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BDSM: What You Need to Know Before You Engage

BDSM: What You Need to Know Before You Engage

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” -Brene Brown, author and researcher

Maybe you've heard of BDSM (bondage, dominance/discipline, submission and sadomasochism/sadism and masochism) yet aren’t completely sure what it is. The term refers to practices that involve domination and control. There is not one specific way to practice BDSM but infinite ways and it is considered a sexual practice often including elements ofbondage and discipline, submission and sadomasochism. Usually one person takes a submissive role while the other is dominant.

If you currently practice BDSM or wish to try, it’s vitally important to ensure that you feel safe and loved during your entire experience. Practicing BDSM can be a great way to explore sexuality and new sensations and may increase intimacy and vulnerability for interested partners. 

Understanding the words behind BDSM is the perfect place to begin.

  • Bondage: involves restricting movement and may include restraints. 
  • Dominance and discipline: includes punishments and rules that a dominant partner makes over the submissive partner.
  • Submission: yielding to a dominant partner's actions and wishes.
  • Sadomasochism (sadism and masochism): inflicting pain (sadism) or receiving pain (masochism) to bring pleasure to your partner. 

      While BDSM may vary dramatically in how it is practiced–it is critical to make consent the first step.  That consent can be written or verbal from both involved. Here are three considerations we believe essential to ensuring a positive, loving experience when practicing BDSM.

      1.  Consent–both parties must agree to participate. Have this conversation before you begin, preferably on a different day than the practice itself. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable, do not engage.Consent is ongoing, you are entitled to change your mind and withdraw consent at any time during sex.

      2. Boundaries–are vitally important to ensure all parties are comfortable and that the result is a positive experience for both. Agree upon a safe word  before you begin. It could be any word you both choose or you could use the traffic light method. Traffic light method means that if either party says green for go, yellow for caution or slow down, or red for stop–the other person will hear it and take the associated action. The importance of having an agreed upon safe word or words is that you both agree when the word is spoken by either–both of you will take the appropriate action without hesitation. You and your partner may wish to discuss what you plan to do during BDSM play and what activities/acts are on and off the table. 

      3. After care–in the aftermath of your practice, plan time to discuss what went well, and perhaps what changes you wish to consider for the future. Don't hesitate to speak up if you did not like an aspect. This time can involve grooming, hugging, showering or another comforting activity that you both enjoy. 

      Feeling safe is paramount.Set an intention with your partner at the start to enjoy a mutually loving experience. Clear communication and boundaries along with an emphasis on listening and the consideration of your partner will help ensure a positive experience for both. Listen to your instincts and participate in a way that ensures your complete comfort. 

      Love has boundaries and setting your boundaries will help ensure you can be your best self and thrive in all you do. Learn more.