BDSM 101

The title of this guide may already have you confused, so I’ll let you in on the half joke that I call it the beginner “advanced” guide since it is more comprehensive than most by being a collection of core concepts that commonly are separated into totally different articles. Especially these days, beginner guides tend to get dumbed down to 10 count tip lists of stolen advice and those truly interested in learning need and deserve better.

The idea isn’t to go over absolutely everything that is BDSM, but to go over what I feel is most important so people have a solid starting point and can then investigate specific topics of interest further. There isn’t only one way to do BDSM so there will always be some opinion involved, but the hope is the advice and information will be helpful for anyone looking to know more about BDSM.

 

Starting Concepts:


In an effort to simplify something quite complicated, I like to say BDSM is basically a sexy game of trust. Participants rely on trust to provide the opportunity for unique experiences between each other and it all falls apart with lack of trust. There is only so much one can do strictly staying in the lane of vanilla sex while BDSM opens up so many more options and new experiences. After doing BDSM long enough it can sometimes be easy to forget how vanilla people roll so commonly my partners and I joke around saying “Wow, we are complicated to fuck!” as a perspective reminder.

Getting into the raw basics, BDSM stands for:

  • Bondage/Discipline (BD) - Forms of restraint (Bondage) and any sort of punishment / corrections (Discipline)
  • Dominance/Submission (DS) - Controlling others (Dominance) and those being controlled (Submission)
  • Sadomasochism / Sadism and Masochism (SM) - Receiving sexual pleasure from causing pain (Sadism) or from receiving pain (Masochism). Sadomasochism is the combo if you are all in and enjoy both.

The acronym lucks out where DS is snuck in as an extra part there in the middle. Alternatively Power Exchange is also used as a more broad term since many BDSM acts could be defined as exchanging power or control in one way or another. 

It is worth noting early on that sex is not a required part of BDSM. Although sexytime is common, plenty of BDSM fun is possible without any direct sexual acts.

 

BASIC ROLES:


Not everyone will automatically know their desired BDSM role, but it is good to know the most common ones to know role expectations and to see what first catches your eye. Additionally one may find their preferred role to change over time so don’t feel like you are locked into a choice forever.

-Dominant / Submissive: roles make up a strong core of BDSM where the dominant is the one in control doing the bossing around and the submissive is the one being controlled following instruction.

-Switch: refers to those who enjoy being both dominant or submissive and can even alternate per scene or mid scene. 

-Top / Bottom: are similar terms to Dominant and Submissive however are more casual terms with a Top typically being anyone performing dominant-like acts while the Bottom is the receiver or following instruction. The difference usually inferring less protocol and or relationship connection.

-Master(Mistress) / Slave: are terms in the other direction inferring being a longer term intense relationship with established expectations. The Master or Mistress being the dominant one while the Slave is the Submissive one. 

As a more advanced label example; a submissive being commanded by their dominant to crop another submissive. This would turn the cropping sub into a technical top to the sub they were cropping. Who really is in charge can become less clear, but as long as everyone is having fun it shouldn’t matter. Despite the endless dominant options, some say the submissive is actually in control since they set the limits and can stop at any time. For some further thought, a dominant can tell a sub to do acts on them such as cause pain yet still be a dominant in control.

Switches usually lean to one role side or are based on gender, such as a dominant switch leans towards dominant, however is switch capable. Or a switch might be submissive to males yet dominant to females.

Topping from the bottom: Requests and begging are one thing, but when someone in an obvious submissive position starts demanding things during play, it is called topping from the bottom and typically is frowned upon. This term can get a bit complicated when looking at it philosophically, but the concept is only a problem when it contradicts the negotiation/agreed upon style of play. For example it was planned to have a simple spanking scene, now all of a sudden the submissive is demanding a rope suspension. The importance of deciding who is really in charge beyond the titles isn’t that important, however undesired topping from the bottom could be a sign that more communication needs to be made before play or the bottom would rather be in a different role in general. The term itself topping from the bottom is a bit of a bad example since a bottom with low role committal telling someone else what to do is not necessarily an unusual act. What the term is usually for is to say a submissive shouldn’t be bossing around a dominant, so something like Bossy Sub makes more sense. 

A worthwhile note is that bad dominants sometimes will declare someone is topping from the bottom as just a manipulative trick to declare they are disappointed they couldn’t do something even though the submissive never actually broke negotiated parameters. Needing to stop or bringing up concerns like health or just not having a good time are not topping from the bottom acts. This factor has made the use of the term somewhat of a hot-topic, but if you are a dominant and had to deal a submissive handing over a script of what to do to them, told you what to wear, how to do it, and critiqued / corrected your actions the whole scene, then you also will understand why the term Topping from the bottom exists.

Some submissives may test a dominant early on to see if they are consistent with their role of not letting the sub get away with things. On the subject of role names though, a Brat is an example of a role where the submissive is expected to be somewhat resistant as part of the fun.

Example roles expanded: As you can see most are just variants of Dominant / Submissive

  • Dominant (Dom) / Submissive (Sub)
  • Top / Bottom / Switch
  • Spanko / Spankee
  • Rigger / Rope Slut
  • Master - Mistress / Slave
  • Trainer-Owner-Handler / Animal (Pony, Puppy, Kitty)
  • Daddy - Mommy / Girl - Boy, Littles, Brat

Fetish.com has a pretty good role information page describing common examples: https://www.fetish.com/list-of-bdsm-roles/which-bdsm-archetype-are-you/

Some entries like “non-monogamist” aren't actually a role, but they have more good info than bad.

Examples of common role titles: In comparison to roles, titles are just more about names or how people are referred to.

  • (Male) Sir, Master, Mister, Lord, Dom - short for Dominant
  • (Female) Mistress, Lady, Goddess, Governess, Domme or Dominatrix

Submissives usually just have a scene name, but sometimes will combine with their role like Pup Rowdy, Vixen Kitten, Rope Bunny Becky, Slave of (Insert Dominant). 

When starting out usually just one’s name or scene name is appropriate. Declaring a fancy title without accomplishment will not make others want to take you seriously.

-Side note, I think the title Instructor could be an appropriate option.

For examples on the rest of this guide I’ll typically use Dominant and Submissive as I think that tends to be the easiest to understand. It seems common for other educators to default to Top and Bottom inferring it is safer or more correct, however all roles are going to be unique in their own way, there is no catch all.

 

Core BDSM play concepts:


-Bondage: Restraint usually getting more specific by material type such as leather vs rope vs metal. For example being tied up with elaborate rope work or heavy chains.

-SM: those who like giving pain and those who like receiving. Pain can be both physical and mental, however physical is more common. For example being caned on the ass.

-Power Exchange: General concept of bossing another person around / having control or giving it up. For example being told to do housework in sexy clothing or used as human furniture.

-Fetish: more about a specific item or activity, not necessarily being about pain or dominance. For example enjoying wearing or others wearing specific types of leather boots.

Try to be aware that everyone is going to have some sort of kink and they can greatly vary.

When starting out it is easy to think “My kink is the best kink” and everyone else is a weirdo, but try to be tolerant of others. A recent term on this subject is “Your Kink Is Not My Kink” which is short for “Your Kink Is Not My Kink, But Your Kink is Okay” As one can see it has some issues being a bit of a long winded term, so there are several variants such as just “Your Kink is Ok” and the appropriate abbreviations.

Although one should be tolerant they also should be self aware by knowing that some kinks are more rare than others. For example at this time there are way more people into shibari/rope bondage than adult baby play. A lot of popular acts in vanilla porn are actually pretty specific kinks, such as anal sex and wearing fluids (cumshots). Not everyone enjoys these kinks, but so many do that they are considered vanilla acceptable.

There are always going to be kinks that will rub you the wrong way, but the general idea of tolerance is if the kink isn’t messing with you or your scene, then you don’t need to hassle others about said kink on how much you think it is lame.

 

Starter Terms:


  • BDSM Lifestyle - How one adds BDSM aspects to their life in one way or another, from just private play to 24/7 activities.
  • BDSM Community - Public interactions and offerings in the BDSM scene of an area
  • Vanilla - meaning sexually non kinky, keeping in line what is culturally considered “normal”

Common BDSM activity terms include:

  • Play - one of the most casual terms
  • Scene - for a little more formal sounding
  • Session - leans more towards a professional sounding term

Currently the most widely used acronyms for the main BDSM safety concepts are:

SSC - Safe, Sane, and Consensual

RACK - Risk-Aware Consensual Kink

-The main difference between these is the concept of what is “safe”

SSC Breakdown:

Safe - Generally making sure no one gets unintended injuries and can refer to safe sex

Sane - Being reasonable about acts attempted

Consent - Making sure all parties involved are interested and agree to the in the play activities

RACK Breakdown:

Risk Aware - Having reasonable knowledge of the risks involved when performing a specific activity. This tends to infer when more risky acts are attempted, more care is put into planning and making sure all involved are capable participants to minimize risk. Consent once again is also emphasized. 

For establishing risk I like to start with the concept of “what is the worst that can go wrong?” For example, only so much can go wrong with spanking while serious injury can occur if something goes wrong with breathplay.

Consensual is one of the key factors that separates BDSM from just abuse, but it can become a blurry line with some acts such as rape play. What makes these examples of “CNC - Consensual Non-Consent” different is that there is some form of negotiation done beforehand. This can be tricky since those super into the fantasy usually don’t relish the thought of negotiation, but it is a necessary step for all participants to be on the same page. Otherwise it ends up as a toss up of someone hoping some hot person is going to ravish them out of nowhere, which would be great in their mind, yet if from someone unwanted, now it is a criminal level bad situation.

 

Safewords:


Safewords are a common practice in BDSM to enhance safety. These are words said by the submissive to give quick communication to the dominant, typically when there is some sort of concern.

Common Safeword basics include: Yellow and Red, some include Green, but I find that not needed as the idea of Green is to mean you are doing ok...which should be the default assumption anyway. Yellow typically means slow down or ease up a little on the current activities while Red means needing a full stop check in. Another common one is Mercy, a similar concept to yellow, being something along the lines of; stop beating me for a little bit, but I don’t need to be fully released.

The main idea is to have a word that would not normally be used in scenes such as “stop”. That said, some statements such as “woah I need a break” should also be obvious and not something normally said. If one gets too complicated with their safeword it can be easy for the submissive to forget it during play then they will freak out not knowing what to do.

Commonly other signals will need to be used such as when using gags, the sub will not be able to speak. Examples would be humming simple songs, hand signals such as opening and closing hands 3 times quickly, or holding onto objects and dropping them as the safe word declaration.

Sometimes it is missed that a safeword is typically more of a backup plan and not a goal. A submissive must be capable of being able to use their safeword, however the dominant must also keep in mind that many submissives don’t want to have to use a safeword as they feel then they have disappointed their dominant not making it to their expectations.

Typically being observant is good enough to avoid safe words having to be used. Looking for changes in things such as vocal, breathing, and overall body language. I say changes since it isn’t always about becoming more intense, sometimes the lack of moaning and squirming means the sub has basically just shut down and is not having fun anymore.

Additionally I want to emphasize the main point of a safeword being a code word is for roleplay. New players should accept all forms of communication to know if things are working or not. Some are a bit in a rush to want to take BDSM to the max with high protocol, but safewords are just a tool, not an excuse to be shitty just because a submissive is having trouble using one. Of course outright not respecting a safeword declaration is the quickest way to show that person is not to be trusted.

Master Arcane has an interesting system called the 5 finger system. When a dominant inquires how a sub is doing or if at any time the sub wants to declare status, they can raise fingers on one hand as appropriate. The scale being 1 finger = things are a bit light / too easy, 2 fingers = intensity is desired be a little higher, 3 fingers = intensity is just about perfect, 4 fingers = intensity is a little more than desired, 5 fingers = situation is substantially more intense than desired. This is an interesting option where verbal communication is not required and has more fidelity than the standard color safewords. 

A more common semi system is where dominants will do an act such as a crop smack and inquire how intense that was to a submissive on a scale from 1 to 10. This is commonly used when interacting with a new play partner and has more fidelity. It is also appropriate to inquire what the goal intensity is using this system. Something to consider however is that sometimes submissives, especially new ones are going to have difficulty knowing what to do with 10 technical options. Even though math isn’t involved it can end up as more thinking than the sub is prepared to handle at the time and it can cause them to give an off response or no response at all.

For a more advanced consideration, being overly asked how one is doing can be a bit of a distraction from making it to an enjoyable sub-space. The dominant shouldn’t act like they don’t ever care how the submissive is doing, but asking if the submissive is ok after every small act will drive a submissive crazy so there is always a balance to be had.

Sub-Space concepts:


A simple way to try and explain sub-space would be to say it is generally when a sub is able to let go of their typical state of mind and fully concentrate on enjoying the scene they are currently in. This can be achieved in various ways and not just limited to pain. The result tends to be trance-like and can affect communication ability. Pet play causes some similar effects where a good deal of the appeal is the person can let go by putting themselves into a more simple animal mindset.

 

Negotiation:


A big factor of BDSM that vanilla people should utilize more is communication. Commonly engaging in vanilla sex reminds me of the equivalent of a high school party. There is only a vague sense of what is culturally acceptable and basically a bunch of people waiting around for others to read their minds. This creates a situation where many just have to jump out there and try to blindly initiate thus leading to plenty of unwanted or unsuccessful attempts. Unfortunately we all start with this baseline of courting so a good portion still applies, however the negotiation process of BDSM greatly assists in communication to make sure everyone is on the same page of interest. It is very important as BDSM acts without consent usually are just abuse. 

Negotiation priority wise I recommend starting with declaring acts you are definitely interested in. Although technically anything else not agreed upon is not a concern, going over hard limits gives a good idea of acts one is not interested in, and then from there one can proceed with the more neutral inquiries.

Checklists/Remote:

A checklist can seem overwhelming or clinical to some people, but one of its purposes is to stimulate a dialogue between play partners. Sometimes one will be too shy to speak aloud of something that they want to do/receive, specific toys they want to use, etc., but they can show it on the checklist. This one step of removal is also why using online chat or texting to converse can often be a great way to start; many people find it much easier to say what they want online rather than in person. There are times when it isn’t practical however, such as at a play party, when to bring out a pile of forms or synchronize phones is more time consuming than helpful.

In Person:

There is an art to in person negotiation. You don’t want it to take too long, but you want to make sure everybody in the scene has their interests addressed. You also don’t want to come across as creepy, such as asking about extreme acts right from the start. Evaluation of the situation at present can help the direction of the negotiation. For example, if you’re at a play party and the only furniture available is a spanking bench, that’s what you’ll be negotiating about, not the nonexistent rack or bondage table. Another consideration is that typically people in a private situation will be more intimate, i.e. sex, penetrative or oral or what have you; in contrast, people at a play party tend to be more sex reserved in their scenes.  

In general if not sure where to start on negotiation, start simple. Say if spanking is your favorite thing, ask the person if they want to do that. Stick to the plan and assuming it goes well, take a break to then negotiate further. A little bit of inquiry / semi negotiation can be acceptable during a scene, but it is generally frowned upon to negotiate mid play as a submissive can feel more pressured, obligated, or unaware once in sub-space or even just in scene. For example if it was negotiated that bondage and spanking was the plan, it may be ok to ask mid scene if they like their hair pulled (something low risk), however it would NOT be ok to suddenly ask if they would like anal sex now.

Additional notes:

As I've said it is easy to just say never renegotiate mid scene, but in the long run it is not practical. When you say never and then end up doing it later while trying to cover it up as "we'll I'm more experienced" then you just end up a hypocrite. Something as simple as a submissive of sound mind mid-scene requesting a flogger be used rather than a cane as originally planned would be deemed a technical renegotiation.

There is risk and trust involved in deciding what is small and appropriate, however that applies to BDSM in general. What needs to be emphasized more is the concern with renegotiating major changes with the sub while in subspace. That is actually what most people are worried about, however to be on the safe side they end up dumbing it down to telling others don't renegotiate mid scene ever, and then proceed to ignore their own advice. Instead of talking about a way to advance from "never" to "when appropriate", this advice just leaves an educational void area forcing newer players to eventually have to figure it out on their own what is actually reasonable, likely leading to more mistakes than if the students were given more information.

Trigger Words:

Typically everyone has some terms they just don’t like to be called so it is good to inquire about those whether it be during negotiation or general conversation. For example plenty of people like the term slut, however most don’t want to be called stupid unless specifically looking for humiliation / degradation play. Some terms may be less obvious depending on what other people are used to for example Daddy is a common term that I personally am not fond of. I mostly bring this up as a note that someone may be using a term they think is super safe based on their experience so it is your job to speak up to let them know if you aren’t a fan, otherwise you are just going to be bitter you had to hear it the whole play session.

-Contracts are more of an advanced thing not really appropriate for beginners. BDSM contracts aren’t legally binding so typically the main intent is to form some relationship agreements that can be referenced easily.

Tips on getting BDSM ideas for what you might like:

There are a lot of BDSM activity options and thus vocabulary so it can be a good idea to browse around some to see what all is out there. As a beginner usually starting with what immediately catches your eye is fine, but later you will find out there are always going to be some things you didn’t know you liked till you tried it. 

Browsing BDSM checklists and dictionaries is a good start to see what concepts get you excited or interested. Some examples include:

https://www.xeromag.com/fvbdglossary.html

https://www.fetish.com/list-of-kinks-and-fetishes/

https://fetlife.com/glossary

https://rekink.com/terminology/glossary-of-kink-terminology-a-to-i/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_BDSM

BDSM Checklist: (I think mine is the best probably because I made it, heh) DSG BDSM Checklist

-For a side rant I think worth saying the popular bdsmtest.org is pretty garbage. It seems simple and easy, but has misclassified literally everyone I know. Clearly the creators were biased on the BDSM acts they enjoy and never updated the test to properly apply to others.

-Good old watching BDSM porn and taking note of activities you enjoy.

-Finding BDSM stories and books (note usually stories are very unrealistic however, even more so than porn)

 

Post Play:


Aftercare:

An important step in BDSM play that is almost always overlooked in media portrayals is aftercare. Aftercare is the general process after play of caring for a submissive to make sure they are doing well physically and help them transition back to a more normal status mentally.

For starting concepts, most will be able to just ask themselves what they think their partner would normally like to do after sex. Everyone is different, but during aftercare most subs like being in comfortable clothing, cuddling, being caressed, and generally taking it easy.

During this time it is also a good opportunity for the dominant to make sure everyone is properly hydrated and assess any possible injuries / concerns.

There seems to be a trend where some speak of aftercare for doms, however I see this as too close to the continuation of play. A balance of ritual can be made yet in my experience I’ve found that if I have done my Dom job correctly a sub commonly is not going to be very functional right after play. It is my opinion that if a Dom needs aftercare after play they are not taking on the full responsibility of being dominant. To clarify it isn't that Dom aftercare should never happen, but that it is not appropriate for a Dom to require aftercare resulting in the submissive not getting any aftercare or getting it late. 

An example of the opposite of aftercare would be to have a rough scene then immediately tell the submissive to leave. This is not only emotionally jarring, but also can be a physical issue where driving or walking while keeping a good sense of direction can be difficult after intense BDSM activities.

Debriefing:

Debriefing is another great form of communication where play partners discuss the play session to go over what was challenging, good, bad, and general thoughts. I find it best to do this without any specific play protocol to make sure the submissive speaks freely.

Most of the time debriefing can be done during aftercare, just don’t be offended if some submissives take more time to be conversation capable and the debriefing can be done later. Follow ups such as checking in on a submissive the day after is also wise to see how they are doing in general and see if any new thoughts occurred. This tends to help prevent and or diagnose any sub-drop. I think it is worth stressing the importance that a submissive feels they can try something and be able to freely communicate if they didn’t enjoy it. If the submissive is always worried about making the dominant angry or disappointed then they will feel compelled to give false debriefings and will guarantee problems later. 

Sub-drop:

Although proper aftercare is a great way to avoid subdrop, unfortunately it can still occur. Intense play can bring up some powerful emotions and perfect transitions to a more “normal” state are not always available. Sub-drop will vary for everyone, however signs are generally feeling down and or “off” after play. A classic example would be playing at a party and everything goes great, however the sub starts to feel sub-drop the next day when each person is back to their daily lives. This common issue seems to infer the distance or lack of communication with a dominant can be a sub-drop issue. Thus having the dominant be at the very least contactable can go a long way at helping sub-drop and having some lazy time together in person is even better.

Dom-drop:

A somewhat new and thus debated concept is Dom-drop which is similar to Sub-drop however happens to the dominant after play. Reasons can range with some examples being: an intense emotional session, self doubt, and kink shame. I think it is important to acknowledge the existence of Dom-drop so it can be identified and dealt with however I want to be very clear that it is not “normal”. While learning and experimenting Dom-drop is more acceptable, but it is expected an experienced Dom will not have Dom-drop issues. A submissive relies on the dominant to have themselves in order so they can care for the sub; If a dominant can't handle themselves, they aren't going to be there to help the submissive for basic needs either. This is a place where I feel roles and responsibility should be very clear; for example, no one goes to the doctor wanting to worry they may have to tend to their doc-drop after a visit. You may not be in a relationship with them, but hearing a bunch of woes isn’t exactly going to reassure your trust or confidence in them. 

For ways to tend to Dom-drop it will depend on the trigger, but generally aftercare like activities will help and for the submissive to reassure the dominant they enjoyed how everything went.

 

BDSM GEAR:


I’m a fan of gear so it is easy to get carried away, but here is an attempt to show some basic BDSM gear concepts. For first time experiences it is recommended to try gear outside of a scene with no or low protocol. This way it can still be fun and playful while the dominant gets a chance to learn about applying the gear and the submissive learns about the resulting experience. This way there isn’t a big expectation on how it will go over and with free communication everyone can point out the small details to make the next attempt go much smoother.

BONDAGE MATERIALS: 

There are many ways to achieve bondage so one of the main ways to separate types is by material. Each will have unique properties in feel and looks.

Leather - Leather tends to be a good starting point since it is not difficult to use, overall secure, yet also provides some struggling give. Cut vinyl can be similar, yet feels more plasticy.

Rope - About any cord qualifies as rope, but the most commonly used ropes in BDSM are hemp, nylon, and cotton. Hemp is more grippy / textured while nylon is more slick thus sometimes harder to knot, but easier to clean. Cotton is cheap, but usually has low strength. 

- For some rope thickness basics, 6mm rope is most common, 4mm is more for small stuff like hair and fingers, while 8mm is more for main support ropes. 

Metal - Metal bondage stands out by generally feeling secure and unforgiving. Due to this, metal restraints usually discourage struggling and more concern needs to be placed on avoiding accidental injury. 

Wraps - Examples of wraps are cling wrap, medical wraps, bondage tape, or anything similar. Those into medical play or mummification tend to enjoy wraps, with usage ranging from just specific body parts to fully encompassing a body.

-Technically casts are also wraps, but result in a much more rigid bondage.

 

RESTRAINTS: 


Restraints include pretty much any gear that physically limits the wearer in some fashion.

Cuffs - For the most part cuffs are platforms to connect other things to. Common types: Wrist, Ankle, Thigh, Bicep, Waist. Cuffs vary in several materials, many using simple buckles, alternates include post lock styles. Tension cuffs are a notable design variant. There are many design options out there and material choice will change the feel greatly as discussed earlier. In the spirit of beginner advice, good leather cuffs are a very safe place to start gear wise. They can provide restraint with relative comfort and make it difficult to accidentally hurt anyone with when it comes to safety.

Ratcheting Cuffs - Mostly known as handcuffs, these also come in many ankle and even "neck" variants. Although handcuffs are popular since widely seen in culture, they are actually easy to hurt one's self with. A compromise can be adding clothing layers or specific cuff wraps. Despite the safety concerns pluses can be security, size adjustability, and quick to apply. Most ratcheting cuffs feature a double locking capability which means a single lock can only tighten while a double lock will keep the exact ratchet/tightness position. Double locking is an important safety step so wearers don’t accidentally over tighten the cuffs on themselves, which is a very common result of being on single lock while struggling. 

Rope - Seeing rope again may seem redundant, but the popularity of use makes it worth mentioning as its own restraint type. Styles can vary from old movie DID (Damsel In Distress) looks where kinda just doing a bunch of half-hazard wraps to very complicated purposeful bondage as seen in Japanese bondage styles, commonly known as Shibari / Kinbaku. Rope types can vary from quite soft to extra scratchy and even conductive versions are available for electric play. Positives of rope are that one can create almost limitless bondage options with it and is not particularly expensive. Potential cons however are that there is a learning curve to be able to do interesting ties and more care needs to go into safety. Even on simple ties one must make sure they do not prevent proper circulation or cause pinched nerves. The tying process can be slow which can be a pro or a con during applying, however safety wise slow removal/release times need to be a consideration.

Collars - Kind of like cuffs for the neck, but can symbolize more such as relationship status. Commonly combined with leashes, collars types range greatly between fashion and practical use design concepts.. Some collar design examples include: play/utility, discreet, posture, and choking 

Leashes / Leads - Leashes typically attach to collars, yet are not limited to and are used to aid in controlling the wearer. Different activities will make different leash lengths more appealing where sometimes a short leash (lead) can be easier to manage than having a long leash while generally using close to the wearer. Like most items the material can vary and several connection hardware options are available that have security / ease of use pros and cons.

Spreader Bars - Basically any rigid parts that limit limb placement or mobility. Spreader Bar designs can vary quite a bit on length options, some being adjustable, and some come with integrated cuffs. Common placement zones are on wrists, ankles, and thighs.

Mitts / Gloves / Armbinders - Unique due to providing more enclosure to restrain a limb, usually making sure to cover fingers preventing their use. Typically made of leather, some variations include padding to make finger usage even more difficult.

Straps / Connectors - Connection hardware can be used to expand restraint options. Examples include leather belts and straps, but also connector variants like hogtie hardware / extenders. Carabiners, chain links, etc.. Besides being used for direct binding they can also be used to give more movement range of flexibility to existing restraint. 

Locks - Most people already know what locks are, but they are worth mentioning in a BDSM context since they can add to bondage excitement and come with some safety considerations. It is recommended to make sure one has their keys before they lock anyone up; one trick is to keep all locks locked forcing the key needing to be around to unlock and use. Having keychain sets with all keys needed for play can help organizing quite a bit and whenever possible get locks in sets that are keyed alike rather than have each lock require its own unique key. Although specific buckles are made with the intent to be lock-able, there are some tricks to use small locks on normal buckles as well.

 

SENSORY DEPRIVATION: 


Sensory Deprivation refers to gear that limits the wearer’s senses in some manner

Gags - Gags are mostly known as devices to limit speech, however there are many variants to offer other forms of oral play. Examples include: ballgag, penis, open mouth, inflatable, muzzle, and classic cloth. Harness variants also exist where usually they are based on the original version, but with more straps to increase security. While filling gags like ballgags and inflatable gags are meant to limit speech, open mouth gag types are more to promote drool and oral access play. Worth noting, muzzle gags are easier options for those with jaw strain issues since they cover the mouth instead of inserting into the mouth.

Blindfolds / Hoods - The main point of a blindfold is to restrict the wearer’s vision which can increase the other senses such as touch and enhance feelings of anticipation and helplessness. Hoods are usually an expansion of the idea of blindfolds adding more of an encompassing bondage feel and depending on the version can limit some hearing and breathing. More care should be put into using hoods as they cause more claustrophobic reactions than blindfolds. There is a lot of variety for both types, but one thing to look out for is how well they actually block light/vision. The vast majority of those who enjoy being blindfolded don’t want to worry about light sneaking in from the sides as it is quite distracting. 

Earplugs - Using earplugs or earmuffs can be an easy way to cause hearing sensory deprivation, again to enhance feelings of anticipation and helplessness.

 

SENSORY TOYS: 


Instead of deprivation, Sensory Toys enhance specific sensations ranging from soothing to painful. 

Nipple Toys - Nipple clamps are fairly common which can range from making the wearer’s nipples feel sensitive, to more painful sensations. Hence the name, adjustable nipple clamps usually allow some control on the intensity while designs like clover clamps are spring loaded so are considered intense by default. Not all nipple toys are clamp based though, many suction based nipple toys offer a totally different sensation.

Claws / Blades - Claw type toys are used to give scratching sensations, the pressure applied is used to determine intensity. Toy examples range from wearing metal claws on fingers to mini rake-like claw tools. Knife blades and tips are included since they give a similar sensation however are used in a non-cutting context. 

Spikey Wheels - I gave them a silly name since most people don’t know them as Wartenberg wheel variants. They offer a unique sensation combining small pokey spikes on a wheel that makes movement easy to flow over the body with. The original is one simple wheel while variants include versions with multiple wheels to add more sensation width and spike types. A soft application can be quite soothing while aggressive force can be painful.

Sensory Mittens/Gloves - Mittens are available made of different materials to offer sensory play options. Some examples are fur mitts for gentle petting play or “vampire” gloves that have tiny spikes. Sometimes these are even combined where each main side of the mitt is a different material to give a different sensation.

Electric Wands - Violet wands and the most well known electric wands, but there are several variants these days. The main concept is the wands use different attachments to deliver static shocks. Wide and multiple prong attachments can be fairly gentle while simple thin rods are intense. Besides the overall power control on the unit, distance from the receiver contact changes the sensation and intensity as well. Direct touch lets the current flow more directly being more subtle while slight distance causes arcing and is more intense. Zapper/Shock sticks and wands are similar, but are made specifically to give static shock pain instead of any of the more subtle sensations.

 

IMPACT: 


Impact gear refers to implements used to strike others with to cause pain or other sensations. There is a large amount of design variety, each stands out for the amount of stingy or thuddy sensation they deliver. Typically springy materials with small impact areas are more stingy while stiff or softer materials are more thuddy. 

Canes - Canes are traditionally known for being stingy, however other variants exist to change the feel some. The material and thickness usually are the main factor in determining the flexibility of a cane, more slim and flexible being stingy while thick and rigid being more thuddy in comparison. Shorter canes are easier to weld while longer ones take more skill to hit the intended target, but offer more intensity.

Crops - Known from equestrian use, crops tend to be fairly easy to use. The length and tip type can change the resulting feel quite a bit, but most would consider crops as stingy.

Paddles - Paddles are known for being a larger area stingy toy, the smaller and lighter designs will add to the sting while the heavier or cushioned versions will add more thud. The addition of holes to paddles typically increases the stingy sensation. 

Floggers - Floggers may first appear whip-like yet having several tails/falls (impact parts) is what designates a flogger. With many materials to choose from, many sensations are available from floggers. A typical leather flogger has a balance of thud and sting while rubber based ones tend to have more sting. Fur ones make them more like a massage/sensory device and long floggers with softer leathers offer some great thuddy options. Besides material; how long, how wide, and how many tails/falls a flogger has will affect the feel. 

https://friskybusinessboutique.com/frisky-guide-to-floggers/ 

Whips - Although a full bullwhip is a whip example, most people will use shorter single tail whips during play as they can provide plenty of stingy intensity on their own. A full strength hit from a long whip will typically cause bleeding so a lot of the skill goes into using whips with care. Usually the cracker tip is the part of the whip doing the actual hitting while the core of the whip gives the momentum.

Straps / Slappers - Strap and Slapper variants are generally known as stingy, yet a good amount of design and material variety is available. Examples include a simple strap like a belt, Tawse designs, or rubber based designs. 

Bats / Clubs - Bats are mostly used for their thuddy qualities, but they can still vary from clubs like nightsticks to full on Nerf/foam bats to provide a thud only feel. 

Misc - Almost anything can be an impact toy so there is a lot of other variety out there that is harder to fit in a specific common section, some examples include: dragon tails, rug beaters, quirts, weighted gloves, and all kinds of DIY toys. 

 

INSERTABLES / VIBES: 


BDSM includes all kinds of sex options so toys technically considered “vanilla” are still commonly used too. Here are some noteworthy examples:

Anal Toys - While plugs tend to be designed to be anal specific any toy used analy end up technically being an anal toy. Main concerns are making sure there is a base or flare of some sort to prevent over insertion. Some designs have pull-rings at the end to make pushing in or out easier while some have more contoured bases to make sitting down with them more comfortable. It is also good to look for designs that have smaller stems between the base and the main width so the plug will stay in place rather than wanting to constantly slip out.

Vaginal Toys - Starting with dildos there is quite the variety these days so usually the main consideration is getting one of quality material like silicone. Other main considerations are base types such as if balls are desired, want a suction cup at the end, or want plain. These are important factors if want to use with other gear such as strapon harnesses. Everyone will have their own style preferences, but typically the more wacky shape details, the harder any sex toy is to clean.

Large Vibrators - I say large here to refer to full powered vibrators as opposed to smaller travel sized ones. Wands such as the classic Magic Wand have been getting orgasm results for decades so are considered tried and true. Newer designs are cordless and have more control features, but the core concepts stay the same. Examples of respected models include Magic Wand, Doxy Wands, Lelo Smart Wand, and O-Wand. Although not technically large or a wand, the Eroscillator is also a proven clitoral stimulation device.

High Tech - Many cordless toys these days are getting high tech allowing control with phones or remotes. These devices have a decent amount of design variety to allow for some pretty fun BDSM inspired play options. Most are vibration toy based, but shock collars are another example of remote controlled fun to be had. Especially on the vibes, one of the main considerations are power and connection distance. They just become frustrating if the max power is too low or the connection between the controller keeps dropping out.

 

Basic Safe Sex notes:


There are plenty of articles out there on safe sex so I won’t dwell too long on it, but I wanted to mention some basic notes. Condoms are a good starting point to make sure and use them during any sort of intercourse. They also are a good way to enhance safety and cleanup when using any toys like dildos, anal plugs, and vibrators. It may not look like it at first, but you can totally get a condom on that big Hitachi wand ball end. For a lesser known tip, make sure whatever lube is used is not anti your condom type. For example Vaseline and other oil based lubes will weaken latex or polyurethane condoms making them a much higher breaking risk. When in doubt, water based lubes are generally the safest for both humans and toys.

When having fun with new sexual partners it is always best to be on the safe side so properly protect yourself assuming they are full of potential STDs until it can be proven otherwise. Many people are too shy to ask about a play mate’s STD status, which they shouldn’t be, however even when asked not everyone is going to be truthful. 

Expanded safety options are making sure to use protection during oral such as condoms for penises and dental dams for vaginas. Additionally even if just using hands / fingers, having on latex or nitrile medical gloves is recommended. It may seem overboard to some, but if one gets them snug/actually in their size in black they can look pretty sexy, they don’t HAVE to be an unflattering distraction.

Usually STDs get spread when hard to detect, but a visual inspection to look for things like open sores, excessive redness or strong unusual odor is a worthwhile step to not let a STD get an easy win. Just a quick glance to make sure there is nothing of obvious concern on a person’s genitalia is a lot better than nothing. Again this doesn’t have to be an awkward moment where it can be done discreetly through role play or other common BDSM play methods. On the note of spread sometimes it is forgotten a condom or similar only covers up so much area. It isn’t medical grade, but when wanting a little extra coverage I like to leave my underwear on and have my condomed penis come out the fly zone. This way at least not getting a bunch of direct skin on skin contact with uncovered crotch parts.

For longer term relationships or those who are just into expanded planning, getting comprehensive STD tests and then sharing the results on an official medium is a good way to be transparent about current status to consider having less protected sex. This of course gets more complicated when potentially wanting less protected interactions with multiple sex partners were trust has to be spread out over substantially more people and thus usually more constant testing is needed. When a couple purposefully makes the decision to have unprotected sex / exchange high risk bodily fluids, this is sometimes referred to as being Fluid-Bonded.

 

Basic bondage considerations:


Some bondage positions are going to be more difficult for certain people so be prepared to do alternate positions. For example models in tight single sleeve armbinders look hot, but I have yet to meet anyone that can sustain that position without circulation issues for longer than about 15 minutes. Or if someone is having trouble with arms bound behind their back, wrist bound to their sides can be an easier option. Sometimes even just a little more length is all that is needed such as adding another carabiner or similar hardware to an area that felt stressed.

Even basic positions such as kneeling can’t last forever, but rather than making it an obvious issue, a Dom can more covertly address the issue by changing up the submissive positions naturally during play.

Suspension is an advanced topic, but worth bringing up since commonly shown in the media. Movies and TV make it look like no big deal to be suspended by one's wrists when in reality it is quite stressful and without the right gear and time limitations it is pretty much a guaranteed way to get hurt. Basic suspension positions are Horizontal (face up and face down), and Vertical (right side up and upside down). Being upside down creates further risk and complications since besides generally being a stressed position, being in that position too long can cause people to pass out due to disturbing normal blood flow. That said, feet/ankles do make for safer suspension points than wrists with the right gear.

If wanting to dabble in suspension some starting notes are that the more connection points the better to spread out the load for both safety and comfort. I’m talking like 8 compared to the usually considered 2(Wrists, Ankles, Thighs, Waist, Head). You will also have to look for quality gear where pretty much any cuffs from amazon.com will explode trying to do anything close to a suspension and care needs to be made that what you are connecting to is load rated. For example you can’t just screw random hooks in your ceiling and hope for the best. Quality rope usually has a decent strength rating (when used correctly) however requires skill on body placement and how many wraps to hold a suspension load safely with tolerable comfort. 

To minimize risk keep in mind anything off the ground is still a suspension. So being 1” away from a nice thick mattress or crash pad is a safe way to get in some suspension practice that won’t be a disaster if anything breaks. Care still needs to be made to make sure body parts don’t lose circulation or general nerve damage from being stressed with restraint. There are a lot of parts to any suspension and any can be the potential weakest link so make sure not to skimp out on any pieces. The risk factor can be quite high to have someone bound so they cannot protect themselves and then potentially cause a long drop on a hard floor.

Another worthwhile gear note is that sometimes gear is mislabeled with suspension in the name where used to mean just to keep a limb “suspended” when commonly the expectation is suspension means capable of being load bearing a whole body. Standing with wrists connected to a ceiling spreader bar above is quite different than being fully suspended in the same situation with feet unable to touch the floor.

Submissive Gear note:

Many times submissives rely on the dominant to have BDSM gear to play with however I recommend submissives try and acquire more on their own. This will allow them to get basic experience with certain items and can have go-to items they know they enjoy playing with. Some misguided doms may be off-put by this, however good dominants will be able to see gear submissives have to understand their interests and preferences. You can check out a whole article on this here: Why Submissive Females Should Have Larger Toy Collections

 

BDSM General Notes:


For those new to BDSM, media once again can be confusing when it comes to impact play expectations. In reality usually one doesn’t need to hit very hard with most impact items, but it doesn’t always look interesting on video so they commonly depict full strength hits. Beating full force on someone is not difficult; to do it at the right level where everyone is enjoying it is where the skill comes in.

I find it important for a dominant to try and have some concept of what the sub is feeling. I try my best to follow the rule that I wouldn’t do something to someone else I wouldn’t allow upon myself. This is as a starting point and not to a fault knowing that it would not be a wild circumstance to come across playing with someone who wanted something more extreme than I personally would want to experience. Simple ways to understand what a sub will feel is to experience the gear being used on oneself before using on a submissive. I’m pretty unimpressed by the type of dominant that is unwilling to try things on themselves or so insecure they feel that by trying they will somehow be considered less dominant. The best case to fully understand is to switch and be a submissive or bottom even if just brief moments. There is a reason why one of the Old Guard rules is that one needed to be a submissive before they could become a dominant.

Note the pain level should not be set blindly by the dominant. It appears to be a common problem where some dominants have a seemingly arbitrary concept of how hard, how long, or how many hits a submissive should be able to take. Everyone reacts to pain differently so the main concern should be on understanding what is intense for that particular sub. A dominant’s concept of 10 “good” cane hits to someone not into pain could be devastating while it could be a boring warm up to a pain slut.

Punishment vs Funishment Concepts:

Commonly punishment is a word used for any sort of discipline play, but some people separate from this declaring something along the lines of that they only punish their submissives when they truly have done something very wrong. I understand everyone is going to have their own play style and word usage, but it seems this line of thinking is just asking for confusion and conflict. With role play being a big part of possible BDSM fun, the word punishment is going to continue to be a popular word to express normal play and not a relationship straining moment. Nonetheless to try and separate the terms the word Funishment was created to clarify it is “fun” punishment in a typical play setting.

There is no one way to BDSM:

Don’t be so worried about some other group’s specific set of rules. Some people get carried away with how the Old Guard did things or say Gorean rules, but look to these as ideas and use what works for your relationship rather than looking at them as the only correct way. Be particularly cautious when looking to fiction for ideas, some people seem to forget the Gorean books are straight up Sci-Fi stories (Basically the Scientology of BDSM).

50 Shades of Crap:

Those who are actually familiar with BDSM tend to agree 50 shades of Grey is a bunch of crap, basically a good example on how NOT to do BDSM. I’m no pro writer, however 50 shades of Grey is noticeably awful even to me. The main character Christian Grey essentially takes advantage of the naive /  innocent Ana forcing his fetish desires on her rather than giving any care for what she is interested in. Thus the acts turn into abuse rather than BDSM play. It offends me that it is clear E. L. James sees BDSM as just a character flaw to be solved and somehow she is getting toy branding deals! As the 50 shades story progresses in further books the BDSM element is totally dropped.

If you want to see a better BDSM movie, watch The Secretary, writing wise almost anything else will be better.

Public Play:

BDSM Play in open public is different where although it can be a fantasy for some, it causes a massive consent issue. Putting others in an uncomfortable situation just so you can have some sexy time is quite the selfish act. At worst the act will be illegal such as exposing oneself in public where children can be involved, and it doesn’t get much better where at the very least you will annoy people. 

As a side rant, consideration needs to be placed on public cultural expectations so this is why I disagree with outlandish 24/7 item wear requirements. Sometimes the dominant in a master / slave type arrangement wants the submissive to wear something to show as a sign of ownership. An obvious heavy BDSM collar is not going to be appropriate to wear to many places for example a typical job interview. To balance this concept of slave wear requirements with non BDSM life fortunately there are options which are called discrete options. These will be signs to those familiar in BDSM culture however will not stick out to most vanilla people.

Broad public concerns aside, public play is still plenty possible at appropriate BDSM events and clubs. This way you can get your kink on and everyone is on the same page of the expectation.

Basic Anal Play Tips:

Usually the main issue with anal is trying to do too much too fast. Everyone's butt is different, however a starting gauge is the general bowel movement size of the person interested in anal play. If they have super small ones that look like a house cat, they are going to need more work than someone who leaves impressive things in the toilet. 

Start with putting on a nitrile/latex glove and using fingers with appropriate lube. Water based lube is usually the safest for toys and people, however can dry up a little fast. Silicone based lube stays useful much longer, but you want to make sure it won’t poorly affect you or your gear. (usually quality toys say on the packaging what is ok) It tends to be a good idea to lay down a towel for your sex fun zone first, surprisingly I don’t see this often enough for all kinds of sex. I guess people like having to clean their comforters or something.

A hand has some decent starter flexibility since fingers are different sizes and can even ramp up to multiple fingers at a time. Having a finger insert with a little moment and experimenting with inserting in and out will give the receiver a basic idea of how anal play feels. It is counter-intuitive, but having the receiver try and push their muscles like they are having a bowel movement actually helps insertion. The opposite muscle action of the sphincter pinch-off however makes things more difficult, especially for first insertion. After successful with some finger play one can progress to plugs that allow ramping of sizes. I’ve had luck using 3 different plugs starting from small and ending up at medium, many times companies will label plugs as medium that are way too big for beginners. In my experience about 1.25” diameter on a plug is a better medium while the common 1.5” is actually quite difficult for beginners. Jumping back I’d consider around 1” diameter to be a small plug. If aiming for anal sex, the cock size is going to determine needs, however I’ve found when receivers are able to comfortably take a 1.5” or bigger plug this tends to be enough to attempt ramping to anal sex. Generally one will want to take things slow as a rushed experience will end up as a bad one with tearing. Commonly only so much progress can be made in 1 day so don’t plan on going from anal virgin to anal sex in one day. Cleanup wise using condoms on plugs and penises makes things easier since it is common to come across signs of poop, as the ass is where it comes from. Just in case it was not obvious, for genital contact anal sex, condoms should be a requirement for safety reasons as well.

Oddly not always mentioned, genital stimulation during anal play can go a long way in making ramping up easier especially for new comers. Stimulation being pleasurable on its own, gives a pleasant distraction during intense new anal feelings, however doesn’t fully mask pain that would be warning signs of impending injury. 

It’s certainly not required but some people have more confidence with anal play if they do an enema before hand. The simplest and most gentle way to do this is with a fleet enema pack from the drug store. The first thing you do is dump out the actual liquid laxative that comes in the bottle and rinse the bottle. This is super important because you DO NOT want the laxative or medication to stimulate the bowel, but you DO want the bottle. Fill it back up with only warm water, and put a lot of lube on the applicator tip. Then you can sit on the toilet, inject the water, hold it in for 10-15 seconds, then let it flow out. You can do this a few times until the water comes out clear. The small bottles are good because they are disposable and that helps limit how much water you’re injecting so you’re able to be sure you emptied it all out and you can go play right away.

Definitely try an enema alone at home without any pressure to get an idea of how your body responds. The basic concept is to just rinse out the rectum, and that’s easy to do with the disposable bottles. Some sex toy shops sell small anal douche kits, but the bottles from the drug store are cheaper and often times more reliable. If you take random laxative pills or the laxative in the enema, you will have diarrhea for the rest of the day and likely will result in a lot of no playing and a lot more toilet time. 

Any sort of numbing lubes / creams are not recommended as any sort of pain is an important sign to let you know something isn’t going right. Anal play can cause intense feelings, but should be outright pain free. Angle can play a big part in comfort as well so between the sex position and toy type there tends to be some trial and error to be done. For example doggy style will be different than missionary and most toys have some sort of main curve to consider. Don’t be afraid to mix things up as needed such as mounting a dildo to a strapon harness upside down. Much like normal sex, slow thrusts are a good way to start rather than any sort of jack-hammer motions. At first it will be hard to ignore that any objects going in the out direction will feel a lot like pooping, but once over that hump anal play opens up many possibilities for new sexual sensations.

Basic Cleaning:

For starter cleaning terms; sanitize generally means to lower the germ count as much as possible to a reasonably safe level while disinfect means reaching a 100% germ kill count.

The material of what needs to be cleaned will determine what exactly should be used, but when it comes to sex toys typically you can’t go wrong starting with mild soap (like baby stuff) and water. This way you can knock off any big obvious contaminations. This is important since even if you spray the best disinfectant on a big pile of poop, all you did was disinfect the thin top layer.

After you knock off the big stuff, common cleaners for toys are alcohol (high percentage cleaning kind), 10% bleach / 90% water mix, and Cavicide. What to use will depend on the item material type, but generally for quality silicone and metal toys you can use about any of those. Additionally boiling is another route, however is limited to specific material types and kinda a big to-do cleaning effort scale wise.

Offhand I’m usually a fan of Cavicide since overall doesn’t react poorly to many materials and is hospital grade. To deploy you want to use spray or wipes to get good coverage on the toy and then just leave it for 10 minutes to go on a germ murder spree. The heavy duty factor however also makes it so you don’t want a bunch on your skin thus best to give toys like insertables another quick soap wash in the end after using Cavicide. Similar application concepts apply to the other cleaners where no need to be in a rush to wipe it all off, let it hang out to do best cleaning work.

For a bonus round there are UV light based cleaning devices out there where basically you put them in a box and it blasts the toys with UV light. Some sort of manually cleaning will always be needed for messy toys, but the UV option is good to give a quick sanitization with low risk of any toy material damage.

Leather is an example of a difficult material to “clean” since it is porous in nature and harsh cleaners are harmful to the material. One can sanitize by using saddle soap (leather specific soap) and then hitting with a cleaner like bleach mix, cavicide, or UV treatment, but generally a disinfected level will never be achieved. For this reason leather is not good for high risk interactions, for example if someone uses a leather flogger on someone and causes bleeding, it would be most safe to not use that flogger on any other people. That said as long as some deep cleaning is attempted the risk is overall low, the main thing to avoid is smacking a bunch of people till they bleed with the same flogger all in one day. Again the main issue is the cleaner usually isn’t nice to the leather where alcohol will dry it out and a bad bleach mix may alter the color so sometimes trial and error is needed per toy. Although they make cool UV specific cleaning devices, technically hanging up a leather item exposed to sun / UV for a week will get rid of anything worth worrying about, but I always recommend some level of manual cleaning.

Once done with whatever cleaning method, airing out the item to dry is important to make sure you don’t run into any later mold issues. As a pro tip, materials like silicone totally love to collect lint and such after a cleaning so usually best to just give them a shake and air dry as opposed to trying to wipe dry with anything.

For more comprehensive information on cleaning by material type Dangerous Lilly did an article worth looking at: http://dangerouslilly.com/sex-toy-reviews/sex-toy-care-and-maintenance/

Stay Sober:

Some people may enjoy a single drink just to loosen up, however being anywhere near intoxicated is a terrible idea for both dominants and submissives. A dominant needs full awareness and control of themselves to properly upkeep the safety of a submissive and a submissive needs awareness to communicate their status along with having a stable pain tolerance. Pain or intensity that feels good while being smashed drunk may end up as unexpected serious wounds the next day. Even if a drunken sub experience went well, typically a dominant wouldn’t be jazzed about a submissive being hazy on the experience or totally having no memory of it.

Emergency plans:

Have some sort of plan how to quickly release someone from bondage if necessary. This tends to be more of a rope bondage issue than say cuffs since removing can take much longer, however anything elaborate can be slow such as lots of metal cuffs requiring lots of unlocking. Although safety shears are handy in general and generally safe hence the name, knives can actually be faster to cut rope. It is suggested to practice escape cutting on sample materials so not a surprise when an emergency situation comes. Also keep in mind it is better to calmly and smoothly release someone rather than doing an aggressive release causing the sub to fall down or pull a body part.

Potential Hospital visits:

If things go really wrong and you end up at a hospital tell the truth so they can actually help. Being embarrassed and just saying something like “I fell” won’t get the shampoo bottle out of your ass and isn’t fooling anyone.

 

Finding people to play with:


When meeting someone new for the first time, choosing a public setting is a good way to be safe, for example meeting up for coffee or a meal at a local restaurant. If all goes well and then it is decided to meet up in a private setting, having a friend check in call/text time is another good security measure along with letting them know where you will be. Further common sense should apply where even a private setting should have some accountability where it is better to meet at a private residence than say an abandoned warehouse.

For public play options, parties and munches are a local way to meet people in the BDSM scene. Munches typically are gatherings / lower key meetings ranging from broad group concepts to very specific fetishes. Parties on the other hand are events where actual play will be encouraged and also can range from broad open play parties to more specific fetish themes.

Some starting points on where to look:

www.fetlife.com  the current main bdsm social networking site however is more for connecting with friends so purposefully designed to not be great at just hooking up. That said, when looking at regional groups fetlife is great to see what BDSM events, munches, clubs, etc are available in your area.

www.okcupid.com a solid dating site, just not BDSM specific

www.collarspace.com a lot of fakes and lame users, but free

There are other sites out there, but they tend to have too low of member counts or basically trying to scam you. Alt.com for example has several name variants and they go out of their way to act like there are piles of hot people waiting to meet you by making bots and declaring that huge distance radii are “near”. Yet once you pay to have some sort of usable membership to send messages, you find out the RECEIVER also needs a paid membership to read any messages! The result being your chances to merely contact someone you are interested in are near 0 even after paying money.

 

What to look for in a partner:


Knowing what you are into is a start, but care should go into finding the right play partner is important as well. To aid in that here are some features of good / bad doms and good / bad subs:

Good Dominant:

  • Will stick to any agreed boundaries and limits, not trying to push or deceive passed the agreed upon plans
  • Will figure out what motivates a submissive and be able to use that to bring out the best in a sub.
  • View being dominant as a responsibility to take care of their submissive
  • Will balance their interests with the submissive’s, making sure to consider what is difficult for the submissive and not just have the dominant blindly do what only they want.
  • Know how to work through small issues to keep a scene going.
  • Generally make decisions on what is best for the submissive as opposed to merely self gratification
  • Has skill to be able to read the state of a submissive without verbal communication or when a sub is not being fully forthright
  • Is aware of a submissive’s capabilities and limitations
  • Follow through on what they say, whether it be a promise or a threat
  • Are level headed and don’t play while having negative emotions.
  • Are consistent in general, such as how they “punish”, expectations, etc.
  • Able to understand that despite all the layers of BDSM play that everyone is still a human being and should be treated accordingly
  • Does not pretend to be perfect and takes responsibility for mistakes
  • Behaves as a role model, not as a hypocritical contradiction: Takes care of themselves in health and appearance, generally practices what they preach. 

Bad Dominant:

(Is basically the opposite, but additional notes)

  • Will seek to do the specific acts they are interested in with little regard for what the sub is interested in. They are willing to take advantage of a sub to have them to do tasks that are not in their best interest as well.
  • From the start will go out of their way to emphasize doing acts the submissive said they do not enjoy while calling it training or growth.
  • Tend to have jealousy and self image issues.
  • Will try and treat anyone they think is a submissive like they are “their” submissive even if just communicating for the first time
  • Will use being dominant as an excuse to be lazy rather than putting in the actual work involved to be a good dominant
  • Will blame any issues or errors on the submissive
  • Excuse their own inconsistent emotional behavior and actions just because they are a dominant
  • Will claim to have more experience or skills than they actually have
  • Will try and separate a submissive from their friends and family making the dominant all they have
  • Will try and change a submissive to their liking even if totally not what the submissive fundamentally is (appearance, general behavior, etc..)
  • Use or threaten disappointment to keep a submissive feeling of less worth, exploiting a sub’s desire to please

(In general will use many forms of manipulation)

Good Submissive:

  • A core desire to want to please the dominant
  • Able to communicate in general
  • Understands the need to communicate safewords appropriately and not view using them as a disappointment
  • Takes care of themselves in appearance and health
  • Is intelligent (not a doormat / has problem solving skills) and able to predict their dominant’s needs
  • Is patient and understands sometimes what their dominant wants may not always be the sub’s favorite activity, yet still finds pleasure in serving.

Bad Submissive:

(Is basically the opposite, but additional notes)

  • Looking to BDSM as a way of therapy for substantial issues
  • Expects more attention than reasonable and willing to create drama to get it
  • Generally expects a dominant to read their mind and gets upset when they are unable to
  • Lack communication skills in both daily life and play
  • If not outright topping from the bottom, will be attempting other forms of manipulation. 

Additional notes:

Reading cues is important so the dominant can read how intense a play act is / how someone is doing without having a bunch of complicated communication while mind reading is referring more to broad strokes communication. For example if a submissive would rather be doing a totally different style of play, would like to try something else, or whatever, but never communicates it. Cue reading can assist play flow, but is not required, while the mind reading issue is going to be a hard problem at any time. Having difficulty communicating while deep in sub-space is common and does not mean they are a “bad” submissive, this is another reason why reading cues is useful.

The term prediction perhaps also is a little close to mind reading, the main difference is that with prediction there have been given plenty of reasonable examples of what to expect, while mind reading is: OMG there is no possible way I would have known this until you told me. Intelligent refers to mostly not being a doormat. Some kink play is going to have a dumbass/bimbo theme thing going on, but most prefer some sort of common sense. For example being assigned a relatively simple task and not having to ask how to do it. If specifics were not given, the dominant is declaring those details are not important. An example of both would be, a sub should have enough intelligence and prediction that if say the dom spills a drink and has no special protocol on it, the sub should look into helping clean it up. Thus inferring intelligence of problem solving and prediction of what the dominant needs.

 

Outro:


If you made it this far hopefully that is a sign you found this guide useful. Although you may find yourself with a lot more questions, that is all part of the process on anyone’s starting BDSM education journey. With the core concepts out of the way you can now get some ideas for kinks of interest leading to looking deeper into specific subjects. When starting out the exact kink is less important than knowing the basics on generally making it happen safely and with everyone having a solid chance to have an enjoyable experience. While most of these thoughts are meant to be more fundamental, I do plan to keep the guide updated with any future concept developments.

Just in case you were curious to know more about the author:

I come from a fairly boring and standard suburban upbringing however as far as I can tell I seem to have been born with BDSM sexual desires. While growing up I’d see examples of bondage in the media such as TV shows and movies and remember being greatly interested in them, but had no idea why. Eventually getting into my early teenage years I was able to see examples of purposeful bondage thanks to older friends' adult magazine access and the beginnings of the internet. I finally was then able to see this was a thing and I wasn’t a lone weirdo. I was only able to dabble in BDSM opportunities in high school and then luckily was able to experiment together with my long term college girlfriend. Although neither of us had any formal training, we gained a good amount of experience just trying things out on our own. For the next major change, soon after college I had to move and despite being considered dominant, I managed to get in a long term relationship with a professional dominant. She opened the door to me to the SF BDSM scene where I first learned about public dungeon parties and BDSM classes. This gave me insight into both the public and professional scenes and I even got the opportunity to dabble a little with production. On a more recent note I’ve made it to the Portland area and look forward to learning more about the community here. I’ve started to get into BDSM gear design now thanks to learning some basics on leather-crafting and have always been a bit of a gear nerd in various aspects of my life. To help share what I have learned and things I think worth showing off I’ve created the website www.discerningspecialist.com




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