7 Tips For Your First BDSM Or Kink Experience

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So I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of people are into the idea of getting a little rough in bed, right? Kinky sex play used to belong solely to the sexual underground, but the past few years have seen it seeping more and more into the mainstream. From the much-maligned but still astronomically popular 50 Shades of Grey franchise to a study from the University of Montreal that found that the majority of women are interested in some kind of sexual submission fantasy, it looks like interest in kinky play is here to stay.

But a lot of people are stuck between that rock and a hard place of fantasizing and being turned on by kink or BDSM but have no idea how to get started. Or, even worse, they approach what can be very complicated, very triggering situations totally blindly — and really hurt someone or themselves. That’s one thing that makes Burlington, Vermont-based BDSM and poly educator Vincent, 30, nervous for people whose only information about the lifestyle comes from non-expert sources.

“Entering the BDSM lifestyle requires a fair amount of risk,” Vincent tells Bustle. “The lifestyle is viewed a sexual deviant by society; young women are often preyed upon; and some people use it to express domineering behavior.”

Which is not to say, of course, that Vincent thinks people shouldn’t do it — he’s been active in the scene for more than 12 years, six of which he’s spent educating other people about BDSM, kink, and poly lifestyles. He just wants to make sure that everyone is doing it in a fun, safe, and consensual way and to help facilitate that, I asked him and two other active kinksters — Miette Rouge, 43, from San Francisco, and Katie, 26, from Vermont — for their top tips for someone who’s ready to take the dive into the kinky life. Here’s what they told me.

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Whether you have 20 years of experience like Miette or under a decade, like Katie, the first thing that everyone says is that you can’t have kinky play without communication. Everything from what you’re into to what you’re not into to what you think could be potential negative triggers for you needs to be discussed before any whips and chains are even within sight. And this kind of communication needs to happen every time so that you can be sure that everyone involved is protected and safe.

2. Negotiate Beforehand

A special kind of kinkster communication is scene negotiation. Miette stresses that scene negotiation has to happen before any play starts.

“It seems obvious, but it is an often missed step in some part or another, or excitement builds and you try something not negotiated,” Miette tells Bustle. “It is often called ‘in-scene negotiation' and for beginners is really considered a no-no as it can really end up causing a lot of problems.”

So, negotiate beforehand what’s about to unfold and stick to the script. Leave the improvisation to the experts.

3. Sign Up For FetLife

Vincent describes FetLife as “kinky Facebook,” which is to say that it’s a social network for people who are looking for other people who share their fetishes. It’s a great place to find community, both online and off, and to meet people who are into the same things that you’re into. It’s also a good resource for figuring out what, exactly, you are into: The world of BDSM and kink is actually much, much broader than you probably realize.

4. Seek Out A Community In Your Town

When you’re ready to take your interest from the research level to actual play, seek out a community where you live. (Or, if you’re in a small town, the nearest metropolis.) Katie recommends FetLife as a great resource for easily finding educational events and munches, which is what play-free social events for kinksters who want to get to know each other in a low-pressure environment are called. She also suggests that you go to your first event with someone who’s already in the scene.

“I took my partner's 18-year-old girlfriend to her first munch,” Katie tells Bustle. “It helps you to look less like fresh meat and also they can introduce you to folks.”

5. Establish Safe Words

A safe word is something that a person engaged in kinky or BDSM play can say in order to stop or slow down what’s going on. It’s super important because it establishes a way for the “bottom” or “sub” to keep a handle on what’s going on, even when they’re in situations where they’re very much not in control.

“Generally the easiest and most universal safe words are ‘yellow,’ ‘red,’ and ‘safeword’ (as the safeword),” Miette says. “Yellow is a ‘Hey, let's take pause… It might be to intense and I need a slow down or my arm hurts, or this position sucks.’ It’s a pause to check in. Red is ‘stop.’ For most peoples private play, red and safeword are the same. However a subtle difference is ‘red’ can stop a scene, but other play may continue. ‘Safeword' generally stops all play. If in a public dungeon, ‘safeword’ is a call for anyone to come in and assist.”

6. Establish A Check-In Scale

Because people experience sensations differently from each other, Miette recommends establishing a check-in scale. She suggests having a standard one to 10 scale, with one representing “I don’t feel much,” five being something like “Very nice, I’m warmed up,” seven as the sweet spot that’s getting intense, and 10 being “Holy sh*t! Stop!”

Make sure that you’re both using the same scale, Miette warns, because if one of you is operating with one through five and the other is thinking one through 10, things might get hairy.

7. Plan An Aftercare Time

Aftercare is the term that the kink community uses for post-play or sex check-ins. Both “tops” and “bottoms” (or “dominants” and “submissives”) need aftercare, although often for slightly different reasons, as things can get really intense with kinky play.

Think of it as your cuddle and chat period, a time to wind down and give each other a softer kind of love — but just because it’s soft, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Miette advises that aftercare is super important, especially for people who are new to the scene and might be dealing with some unexpected emotions.

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Images: Giphy (6); screen grab from FetLife; sakkmesterke/Fotolia