How To Introduce BDSM Into Your Relationship

While 50 Shades of Grey has brought BDSM into the mainstream, many couples regularly practice the lifestyle, which refers to sex practices including domination, bondage and sadomasochism. But is it healthy to add a little spanking and submission into your sex life?

Dr. Stephanie Hunter Jones, a certified sex therapist, works with couples to introduce BDSM into their bedrooms — and she told Motto that she’s seen the practice completely revive partnerships. “It definitely makes a difference for damaged relationships,” Dr. Jones said.

Dr. Jones spoke with Motto about her work, what impact BDSM can have on relationships and how “vanilla” couples can start getting a little kinky.

Motto: What impact can BDSM have on relationships?

Jones: For couples already involved in it, they’re no different from any other couple. They have the same concerns. BDSM is an expression of one’s uniqueness of their sexuality, and I always find that our BDSM couples are very blessed because they’ve found a partner that is a good fit for them.

But I also help vanilla couples introduce BDSM into their relationships, sometimes, in a bid to save their unions. I recently had a couple come in recently and the wife was in tears. She said she wasn’t attracted to her husband anymore and that she thought their marriage was over. They had been married for about ten years. So I met with them individually and found that their relationship was a total power struggle. He was totally dominating her in the relationship. So I gave them assignments where she would “dom” him in the bedroom. And it totally saved their marriage. And they’ve become lifestylers.

I often prescribe BDSM for power struggles or control issues. Or, if one partner had a bad sexual experience in the past, I prescribe it as a way to give that partner back some feeling of control.

So, how can a couple that’s never tried BDSM before organically introduce it into their relationship?

There’s lots of videos available online. I would check those out and do some research. I also frequently refer my clients to doms, and let the doms show them the safe way to play. You can have a session with a dom, who will demonstrate the ropes and different types of exercises you can do in the bedroom.

Here’s one scenario: one person — playing the dom (the person in power) can pretend to be the CEO of a company and the submissive can be an employee.

There’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of when it comes to BDSM. People think it equals pain. But, in reality, BDSM covers everything from playful role-playing to spanking to tying up your partner and teasing them with a feather. You can go as heavy as you want — as long as it’s consensual. But you don’t need to, either. You can always just dip your toe in — and that will still add a level of erotic energy to sex play with your partner.

How can couples stay safe — and consensual — while trying out BDSM?

BDSM play is always consensual. I work with the couples to create a safe word — meaning whenever one of them says that word, what’s going on must stop. No questions asked.

They also are supposed to talk beforehand. The scene played out shouldn’t be organic until they’ve done it enough so they know each other’s limits. When they’re just starting out, they must discuss the scene in advance and lay out what’s going to happen.

How should one partner broach the subject of trying out BDSM?

I’d recommend going to a sex-positive sex therapist and talking it out there. Or if you feel comfortable enough, I would just talk to your partner — and recommend starting out small. Say: “I’m interested in getting a little bit more playful in the bedroom — maybe some role playing or spanking.”

I’m a big advocate for getting help outside the bedroom. I think sex therapists are incredibly helpful. They can really help you get off to a good start.

Have you ever seen any negative effects of introducing BDSM into your relationship?

If a partner is using BDSM to hurt themselves or someone else, that’s not your traditional BDSM relationship. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s any harm introducing it whatsoever.

Some of my more mature couples initially giggle when I give them BDSM exercises to do, but when they report back to me, they love the experience. They say they felt like they were in high school again. They felt it was something new and unique to do in the bedroom, and it’s playful and fun.

Don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone. You and your partner can totally transform your relationship.

13 BDSM Tips To Make Sex More Enjoyable

People who practice BDSM are privy to amazing sex lives. Not just because of the orgasms that result from living out fantasies, but because they indulge in the activity of being themselves in bed. With that in mind, BDSM tips to make sex more enjoyable don’t require you to turn your bedroom into a dungeon.

From cinematic exploration of BDSM in film (Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary is sophisticated and steamy) to the influence of BDSM in fashion, (are you rocking a ’90s style choker to work?) the once taboo lifestyle is seeping its way into mainstream culture, like most interesting subcultures have a habit of doing. And I’m not even talking Fifty Shades.

Kink is subjective. That’s what makes it fun and makes it not such a big deal. Plus, BDSM can teach you a lot about yourself, if you stop focusing on the cat-o-nine tails, and have an open mind. According to a 2013 Dutch study that compared the psychological characters of those who were into BDSM and those who weren’t, BDSM people are, on average, more extroverted, open to experience and conscientious, and less neurotic. They were also found to be less sensitive to rejection, more securely attached, and higher in subjective well-being than the comparison group. Remember, the objective of role play isn’t just to get off, but to expand your self-knowledge and capacity for empathy. Having said that, BDSM provides opportunities for hot sex. The following are lessons learned from BDSM that can make your sex life a little more enjoyable.

1. Communicate Like Life Depends On It

Talking about sex during sex is essential for having a healthy and fun sex life, noted Psychology Today. But some people get flustered in the heat of the moment integrating the brain and bod. BDSM makes this dichotomy totally false, and encourages people to communicate what’s on their mind. Another article in Psychology Today cleared up the misconception that BDSM was about abuse, noting that those who live a BDSM lifestyle value trust and communication.

2. Learn How To Open Up

As sex expert Gloria Brame told BuzzFeed, the most distinctive quality about BDSM is not the whips and chains, but the open mindedness about sexuality. “BDSM doesn’t have to follow any pattern,” she said. “And there is no one model for what a BDSM relationship can be.” With this in mind, remember that there’s no model for what your sex life can be. So let loose and release expectations.

3. Give Your Bedroom An Erotic Makeover

The Huffington Post suggested that borrowing from the BDSM practice of “setting the stage,” you give your bedroom an erotic makeover.

4. Play With Ideas Of Restraint

If you’re not into bondage per se, you can use the idea of playing with restraint, psychologically. In BDSM, this is called “edge play” (not to be confused with “edging” where, according to Cosmopolitan, you bring yourself/partner to the edge of orgasm and then hold back). Sex expert Dr. Sandra LaMorgese explained to Huffington Post that edge play is unexplored fantasy taken to the “very edge of your psychological limits.” She suggested you don’t hold back on what you want from a fantasy sexual encounter. Sexual freedom in your fantasies, she underscored, leads to powerful release (read: strong orgasms).

5. Use Ice Cubes

The Huffington Post suggested you “run an ice cube down your restrained, blind-folded partner’s spanked bottom” if you’re looking to incorporate a little BDSM into your sex life. There’s nothing like ice when you break a sweat. Or better yet, when the air conditioning is already on full blast. How cool can you take it?

6. Speak Clearly To Tell Your Partner What You Really Want

Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen wrote in The Sex & Pleasure Book that when practicing bondage, where the capacity to “injure as well as arouse” is possible, you should employ the use of safe words, or codes for when you really want to stop. Safe words are clear. Clarity is essential for establishing boundaries in bed where you don’t want your lover to misunderstand you or your desires.

7. Break Out The Sex Toys

Whatever sex toy can bring your orgasm to the next level is worth giving a try. Clamps, a toy common in BDSM don’t have to be taken so seriously. But for the sake of my areola please take the time to know how to use a nipple clamp correctly. If the idea of clamps is too much for your sex life, you could try a squeezing your and your partner’s parts and see what that feels like.

8. Embrace Your Sexual Curiosity

If you’re new to BDSM, congratulations. XOJane explained that BDSM newbies have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, curiosity is insanely important to having a healthy sex life, and being a damn fine lover.

9. Become A Voyeur

Queen also wrote about “sex shame,” which results from a number of causes, usually that stem from an early sexual experience. Maybe you need to rewire your brain, she suggested, and replace negative notions you have about sex with healthier ones. Sex parties, common in the BDSM lifestyle, allow you to watch other people going at it, without any pressure to perform yourself. Hey, as Psychology Today noted, there’s a little voyeur in all people.

10. Get Kinky

A lot of what BDSM entails, explained Marie Claire UK, is a longer menu of sexual encounters. You’ve got more to choose from than genital to genital sex when you start thinking outside the box, (er, ahem) and explore. In fact, lots of BDSM kink doesn’t even involve contact with your privates. Now, go on and use that imagination.

11. Replace Lace With Leather Lingerie

There’s a reason leather is a mainstay of BDSM. Leather has a distinct taste, scent, and feel. Try swapping your lacy lingerie for a leather body harness and you’ll see what I mean. If a body harness is too much, start with leather pasties, or have sex wearing your leather motorcycle jacket. And nothing else.

12. Do Your Homework

You don’t have to be a sapiosexual to get turned on by knowing things. Researching what turns you on and how to execute your fantasy is BDSM 101. But, take away the bondage and domination, and anyone can benefit from reading about sexuality. Just because you need to brush up on some sex homework doesn’t make you bad in bed. Foodies read up on their favorite eats all the time.

13. Have Fun With Fetishes

What’s your fetish? Sex therapist Dr. Scott Jacobey told Men’s Health that fetishes come in all intensities. So while those into BDSM might act out fetishes on a higher level than some, not all fetishes have to be acted out with full throttle intensity to bring pleasure to you or your partner.