Sub in the City

BDSM 101: A beginner's guide

BDSM 101: A beginners guide

If you’re curious about BDSM but unsure how to get started, then this blog will talk you through some of the foundations of BDSM practices, so you and your partner can ease yourselves in safely and seductively!

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an acronym which stands for Bondage, Dominance/ Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. To break these down even further, bondage is the sexual practice of tying up or restraining a partner, and dominance/discipline is defined as having power or influence over somebody, and training them to obey rules, often using punishment to correct disobedience.

On the other hand, sadism is deriving pleasure from receiving pain or punishment, and masochism is deriving pleasure from inflicting pain or humiliation. The D/S is also used singularly to describe a Dominant/submissive relationship, however, it is important to note that BDSM is a spectrum of kink, and you don’t necessarily have to fall strictly within the Dominant/submissive binary – many people often refer to themselves as a “switch”, someone who likes to be both dominant and submissive, either with the same partner or different partners.

In fact, there are many roles one can assume, with sub-categories of types of dominants and submissives that you may fall into. If you’re unsure of where your kinks lie, you can take a test to find out what role you align with at bdsmtest.org.

Where to start with BDSM?

My first piece of advice, as always, is to forget everything you’ve seen in the media about BDSM. Switch of your TV, put down that book, because more often than not, movies and books glamorise BDSM but they also represent poor examples of BDSM practices, attitudes and values. (yes, Fifty Shades, I mean you!).

The truth is, a successful BDSM relationship is a power exchange, and you need to lay the foundations before you go charging in with whips and chains and screaming orders at your partner. What’s also important to remember is that every BDSM relationship, exchange and experience is unique, so don’t worry what everyone else is doing. Something people often tend to forget is that you both should be enjoying whatever it is your doing (even the pain and humiliation), and even if you’re a submissive, you should never do something you genuinely don’t want to do just to please your partner.

So here’s some of the main things to consider when trying out BDSM, not just for the first time, but at all times…

Understand consent and communication

The first rule of thumb with BDSM is open communication, and of course consent. Both partners must be completely comfortable with the things going on in the bedroom. Again, when I say comfortable, I mean comfortable with the act – if you’ve got this far and you thought that spanking wasn’t going to hurt that much, you may want to take a few steps back and re-evaluate your kinks.

A lot of us often feel uncomfortable simply talking about our kinks, and that is why it is so important to get this part right first, because if you are uncomfortable telling your partner all the sordid things you want to do to them, then you certainly aren’t going to be able to execute it well, either. So sit down, have a glass of wine, and discuss your fantasies, in-depth. It’s hot and it will get you both in the mood, plus you may discover certain things your partner likes that you’d never considered trying.

Discuss limits and boundaries

Once you’ve had an initial chat and you both want to explore your kinks further, you need to lay down some boundaries. One thing your partner loves may be a complete no-no for you, but that doesn’t mean all kinky hope is lost. Write down a list of some of the things you’d like to try and share them with your partner, you’d be surprised how much you agree on. You can then rank things as either soft, medium or hard limits.

Now you have an idea of where to start. Soft limits are those that both partners are comfortable with and those ranked at medium are things that you may feel unsure about but willing to try – so these are some things you can work towards together once you’ve gained a little more knowledge and experience. The hard limits don’t have to be a never say never –  I have had some hard limits gradually become medium over time, and with the right partner, but don’t feel pressured. I also have some hard limits that I know will never change, so it’s okay to be upfront and honest if something just doesn’t do it for you.

Tip: anticipation is key

You may find while experimenting with your kinky fantasies that some things just didn’t live up to the hype, and that’s perfectly normal and okay. Sometimes certain things are better left as fantasies, but you can still use this as part of play. I’ve always said that anticipation plays a huge role in a BDSM exchange, and sometimes just the thought of something is enough to get you aroused.

Dominants, this is why discussing those fantasies to begin with will really help you. Knowledge is power, and once you know how your submissive ticks, you will have them wrapped around your little finger. For example, know they hate nipple clamps? (and by hate, I mean love to hate), use that to get them to behave. Try picking a soft to medium limit that you know makes your submissive squirm and use it purely in anticipation and see the effect it has on their behaviour.

Anticipation is a key element in all sexual relations, not just BDSM. We’ve all heard of foreplay (some of us may need to understand the meaning of this more than others), but anticipation is a big part of the foreplay in a BDSM relationship. You don’t go straight in with the whips and chains, you build-up to the main event, and this really helps you both to get in the zone. For subs, this will all be a part of drifting into subspace (this is a euphoric or hypnotic type state where you’re totally focused on the present scene). This is where many subs often like to complete rituals for their dominant, such as laying out the toys they have requested, putting on/taking off the requested clothing, kneeling and waiting.

Waiting is one of the simplest and purest forms of submission. This is the time when the submissive prepares themselves for what’s to come and this state of anticipation is guaranteed to drive them wild.

Agree on a safe word

Do you really need a safe word? The answer is yes! I would only ever engage in BDSM with someone I trust completely, but it is still recommended you have a safe word just in case. I personally am confident it is unlikely I will have to use my safe word with the right person, as they will be so in tune with me that they will know how far to push my limits and when to stop, however, this is never a guarantee. People can get carried away in the heat of the moment, and if you’re not able to clearly communicate that you want your Dominant to stop, then this puts you at risk.

The word should be something completely non-sexual and simple to say, this way it stands out easily during play so that your partner can stop whatever they’re doing immediately. The names of fruit, vegetables or colours are quite common safe word options.

On top of your agreed safe word, when trying something new for the first time which involves different levels of intensity, it can also be useful to use a traffic light safe word system while testing new waters. Green means you’re all good, amber means you’re all good but nearing your limit, and red means you’ve reached your limit and you want them to stop. This works especially well with impact play while both partners are getting used to the feel of a new tool.

Don’t neglect aftercare

Aftercare is such an important part of BDSM, a part that people often don’t associate with the practice, but that’s where a lot of common misconceptions often projected by the media can cause damage for those who are new to the BDSM world.

BDSM can get intense. The experiences, the connections and the feelings that come with it can be a lot to process, especially if you’re relatively new to the scene or you’ve just tried something new for the first time. As I said, often both partners will reach a high, and for the submissive, once they reach subspace, they need to come back down from that place safely.

After a punishment, you must check your submissive is okay and offer some form of aftercare. This could be anything from a hot bath or shower, a nice massage, kisses and cuddles, or simply some chill time for both of you. At the very least you need to get them to verbally confirm they are okay after a session/scene/punishment.

Under no circumstances should you feel that needing or asking for aftercare makes you any less of a sub, and if you’re Dom makes you feel that way, then they don’t understand BDSM at all. I came across many ‘fake Doms’ in my time, who’s opinion was that I should be a masochist 24/7, and if I so much as showed an inkling of emotion, that meant I wasn’t a proper submissive.

I cannot stress enough that aftercare is incredibly necessary for your mental and physical health. We are only human, and while we may have these kinks and desires in the bedroom, we still crave genuine human compassion. So whether you’re in a romantic relationship with your Dominant/submissive or not, discuss what type of aftercare is best for you both.

Reflect and revisit

There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ list of kinks. Kink is personal to you and this will evolve and change over time, and with different partners. The beauty of BDSM is that you never stop learning about yourself, growing and discovering new things. It’s a journey so there’s no rush or competition, it’s all about enjoying it and finding out more about yourself and your partner.

Take time to reflect and revisit limits and boundaries at certain periods, revise your contract (if you have one), rules and rituals and shake things up. Keep talking and communicating and I guarantee you will reach new levels of pleasure you never knew existed!

If you’d like to learn more about the basics of BDSM or want to introduce a partner to the world of kink, keep an eye out for my upcoming workshops and events! 

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