“I loved your book so much I tried to tie up my boyfriend while he was asleep. He woke up before I could, but it all worked out anyway…”
Ah, the delicious meaning in that dot, dot, dot. This fan mail is one of my favorites, a definite keeper, but it is probably not the best approach for introducing BDSM in your bedroom. The road to restraining orders starts here.
The truth is, I’ve always had readers interested in this topic but the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena has planted seeds in the minds of millions of Americans. So how do you introduce BDSM into your bedroom in a way that can lead to fun, intimacy and a little dot, dot, dot?
As an erotic romance writer and full-time “sub,” I have some experience in this realm. Below I’ve listed 10 tips to get you started. Given the current female interest in the submissive role, I’m going to proceed under that pronoun assumption, but the following applies if he’s the one tied up, so to speak (but keep him conscious, please!).
1) Talk about it – You’re thinking about it, but it may not have crossed your partner’s mind, so take the time to talk it out. Consider reading him your favorite scene from an erotic romance that sparked your interest in exploring more. Tell him what intrigues you about it. See how he reacts, but don’t judge or push. Don’t take things too seriously. If you’re doing this to spice up your relationship, this probably won’t be a problem, but if you’re exploring innate feelings about being a Dominant or submissive, you can get a little overwhelmed by all the things you want to try. In these first stages, take it slow, relax and have fun with it. That will help your partner do the same.
2) Stay away from the Internet – Trust me on this one. Even if you’re ready to take the pictures that result from a “BDSM” Google search with a grain of salt, your partner might have a full-fledged anxiety attack. That’s not the kind of heavy breathing you’re trying to encourage. There will be time to surf together later, when you’re both more comfortable with it.
3) Give him a safe word – He’s going to worry about hurting you or doing the wrong thing. Having a safe word that you can use to stop or slow down anything that feels scary will reassure him that you are maintaining some level of control over your own well-being.
4) No Judgment Zone – Mutually accept that invoking that safe word is a good thing for both of you, not an evaluation of his performance as a Dom. This is no different from when you first started having vanilla sex. You’re learning what works for you as partners.
Feeling comfortable with all of the above? Okay, it’s time for a dip in the shallow end of the pool.
5) No Tools Required – Start with Something Easy – The psychology of BDSM is what it’s all about. The illusion of being dominated sexually, of submitting utterly to your lover – that’s the turn on. You can have it without a single whip, metal cuff or legal representative present.
Here’s an example. Your lover tells you to lie on the bed. He commands you to hold onto the head rails and spread your legs as far as you can. You’re forbidden to move until he tells you that you can. After he puts a blindfold on you – perhaps something as simple as his T-shirt over your eyes, so you have the reassurance of his scent in the darkness – he proceeds to pleasure you as he would for your normal foreplay, though you’ll find being blindfolded likely sparks even more creativity. Your senses are going to be heightened, your responses even stronger, and the cardinal rule for many men (the good ones!) is “what turns her on, turns me on.” Taking away sight so that you focus all your other sense on what he’s doing with his fingers, mouth, a feather, a sprinkle of fragrant cinnamon powder…
6) Proceed with the Easy Tools – Okay, so that worked well. What? You didn’t notice the dot, dot, dot? Congratulations! You’ve just conducted your first BDSM session. Wait! Do not fly off to the online bondage store and buy out their special Limited Edition Spanish Inquisition Package (yes, I made that up – it worries me that you thought to go look for it). Instead, buy two pairs of Velcro cuffs. The kind that can snap together or have D-rings that allow you to spread arms and legs and fasten them to fixed objects without actually restricting the extremities. Maybe invest in a blindfold that fits comfortably on the face. If you like the looks of that riding crop or the cute paddle that has a “bad girl” cut out, fine. But pull back on the reins right there, and check the next bullet item. And please come out of the saddle-and-spur department. We’ll save that for the advanced BDSM article.
7) Spankings – The more hardcore stuff, like floggings, tend to scare the bejesus out of a significant other who has never associated sensual punishment with his love for you. It may even scare you a little bit, but those erotic romance spankings are kind of intriguing, aren’t they? Few of us think of a spanking as a frightening thing. In fact, it has a hugely arousing impact, giving the endorphins a titillating strum and connecting to that subconscious desire to surrender to your lover’s power. So have him turn you over his knee or bend you over a chair or bed, and see where it goes. [Note: There are many fun, accessible areas for him to play with when he’s resting his hand!] The pain-pleasure aspect of BDSM is the least understood part of its practices, but it’s no different than why a roller coaster is both scary and thrilling. You’re unable to control the ride, and yet you willingly stepped onto it, with certain expectations of your experience. If the engineers and operators have done their job (the Dom), you’re going to enjoy the ride a great deal.
8) Use the Lingo – As I mentioned, the power of BDSM is in the psychology. Often, being allowed to address your Dominant lover only by a title like Master or Sir while you are “in session” gets you even deeper into the experience. You might also want him to do the same, calling you “his slave” or “his pretty sub,” “his kitten,” etc. Don’t be limited by these suggestions – choice of honorifics is very personal to the Dom/sub relationship. Though keeping it down to a couple syllables might be advisable, because getting out “Supreme Commander of My Orgasmic Universe” during the throes of passion is quite challenging.
9) Reach Out – Finding people who practice healthy BDSM relationships can help further your own knowledge and enjoyment. Forums like Fetlife.com have “real people” practicing BDSM and D’s lifestyles. You may be able to find a local community BDSM group that meets for “munches,” or social events held at a restaurant or other public venue to discuss common interests and provide a nonthreatening environment for new members. BDSM “stuff” does not occur at these types of events. (Waitresses don’t consider it a proper use of hot coffee and pancake syrup, and they will NOT clean it up!) Play comes later if you decide to be part of the group and they think you’re a good mesh for them as well. However, as in any online or in-person interaction, always use your best judgment. Even the most mundane online sites can attract crazies.
10) Now What? Once you’re both comfortable with the basics of restraint and the arousing aspects of a little punishment, if you want to go further, this is when you must do your research. That bad girl paddle will be fun, but it has to be used correctly. The human body is tough in a lot of ways, but very simple things – like using ropes too tightly around wrists or a strike with a paddle against the wrong place – can result in injury, which means no fun for either of you. The mantras of BDSM are Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) and Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK). I recommend Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller and Molly Devon as an excellent introduction to exploring BDSM. They have a casual, informative approach that makes it easy reading, as well as further resources in the bibliography. But keep reading those erotic romances for inspiration – I did mention I write those, right?
At the end of the day, BDSM practice is based on a power exchange, where one partner trusts another enough to relinquish control to them for mutual pleasure. It’s best when it’s conducted under a careful structure of safe words and rules that protect everyone involved. How deep you go with it, how elaborate, it all comes back to these basic tenets. Done right, it can deepen your emotional and physical connection with a lover…and be a heck of a lot of fun…
Joey W. Hill is the author of more than thirty erotic romance novels and the recipient of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award. She is a practicing submissive in her personal life and has been involved in the BDSM community for over twenty years. Her newest release, Hostile Takeover, is available at www.ellorascave.com.