“Can you wipe out my memory when it’s over?”

My partner and I had been talking about kink and BDSM for a while. He was new to it and nervous, while I was more experienced but never pushed. He was fun-loving, open-minded, communicative, and respectful of boundaries–all of which made him an excellent candidate to try it out.

Kink is the incorporation of non-conventional practices and fantasies in one’s sexual activities (though not all kink necessarily involves sex). Kink is the now common term to mean BDSM, and 75% to 90% of self-reported kinksters practice forms of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, spanking, role-playing, exhibitionism, polyamory, clothing fetishism, and voyeurism.

A 2006 Durex survey showed that 36% of Americans have tried kink, compared to 20% in the rest of the world. Despite what some may think, studies show that kinksters do not suffer any more psychological challenges (eg. anxiety, depression, or PTSD) than the “vanilla” population. If anything, they’re more extroverted, conscientious, and adventurous.

My partner was worried about the power dynamics in BDSM; after all, agreeing to being spanked or restrained looks like submitting to the complete control and abuse of another. Particularly he wondered how he would feel seeing me enjoy pain; yet, he laughed when I smacked him (consensually) with a spatula. I had already explained the importance of communication, and the fact I was a “switch”– someone equally comfortable playing the dominant or submissive. He was quick to initiate more exploration after that.

Where to start?

Have a conversation about which parts of kink appeal to each of you. (No one should be coerced or manipulated into kink! If you want to try it but your partner does not, the rest of this article is not for you.) If you’re visual and tactile, corsets, leather, lace, and stockings may hold appeal; some items of clothing (such as collars, cuffs, blindfolds, or rope) also lend themselves to domination/submission play.

Some people may not go beyond the costumes, and that’s OK! But to go further, you absolutely need the following:

1. Consent

Same as with sex; consent, expectations, and limits for both parties should be clear before any act. It’s even more important if pain and submission are involved.

2. Boundaries

Both parties should know their partner’s limits, and work to respect their partner’s boundaries–which is to say, listening to your partner’s wishes for what they will or will not tolerate. They may not want spanking or name-calling, and those boundaries must be honored no matter how harmless the acts may seem. They could well be triggering for your partner, which brings us to the next point.

3. Safety

Kink often mixes pain and pleasure, but it’s important not to do serious or long-term damage to nerves or tissue, and to be prepared for medical emergencies.

Safety also includes emotional safety–honoring your partner’s boundaries to help them feel safe, so they can relax, have fun, and continually communicate their needs during play.

You may also have heard of “safe words”, code words for “no” that either partner can use to stop all activity, that will not be confused with other possible utterances.

4. Communication

Partners should absolutely continue to communicate no matter how well they may think they can read their partner. Dissociation, overwhelm, or even unseen medical or emotional issues can crop up. We don’t want our partners to have a bad time.

5. Aftercare

Cuddling and talking after intense play are a need, not a luxury! It’s not unusual for the blahs or anxiety to set in after trying something new and intense. Both partners may need assurance and feedback. This is also how intimacy, communication and trust are built, and will help set the stage for your next session, if both wish it.

Stay safe and have fun!

References:

Aswell, S. (2019, October 10). 1 in 5 of Your Friends Is Getting Kinky — Should You Be Too?Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/kinky-sex-bdsm#benefits-of-kinky-sex

Berliet, M. (2020, March 16). The Truth About BDSM: America May Be a Lot Kinkier Than You Think. Pacific Standard. https://psmag.com/social-justice/truth-bdsm-america-may-lot-kinkier-think-73054

Eveleth, R. (2014, February 10). Americans Are More Into BDSM Than The Rest of the World. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/americans-are-more-bdsm-rest-world-180949703/

Taylor, E. (2019, November 29). How to Make Healthy Sexual Boundaries — and Keep Them. Allure. https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-make-sexual-boundaries

What Is Kink? (2019, January 22). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sex-sexuality-and-romance/201901/what-is-kink

About Raine M

Raine calls herself an unabashed hedonist. She enjoys safe exploration and journaling, and also insists on hands-on research.