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Test the Waters of BDSM with 'Vanilla Bondage'

Imagine this: it’s the first day of driver’s ed. You get to class, a little nervous. You’ve never been behind the wheel before. But much to your surprise, the teacher takes you outside, puts you in a car, and enters you directly into the Indy 500. Go!

Needless to say, most people wouldn’t be too into that.

In just about everything in life, we like to start slow. We like to learn our capabilities before we push against our limitations. We like to feel comfortable before we challenge ourselves. And nowhere is this truer than in sex, and nowhere in sex is this truer than in BDSM.

There are a lot of people who are fascinated, intrigued, and turned on by the thought of bondage, restraint play, domination, submission, role-playing, or any other element that makes up BDSM sexuality. But they may be scared at the thought of pain, imagining that’s all BDSM is, and think that you have to jump right into being tied to a door and whipped.

Pop culture has given us a skewed and extreme view of BDSM. It paints it as this rarified, exclusive, and even dangerous and scary sexual practice, which isn’t for “normal people.” Nothing could be further from the truth. BDSM can be practiced by anyone, at any level of play. It’s about sensation, trust, and mutual exploration. It’s no different than any other sexual expression, except maybe when it comes to the toys.

But because the perception of BDSM tends to make people think they are being put behind the driver’s wheel too soon, we’d like to introduce you to a concept called “vanilla bondage.” Vanilla bondage is BDSM without the binding, flogs, or whips. It is BDSM for people who want to learn more, or who have learned more, and know precisely what they want.

Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t “beginner bondage.” It could be an entryway into the lifestyle. It could lead to a sex dungeon, or could lead to a hogtie, but it doesn’t have to. What is the start of a trail for some people is the peak for others, and both are perfectly fine and beautiful.

Like all BDSM, vanilla bondage is about communication. It’s about connection. It’s about becoming closer as a couple.

Defining Vanilla Bondage

So what is vanilla bondage? There might be different definitions on the web, and certainly different couples have their own definitions (one person’s vanilla might be another’s extreme). But for us, we define it as:

  • Being only as tied up as you want
  • Not being tied up at all if you don’t want to be

So you might ask, how that is bondage at all? Well, you don’t have to be literally bound to be in bondage. What you need is an agreement that, within carefully discussed and mutually agreed limits, you will let the other person do to you what they want. That can be tickling, teasing, light whipping, paddling, or whatever you and your partner should desire.

You can be tied up, but with vanilla bondage, it’s generally with something you can release yourself from—usually not something like tightly-binding handcuffs. With vanilla bondage you’re experimenting with what it means to be bound, to be tied up, to give in. You can, of course, always say “stop” or “slow down,” but the point is that you are giving yourself over to your partner. You trust them, and so you are ceding control over your immediate physical sensations. You’re going to give in to the moment.

For more on what bondage is, check out our Beginner’s Guide to BDSM

Why Vanilla Bondage Needs Patience, Understanding, and Vulnerability

While it is true that BDSM is like all sex in that it requires trust and cooperation, it also requires more of these things. After all, it is an exploration of new sensations and an expanded vulnerability. It is a journey into new intimacy. And that means communication.

Communication is key to vanilla bondage, or any level of BDSM. As we said, you are giving yourself over to a partner, or they are giving themselves over to you. You have to talk about what you like, and what you think you feel comfortable getting or receiving.

Trust is the key to this. You have to trust that your partner isn’t going to go too far, but will go far enough to stimulate that line between anticipation and release, nerves and lust, tantalization and reward, punishment and pleasure.

Don’t be afraid of any of these words. “Punishment” could be being tickled, or mildly spanked. It’s up to you to decide what works for both of you, and that can change and evolve. You can avoid something one day and fantasize about it the next. You can feel uncomfortable with something one day and then wake up and realize that you are tingling with the memory. You can like something but change your mind.

Never stop communicating. Desires mutate and change, they grow and fade. One thing can lead to a wide avenue of exploration or to a dead end. Remember, at the end, this is about play and about love. Combine the two, and your bondage will never be boring.

Some Toys For Vanilla Bondage

One way to explore what you might like is to become familiar with some of the toys. These toys and devices are a great way to start off your BDSM play, but also a great way to start a conversation. Do any of these stir your heart (or loins)? Did you hear your partner suddenly breathe in with great interest when you brought one up?

Who could blame either of you? These are fun, and perfect for people who want to try vanilla bondage.

Blindfolds

vanilla bondage blindfold This is standard gear, and perhaps the most basic. The heart of a blindfold isn’t just that you can’t see, but that when you can’t see it heightens your other senses. Your ears are perked to the sound of what your partner is doing. You can taste more fully when they maybe surprise you with a strawberry. But really, it is your sense of touch that is most heightened. Being in the dark makes you quiver with anticipation, and then feel far more deeply and fully.

Ticklers

feather ticklers are great for vanilla bondageTickling is a really odd sensation. It doesn’t quite feel good, in the way that sex does, but it certainly doesn’t feel bad. It is intense but non-specific. Having someone tickle you is giving them control. They can make you squirm or laugh, bring you to the edge and then bring you back. You can lose it when you are being tickled, but with a tickler, you just ride the edge of that sensation. It brushes against your skin, especially in your more sensitive parts. This particular model has a slapper, as well, but we’ll get to that.

Crops or Floggers

slapper crop for vanilla bondage So, you’re probably wondering about that harder end to the above tickler. Not all ticklers have them, and not all slappers have ticklers. That’s the flip side to the soft giddiness of being tickled: the quick short thwap of being slapped. All sorts of crops, slappers, and floggers are part of vanilla bondage, because you are in control of how soft you bring it down, and where. Lots of people get their start with a little crop, gently slapping their partner on the ass. It can be fun and playful; it doesn’t have to be moody or melodramatic.

Don’t bring out a crop or paddle on the rear (or any other parts) without agreeing first. And start slowly, gently. Remember, this is something you can work your way up to. This goes for any flogger, or whips as well.

Nipple Play

nipple clips for vanilla bondagePart of BDSM is the sexual excitement of minor pain. The pain, to whatever extent you like, is part of the sex. It is about heightened sensations. That’s why so many women (and men) love nipple clips. It is a gentle tweak, nothing extreme, that is a constant feeling. It’s erotic and exciting and hot as hell. It is also a great introduction to the “look” of BDSM. Chains without being chained.

All right, the next two might not initially seem vanilla, but if you are interested, give them a try.

Leash and Collar

leash and collar for vanilla bondageThe great thing about a leash and collar is that you can have one on, be led around, play master/submissive, have sex while someone is controlling you, but never have your hands or feet bound. These are safe and easy to get in and out of. And they are fun, and can also be silly if you’d like. It’s a great BDSM practice without anyone feeling like they are not in control.

Silk Rope

silken rope can be used for vanilla bondageRopes, especially smooth silky ropes, can be just as tight or as loose as you want them to be. They are relaxed, and more flexible than restraints like handcuffs. You can tie a partner’s hands to a headboard, or maybe tie their feet together, or even just loosely wrap the ropes around their arms so they get a feel for rope, something to pull against, to hold themselves in place.  

And so imagine you are blindfolded, and maybe even lightly bound. You’re moaning and giving into passion. You have to imagine new ways to touch each other. You and your partner are communicating through touch, through movement, through your history, through your previous talks, through knowledge of each other, through expectation, through the shared willingness to explore along with the beautiful understanding that you’re doing so together—and finally, through the communion of your bodies.

That’s what relationships are about. That’s what sex is about. That’s what vanilla bondage is about. Whether it is a starting point, your new normal, or a way to mark big occasions, vanilla bondage is a celebration of verbal and physical connection.

And it’s whatever you want it to be.


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