Mental Health Sex Positive Uncategorized

Let’s Talk BDSM.

Many people seem to think that the BDSM community is built on abuse and misogyny. The truth is the community is actually very matriarchal and has genuine respect that many ‘vanilla’ relationships lack. BDSM relationships have clear boundaries and when done right are consent focused.

In reality, yes there are some that use the BDSM community to cover over their abusive behaviour but for the most part it’s full of love, respect and trust. It’s often hard for submissives who are new to the fetish/kink world to distinguish abusers from true dominants.

These abusers are just like any other abusive partner. The use manipulation to cross boundaries and play on the submissive’s role, wanting to serve, convincing them that they should do as the “Dominant” wants, to please the “Dominant”, often to the Submissive’s detriment.

So let’s get one thing straight, no submissive owes a Dominant their submission! Dominants are not entitled to submission. Single, potentials or in a relationship, Dominants should give respect to earn respect, in turn earning their partner’s submission. Submission should never be coerced or forced, it should always be freely given.

Quite often subs are strong, confident and know their own minds. Their minds are quitened by submission, it gets them out of their heads and allows to relieve some of the day to day stress. It’s important to remember that while kink can be therapeutic it is, in fact, not therapy and therefore you must take responsibility for your own actions and feelings, either as a sub or a Dom. If you cannot communicate your boundaries and limits to your partner(s) you should not be playing with them.

If you cannot own how you feel, you should not be engaging in any play.

Let me ask you; have you ever been in a relationship with someone where only you make sacrifices and compromises, yet none of it is valued or appreciated? Have you ever been with someone who wants all their own freedoms but refuses to give you any?

In a D/s relationship you will have to work out if you are submitting to a toxic relationship and all of the Dominant’s need/wants or if you’re willingly submitting to a Dominant who has earned your submission. There’s a lot of self reflection in the BDSM world.

D/s relationships are fundamentally different to the external stereotypes portraying so called ‘BDSM’ relationships. A true BDSM relationship has core values that abusive relationships lack. Just like any functioning relationship, they are based on trust, understanding and appreciation. Some say these values run deeper in D/s relationships because they have to have a deeper level to them based on what kinks and fetishes the couple has.

All true D/s relationships won’t leave the submissive feeling used and meaningless. Submissives know they are wanted and desired. A Dominant plays a role in guiding, nurturing and teaching a submissive. His intentions should always be clear and they should never take advantage of the sub’s trust.

There is a bond, an exchange of power, and both Dominant and Submissive know they serve a purpose to each other. They both know what the stakes are. The Dominant knows that the submissive is only submissive because they choose to be, not because the Dominant “commanded” it. Likewise the submissive should know how much energy the Dominant puts in to a D/s relationship, the energy they put in to serving the submissive.

Both must keep a high level of appreciation for each other, after all they both go to lengths they wouldn’t for others for each other. It’s a physical and mental connection that they both have to honour.

The best Dominants are there for their submissives in more than just a sexual way. They are there in the aftermath of any play scene. They help the submissive through Subdrop. This bonding, aftercare aspect of a true BDSM relationship sets BDSM relationships apart from abusive relationships where the ‘sub’ is actually just being used, especially when the relationship has a heavy sadomasochism element. Caring for a sub experiencing Subdrop is much like caring for someone who is ill. Wrap them in floofy blankets, bring them treats, make sure they drink plenty of fluids, draw then a bath with epsom salts and/or swirly bath bombs (I suggest any of the sparkly ones from LUSH). This is also the best time to debrief; talking about what you did and didn’t like during the play/scene will only help to strengthen the relationship. Debrief will also help with a potential Domdrop.

Yes, Dominants can drop too. In fact, I’d say Dominants can drop harder on an emotional level than submissives. They have can often have a large dollop of guilt added to their drop. I mean, how could they get a kick out of beating the one they love raw? This feeling of guilt will be deeper and stronger with inexperienced Dominants. A submissive can help their Dominant with Domdrop in the same way a Dominant offers help during Subdrop. Cuddles, chocolate, talk it through and rub heat gel on their muscles (post work out burn will kick in).

It’s incredibly important that both Dominant and submissive take care of each other after a scene. It’s a teenie bit more important to look after each other when a scene is stopped abruptly. Think of it like coming down from a high. Endorphins and adrenaline can be through the roof and they will need to be worked through. Neither want the other to become depressed or shut off.

What you need to remember is that the media, specifically ‘mainstream’ porn, depict shitty versions of BDSM that do not portray a real BDSM relationship. Let’s be honest, when does porn ever reflect real life? The Addams Family and The Secretary are as close to a true representation as you’ll get. But back to BDSM porn. Generally speaking, BDSM porn will just show you the beating, dominating and degrading without the love, check ins and freely given consent.

In BDSM porn you can see that (where a submissive is gagged) the submissive’s body language is often ignored. In reality a severe flinch, a flinch that was more of a reaction than normal, would have the Dominant checking the sub was ok, in porn the check in is either cut out of the scene or completely non existent. This gives people the misconception that BDSM relationships have no care aspect, whereas it’s the complete opposite. If you want to know more about BDSM, avoid porn, attend a local munch (meet up). You’ll learn more.

To sum it up, BDM should be safe, sane and consensual.

When done right, it can strengthen an existing, healthy relationship. When done wrong, it can turn a relationship toxic. Make sure you do it right.

So how do you do it right?

Firstly you need to remember to communicate. Communication is the foundation everything in BDSM is built on. Without it there can be no respect or trust. You must discuss what you both want from BDSM within your relationship as well as your boundaries, this should include any limits (hard and soft*) and your safety measures. This discussion should always be kept open, it’s never an open and shut case, boundaries and limits change as your relationship with BDSM evolves. BDSM should never be used to lash out in anger, to hurt anyone. You should both agree to what could happen, before anything moves forward and talk about any training that may be needed (for rope play for example).

Everything must be done by your own free will.

Everyone involved in BDSM must own their actions, never shift the blame on to the other person. Remember though, a Dominant has an extra level of responsibility to ensure their submissive feels safe enough to communicate openly. The submissive should never fear their Dominant. As a submissive your first responsibility is to yourself, to your safety, to your limits.

Never play or engage in a scene when you’re emotional or in poor mental health, especially if your scenes involve sadomasochism. Playing with ‘violence’ when angry or upset is a recipe for disaster. You should always go in to a scene with a clear mind.

As I said before a Dominant must be aware of their submissive’s body language and pay attention to how their submissive communicates and reacts to their actions. After all anyone can hit someone but not everyone can make you enjoy it. If a Dominant is worth their salt they will have the know how to make you enjoy it, they will earn their title as Dominant with their insight in to you and your needs.

To call on a BDSM stereotype, any man can self identify as a Dominant all he likes but this doesn’t mean the women they show an interest in are obligated to serve and obey them. Some in the BDSM world will say you cannot challenge a Dominant, as a submissive, no matter what said Dominant does because no one likes a brat, but that’s pure bullshit. If a Dominant is using the title he gave himself to get his own way, he’s a dick and needs calling out. A true, honourable submissive will be strong enough to do just that, to let other submissives know this Dominat is toxic.

There has been an influx of insecure boys who want to hide their perversions in the world of BDSM but actually have no clue what being a Dominant is really about. They use the title of Dominant as a free pass to be a dick. These overgrown teenagers with no impulse control give the BDSM world a bad name. They have entitlement issues and usually pulsate severe InCel vibes. Some like to have rough sex and think that by calling themselves Dom they can get women to do whatever they please. These guys should be given a wide birth.

You can’t just wake up one day, decide you’re a Dominant and then get your pick of the submissives. You have to earn respect by giving respect, you have to earn the trust of a submissive.

Thinking back to the trust aspect of BDSM; a numer of abuse survivors enjoy BDSM because of the levels of trust involved. They know as submissives they’re the ones who are actually in control. Submission doesn’t have to mean servitude unless they want to serve their Dominant. I will keep saying it but it deserves repeating, submission is earnt. A submissive’s default is to be respectful, but that respect is not submission until submission is earnt. If the Dominant has to coerce or force submission they do not deserve to be a Dominant.

The right experience, with the right Dominant, can be life altering, so please don’t dive in head first. Test the waters, get your feet wet and navigate your way around the scene before submerging yourself. The last thing a kinky noob needs is to find the wrong person to submit to. The wrong first experience can lead to toxicity.

A good Dom will guide newbies in to this world, they can use the rules to help potential submissives. They can make a submissive understand the difference between being “used” and being really used. After all being a Dominant is more than just taking control, it’s more than taking what they want, it’s giving their submissive the knowledge they are safe giving in to them, willingly. You are not required to stay in a BDSM relationship if it is toxic, just as you are not required to stay in any relationship that is toxic. A Dominant should know this, if they don’t, they don’t deserve to be a Dom. A toxic Dominant will disregard your feelings (in and out of a scene), they laugh at the limits you set and try to use the phrase “you’ll do as you’re told” to coerce you to go against your hard limits. A toxic Dominant will only want you or sex and show no interest in you as a person or share personal information about themselves. Yes, they can keep things private, everyone’s entitled to privacy, but do you talk about anything other than play? BDSM relationships don’t have to be committed, you can by BDSM friends with benefits, but even FWBs know things about each other outside of sex. It’s ok to ask if you feel unsure about things, no matter how far in to the realtionship you are (casual or committed). Even with FWBs you have to find out what you want from the relationship at the beginning and communicate any changes.

I want to just take a moment and explain that a person that is dominant only in the bedroom is referred to as a ‘Top’ and a person who is only submissive in the bedroom as a ‘bottom’. Being Dominant or submissive is a lifestyle. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to only be kinky in the bedroom, sometimes it’s all you can do due to life circumstance, but it is important to know the terminology.

But back to how to start your BDSM journey…

You’re best to start by talking about fantasies and desires. What do you want to try? Explore through playing and test your base limits without things going too far. Get familiar with equipment and toys; create a wishlist on LoveHoney, Pulse and Cocktail or Ann Summers (to name a few you may already know). When you’re done enjoying this fun time of exploration, it’s time to talk scenes. Discuss your safe words. Your safe words are important and play should avoid anything that restricts your vocal capabilities until you are aware of each other’s body language. Set limits, what are not ok with? Talk about aftercare, what would make you feel cared for afterwards? Cover your bases with an emergency plan for if things go wrong, what if the cuffs need removing immediately?

So once you’ve sorted your bases, your scenes should start with basics. Do not dive in! Don’t use gags during your first scene. On things where you’ve set no limit (eg. spanking) you can gradually increase the impact with regular check ins.

One fo the first things I learnt about safe words is to keep it simple and set 2. A number of people I know use a traffic light system. Amber is “I need a break” or “take it easier”, red mean STOP! If “red” is used the scene comes to a complete stop, right at that moment.

Just like with gags, do not engage in non-consensual role play until you know your limits and body language well enough to know when a scene should end. The Dominant should be able to read the submissive’s body language well enough to know when the submissive is saying red without verbalising it.

You will make mistakes along the way, it’s human to do so, the key is to learn and grow through those mistakes instead of ignoring that you made any mistakes.

The thing is, fetishes are normal and healthy, so if you want to enjoy your kink don’t let society tell you it’s wrong or shameful. Just keep it safe, sane and consensual!

*Hard limit = absolute no go. Soft limit = no for now, may change your mind later on.

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