I’ve recently become interested in exploring BDSM. My partner is somewhat kinky, and I think he’d be into experimenting, too. What resources can you recommend for BDSM beginners to learn more about getting started? Do you have any suggestions for starter “equipment” one can buy on a budget? –Newbie
But before you get excited about any of the stuff I’m about to point you to, you really, really should talk to your partner first and make sure that the two of you are on the same page about “experimenting,” and not just in general terms. There is a lot of stuff under the kink umbrella, and when you ask “Hey, want to try some of this stuff out?” you need to make sure that the “stuff” you’re thinking about is the same “stuff” he’s willing to try.
Find out if there is a play group in your area that holds public events. Here is one directory of groups (also useful: a list of venues and play spaces), and you can also join Fetlife as a couple to search for events in your area. If you’re unwilling or unable to explore things with the local scene, get your hands on some quality porn (kink.com is pretty much the gold standard) and watch it together.
The goal here is not so much to look to other people for ideas as it is to give both of you a more concrete idea of what’s involved on both sides of what you’re interested in. If you’re into receiving pain, for instance, that doesn’t mean that your partner will be willing or able to inflict it in every one of the myriad of delicious ways your lizard brain craves. Gathering information together can help you figure out how your kinks overlap.
Without knowing precisely what you want to do, it’s difficult to point you towards any specific resources, but here are some good general tips before you get started.
1. Decide on a safe word, and understand that it’s inviolable when either of you says it, regardless of who’s topping or who’s tied up. Pick something that both of you can remember easily, and something distinct that doesn’t sound like any word you normally are inclined to use during sexytimes. (Mine is “daffodil.”)
2. If you’re interested in rope bondage, get and memorize a good book of knots. This is a nice place to start. Buy a seatbelt cutter or a pair of shears with blunted tips, so that you can get rid of ropes in a hurry if necessary. A pair of long gloves are good for preventing rope burn on wrists.
3. Speaking of rope: get it at a hardware store, not an adult toy store. Generally speaking you want something lightweight, flexible, and soft; make sure that your shears or cutter can slice through it easily.
4. There are a pretty dizzying variety of props for impact play, but do not ever hit your partner with anything you haven’t examined thoroughly for rough or sharp edges and tested on yourself. A couple of good thwacks to your own arm or thigh will give you a much better idea of how to use a crop, paddle, or cane than any number of practice swings through the air.
5. If you are going to use gags, make sure before the clothes come off that the gagged person can either safeword intelligibly through it, or decide on an alternate safe action–dropping a set of keys or other similarly jangly object is pretty common.
Any kinksters in the commentariat who have some good suggestions for resources, please share! I consider myself a woman of the world in this arena, but there’s still a lot of stuff that I don’t really know enough to be comfortable giving advice. Maybe your area of expertise is exactly what Newbie and his partner want to try!
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