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What Is Bondage?: A BDSM Guide For Beginner’s

We’re all becoming more curiously open-minded about our own exploration of sex, right? And when the BDSM hit flick Fifty Shades of Grey became the fourth highest-grossing R-rated movie ever back in 2015, it became clear that we’re all open to a little more kink in the bedroom too. However, a lot of BDSM masters say Fifty Shades of Grey was a meek and mild taste of vanilla compared to the real stuff: So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘What is bondage?’, we here at Dating Smartz are going to explore the down and dirty basic details for you.

We all like to think we’re a brave and forward-thinking minx between the sheets, but a few drops of candle wax and a pair of fuzzy pink handcuffs are just the luke-warm beginnings of what some BDSM experts get up to when the bedroom door slams shut. 

So for some bondage ideas and BDSM tips, we have put together an informative BDSM guide for beginners that teaches you everything you need to know and offers some advice on how you may want to start safely and sensibly. Now buckle up, this might get a little rough if you’re feeling up for some fun.

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What is bondage? What is BDSM?

Let’s begin with the very basics of our BDSM guide: What is bondage? And what does BDSM even stand for? Well, depending on what parts and practices of BDSM you’re into, it can mean different things for different people. In general, BDSM is the umbrella term for a wide variety of sexual behaviours and erotic preferences that involve a lot of physical restraining, sexual roleplay and the inflicting of pain.

The name BDSM derives from it generally being split into the following categories: Bondage, Discipline, Domination & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism. 

B is for Bondage

Bondage is sex play that involves the physical but consensual restraint of your partner. The eroticism of bondage comes from the sexual idea that one person has full control over the other, allowing both participants to gain pleasure from the role-playing of power vs. vulnerability. Bondage activities usually include being tied up and blindfolded as a form of ‘punishment’. 

D is for Discipline

The idea of discipline in BDSM comes from the behavioural change of the participant being restrained or punished. As the partner submitting to the other, they need to be disciplined in obeying their rules and commands, hence why punishment often comes into play, including spanking or forms of sexual humiliation. 

D/S is for Domination & Submission

The relationship between the two participants is built around one being the dominating partner (dom) and the other being the submissive partner (sub). The dom role takes the responsible lead in the power play and the sub role involves giving full power and control to their so-called ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’, or ‘Madam’ – whatever title you like. This relationship dynamic is usually based around sexual activities, but the role play often spills out to other emotional aspects of the relationship. Find out more about this here

S/M is for Sadism and Masochism

In simple terms, sexual sadism and masochism is the act of inflicting pain (sadism) and receiving pain for pleasure (masochism). A sadist enjoys the experience and feeling of causing suffering and humiliation, but does so in a safe and consensual manner. A masochist enjoys the experience and feeling of receiving the pain and humiliation, but does so with clear boundaries set out. 

Are you more suitable as a dominant or submissive?

One of the key things to ask yourself when exploring the question of ‘what is bondage?’ is also whether you’re more suited to be dominant or submissive? The truth is, the best way to find out is to experiment with both roles because that way you can find what suits you best and what turns you on the most. Often those with domineering social roles in their work/home life (ie. a boss/parent) actually like to be submissive in BDSM, and vice versa. Makes sense, right?

It might also be the case that you enjoy embodying both roles – and this is common too. Someone who’s versatile and often takes on both is called a ‘switch’. So explore our bondage guide with an open mind and find what you feel comfortable with and enjoy the most.

Behaviours of a dominant partner

  • Takes full control of everything involved in the sex play
  • Expects their sub to obey their commands
  • Puts their own sexual pleasure and desires before the sub
  • Is responsible for keeping the sex play safe
  • Expects their sub to please and satisfy them

Behaviours of a submissive partner

  • Always prepared to please and satisfy their dom
  • Fully accepts being controlled and dominated
  • Puts their dom’s desires and pleasures first
  • Always obeys their dom’s commands

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The types of BDSM play and bondage ideas:

As we’ve already mentioned, BDSM is a very broad umbrella term that involves a variety of different sexual behaviours, preferences, and interests, but generally, there’s a core set of activities that make up the usual BDSM practice. If you’re still unsure of your question of ‘what is bondage?’, here are the main types of BDSM play that may make things a little clearer: 

Sensory Play

This is a type of sadomasochism that involves the over-stimulation of the body’s senses. It’s not necessarily extreme pain either, it can simply be the sexual stimulation of a body part that gives pleasure to the person. Typical activities include:

  • The use of temperature – hot candle wax or a cold ice cube.
  • Tickling with feathers or other sensory sex toys.
  • The use of blindfolds or headphones to heighten other senses.

Impact Play

This usually comes in the form of spanking but the extremity depends on the participants involved and their usual practices of safe and consensual impact play. Typical activities include:

  • The use of toys and tools such as paddles or whips.
  • Some partners only enjoy mild spanking but others like it aggressive enough to leave bruises.

Power Play

We’ve already covered the power play of the dom/sub dynamic, but it’s best to give a little more explanation seeing as it’s such an integral part of BDSM. In a nutshell, it’s the interactive dynamic between the dominant and the submissive, but there’s a bit more to it:

  • The play may include severe punishments or orgasm-control if rules are disobeyed.
  • Some people like to involve age play with the use of a daddy/mommy dynamic.
  • Most subs are fully obedient but others like to misbehave and challenge their dom.
  • These partners are nicknamed ‘bratz’.
  • Physical control can be involved, but the dynamic is mostly a form of psychological and emotional play.

Primal Play

Another form of power-play involves the idea of the dominant partner being the ‘hunter’ and the submissive partner being the ‘prey’. This is a way of the participants gaining sexual pleasure from their raw and innate animalistic side.

Why do people practise BDSM?

Now let’s get into the whys of our BDSM basics for beginners. We’re all different social beings and everyone has their own preferences, interests and kinks when it comes to what turns them on and what turns them off. Our sexual desires are a complex part of our personality, no matter whether we enjoy sex that’s considered ‘normal’ and ‘standard’ or whether we love the more hardcore kinks of BDSM.

To explore further into why some people psychologically find the whips and chains of BDSM so riveting, let’s take a look at a Quora discussion. Here’s some honest answers to a thread titled ‘Why do people enjoy BDSM?’ which are particularly insightful into why it turns people on so much:

“For me, as a submissive/bottom, once I am turned on, sensations all add to the pleasure. Even mild pain (a light bite, squeeze, etc) registers as pleasure until it gets to a certain level. Being bound and helpless also means I’m not responsible for making sure he is having fun; I’m in charge in most aspects of my life (a single mom and a manager to over 50 people), so being able to let go is precious to me.” 

– Anonymous (2013)

“It’s great adult play. BDSM is a practice that allows you to delve into your fantasies, to laugh, to get dark, to use your imagination, and to get to know yourself and your partner(s). It’s also a fantastic form of stress relief.”

– Anonymous (2017)

“In the regular aspects of my relationship, my partner treats me as his equal. We respect each other, love each other and care about each other deeply. But there is something very appealing to me when it comes to being submissive in BDSM. The idea of letting go, and being able to provide someone with enjoyment.”

– Anonymous (2015)

“A big reason why a lot of people like BDSM is because it’s a way to experiment with control. For a submissive, having control over your life or your body taken away can be very exciting. You don’t know what’s about to be done to you and you don’t have any way to stop it. That uncertainty and fear that comes from giving up control is a very powerful feeling. In a way, it’s similar to the appeal of horror movies. People watch horror movies because, on some level, being scared is fun.”

– Anonymous (2013)

The importance of safety:

Now that we’ve explained the BDSM basics for beginners, it’s time to set some all-important ground rules that should always come with safe, sensible, and consensual BDSM play. No matter what your BDSM involves, the sex play you practice and the dynamic relationship between you as participants should always be built on trust and communication – no matter what!

BDSM communities have even come up with the terms RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) and SCC (Safe Sane Consensual) as guidelines for those newbies wanting to explore BDSM. With it involving the pain-infliction of sadomasochism and the draining psychological play of a sub/dom dynamic, it’s vital you acknowledge the risks involved and always keep the play open and honest with only strong communication between you both.

Here’s the five essential safety rules of our BDSM guide that should always be followed:

Rule One: Come up with some safe-words

The use of safewords is one of the most important rules of BDSM, hence why it’s number one – so listen up. Safewords are a way for keeping the submissive partner safe during your power play by letting the dom know that they’re still feeling comfortable and willing to continue. 

Of course a safe word can be whatever you choose –  a traffic light system is a common method of communicating (Green meaning “continue”, yellow meaning “continue but cautiously”, and red means “stop!”. 

Rule Two: Never play under the influence of drugs/alcohol

Another hugely important rule is to never practice BDSM under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Why? Well, the risks change massively when intoxication is involved because behaviours are altered and intensified by the tendency to lose more of your inhibitions. This can make your power play or impact play far more dangerous for you both.

Rule Three: Use your equipment correctly

As we’ve mentioned, the activities of BDSM can involve a lot of equipment and sexual tools/toys that come into play whenever desired, and so you must know how to use the equipment safely and correctly, from whips to gags and dildos to canes. Some people even use more dangerous equipment such as knives and needles, so it goes without saying that these should be used appropriately and cautiously. 

Rule Four: Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings

We’ve already spoken about the guidelines of RACK and SCC for safe and consensual sex, but in a general sense, it’s good to always be sensitive to your partners’ feelings and emotions during your BDSM play. Be kind and caring outside of your play and listen to their requests and requirements wholeheartedly. Never have any unfair expectations for what they should and should not be willing to try.

Rule Five: Know your body’s limits 

We all have our limitations during sexual activities, and our bodies naturally know when they’ve been pushed far beyond what we enjoy and what feels good. So be prepared for the worst and take your body’s safety seriously. Cause no serious or long term harm to yourself or your partner and have some aftercare rituals in place to make sure you heal both mentally and physically. This can include some soothing lotions or simply some contrary intimate time with your partner. A good romantic cuddle might be what you need.

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Our beginner’s BDSM tips:

If you’ve got this far into the article, it seems to us that you’re perhaps rather interested in how you might dip your toes into the BDSM waters. If so, these are four of the best BDSM tips of our bondage guide that beginners should consider. Rule number one, though – keep safe and keep an open mind!

Tip One: Educate yourself and your partner 

Keep researching BDSM basics for beginners beyond this article and always put importance on understanding the safety aspects of the most extreme BDSM practices. You might have seen Fifty Shades of Grey and you might have already read a few informative guides like this one, but keep in mind that there’s a lot more in-depth knowledge to learn about the psychological benefits of BDSM and the various sex tools, machines, and equipment that experts love to use. 

Tip Two: Pick a comfortable place 

It’s absolutely vital that you plan your first BDSM experience in a safe and sensible setting that makes you feel 100% comfortable. Not only should you choose a partner with who you trust and have a communicative and honest relationship with, but you should also choose a location that makes you feel at ease. If you’re feeling relaxed and secure, that way you’ll be more inclined to let go of your inhibitions and enjoy the experience.

Tip Three: Enjoy playing dress up 

If BDSM is tempting you, give in to curiosity and browse some bondage ideas and BDSM gear to see what interests you the most. There’s bountiful dress up items you can choose from, from latex dresses to leather collars and latex masks to high heeled shoes that can work well for impact play. The key is to have fun with dress-up and experiment with different things to see what turns you on the most. For an extra boost to your libido, take a read of our list of sexy phrases and words to use.

Tip Four: Take it slow and steady

You know the old saying – slow and steady wins the race. The last thing you want to do is try too many things far too quickly and scare yourself into uncomfortableness. Start with the one particular fantasy you’re excited about the most and then take baby steps into further experimentation if you’re feeling willing and ready.

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