BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. In a situation where BDSM is at play, the most important thing is consent. Consent is the only thing that differentiates BDSM from abuse; plain and simple. Communication and consent are bound together, so before any play begins make sure to have a direct, honest conversation with your partner(s) about what you want, what roles you want to explore, and what you’re both comfortable with.
Now, a few basic terms: bondage (ropes/restraints), discipline (roleplay, doms and subs, punishment and “funishment”), and sadism/masochism (pleasure gained from causing or receiving pain, respectively) are what make up BDSM. We’ll have in-depth write ups of each of these four areas as the weeks progress, but the point of this column is more to give you an idea of how to safely start exploring these areas on your own, or with partners. Some people are into a mix of the above, others into only one, and some aren’t into a single thing on the above list. Any of that is absolutely fine; there’s no compulsion or shame in being who you are and liking what you do.
When you realize you want to start exploring what kinks you may or may not have, a little research goes a long way; Simply google what you’re thinking of exploring and view a couple of webpages and articles. Get an idea of what specifically it is you’re getting into, and then when you and your partner sit down to discuss it, really make sure you’re both on board and discuss your limits. These usually take one of two forms; hard and soft limits.
Hard limits are the untouchables, the things kink-play will never touch on. For some, this may include striking the face, choking with anything but hands, not performing bondage, etc. Soft limits are a little less defined, and are trickier to deal with. For example, a soft limit for one of these writers is choking. It makes them incredibly nervous, so a little is fine, but both participants must be in constant communication with one another. Define your hard and soft limits with your partner, and most importantly, always have a safe word.
The safe word goes all the way back to that fundamental aspect of BDSM—consent. The safe word is the call out that, when used, all play stops immediately and both participants check in with each other. This is an incredibly important aspect of BDSM, and it cannot be neglected in the slightest. The safe word should be something you wouldn’t ever say during sex, (fruits and vegetables are personal favorites) that cannot be mistaken for something else, and something you won’t forget mid-act.
Another important aspect when considering venturing to the kinky side of things is aftercare. Often, being either the dominant or submissive partner, while enjoyable, can be taxing to either or both of you. Sometimes, aftercare includes cuddling, massages or a lot of deep conversation. We’re not saying you have to let your partner stay the night, but make sure to communicate beforehand as to what your partner will need after the act. Most times, a cold glass of water, a light snack and some witty banter is enough for many.
That’s about the basics, and we promise to cover more in the coming weeks. Just remember: consent is key, communicate with your partner, research your pleasure, ask about aftercare and do not neglect that safe word.