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What is BDSM? Where Should I Start if I’m Interested in it?

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What is BDSM? Where Should I Start if I’m Interested in it?

BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. It’s about the sexual activities that some people could consider “kinky” or less common.

Not everyone is into BDSM. For people who are into it, the things they like don’t have to be the same as other people who like BDSM. If you’re curious about BDSM you can explore it by yourself or with enthusiastic partners. You could start by fantasizing about what you’d like to try. You can also look for porn or erotica that helps you get aroused.

If you want to try something specific with a partner, it’s important to talk to them about it first. Mutual consent is just as important with BDSM as it is with anything else you do sexually. Suddenly trying out BDSM without your partner’s consent can be shocking, uncomfortable, or traumatic to your partner.

A quick glossary of terms

Articles about BDSM can be intimidating. Sometimes they use terms that not everyone knows. Below are some definitions of some common terms in BDSM, including the words that make up the acronym B-D-S-M.

Bondage: Bondage generally means using some kind of restraints. This can be anything from handcuffs to complicated rope patterns. Some enjoy tying up a partner, while others enjoy being tied up by their partner. They may enjoy this because it involves an exchange of power or loss of control.

Dominance: Dominance means having control over someone. Remember that the person being dominated has to clearly and enthusiastically consent to giving this control to the dominant person for the period of time. Some people find sexual pleasure in dominating or being dominated by a partner. Some people feel pleasure psychologically, physically, or both. For example, some people like being “bossed around” by a partner. Others like their partner to dominate them in a physical sense. Someone who is in the dominant role may be called a Domme (female) or Dom (male).

Fetish: A fetish is a specific sexual fantasy or act that arouses someone. Lots of people have fetishes, and they can be based on almost anything. Some fetishes are things that may not seem sexual to you, but everyone is different. For example, some people have a fetish for leather clothing.

Kink: Kink refers to sexual practices that some people consider “unusual.” For example, someone might have a tickling kink. That means they’re sexually aroused by tickling someone or by being tickled.

Sado-masochism: Sado-masochism is the combination of two terms: sadism and masochism. Sadism means getting pleasure from causing pain. Masochism means getting pleasure from receiving pain.

Safewords: Code words or signals that a partner, especially a submissive, can use if they want something to end. Safewords should be easy to understand and remember. Some people might also use non-verbal safewords, like snapping their fingers.

Submissive: A person who gives power to a dominant. Sometimes this is just shortened to “sub.”

Switch: A person who enjoys being and can alternate between being both dominant and submissive.

Safer sex and consent in BDSM

The term “BDSM” includes many different types of sexual behaviour. Some have little or no risk for giving or getting STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Other sexual activities in BDSM can have a higher risk. Using condoms, gloves, and dental dams can lower your risk of giving or getting an STI. If you’re having sex that can result in pregnancy, condoms or other forms of birth control can also help reduce the risk of pregnancy.

With some types of BDSM, safer sex can mean more than just pregnancy and STI prevention.  Some BDSM practices, like spanking or caning, can cause extreme pain or injury if they’re not done carefully. Other practices can be dangerous if you try them without learning about safety principles. For example, tying someone up in the wrong way could cut off their circulation, or cause rope burn.

Consent is important in BDSM, just like in other sexual situations. If you’re doing BDSM with a partner, it’s a good idea to keep checking in with each other to see how you’re both feeling. When you’re doing something that is intense or higher risk, checking in becomes even more important! Also remember that consenting to one thing doesn’t mean consenting to other things. For example, someone consenting to kissing doesn’t mean they’ve consented to being naked. If you or your partner tell each other to stop, you should respect that by stopping right away.

Sometimes people practicing BDSM use special words or phrases known as “safewords”. A safeword means “stop” or “let’s take a break”. A safeword should be unambiguous and easy to understand. When you hear your partner’s safeword, it’s important to immediately stop what you’re doing and find out how they feel.

How do I start?

Getting into BDSM can be intimidating. If you and your partner are both new to exploring it, it’s important to talk about how you feel and what your next steps might be. Talking about things you both want can be a good way of setting a mood. It can also help you to know your partner better.

You and your partner might want to try different things, so it’s important that no one is pressuring anyone else. BDSM can be intense and even emotional for some people, so enthusiastic consent is as important as ever.

If you’re over 18 and looking for a sexual partner to try BDSM with, social websites like Fetlife can help. Also, there’s lots of books and websites that can show you safer techniques for things like tying up a partner. For a starting point, you can check out Babeland’s BDSM How-To Guide.

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