Sex on 27th: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM

Sex on 27th deals with all matters of the bedroom. From sexual wellness to bondage, columnist, Julia Suarez, gets real and answers all of your most ~burning~ questions.

 

I started getting interested in BDSM during my junior year of high school. This was back when Tumblr (RIP) was a safe-haven for people seeking information about sex, kinks, and porn. I never actually tried BDSM until my sophomore year of college, but by then, I had done enough research to feel comfortable trying it.

 

So, Blush readers, I am going to take you through my own personal guide to BDSM. These are all topics I’ve researched extensively; Stil, keep in mind that everyone is different, and so is every relationship. Any kind of BDSM scenario has a certain risk factor and should be approached carefully.

Illustration by Cécile Dormeau via GQ

 

Without further ado, let’s delve into the wonderful world of BDSM!

The Roles

Let’s start with the basics: BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. There are three different roles: there’s the Dom (the dominant one) and the Sub (the submissive one), and a Switch (someone who can be both dominant and submissive).

 

Use a Safe Word

Safe words ensure that everything is consensual and that all parties are having fun. The Sub should have a safe word (mine is “pineapple”) to use freely in case something is wrong or feels uncomfortable. You can even use words like “yellow” for slow down, “green” for go ahead, and “red” for stop. Always have a gesture to use if you’re tied up or can’t speak, like shaking your head twice. Never, EVER let a partner try to convince you that a safe word or gesture is unnecessary! And don’t let them make you feel guilty for using it, either. 

 

Set Limits

It’s essential to have a conversation about your limits. Set your boundaries before the scene starts. You can differentiate between “Soft limits,” which are things you might want to experiment with but have to ease into slowly and “Hard limits,” which are things you would never do. Limits vary from person to person, so it’s important to know each others do’s and don’ts before you get all tied up.

 

Experiment With Toys

Whether you’re using vibrators, a spreader bar, butt plugs, blindfolds, or bondage tape, you should research how to use them safely and talk to your partner about what they prefer. Some people don’t enjoy being tied down with a rope every single scene. So, find the toys that work for you both.

David McGlynn by Getty Images

The Subspace

A “subspace” is a chemical reaction that a Sub may experience in a BDSM scenario. It can occur in two different forms. The first occurs when the Sub begins to dissociate and, in a way, steps out of their body. In this experience, the Sub’s body fights the mind with hormones and endorphins.

In the other scenario, the Sub’s mind alters due to intense pleasure caused by the interaction with the Dom. A surge of epinephrine, endorphins, and enkephalins combine to create a euphoric sensation that numbs any pain.

So, in a Subspace, no matter what scenario, the Sub is unable to make rational decisions about his or her safety or well being. Being said, the Dom must care for the welfare of the Sub at any time.

 

The Sub Drop

The “Sub drop” is when a Sub experiences overwhelming negative feelings right after a scene or even days after. A Sub can feel anything ranging from a little bit of depression all the way to complete hysterics. No one reacts the same to every type of situation, though in my experience, the more intense the scene, the harder the drop.

 

The Dom Drop

The “Dom drop” is not as common as the Sub drop. During a dom drop, the Dom feels bad for hitting his/ her partner and for enjoying this type of gameplay; questions like a “Did I really just hit my partner?” or, “Am I the type of person who enjoys causing pain?” “Why would I say such degrading things to someone I care about?” may occur to the Dom’s. Consequently, the Dom as well can feel depressed or even scared of facing their partner. In all of these scenarios, communication is key!

 

Practice Aftercare

Aftercare is the time you and your partner take after the play to recover and also see to each others’ emotional and physical needs. Physical aftercare can include things like helping remove restraints or blindfolds, getting something to eat or drink, cuddling, kissing, etc. Emotional aftercare involves the discussion of the scene and feeling that evolved from it. This is integral so that you both understand each other’s needs and expectations. Again, needs and wishes vary. I personally need cuddles and, of course, food. I also enjoy doing “normal” activities, such as watching Netflix or doing homework afterward.

 

The key to a healthy, consensual BDSM relationship requires self-knowledge (knowing your limits and not being afraid to voice them), communication skills before, during and after, and emotional maturity. I’ve gone from being completely OK one second to sobbing uncontrollably the next. All of that is normal, and the person you are with should always provide the care you need, and should never, ever make you feel embarrassed.

 

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