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Sexual Wellness

The Beginner’s Guide to Bondage

| 07/05/2018

beginner bondage

To gain control, there are times you have to give it up. In the bedroom, an exciting way to do that is through bondage.

The term “bondage” is self-explanatory. One partner literally binds the other using physical restraints. The restraints can be ropes or handcuffs created specifically for use during sex play. Or you can get creative and use what you have at home, like the silk tie of a bathrobe or a leather belt.

After one partner is all tied all, though, what’s next? Read on for a beginner’s guide to bondage – and remember, it’s something that people of all orientations and genders can enjoy.

First things first.

Any sexual activity requires consent to be considered sex. If there’s no consent, it’s not sex, it’s assault. Before we move onto sexy bondage tips, let’s do what you should do first with your sexual partner: discuss consent. I won’t judge you, whether you’re enjoying bondage with your regular partner, or a stranger you met at a sex party. However, you need to discuss boundaries (what you’re comfortable with and what’s off limits) with any partner, before getting started.

For instance, you might be okay with being tied up, but name-calling or spanking doesn’t make you feel good. That needs to be clarified ahead of time. For any type of BDSM activity, establish a safe word. And just you would in any other sexual encounter, discuss STI status and the last time you were tested. There may not be penetrative sex or fluid exchange in bondage, but it’s still a good conversation to have.

Once you have a safe word, use it and stop the play if you feel at all uncomfortable. And if you feel uneasy about needing a safe word (or anything else about the situation), this may not be the right time to try bondage – or the right person to try it with.

If those conversations go well and you’re feeling turned on, then hell yeah. Let’s learn the ropes.

To tie or be tied?

Most people interested in D/s (Dominance and submission) typically prefer either the Dominant or submissive role. Those who enjoy both call themselves “switches,” as they can switch between being the Dom and the sub.

When it comes to bondage, figuring out which role you would prefer is this simple: what turns you on? Is it the act of tying someone up, being the restrained partner, or both? If you’re unsure, experiment. (It’s a fun homework assignment!)

What are the risks?

As far as BDSM activities go, bondage is pretty low-risk. That being said, I do have a friend who once tied up his girlfriend to what he thought was just a pipe next to their bed. It turned out to be the heater, and since it was winter time, the heat turned on while she was tied up and he was going down on her. He couldn’t untie her in time, and she ended up in the ER with severe burns on her hands.

That doesn’t happen to most people, of course. But for starters, do not tie anyone to a heater. More to the point, check out your surroundings before you (or your partner) is tied up and unable to do anything about them.

Additionally, keep a pair of safety shears around. You can grab a pair on Amazon; they’re just the scissors that paramedics use, designed so you won’t accidentally cut someone with them. Why scissors? Well, when you’re using rope or similar materials, the biggest risk is that you’ll tie a knot that is difficult to untie.

That may not be an issue for BDSM novices, but it’s better to be prepared – and it can definitely be a problem for those exploring advanced rope play like Shibari, Japanese rope bondage. (Sounds interesting? You can buy books on the subject, or even better, attend one of the Shibari workshops held in New York and most other major cities.)

If you want a worry-free bondage session, though, your safest best is to pick up some Velcro handcuffs (also available on Amazon in lots of sexy colors). If either partner wants to stop, these cuffs can be easily removed without the hassle of untying knots.

Yes, part of the fun may be slightly lessened if you know you can escape. Use your imagination, however, and you can picture yourself firmly bound in a partner’s dungeon. And trust me on this one. If your partner has your arms restrained while they’re penetrating you from behind with a Fin finger vibrator against your clit, your thoughts won’t be on Velcro.

How to enjoy pleasure through pain.

If you’re submissive, activities like spanking can be even more erotic while you’re tied up. Why? Because you are surrendering control to your partner. The anticipation grows, your adrenaline surges; when your Dominant’s hand finally makes contact with your booty, the experience is even more intense. And for a Dom, needless to say, watching your sub squirm is just as hot.

To make the bondage even more intense, add the element of sensory deprivation with a blindfold or earplugs.

It’s more than whips and chains.

Most who haven’t tried bondage associate it with spanking or pain, but BDSM play doesn’t have to hurt at all. Since you’re enjoying consensual bondage with someone you trust, you already know in advance that there’s no real danger; the thrill is psychological, and no contact is necessary unless both partners desire it.

To up that ante, add some name-calling or role-playing. Professor/school girl and daddy Dom/baby girl are popular choices, and yes, light incest play is normal. Here’s another approach. Rather than shooting for psychologically edgy, try making your bondage session a sensory experience. For example, one partner can tie up the other, blindfold them, and then use a feather to tickle their nipples. If a pinch of pain turns you on, try light spanking or nipple pinching. Simply having rough sex can do the trick, too.

With the right amount of lube, being tied up can be a crazy hot way to enjoy anal sex – and who can forget oral? Tie me up and make me go down on you? Yes, please! One more idea: if you have a clitoris, try wearing the hands-free Eva II vibrator while you’re tied up, since you won’t be able to touch yourself. You’ll thank me afterward.

Bondage is caring.

After any type of Dominance and submission play, endorphins, adrenaline and oxytocin will all be running high. When you’re done with your session and the ropes or handcuffs come off, though, remember to practice aftercare instead of simply relaxing in the afterglow.

Aftercare is just a fancy name for taking care of one another and making sure everyone feels OK, after having a good time. If anyone has light rope burns or bruises, they could require ice or bandages. More likely, aftercare simply involves cuddling with one another, enjoying the post-orgasmic glow – and reminding each other that even though one partner was just tied up, spanked and called a slut, you truly care for each other and respect one another.

No, bondage isn’t weird, wrong or even unusual.

Many first-timers feel a little queasy about trying bondage. That’s normal. But if the feeling is based on a suspicion that there’s something “wrong” about the practice, learning a little about the history of bondage might set your mind at ease.

What is bondage? The term itself actually comes from the Anglo-Latin term “bondagium,” which was used during the Middle Ages and was originally used to refer to the enslavement of serfs. Serfdom and the subjugation of workers was widespread during those times, of course; the derivation is variously credited to Old Norse (bōndi, būa or bōa), Indo-European (bhōw), Old English (bonda), Middle English (bonde), German (bauen) and French (esclavage, meaning slavery).

The word described the situation of someone who was politely referred to a “tenant farmer” in a villeinage system. In reality, they weren’t an ordinary farmer. They were a slave or indentured servant, who was in thrall to a freeman, a “husbandman,” a “householder” or the “head of a family.”

The goal here is not to serve as an English language dictionary or thesaurus, confusing you with synonyms and participles. The goal is simply to point out that “bondage” originated as a common term, used throughout history to describe people who were being controlled by others. The word only took on connotations related to sexual practice in the 20th century.

The history of BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism) goes back much further. Various forms of BDSM, such as submission and flagellation, were used in ancient Mesopotamia and Greece. They’ve been depicted in art and practiced over the millennia, from the 5th century BC “Tomb of the Floggings” in Italy, to much of the Kama Sutra and the Japanese martial art known as hojojitsu.

Bondage, and BDSM in general, became more commonly practiced after the publication of erotic literature in Victorian England, and its usage grew concurrently in the rest of Western Europe, Japan, and other Asian nations. However, it wasn’t widely viewed as an element of normal sexuality until the “sexual revolution” centered around the United States and Europe during the mid-1960s, and the development of the Internet a few decades later.

Today, bondage, submission, discipline and related activities are more common than those who are into “vanilla” sex would imagine.

One large study, conducted in 2015 by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, found that well over a third of respondents had tried spanking, Dominant/submissive role playing, bondage and/or flogging. A similar Belgian study found nearly half of the respondents had at least experimented with BDSM, nearly ten percent considered it integral to their lifestyle, and another 22 percent had fantasized about it.

And if you needed more evidence: the erotic Fifty Shades of Grey books, focusing on a relationship based largely on BDSM themes like bondage, Dominance and submission, were the best-selling books of the entire 2010s.

In summary, “bondage” is much more than an historical reference to medieval thralldom, or a description of a somewhat-weird fetish. It’s an integral part of many people’s normal sexual fantasies – and for many, an integral part of their everyday lives.

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