Choke Me Tighter: A BDSM Beginner's Guide

“Choke me tighter” was never something I thought I would hear, particularly in a sexual context. 

After a succession of particularly kinky partners, however, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary at all. In fact, it’s exciting. With proper communication and safety guidelines, incorporating BDSM—bondage, discipline, sadism, or masochism—or kinks into your sex life can be a fun way to liven things up. And after the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, curiosity about BDSM appears to have risen. Yet it is important that some issues of safety be discussed and that preconceived notions about BDSM be set straight before folks start experimenting. 

Firstly, kinky sex and BDSM are not for everyone! While some might get hot and bothered by the thought of their hair being pulled in doggy style, many people feel uncomfortable and turned off by the prospect. Communication about sexual preferences during a hook-up with a new partner is always important, but if you are someone who likes to engage in rough sex, it is crucial that you check in with your partner and that you ask, never assume, that they like the same things you do. 

This goes both ways! Just because you will let your partner tie you to your bedposts or spank you until you are numb doesn't mean that they are necessarily comfortable with it. They might be worried about accidentally hurting you, or just find it to be a turn-off. You may be comfortable letting someone dominate you, but your partner may not be. This is important to respect, as sex should be pleasurable for all parties.

BDSM can essentially be seen as a game between two players: the dominant (dom) and the submissive (sub). BDSM uses power play and a mixture of pain and intense stimulation to induce pleasure. The positions of the dom and sub can shift and change however the couple chooses. 

To ensure each other's safety, couples who engage in BDSM and kinky sex often write a contract or a list of agreements, which may include all of the acts that the sub is comfortable engaging in. First and foremost on this list should be the safeword, which is used when things become uncomfortable for either participant. Once the safeword is used, whatever is being done will stop with no questions asked. They can be funny, like 'Bananas,' for example, or more specific, like my personal favorite which is the stoplight system: 'yellow' for slow down and 'red' for stop. For example, let’s say that my partner and I are engaging in breath play, and I am the submissive and they are choking me. I’m enjoying myself until I start to feel myself get dizzy and want my partner to loosen their grip without stopping all together. In this scenario, 'yellow' is all I would have to say to let my partner know that I am okay, but to be mindful of their strength. While it may seem that the dom in BDSM holds all of the power, the person in the submissive role has the final say.

For those of you who are curious about trying out some kinks in the bedroom but aren’t sure how (I know you’re out there!), I would suggest incorporating small amounts of pain into sex (consensually, of course) and seeing what feels good to you and your partner and whether or not you enjoy dominating or being dominated, inflicting pain or receiving it. This could look like spanking, hair pulling, back scratching, biting, or choking. You can also start by blindfolding your partner before performing oral sex on them, or tying their hands to your bedposts and teasing them. If you realize that you are kinkier than you thought, there are endless possibilities!

BDSM carries its fair share of taboos. It is important to clarify that BDSM is not abuse, it is not only for people who have been abused (as some seem to think), and it is more common on the 5Cs than you know. Trust me. Be safe, have fun, and don’t forget the safeword(s)! 

Sex on your mind? Send me questions or suggestions for future topics at sexcolumnist@tsl.pomona.edu