Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Introducing BDSM into your Relationship the Healthy Way

We’re living in a world of unprecedented sexual expression and accessibility. Not only do we have endless amounts of visual stimulation available to us at our fingertips, but authors like E.L. James and up and coming erotica entrepreneurs like Roxie Wilde are changing the way we look at things like dominance, submission, cuckolding and female sexuality. With scintillating stories like these teasing as well as exciting us, BDSM has undoubtedly reached the mainstream. For those looking to experiment or incorporate elements of this lifestyle into their own relationship, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here’s a look at where to start.

BDSM: What is it, Anyway?

The term BDSM is a portmanteau phrase incorporating the ideas of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. Of course, many of these are umbrella terms, as things like “discipline” can take on many forms–from outright physical punishment to corrective guidance and even things like orgasm denial.

At its core, though, BDSM is about a power exchange. The dominant partner enjoys taking control, and the submissive enjoys relinquishing said control to the will of their dom. But it’s essential to note that there are huge differences between abusive, domineering, controlling relationships and the true dynamic power exchanges that define BDSM. Within the context of a healthy D/s relationship, both roles are taken on consensually. Therein lies the beautiful paradox of real BDSM: it is, in fact, the submissive who holds the ultimate control. Even within the realm of a complete, full-time power exchange, the sub has the choice to stay or walk away.

Laying the Foundations for BDSM

Even with a knowledge of what BDSM is and a desire to explore it further, it can be difficult to know where to begin to incorporate your own kinks in a relationship. This is where understanding the foundations for this type of power exchange becomes essential.

Start with Communication

An important component of any relationship, open and honest communication becomes doubly important if you and your partner want to safely and enjoyably indulge in BDSM. Long before the handcuffs or spanking bench come into play, you need to make sure you’re both on the same page. And the only way to do that is to ask questions and go into details. This is not the time to be coy, shy away from details, or tell your SO the things you think they want to hear. Talk frankly about your desires, your limits, and the things you are curious about exploring together.

Trust is Essential

Along with communication, trust is the cornerstone of building a fulfilling BDSM relationship. Keep in mind that you’re opening yourself to new experiences, both mentally and physically. This is potentially going to put you in a raw and vulnerable position, and makes it of the utmost importance that you trust your partner implicitly. Do you trust that your Dom will respect your safeword and limits? Do you believe your sub will tell you honestly about how they are feeling and progressing? Trust should build over time, and isn’t something that should be rushed.

Do Your Research

Finally, before indulging in actual BDSM play, spend a bit of time researching not only your partner’s interests, but your own as well. Knowledge is power, and the more you know going into something, the better the odds that you will have a safe and enjoyable experience. Learn about rope safety and basic knots before binding each other, learn about safe areas for impact play and the areas you should always avoid before spanking each other. Whenever possible test toys and sensory play objects like nipple clamps and pinwheels on yourself before testing them out on a partner. It’s not fair to expect your sub to put up with things you cannot handle yourself.

Most of all, remember that this is an adventure and a bonding experience that you are embarking on together. You should enjoy the entire process, and give yourselves permission to learn and explore with one another.

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