BDSM Rules: Playing Nice Is Not an Option!

BDSM guidelines and tips for a pleasurable and safe play time
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Last updatedLast updated: January 15, 2024
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There has been a surge of interest in BDSM, with the increase of BDSM and power dynamics displayed in literature and media, one notably being Fifty Shades of Grey. While we have seen a rise in the popularity of BDSM, this is not a new kink. BDSM is a place to explore power dynamics with trust and consent.

BDSM 101

If you’re reading this, you may be interested in learning more about BDSM. Perhaps you want to give in to a hidden desire or you’re just interested in learning what all the fuss is about. There are a lot of misconceptions about BDSM, but we have here to set the record straight. 

If you take away anything from this article, it is that BDSM only works when it is consensual. At all times, everyone involved in a BDSM relationship must be there of their own free will. Consent is a major component of the BDSM rules that need to be followed in order to create a safe, consensual environment. Some of these rules are general to the community but others can be negotiated between partners. The key is to communicate at all times. Before, during, and after, communicate with your partner to see what is working well and what needs to be changed.

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an acronym Trusted Source BDSM Sex: What Does It Mean? BDSM sex is a term for a variety of sexual practices that include bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism. Learn more about BDSM sex and how to practice it safely. www.webmd.com short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism, and masochism. Most often within a BDSM dynamic, one person takes on a dominant role while another person takes on a submissive role, however there are people known as ‘switches’, which means that they can take on both roles.

There are many types of BDSM and what works for one partnership might not work for another. Common practices of BDSM include bondage, discipline, and dominance, but these can work in different ratios and can look different from relationship to relationship. 

BDSM can work for all types of partnerships, no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity. Again, as long as everyone involved is consenting, you can adopt BDSM to explore your kinks and fantasies.

Necessary vocabulary

These are the main terms to be aware of if you want to practice BDSM.

Term Meaning
Dominant/domme/dom The authority figure in a BDSM relationship
Submissive/sub The submissive figure in a BDSM relationship
Discipline-punishment The act of punishing or disciplining agreed-upon misbehaviors
Sadism-masochism Using pain or humiliation for sexual pleasure
Fetish Any obsession with a particular body part, toy, or activity
SSC (safe, sane, consensual) The ethical behavior that the BDSM community abides by
Safeword An agreed-upon word a sub can say to stop the activity immediately
Contract/checklist The arrangement that both the sub and the dom agree to
Subspace A feeling of euphoria after an extreme BDSM scene
Aftercare After a scene, the emotional care that a dom gives a sub
Switch A person who changes between being a sub and a dom
RACK (risk-aware consensual kink) Risky behaviors that are agreed upon by both the sub and the dom

BDSM Guidelines

Here we will talk about specific rules of BDSM and provide some context to better understand them. Remember that BDSM must always be consensual. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

1. Do no harm

Before two people enter into a BDSM arrangement, they will need to have a thorough discussion in order to understand limits, including pain and markings. Harm can be seen as a gray area, but like anything else with BDSM, it needs to be fully discussed and consensual.

Punishment is often a part of BDSM, but punishment is not without limitations. Does your submissive agree to be hit or slapped? Do they agree to be in a confined place for a period of time? These are limits that must be discussed before a scene. Discussing punishments before play will ensure that both the Dom and sub are on the same page.

When in a scene, a submissive always has the ability to stop. This is why safe words are so important. A Dominant needs to not only listen for a safe word but check-in and prompt their submissive for one.

2. Discuss the play

Sometimes, BDSM is an all-encompassing part of a relationship. Other times, it is specific to scenarios. There is no right or wrong way to engage in play, as long as both people consent to the agreement.

You can have rules in place that a submissive has to follow at all times or plan unique settings to act out. For times when you want to have fun, make sure you have the right items on hand. For example, use this list of the best ropes for bondage as they will be safe for use and will be more comfortable than all-purpose rope from a home improvement store.

3. Choose a safe word

Safe words are paramount within BDSM. Without them, your submissive has absolutely no control, which is not what the practice is about. Go over a list of safe words with your partner and ensure you both know what they are. A simple set involves green for good, yellow for caution, and red for stop.

If your submissive says yellow, you need to check in and alter the play. If they say red, you need to stop immediately.

4. Exclude drugs and alcohol

You might be used to having a drink or two before sex to loosen up. But in BDSM, both people need to be in complete control of their faculties. Drugs and alcohol can blur the lines of consent, so it should always be avoided before and during scenes.

Not only do drugs and alcohol affect one’s ability to consent, there has even been new research that links excess alcohol use with a decrease in sexual desire Trusted Source Low sex drive in women - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic By definition, you may be diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder if you frequently lack sexual thoughts or desire, and the absence of these feelings causes personal distress. www.mayoclinic.org among women, so don’t assume that everyone will be put in the mood after a drink.

5. Never try new kinks without consent

BDSM contract rules apply at all times and this includes the introduction of new kinks. Your submissive needs time to process information and to consider if they want to try out something new or not. Surprising them with a new kink while in the middle of a scene is not okay.

If you want to try something new, take the time to talk about it with your submissive. Let them know they are free to talk and ask questions. You may need to compromise and meet in the middle. 

Additionally it’s important to consider that your partner may have experienced past trauma in various unknown contexts, so the shock of a new kink without previous communication can be triggering to your partner.

6. Aftercare

The relationship between a Dominant and a submissive is more than just rules and punishments. It is also about taking care of your submissive. After an intense session, your submissive may feel weak or drained, both physically and emotionally. It is the job of a Dominant to take care of them after play.

Have your submissive’s favorite snacks on hand. Make sure they are properly hydrated. You can draw a relaxing bath for them, put on their favorite movie, or even just cuddle with them.

7. Honesty is the key

What are your deepest, darkest fantasies? And what do you absolutely have no desire to ever try? Honesty needs to exist within a BDSM relationship.

Along with honesty comes trust. Do you trust your submissive to try and go right to their limits? Do you trust your Dominant to stop when you tell them you need a break? Again, if you do not trust your partner or don’t feel you can be honest with them, then this might not be the right fit for you.

8. Be prepared

Preparation includes being ready for everything that can go right and occasionally if something goes wrong.

First, make sure you have the proper supplies for a fun experience. There are many starter BDSM kits like the Bondage Boutique Seduce Me Lover’s Bed Bondage Kit. It has straps, collars, and even a flogger to get you started.

Then, you want to be prepared if a scene goes wrong. This is especially important for extreme situations, such as choking. Have your phone charged and near you at all times. Have a first aid kit for any minor cuts or bleeding. And, if you are using something extreme, like a cage, have tools ready just in case the lock breaks and you need to open it.

9. Use proper gear

Unless you are experienced with BDSM, it is much better to start with store-bought toys than to try to make your own. These will be sanitary, strong, and made for a specific purpose.

For example, while there are ways to DIY a chastity cage, you can instead purchase one from this list of the best chastity cages. They won’t cut off circulation and are safe to use. You can also try out various whips and restraints to find which ones work best for you.

10. Proper hygiene is a must

Your submissive trusts you as a Dominant and part of that includes creating a safe, hygienic environment. All toys must be properly cleaned and stored after use to ensure that they are ready for next time. 

If you engage in anal play, further rules should apply about whether you can then penetrate your partner vaginally after anal. Again, talk about all these options ahead of time.

Extra BDSM Rules Ideas

Here are a few more BDSM rules that are specific to roles and positions.

For Dom

As a Dominant, you need to control a lot of moving pieces. Not only are you responsible for setting up scenes, but you are responsible for ensuring your submissive is comfortable and not pushing past their limits. Finally, you need to engage in appropriate aftercare.

This is a lot of pressure for a Dominant and not everyone is ready for it. Engaging in BDSM is not just about experiencing your pleasure. Your submissive needs to be satisfied as well.

For sub

The biggest rule for a submissive is to be honest. You may go past your limits in order to please your Dominant, but this is never something you should feel obligated to do. If you feel like you need more time or need to pause anything, use your safe word. If your partner can’t trust you to use your safe words, then they will feel uncomfortable about going to extremes.

For long-distance

Communication is paramount in long-distance relationships. So, too is honesty. If you agree to a set list of rules, then as a submissive, you need to be honest about following them. If not, then you’re not really committed to a BDSM relationship.

Dominants will need to alter their expectations and get creative if distance is a factor. Luckily, there are more ways than ever to engage in long-distance roles thanks to technology.

One idea is with chastity rings. The CB-6000S Short Male Chastity Cage comes with a lock and key. Before going away on a trip, hide the key from your submissive and only tell them where it is after they complete a series of tasks or instructions. 

For DDLG play

DDLG, or Daddy Dom and Little Girl, is a popular BDSM fantasy. For this to work, the Dominant assumes a daddy role and the submissive one of a little girl. This kink often involves costumes to increase the fun.

You can choose from many outfits that come in a range of styles that will fit your DDLG fantasy. While you might want a more traditional cheerleader outfit, you can also dress your submissive in something more sultry, such as the Fifty Shades of Grey Captivate Flocked Mesh Dress and Harness Set 

DDLG barriers should be set. Do you have to act out the relationship in public or is this only at home? For this particular kink, consent and age are paramount.

For pet play

Pet play in BDSM involves the Dominant taking on an authoritative role and the submissive acting as a pet. Leashes, chains, and collars are often used to increase this dynamic. Pet play can also use cages to add to the scene, however it is important to use BDSM specific cages to ensure safety. 

Proper consent needs to be given regarding eating and bathroom behaviors. Pet play can be somewhat demeaning, so the submissive needs to be really comfortable with this element.

Final Thoughts

For consenting adults, BDSM may be a new way of life. Whether you want to try BDSM out with an existing partner or want to find others in the community, a mainstream acceptance of BDSM is arising and you should be prepared to partake if you please. BDSM can be a fun experience and quite pleasurable, as long as you are open and honest with your partner. Always follow the BDSM rules you have agreed upon. If not, trust will be broken and that can be incredibly hard to repair. Create safe words, decide on scenes together, live out your fantasies, and don’t forget to have fun!

References

1.
BDSM Sex: What Does It Mean?
BDSM sex is a term for a variety of sexual practices that include bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism. Learn more about BDSM sex and how to practice it safely.
2.
Low sex drive in women - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic
By definition, you may be diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder if you frequently lack sexual thoughts or desire, and the absence of these feelings causes personal distress.
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