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How to explore BDSM bondage if you’re hesitant but curious

Toni Sicola|2022.02.02

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If you've watched or read anything from the "Fifty Shades of Grey" franchise, then you've got a basic idea for what BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) is. There's the leather, the spanking, the BDSM bondage of handcuffs, restraints, ropes, and chains. But there are many "shades" to BDSM, most of which weren’t covered in the series, and some of which don't necessarily culminate in the kind of orgasmic sex you might imagine or expect if you're not well-versed in this area.

BDSM can involve any number of fetishes and kinks, with many having nothing to do with actual sexual intercourse. Some, of course, do. If you've been curious about what BDSM bondage entails and how a person might get into this type of thing, keep reading. We'll give you a crash course in bondage, role play, humiliation, sex toys, and props that can make these fetishes more fun.

Rules of engagement: Safety and communication

As a primer to this conversation, especially if you're new to the world of BDSM or sub/dom play in general, it's important to first mention that this type of play requires extreme trust and a high level of communication.

Any number of things could happen during fetish play when a person is restrained or otherwise incapacitated, and the goal is to enjoy it (whatever that might mean in this context). So trust, communication, and an established mutual understanding of expectations before entering the situation are of the utmost importance.

The baseline requirement is for you and your partners to have a safe word that everyone knows and agrees on. In many cases, it might be part of the roleplay or BDSM scene for a person to say "stop" or "no" or "help" and for the other person to ignore it or use it as a sign to kick it up a notch. So those words don't quite cut it as safe words in this context (although obviously when not in this context, those words should be heeded at all times).

The best safe words are easy to remember but are also somewhat out of sync with the activity at hand, with a goal of letting the other person know that you're serious and you want to stop right now. "Watermelon" or "juniper" or "bucket" might all work as safe words, but you'll need to pick one that you like and will remember.

You may also establish other boundaries before going into a BDSM bondage situation that don't pertain to the safe word. For example, there may be areas of humiliation or shame that are off-limits for you (whether due to past trauma or some other reason), no matter how much you enjoy being humiliated in some other way.

Having an open and honest dialogue with your partner before you put on your sub/dom hats is mandatory. Don't wait till you're in the situation, because it can get really confusing for the other person who will have to guess whether or not you're being serious.

With that foundation, let's dive in.

BDSM bondage 101: Roleplay and restraints

In BDSM play, you generally roleplay with one person assuming a dominant (dom) role and the other assuming a submissive (sub) role. Generally, the sub is restrained or in bondage while the dom is calling the shots.

Roleplay mechanics

On the surface, and in the context of a roleplay fantasy, the dom is the one in charge. But as we mentioned above, all of the communication beforehand allows the sub to set boundaries for the session in the spirit of completely relinquishing control with safety and trust in the moment.

Some like to say that in reality, the sub is always in control. If you think about it, the sub is the recipient of whatever is about to happen and the center of the experience receiving whatever is given or done to them. The goal is to pleasure the sub—"pleasure" being incredibly relative in this context.

These roles don't have to be static and can change from session to session, or even within one session if everyone is communicating well. Roles could be as simple or imaginative as suits your fancy.

Common ones include slave master and BDSM slave girl/boy/person, doctor and patient, teacher and student, boss and underling, prison warden and prisoner, etc.

There's also just good old-fashioned dominatrix play (one of the main types depicted in Hollywood movies), which usually involves a femdom (think leather bustier, whips, spike heels, sometimes a strap-on) and a sub who might wear a dog collar and leash or some other denigrating restraint who has to do everything she says. If you remember Rosie O'Donnell's outfits in “Exit to Eden,” or Angelina Jolie's look as a secret spy assassin in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” you know the look we're talking about.

Bondage

Bondage can take a lot of different forms. There are the types of restraints we've already mentioned, including handcuffs, rope bondage, and chains. You can get props like this designed specifically for bondage play at sex shops and online, or you can get creative with things you already have at your house.

There's also a specific type of Japanese bondage called kinbaku, which means "tight binding" and involves really intricate knot-tying to restrain someone. You obviously don't have to be Asian to get into this—it's for everyone—but it does require study and skill to learn. It could be a fun rabbit hole to go down and geek out on if you're into rope play and knots.

Depending on the type of restraint you're planning for, you can grab your belts, scarves, or even long socks or stockings.

Here are some simple restraints to experiment with:

  • Tying wrists and ankles to bedposts or headboards

  • Tying wrists together or ankles together, or both

  • Hogtie—binding the wrists (usually behind the back), then tying the ankles to the wrists

If you're a beginner in this world, you'll probably want to start with materials you already have to make sure you enjoy the experience before heading out to your local sex shop and dropping a bunch of money on BDSM bondage props.*

  • Always check in when you're tying up another person. You don't want to cut off circulation to their body parts, so communicate as you're restraining to make sure they’re comfortable.

Beyond restraints that hold a person in place or limit the movement of certain body parts, there's also bondage that limits in different ways. Blindfolds limit sight and ballgags limit speech, for example.

Hardcore BDSM often heads in those directions and employs more involved props called device bondage. Device bondage includes things like:

  • Spreader bars: A bar that forces someone's legs to stay open

  • Suspension equipment: Bondage that hangs from above to keep someone restrained and standing

  • Bridles: Like a horse bridle but softer for humans so it doesn't ruin your teeth

  • Hoods: Think ski mask with only a mouth hole or an all-leather ski mask—there's a lot of variety in hoods

  • Muzzles

There's also electro play that uses light shocks to "discipline" a sub that gets out of line. Electro play usually involves clamps, which can go on nipples, penises, scrotums, labias, or wherever the kinky spot is for you. Sensation play is also a fun way to administer punishments or pleasure in this context.

In addition to the physical restraints you might use, there are also verbal restraints, which some find to be the most fun because there's a lot of room for "disobedience" and then "punishment."

For example, whoever is in the dom role can make a rule about what the sub is allowed to do. Maybe the dom says the sub can't move at all until they give permission. The demand is the verbal bondage in this case. Then the dom "tortures" the sub by grinding against their genitals or masturbating in front of them just out of reach. If the sub disobeys and moves, they get a punishment. Maybe a light spanking or hair pulling or something rougher like a whipping.

BDSM sex

When it comes to BDSM, sexual intercourse isn't always a given. In some cases, the experience of dominating or being dominated is arousing enough, and actual orgasm isn't the point.

Just as one example, there may be a sub out there who wants to be humiliated in public. Perhaps the dom and sub go to dinner together, and the dom dumps water on the sub and doesn't allow them to clean it up for the whole meal. Maybe the dom puts too much hot sauce on the sub's food and forces them to eat it without drinking any water. Perhaps only the dom is allowed to talk to or look at the waiter.

The possibilities are relatively limitless. In this case, none of these things is overtly sexual. The public humiliation is the kink and the end goal in and of itself.

But in other cases, BDSM play can lead to (or be all about) incredible sex. That same couple could go home riding the wave of what happened in the restaurant and have amazing sex. Or the play itself could include sex as part of the roleplay. Perhaps the sub has a cuckolding fantasy, so the couple has a threesome or goes to a sex party, but the sub can only watch their partner have sex with someone else and can't touch or join in.

A common misconception is that BDSM sex has to be rough sex or hardcore sex like fisting, anal, or deepthroat blowjobs. But that's not true. How rough your sexual play is during a BDSM bondage session is completely up to you. It's possible to enjoy certain types of pain or "torture" during foreplay without wanting the act of sex to feel violent or violating.

You can bring sex toys in like dildos, strap-ons, and vibrators, and the dom can use them to heighten the pleasure of the sub. Or maybe the dom places the vibrator in the sub's mouth and then sits down on it. Or you could get creative to prolong the experience by making a rule that genitals can't touch each other, and only fingering and/or handjobs are allowed until the dom says otherwise. There are endless ways to get creative with BDSM bondage sex.

Dip your toe into the world of BDSM bondage

Whether you're into leather or lace lingerie, or you're interested in being the dom or the sub, exploring new elements of your sexuality with your partner is a great idea. Open up the conversation about the roles you'd want to play, the scenarios you'd want to cook up, the fantasies you have, and the rules you'd set up to keep it fun and feeling safe.

Always have a safe word, and establish boundaries before you start your play.

Listen to Secret Rooms I on the Dipsea app to hear a short sexy story about BDSM bondage play to get your ideas and juices flowing. Or stretch your imagination with this incredibly hot first-person POV threesome with Benji and Sebastian.

Listen, light yourself up.

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