the dominant. The feeling of ‘being controlled’ and ‘controlling’ plays out differently for different people. Edging (Holding out the orgasm even at heightened sexual arousal’ also is a part of the act. If you are wary of going into physical stimulation in the dom-sub dynamic, you could start slow with this. Reminder: CONSENT IS EVERYTHING!

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Sadism and Masochism:

The pleasure in pain! A Masochist enjoys receiving pain, which translates into sexual arousal, whereas the sadist derives pleasure from inflicting pain. This may sound like it’s ripped out of the book of an emotional abuser, but it’s exactly the opposite actually. Biting your partner’s butt, biting lips, pinching your partner’s nipples are fairly common occurrences during foreplay, right? It’s not done with the intention to punish, but as a form of heightened sexual arousal. In the Sado-masochism dynamic, communication is key, and boundary setting mandatory. This an energy powerplay, done with complete consent. The partners don’t assume one another’s energy or likes and dislikes but communicate it seamlessly throughout. This is a collaborative, sexual, and pleasure-oriented tool for those who enjoy it. Reminder: CONSENT IS EVERYTHING!

The Do’s and Don’ts for beginners :

Fix Up your safe words: Have ‘Offbeat’ safe words, something that wouldn’t normally come up in sexual conversations, to steer clear of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Safety is a priority. 

No drinking: As a beginner, the lines being blurry is not something you can afford with BDSM. Don’t take the risk, if one of you is drunk or both, don’t do it.  

Aftercare: Just like foreplay the conversation you have after the experience is just as much a part of sex as the acts themselves. This conversation is often known as  “aftercare” and is the perfect opportunity to discuss with your partner about what they enjoyed most and what they were thinking when you, for instance, lightly bit them. 

Start Small: Don’t go all into hardcore BDSM, because you don’t know the boundaries of your body and yourself yet. Explore as you go, start small.

Communicate before the act: Well, this one is the cornerstone of BDSM. Everything needs to be well-communicated. What are your boundaries, what’s okay, what’s not? Lay it all out on the table. When in doubt – Safe Word!

Communicate during the act: While some might say it takes away from the role-playing, but as a beginner, make sure your partner feels comfortable, don’t do anything that you aren’t comfortable with. If unsure, leave if for another time, after you communicate clearly. DO NOT ASSUME.

Remember: CONSENT IS EVERYTHING.

Divya Uchil

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Divya Uchil

Divya is an aspiring pet parent with a love for all things animals. A 'Food technologist' by educational qualification, Divya quit the 'sounds interesting' job to switch into the world of writing. She loves writing about things that hold the promise of creating a change, educating the reader, and things that stir her soul. Love often finds it's way into her keyboard, but for the most part, she remains fascinated by the human brain, exploring why people are the way they are.

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