A Beginner's Guide to BDSM: Using and Enjoying Restraint Play Sex Toys

guide to BDSM for beginners

There are very few sexual activities that are as exciting, as adventurous, as intimate, and as rewarding as restraint play and BDSM.

But BDSM isn’t outside the mainstream. It is a sexual practice enjoyed by many and desired by even more. Many people, probably even you, have fantasized or imagined it but thought that maybe it isn’t for you.

We disagree.

While popular culture tends to hyperbolize BDSM, making it appear all extreme and only for a select few, there are BDSM activities for everyone. Restraint play sex toys come in all stripes for all sorts of different sensations, for beginners and experts alike.

When you get right down to it, restraint play sex is no different than any other kind of sex. At the heart of BDSM are trust, respect, and consideration. It is about verbal communication and physical empathy. It is about two or more people joining together in ways that make every partner happy.

If you are a bondage beginner, there is nothing to worry about. While every sexual scene has its own lingo and rules, the truth is all that matters is what you want to do with your sexual partner. You set your own rules and find your own level of comfort. You find the restraint play sex toys with which you are the most comfortable and which make you the happiest.

BDSM is all about exploring new sensations and finding new avenues for the exciting sexual energy we have in ourselves and for each other. So let’s explore.


What Kind of People Are Into BDSM?

shower bondage handcuffs for BDSM beginners

Mysterious millionaires? International jet-setters? Goths? What are the kinds of people into BDSM? Here’s our attempt at a comprehensive list:

Everyone.

There is no BDSM “type.” The range of human sexuality is impossibly diverse and impossible to categorize. Anyone can be into it or want to be into it.

Bondage and domination come in all shapes and sizes, and there are elements of it that nearly everyone enjoys, even if they wouldn’t define it as BDSM. There is no “type,” because many, if not most people, find that they enjoy BDSM to some degree or another.

So don’t ever feel like you aren’t the type of person who “should” be into BDSM. If restraint play is something you enjoy, or about which you are curious, then you are the type of person who should be into it.

If you find yourself interested and want to know more, the first thing to do is to understand the different types of BDSM, along with how to define it.

Defining Restraint and BDSM

Odds are, you’ve heard the letters BDSM plenty of times, though you might not know what it stands for, even if you have an idea (or a picture, or maybe a movie) of what it means. Let’s define the letters (with the caveat that there are actually several variants of this, although they mean the same thing).

Bondage.

Bondage, as we’ll see, is the only one of these letters that has a definite physical meaning. In bondage play, a partner is made partially or completely immobile or has their movement restricted. This could come from something like a pair of handcuffs, a hogtie or being strapped down completely in bed. Leashes, ball gags, and door cuffs are also part of this.

What these all have in common is that they make it harder—or impossible—to resist what the unbound will do. Obviously, limits and expectations are agreed upon beforehand (see below), but within that, anything goes. There is a thrill in knowing that if you are bound, you can’t stop being tickled, kissed, licked, slapped, spanked, or whatever is desired. There’s also a thrill for the partner in being able to do whatever you want.

Dominance (sometimes Discipline).

This is when you are the one controlling the action. There are many people who love being a dom, one part of a mutually respectful relationship where the other party empowers themselves by giving up some control. This isn’t always physical, as we’ll talk about. It’s about making someone do your bidding, whether through exquisite withholding, pleasure-granting, physical play, or any other means (obviously, with their consent and desires in mind).

blindfolds can factor into submission in BDSM

Submission.

The flip side of dominance is the act of submitting. Doms and subs tend to have a relationship, if not be in a relationship. The sub gets off on being told what to do or taking what the dom gives. In popular culture, the submissive is usually a male, but this is split pretty equally among genders.

—or—

Sadist.

A sadist (in BDSM) is the person who enjoys being the dominant partner and generally enjoys it sexually. It is possible to be dominant without getting sexual pleasure out of it, if you are doing it professionally or being good, giving, and game for a partner. But if being dominant, especially in the form of inflicting pain, turns you on, then you are a sadist in the BDSM community. Here, this does not have a negative connotation. It is a beautiful part of the sexual puzzle.

Masochist.

Same with a masochist—someone whose sexual pleasure can involve having pain or other forms of submission inflicted upon them. People are masochists for many reasons, and there is no one type of person who enjoys it. It isn’t weak or unmanly or unfeminist: it is your sexuality.


Now, you may not fit into any of those categories, and that’s fine. Most people, especially beginners, don’t define themselves entirely by one role. In fact, it is very common for couples to be switches, people who mix up who is dominating whom, and who is on which end of the paddle.

As always, it is about finding what makes you the happiest. And a lot of times, that search starts with adult products.


The Adult Toys of BDSM

What are some of the toys you’ll be using? Here is a non-comprehensive list, many of which will be discussed when we get more into defined activities and roles.

Anal Toys

Bed Restraints

Benwa Balls

Blindfolds

Collars

Crops

Floggers

Paddles

Restraints

Slappers

Spreader Bars

Ticklers

Whips


Let’s Talk About Flogging: Getting Into BDSM

So, you think you’re ready to begin? Well, as we said, this starts well before you get into bed (or on the floor, or tied against the door, or in the sex dungeon you borrowed from your neighbor for the weekend). And this remains true even if only one partner is a beginner. There are many couples in which one person is pretty experienced with BDSM and the other isn’t. Whatever your levels of experience, it all begins with a conversation.

Before The Act

BDSM is not, and shouldn’t be, dangerous. It gives the sexual thrill of mimicking danger, with the adrenaline and serotonin that feeling brings, but there should never be a scenario where someone can get seriously hurt. It is a fun expression of physical intimacy; not an extreme sport. So don’t go into it thinking you are taking a risk. Go into it thinking you are trying something new with someone.

So before you put a ball gag in it, open your mouth… and your ears.

  • Talk to each other. Every good BDSM relationship begins with honesty. Be honest about what you want, and what you think you might want. Be honest about what makes you uncomfortable. Be honest about red lines. And be honest about this being the first of many conversations. We know people who said that they’d never move beyond fuzzy handcuffs who are now wrapping each other in cling-film every weekend.
  • Explore fantasies. Don’t be ashamed. Human sexuality has billions of variations, and so you should be comfortable talking about fantasies. You won’t know what you, or the other person, wants unless you can talk about what you both desire when no one is watching.
  • Watch/read porn. “You want me to do what?” Some of this can be confusing, or hard to understand, or difficult to even visualize. That’s where helpful videos, including pornography, can come in. See how other people are enjoying or practicing BDSM. Just make sure you know what you are looking for. There are videos and stories of everything from sensual beginner BDSM (highly recommended) to hardcore. But knowing what to do is key to knowing if you might like it.
  • Look at adult toys. Just looking at collections of restraint play kits might trigger something you didn’t know existed, and help you tell your partner “This. I think I want to try this.”

Starting the BDSM Conversation

beginning BDSM discussion

OK, this is your first time, and you’re getting ready. It’s time to remember a few ground rules.

  • Safety. Never do anything that either party feels unsure about, or feels is unsafe.
  • Openness. Discuss your expectations, and what you want out of it, and how you hope to do it. You really don’t have to improvise. You can go over the scenario, and go over what you hope to happen. Don’t think of this as being boring or dry or that it’ll kill the mood. Not only will it make both people more comfortable, but bear in mind you’re talking about sex. It’ll be fun to discuss!
  • Desires and Fears. Related to the above. Make sure you know what the person wants, and what they don’t want. This goes both ways. If the partner playing the dom is afraid of hurting the other person, find a way to accommodate that. Be ready to go slow. And be ready to stop.

Getting Into Bed

beginning BDSM your first time

There is no doubt that for people who are into very hardcore BDSM, a safeword or gesture is extremely important. But that isn’t something you always need. All you need are these three things.

  • Respect. You are in this together, the two or three or seven of you. You want the same things—a good time—and all want to avoid anyone being uncomfortable. Even if you are playing a role where one party is a sub, they are still a person. Respect them.
  • Communication. We’ll go into roleplay down below, but remember that communication outside of the scenario is expected, understandable, and desired. Even if you are doing some sort of “bad cop” scenario, the prisoner can say “Wait, I’d rather we did it this way.” And you adjust. And then you go on. It’s even okay to have a conversation during and then get back in. As long as you have...
  • Understanding. You both want the same thing. Understand each other, understand desires and fears and motivations, and you’ll be able to keep communicating and having fun.

Types of Physical BDSM

“I’m not into BDSM since I don’t like being whipped.” We’ve heard that, of course. But there are many, many types of BDSM, and odds are you’ve done (or find yourself intrigued by) some of them. This is far from comprehensive but is a good starting list.

  • Blindfold. Blindfolds augment everything on this list. Not only are your other senses heightened when you can’t see (including your sense of touch), but there is a nerve-wracking thrill in not knowing if or when you are about to be whipped, tickled, vibrated, kissed, licked, penetrated...
  • Tickling. Sometimes you lean over and tickle your partner on the couch, and sometimes you tell them to be still while you do so. Sometimes they are tied up, balancing on that edge between pleasure and something closer to pain and uncontrollable squirming sensations. BDSM can be nothing more than a light collection of feathers.
  • Spanking. This is classic BDSM, using your hand or a paddle or anything else to slap someone’s bare bottom. It is silly and serious, fun and sexy, intimate and delicious. It is also good for beginners, because the ass, with its surface area and fat, is a perfect place to be paddled. Have you ever slapped your partner’s behind? Of course, you have. Now do it for real.
  • Whipping. A whip or a flogger takes spanking to another level. It’s a sharper kind of sensation, with a deeper sting, a louder sizzle, a more biting kind of kiss. 
  • Restraint. The star of any BDSM experience, restraint, as we discussed above, limits resistance. It makes the sub completely submissive and opens up possibilities for new punishments, new positions, and entirely new geographies of sex. Restraints can, and we think should be incorporated with all of these.
  • Nipple Play. For many women, and a lot of men, the nipples are very sensitive and key erotic areas. Nipples can be squeezed and tweaked to make that sensual pleasure approach the stark beauty of pain. Nipple clips are primary tools for this, as a tool of foreplay, and leaving them on during sex can heighten her sensations throughout.
  • Sharp Play. Many people like pointy things that poke into flesh (without actually cutting). There are many “Severe Kits” that include things like pointy whips or Wartenberg wheels, which provide an entirely new sensation.
  • Anal Play. There are many nerve endings in your back door, and anal play helps you experiment with all of them. Dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, and the always-popular strap-ons are just some of the anal toys that can be part of a BDSM relationship (or any relationship, for that matter). If someone is bound and blindfolded, they shouldn’t know what is going to happen (within agreed upon limits and desires, of course). Anal play opens up a whole new avenue for a delicious surprise.
  • Cock and Ball Play. There are many varieties of this, and many men who like having their manhood toyed with. Toys for this include whips and paddles, but also cock rings, which hinder ejaculation and let a partner (man or woman) decide what to do. Another popular item in this category is a ball stretcher, which provides a gentle but thrilling tugging sensation in the testicles.

What Makes a BDSM Scene?

beginners guide to the bdsm scene

There are a few different types of BDSM, and many of these are interrelated. They are all part of “scenes,” a phrase for the kind of bondage you like, often with groups. If you are into BDSM, you are part of a scene (or many scenes, depending on your desires).

Bondage.

As we said, this is the center of most BDSM activities. If you are tied up, anything can happen. Even if nothing happens beyond kissing, the physical nature of being bound heightens everything.

Roleplay and Fantasies.

Fantasies are a huge part of BDSM. It is perfectly fine to be tied up and just be you and your partner. That’s beautiful. But many people also experiment with being someone (or someones) else. These fantasies can include:

  • Stripping. This is often done for someone who is bound and can’t move, inverting the power structure. There is also a tantalizing “look but don’t touch” dynamic in this scenario.
  • Domination/Submission. The cop and the suspect, the kidnapper and the kidnapee, the headmistress and the naughty schoolboy, or even the dominatrix and the sub. Remember that these are fun, and they don’t condone any real-life situation. You can play any scenario you want. Sometimes the “home invader” scenario has its script flipped and becomes some cock and ball play. It is entirely up to you.
  • Sex with strangers. Pretending to be other people often lets couples explore more. This can mean pretending to have sex with someone else, but also pretending to be someone else. Sometimes this is very freeing. Mr. and Mrs. Jones suddenly become international spies, or characters from their favorite movie, or the couple at the PTA who look like they really know how to get down. Why not? This is your fantasy, and as long as it doesn’t intrude into real life, you’re set.
  • Gender Switching. There are no strict rules for genders and sexuality, but there are biological restrictions. The most prominent of these can be switched up with a strap-on.

Submission/Domination.

This is a form of BDSM that doesn’t always involve sex, per se. These can be relationships where one partner does whatever the dominant partner says, or does all their chores, or follows them around, or only can orgasm when commanded. While this isn’t generally for beginners, you can play around with the idea. For instance, making a partner wear nipple clamps or a cock ring during the day at work. That way, they always know that the sexual sensations they are feeling are due to their partner, dominating them from afar.

Is Sex Involved?

This is a good question, and it can be answered in a few ways. There are times, maybe most of the time, when this ends with a penetrative act, or in some ways leads to orgasm. There will be times when it does so for one partner but not the other. And there are some BDSM scenes where no one finishes and no one even touches genitals.

But it is all sex, in its own way, because it is an erotic exchange of self. There are BDSM relationships where one person just washes the other one’s gym clothes. They never have “sex,” they never kiss, they never even touch. But for them, it is just as intimate as a rainy weekend at a remote cabin. If it works for you, embrace it. Always.


So, Why BDSM?

why bdsm for beginners

There may be a couple moments in the descriptions above there when you winced or wondered why people do this. Well, for the same reasons anyone else does anything sexually: it is fun, and they love it. Sometimes for reasons they can’t explain.

But to be more clear, BDSM provides many things, including:

  • New Sensations
  • Enhanced Intimacy
  • Better Communications
  • Escape from the Ordinary
  • New Possibilities
  • A Sense of Danger
  • A Sense of Transgression

  • If done right, it isn’t dangerous. And it isn’t transgressive; BDSM is normal. But you can feel safe, while still embracing dangerous thrills and transgression, making a dull world of fluorescent office lights and traffic jams become exciting and new and different. You can inhabit new roles with your partner, providing a spark in your sex life. You can discover new facets of yourself, and in doing so rediscover each other. You can laugh and wince and explore together. You can talk about your deepest fantasies.


    You can find that being tied down is the most freeing feeling of all.