BDSM 101: How to Improve Your Sex Life With ‘50 Shades of Grey’

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50 Shades of Grey made BDSM mainstream and suddenly, everyone is talking about it: your best friends, co-workers, and maybe even some open family members. What the book didn’t do is teach you the basics of BDSM and how to incorporate it into the bedroom. 

What is BDSM?

The acronym stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism. In other words — BDSM isn’t just one thing. It includes a broad range of erotic acts. People also vary with how much they engage in it. Some dabble when they want to spice things up, some consider it a way of life, and others see it as their orientation.

Myths Around BDSM

Many myths exist related to BDSM. One of the biggest myths is that it is actually abuse. BDSM, like all sex acts, should be completely consensual. Within the BDSM community (those for whom it is a lifestyle or orientation), boundaries and preferences are discussed before people begin playing. While part of a sex act or ‘scene’ may include questionable consent, the individuals involved already discussed what they will and will not do and established a safe word to activate if either partner wants the play to end.

Another myth is that there is something wrong with people who enjoy BDSM. In fact, research shows the opposite. A study of almost 1500 individuals found that those who identified as kinky were:

  • More educated
  • Less neurotic
  • More extroverted
  • More open to new experiences
  • More conscientious
  • More confident in their relationships
  • Less likely to take rejection personally

BDSM participants also had a lower need for approval and reported higher subjective well-being. 

Does this mean that BDSM makes you happier and helps you have a stronger relationship? Not necessarily. It does, however, highlight the rich lessons you can learn from the BDSM community and reminds you that BDSM is another way to gain sexual fulfillment.

Click here to learn more about BDSM myths.

How to Add BDSM to the Bedroom

Let’s start with the basics. As mentioned before, like all sex acts, BDSM should always be consensual. Because some of the activities that fall under the kinky sex umbrella can cause physical harm, risks and limits should be considered, discussed, and clarified beforehand. For example, certain parts of the butt and thighs are safer to spank than others. Doing a little bit of research before exploring BDSM ensures you and your partner have more fun with it!

Now that you know what you need to do, here are five beginner-friendly BDSM acts to add into your sex life:

  • Sensation play uses the body’s senses to arouse and stimulate. Examples include tickling, spanking, using ice cubes on your partner’s body or during oral sex (temperature play) and tying your partner up or blindfolding them (sensory deprivation). Sensation play is limited only by your imagination and personal limits. It can include pain as is common with spanking, flogging, and some bondage but it is just as likely to involve feathers and massage. Click here for more ideas for adding sensation play into your sexual repertoire.
  • Role play involves you and your partner(s) acting out a role or persona. It lets you act out fantasies and explore taboos such as the common teacher-student scene. Role play can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Name calling (e.g. Daddy), costumes, and props are three things you can incorporate.
  • Sadomasochism (S&M) involves one partner having complete control over the other. You may already know that you prefer being in control (top or dom), being controlled (bottom or sub), or switching between the two (switch). If not, take turns initiating and playing both roles. Pain, humiliation, and bondage are commonly used in S&M as a way to exert power. This article from Psychology Today provides both a detailed history of the practice and an explanation of why power and pain arouse.
  • People use strap-ons for many reasons including BDSM play. Pegging sex, when a female-bodied person wears a strap-on and penetrates a male-bodied partner, is one example. Choosing a dildo and harness can be a complicated process but these questions can help narrow it down:
    1. What style do you prefer: a G-string, a double-strap harness that works like a jock strap, or a luxury harness that slips on like a pair of regular underwear?
    2. Do you want material between the dildo and your body? If so, look for a harness that has an internal panel to cover the dildo base.
    3. How much flexibility do you want to use different dildos? The O-ring is the ring on the harness that a dildo fits through. They are either permanent or interchangeable. With the former, you are limited to toys that are the same diameter as the ring; with the latter you can buy different sized O-rings and change them out as you want.
    4. What type of material do you prefer? Harnesses come in leather, fabric, and nylon.
    5. Where do you want the harness to sit on your body? Low on your hips or right on your waist? This determines where you should take measurements and therefore what size you should order.

Click here for more information on choosing a strap-on and harness.

BDSM provides a range of new and exciting sexual activities to add to your routine. Whether you want to try a few kinky acts or become part of the BDSM community, there are many ways to explore. Check out these other MSL articles on the topic:

Indulge your BDSM fantasies here.

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