I Think I’d Like to Try… BDSM – A Beginner’s Guide (And Why 50 Shades of Grey is the WORST Example EVER)

Welcome to ‘I Think I’d Like to Try…’, our series with our pals at Adulttoymegastore and their lovely sexpert Emma Hewitt, where we answer all your questions about sex-related topics that you might want to know from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about! (And check out our I’ll Have What She’s Having Sex Toy Reviews here if you’re looking for a bedside draw friend!) When it comes to sexuality, BDSM might be one of the MOST misunderstood practices and concepts there is. So, if you have burgeoning interest in anything related to it, here’s Emma’s beginner’s guide to BDSM!

BDSM is an umbrella term for a bunch of different activities that can be an addition to your sexuality, or an integral part of your sexuality! It’s part lifestyle and part kinky sex, and people explore it in lots of different ways. 

The term BDSM is an acronym for a variety of sexual practices that include Bondage, Dominance, Discipline, Submission, Sadism & Masochism. This could include role play, impact play, consensual power exchange (a.k.a. the Dominant and the Submissive), sensation play and bondage play using restraints.

Although some of those terms might sound a little intense (looking at you, sadism), the activities exist on a spectrum. So yes, there are intense ways to play, but there are also plenty of lighter activities to dip your toes into. 

Still feeling intimidated? I don’t blame you. Society hasn’t been particularly kind to those that are into BDSM! So here’s a beginner’s guide to BDSM.

The first step to exploring BDSM is to forget everything you saw in 50 Shades of Grey. 

Is it a sexy film to watch? Sure, it’s two very hot actors being brooding and sexy, but is it a healthy relationship? HELL no! And that’s not because of the BDSM – that’s because Christian Grey needs a therapist. Stat! There is a reason that those who engage in BDSM condemn the film for its portrayal of a BDSM relationship. The problem is that it leans into the already pervasive myth that anyone who is into BDSM is damaged in some way. 

sexy 50 shades of grey GIF by Digg

This was so common that for a long time, participation in fetishistic or sadomasochistic activities was considered a mental disorder by professionals and was listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This was removed in the fifth edition of the DSM which was released in 2013 (thank God). 

Recent research actually suggests that the opposite of this is true, with BDSM practitioners reporting feeling more secure in their relationships as well as experiencing increased feelings of trust and connectedness in their relationships. They also reported less stress due to decreased cortisol levels after a scene or BDSM session and a higher sense of overall wellbeing. Sounds good to me!

So, why people are into it? 

Like any other sexual activity people are into it because it feels good, but there are a few additional benefits to BDSM play that you won’t get from other forms of sex. It tends to involve experimenting, playing a role and exploring new forms of pleasure with a partner. And while BDSM doesn’t need to veer into painful territory, there are some pretty cool benefits when it does.

There’s a lot of fun things that go on when we push our physical comfort level to get a thrill. The same as a runner high, eating super spicy food, or doing extreme sports, when we push our bodies, we are releasing a chemical cocktail of endorphins, dopamine and other pleasurable hormones. These hormones act as an analgesic (painkiller) and stimulate the fight-or-flight response. The same chemicals that turn you on when you’re sexually aroused flow into your body when you’re being hurt. Hence why pain can feel pleasurable to some people.  

Applying painful stimuli the right way activates nice, floaty, pleasurable hormones in the brain. If the pain is applied gradually and for an extended period, you can get someone very high on endorphins. In the BDSM world, this is called “subspace”.

beginner's guide to bdsm

And to be clear, people are really, really into it. 

In a 2019 study of sexual fantasies conducted in the USA, 4175 participants completed a survey consisting of 369 questions about sexual fantasies. The second most popular fantasy type following “multi-partner sex” was “power, control & rough sex” which covered a variety of BDSM activities ranging from light play to more intense forms of play. Ninety three per cent of men and 96% of women had fantasised about BDSM at some point.

Dr Justin Lehmiller, the sex researcher who conducted the survey, notes that there is a difference between a fantasy and a desire. A fantasy can be something that people imagine for sexual gratification but don’t necessarily want to participate in, whereas a desire is a strong wish or want for something. While there is a lot of overlap, sexual fantasy is not always a desire. But that’s still a lot of people thinking about BDSM acts for sexual gratification.

Ok, are you all with me now? Let’s take a look at a few ways to explore light BDSM play in our beginner’s guide to BDSM:

Blindfolds

Blindfolds are ideal for dipping your toes into the world of BDSM play as it’s an easy way to heighten your other senses and build anticipation. When you can’t see where the next touch is coming from, your other senses go into overdrive making it feel even more intense when it does happen. 

You can slide one on to amp up any sexual activity you are already into. It’s also great paired with the other products in this article. This Share Satisfaction blindfold is made with super-soft satin and has an elasticated strap for a secure fit. 

One review says wearing one feels like “velvety clouds on your face” which sounds pretty damn good to me. 

Spanking & Impact Play

Your hand is already the ideal tool for spanking. It’s broad, flat and the perfect starting point for impact play. Using your hand to spank means that the person doing the spanking, the spanker if you will, gets direct feedback on how hard the slap is because they can feel it on their hand. This makes it much easier to determine whether to go lighter or harder with the next one. 

But when you want to take things up a notch, there are paddles too. I always recommend these for beginners as they feel similar to a slap with a hand and target a broader area than most other spanking tools. 

As a general rule, when it comes to impact tools the wider the area of impact, the less it will sting. The smaller the area of impact, the more it will sting. But the material and rigidity of the toy will impact this too. 

The Sportsheets Lace Lightweight Paddle is a great option for beginners. It’s part of Sportsheets Midnight Lace Collection, a beginner range of BDSM tools designed to look as good as they feel. It’s slightly padded to absorb some of the sting making it ideal for paddle beginners while still giving a satisfying slap. 

Wrist Restraints

When it comes to bondage, an obvious choice is wrist restraints for how simple and effective they are. But rather than going for the classic metal handcuffs you see in films; I recommend starting with something softer like these wrist cuffs from Bound from Share Satisfaction. These cuffs are lined with soft, plush velvet so won’t dig into your wrists, even with a little tugging. They do up with Velcro so they are easy to get on and off and adjustable to fit most size wrists comfortably. You can connect the cuffs together to secure the hands in front or behind the body or use the removable chain to give the wearer a bit more flexibility with their position. How you play with wrist restraints is up to you!

beginner's guide to bdsm

Bondage Tape

If you like the idea of restraints but aren’t into cuffs, bondage tape like this amazing Sex, Ties & Bondage Tape may be a better option. Bondage tape is not like regular tape (it’s cool tape!), as it only sticks to itself meaning your hair and skin are completely safe, (unless consensual hair-pulling is on the cards of course).

Because it’s not actually sticky, you can use the same piece of tape multiple times so a roll will last for a long time. You can use it to connect wrists, ankles or even wrap it around the body to create a sexy outfit.

Just ensure that no matter which part of the body you are restraining, there is always room for two fingers between the tape and the skin to ensure that you can remove it quickly and easily if you need to. Keep some scissors on hand!

Bondage Kits

If all of the above appeals (I get it), bondage kits are a great way to explore a few options without committing to buying a bunch of expensive single pieces. 

No matter how you play, safety comes first (yes even before you do…)

BDSM is all about consent! And it demands much more of it than most “vanilla” sexual encounters entail so only play with someone that you trust.

Ensure that you set out limits, negotiate what any given play scene will include beforehand and have a safe word or action (remembering that a gagged person won’t be able to verbally communicate) that can stop the play at any time.

And keep in mind

That BDSM is meant to be fun! It’s erotic, pleasurable and enjoyable for people. But it also helps teach consent, communication, negotiating with a partner and setting boundaries. All things that are important in any relationship.

Oh, and by the way, if you are looking for an example of a healthy BDSM relationship, look no further than Morticia and Gomez Addams, particularly in the 1991 film. Now that is a kinky couple I can get behind! 

This story is part of our partnership with Adulttoymegastore – thanks for supporting Capsule! Make sure to use CAPSULE10 for a 10 per cent discount at adulttoymegastore.co.nz

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