How to talk about kink with a new partner, because it doesn’t have to be awkward

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By Tracey Anne Duncan

“I like to struggle,” I whispered. What I meant was: Hold me down. Instead, she wrapped her arms around me and held me sweetly, nuzzling her face into my neck and petting my arm lightly with her fingertips. Oh, I thought. That’s not what I wanted. We had just been all sweaty and frenzied and now we were cuddling? Was she purposely withholding? Embarrassed? We had only hooked up once before, so I didn’t know her that well. “Are you into that?” I asked — determined to tell her about my kink preferences — but she was already gently snoring.

And then it hit me. She thought I said, “snuggle.”

I laughed to myself. She was a thoughtful lover and was just trying to give me what I asked for. She just wasn’t kinky, and I am kind of kinky. For the unfamiliar, that means that I like to do things in bed that some people find unusual. Kinky people call people who find our desires unusual “vanilla.” Although some people say it with shade, vanilla is my favorite flavor and I’m not here to judge anyone.

In any event, kink isn’t actually that unusual. Even though most people don’t consider themselves kinky, studies show that most people have kinky fantasies, even if they don’t actually have kinky sex. Interestingly, kink preferences often break down along party lines. Liberals tend to be drawn to BDSM (bondage, domination or discipline, sadism, and masochism), while conservatives are more likely to be into taboo-breaking activities, like age and incest play. Personally, I like to play with power dynamics. In kink circles, this is called domination and submission and they, along with bondage, are some of the most common practices of kinky folks.

But it wasn’t that long ago that I began exploring this facet of my sexuality. It’s taken time to learn how to communicate about kink well, and I still have questions — when is it OK to tell people I’m dating about my kinks? And how do I bring it up?

“There’s no one size fits all answer for these things,” says Dulcinea Pitagora, a NYC-based psychologist and sex therapist. “Anytime I hear someone say ‘that’s the rule,’ I immediately discard it. Disclosure is a privacy and a boundary issue. It’s entirely based on someone’s comfort level.”

Amanda Sanflippo, a New Orleans sex educator with an adult sex ed radio show, agrees. “It depends on the person,” she says. “I don’t have a formula.”

But if there aren’t any rules, what’s an aspiring kinkster to do with a new-ish partner when they want to try something that the other person might find strange? First of all, wait until you’re comfortable with someone and have developed a sense of trust. The experts are right in that there’s no formula for this, but you can typically tell if someone is basically trustworthy. While some people say that you should just let your freak flag fly from the very start, there are real risks around putting your private sexual desires out into the public domain, so trust is key.

“If somebody gets outed, they could lose their job, their apartment, or even their children. Discrimination happens in many different ways. There’s a possibility of disclosing that could put you in a dangerous situation,” Pitagora notes. She adds that these are worst case scenarios; if your employers or sex-negative people in your community find out about your “unusual” desires, you might just end up feeling uncomfortable, making someone else uncomfortable, or scaring off a person you want to get to know.

Sanflippo says that if you meet someone on a dating app and who is likely to be just a hookup, it’s OK to be upfront about your kinks. You can do this before you even give them your phone number or real name, so there’s no safety or outing risk. Recently, I was messaging a guy on Tinder and within the first few messages, he asked, “Are you sub?” What he meant was: Am I sexually submissive? It felt safe for him to ask and for me to answer honestly because our flirtation was still anonymous.

So if you’re chatting anonymously with someone and it feels safe to you, don’t hesitate to indulge in a little freaky banter. And if you’re already sexting on an app, it’s also OK to say, “I want to tie you up.”

But what if you meet someone IRL? Sanflippo suggests first asking your potential crush what they’re into, instead of just dropping the kink bomb on them. “If I was considering being intimate with someone, I might ask a person if they are into kinks rather than divulging my own,” she says. “I’ll ask them what kind of sex they enjoy. Then you can sense if they’re comfortable.”

This is a great rule of thumb. Wait to talk about sex with someone until it seems like you might want to have sex with them; if you’re already thinking about exchanging fluids, exchanging a few words beforehand can’t hurt.

And if you do plan to have sex soon, instead of making a demand like, “I want you to forcefeed me cake,” you can ask a question like, “What do you like to do in bed?” This is a direct and emotionally friendly way of figuring out whether your hookup might be into the same things as you. It’s also a good way to game out your sexual compatibility and strategize about what sexual activities might be mutually pleasurable in advance.

“The conversation about consent is what’s actually more important,” Pitagora says. “The nitty gritty and specifics aren’t as important.”

Basically, you can say you’re kinky and not go into detail — but you can’t not ask for consent. Since I’m already oversharing, I will tell you that more than half of my recent male partners have tried to do some pretty aggressive and dangerous to me without asking for permission. I don’t know what’s going on in cis-het 50 Shades of Patriarchy land because I mostly date women, but you cannot assume that people are into rough sex or BDSM.

“It’s important to know that it’s something that some people are into,” says Pitagora, “but some people aren’t and they could be traumatized. You don’t want to traumatize your sexual partners.”

Um, yeah. What she said.

Activities such as sexual choking, which is rising in popularity in vanilla het sex and porn, are considered “edge play” in BDSM communities. That means that it’s dangerous, and so not only do you have to ask for consent, you also have to know what you’re doing. “The person not asking for consent is also not trained to do it,” Pitagora says. This means that they shouldn’t do it, ever.

I’m (really) not trying to scare you away from BDSM, but sexual choking is also called “erotic asphyxiation” and you’ve definitely heard of it because people die from it. Tying someone up the wrong way can lead to all kinds of injury, including nerve damage. Getting and giving consent and talking about what you and your partner do in the bedroom aren’t just issues of ethics and pleasure — they can be issues of life and death.

“People should embrace saying the obvious,” Pitagora says, especially straight, cisgender men. “Cis-het men are used to being dominant by default. They might think asking for consent is too obvious, but because we can’t know, it’s just not obvious.” In other words, even if you are already pretty sure that someone is saying YES, you need to ask them to say (or scream, if you’re into that) YES out loud so that everyone’s signals line up. Consent can also be a great lead in to talking about your kinks. “Is it OK for me to kiss you?” is just a single word switch away from, “is it OK for me to spank you?”

In the past year, I’ve gotten a lot better about being explicit about what I want. In some ways, I was late to the kink party — I was basically married for half my life to vanilla folks and I never really thought to sexperiment with them. But, actually, I’m not late. Most people become more sexually adventurous as they age, and it can take a lot of trial and error before you get good at saying what you like out loud to new partners.

It’s definitely worth it, though. I’ve had more great sex in the last six months than I did in the first 20 years of my life. So if you’ve got some kinky fantasies, don’t worry, you’re not late, either, it’s just might take you a hot minute to learn how to talk about them.

A few weeks ago I hooked up with my sweet, snuggly friend again. She straddled me and playfully held my hands together over my head. When I resisted, she let go.

“No,” I said, “when I resist, I want you to push harder.”

“Ohhhhhhh,” she said, smiling. And then she held me down.

I think I like her.

Complete Article HERE!

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If You’re Into Kink…

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You Need to Join One Of These Dating Apps

By Erika W. Smith

Kink can encompass a lot of things: bondage, yes, but also spanking, choking, feet, cuckolding, and watersports. And it turns out that many of us are at least a little bit kinky. One Canadian study asked over 1,000 adults about their sexual fantasies, and found that about half were interested in some kind of kink. The most popular kinks fell under the categories of voyeurism, fetishism, exhibitionism, masochism, and sadism.

“People want to be tied up,” researcher Christian Joyal told the Montreal Gazette. “As long as it’s with a consenting partner, people will be relieved to know that their desires are not necessarily abnormal.” He added, “One hundred years ago, oral sex was considered gross, 50 years ago it was illegal and now it is the number one fantasy. In 30 years from now, I would be surprised if BDSM wasn’t part of normal sexuality.”

Whatever you’re into, you’re far from alone. And while you can certainly ask your Tinder match if they want to choke you or exchange “kink menus” with your partner, there are also kink-specific dating apps out there to make the search for someone with compatible kinks a little bit easier.

Keep in mind that, as always, consent is mandatory — and if you match with someone who wants you to sign a “consent contract” or refuses to use a safe word, that’s a red flag. If you don’t already know your potential kink partner, sex and intimacy coach Shelby Devlin previously suggested to Refinery29 that it’s a good idea to “[go] on a couple of dates and [get] a feel for someone, giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re good with boundaries, before you do any BDSM.” And that goes for any other kink, too.

On the plus side, many people using kink-specific dating apps may already be kinky pros, rather than someone who just watched Fifty Shades of Grey for the first time. Here are a few kinky apps to get you started

Complete Article HERE!

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Getting Kinky In a Relationship?

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Don’t worry, it’s okay to be freaky in a relationship and most of the time the other person will love you for it. If you feel that your sexual taste goes beyond that of the average person, have no fear as most Americans feel just like you.

As a society, we tend to move on from what is regarded as normal in order to satisfy our needs. According to surveys, couples who have been going out for more than four years tend to move on to other means of sexual desires that are regarded as less common by many.

Couples who go out for more than four years are moving past the stigma and shame associated with fetishes and kinks, and are becoming more and more comfortable in sharing their pleasures and desires.

If you’re a kinky person, then your partner needs to hear out your desires and fulfills your needs. A mismatch is a relationship killer, and if you’re the kinky one, then there are a few things that you need to do in your relationship in order to get accepted from your partner.

Talk With Your Partner

This might sound weird, but a lot of relationships tend to move past their problems by simply communicating with each other. We understand that you might be afraid to tell your partner about your fetishes and desires, but trust us that communication is key in a relationship. Start off slow and start by talking about what you like most in the bedroom. Explain what that is and why that turns you on. Make sure to make the mood as comfortable as possible, as you don’t want to make things weird.

When you start to talk things out, you will find out if your partner approved of your kinks, if he/she is/are open to them, and if they’re interested in doing them. Your partner might hide it at first, but we’re positive that they will grow into it.

Give Your Partner Time to Think

Most intercourse therapists say that you should always give your partner think about your kinks and desires. You might have told your partner that you’re into restraints and harnesses, and that might sound too much for your partner. But the key is to give your partner room to think it out. Never demonstrate the kink without the approval of your partner. He/she needs to feel safe at all times during bedroom business, and forcing your kink onto your partner is an instant red flag. If your partner eventually approves of your restraint kink or you have agreed on a sex toy you would like to use, you can go to Extreme Restraints and choose the type of restraint together that you will both enjoy.

Show Your Appreciation for Trying Something New Together

If your partner doesn’t feel as kinky as you, and if your partner agrees to your kink, then always show your appreciation for trying something new with you. They might not know how to do it at first, so you should never judge them for doing it wrong. Always be encouraging,  supportive, and avoid making any negative comments towards your partner.

Complete Article HERE!

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When and why is pain pleasurable?

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Many people think of pain and sex as deeply incompatible. After all, sex is all about pleasure, and pain has nothing to do with that, right? Well, for some individuals, pain and pleasure can sometimes overlap in a sexual context, but how come? Continue reading this Spotlight feature to find out.

The relationship between pain and sexual pleasure has lit up the imaginations of many writers and artists, with its undertones of forbidden, mischievous enjoyment.

In 1954, the erotic novel Story of O by Anne Desclos (pen name Pauline Réage) caused a stir in France with its explicit references to bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism — an array of sexual practices referred to as BDSM, for short.

Recently, the series Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James has sold millions of copies worldwide, fuelling the erotic fantasies of its readers.

Still, practices that involve an overlap of pain and pleasure are often shrouded in mystery and mythologized, and people who admit to engaging in rough play in the bedroom often face stigma and unwanted attention.

So what happens when an individual finds pleasure in pain during foreplay or sexual intercourse? Why is pain pleasurable for them, and are there any risks when it comes to engaging in rough play?

In this Spotlight feature, we explain why physical pain can sometimes be a source of pleasure, looking at both physiological and psychological explanations.

Also, we look at possible side effects of rough play and how to cope with them and investigate when the overlap of pain and pleasure is not healthful.

Physical pain as a source of pleasure

First of all, a word of warning: Unless a person is specifically interested in experiencing painful sensations as part of their sexual gratification, sex should not be painful for the people engaging in it.

People may experience pain during intercourse for various health-related reasons, including conditions such as vaginismus, injuries or infections of the vulva or vagina, and injuries or infections of the penis or testicles.

If you experience unwanted pain or any other discomfort in your genitals during sex, it is best to speak to a healthcare professional about it.

Healthy, mutually consenting adults sometimes seek to experience painful sensations as an “enhancer” of sexual pleasure and arousal. This can be as part of BDSM practices or simply an occasional kink to spice up one’s sex life.

But how can pain ever be pleasurable? According to evolutionary theory, for humans and other mammals, pain functions largely as a warning system, denoting the danger of a physical threat. For instance, getting burned or scalded hurts, and this discourages us from stepping into a fire and getting burned to a crisp or drinking boiling water and damaging our bodies irreversibly.

Yet, physiologically speaking, pain and pleasure have more in common than one might think. Research has shown that sensations of pain and pleasure activate the same neural mechanisms in the brain.

Pleasure and pain are both tied to the interacting dopamine and opioid systems in the brain, which regulate neurotransmitters that are involved in reward- or motivation-driven behaviors, which include eating, drinking, and sex.

In terms of brain regions, both pleasure and pain seem to activate the nucleus accumbens, the pallidum, and the amygdala, which are involved in the brain’s reward system, regulating motivation-driven behaviors.

Thus, the “high” experienced by people who find painful sensations sexually arousing is similar to that experienced by athletes as they push their bodies to the limit.

Possible psychological benefits

There is also a complex psychological side to finding pleasure in sensations of pain. First of all, a person’s experience of pain can be highly dependent on the context in which the painful stimuli occur.

Experiencing pain from a knife cut in the kitchen or pain related to surgery, for instance, is bound to be unpleasant in most, if not all, cases.

However, when a person is experiencing physical pain in a context in which they are also experiencing positive emotions, their sense of pain actually decreases.

So when having sex with a trusted partner, the positive emotions associated with the act could blunt sensations of pain resulting from rough play.

At the same time, voluntarily experienced pain during sex or erotic play can, surprisingly, have positive psychological effects, and the main one is interpersonal bonding.

Two studies — with results collectively published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2009 — found that participants who engaged in consensual sadomasochistic acts as part of erotic play experienced a heightened sense of bonding with their partners and an increase in emotional trust. In their study paper, the researchers concluded that:

Although the physiological reactions of bottoms [submissive partners] and tops [dominant partners] tended to differ, the psychological reactions converged, with bottoms and tops reporting increases in relationship closeness after their scenes [BDSM erotic play].”

Another reason for engaging in rough play during sex is that of escapism. “Pain,” explain authors of a review published in The Journal of Sex Research, “can focus attention on the present moment and away from abstract, high-level thought.”

“In this way,” the authors continue, “pain may facilitate a temporary reprieve or escape from the burdensome responsibilities of adulthood.”

In fact, a study from 2015 found that many people who practiced BDSM reported that their erotic practices helped them de-stress and escape their daily routine and worries.

The study’s authors, Ali Hébert and Prof. Angela Weaver, write that “Many of the participants stated that one of the motivating factors for engaging in BDSM was that it allowed them to take a break from their everyday life.” To illustrate this point, the two quote one participant who chose to play submissive roles:

”It’s a break free from your real world, you know. It’s like giving yourself a freaking break.”

Potential side effects of play

People can also experience negative psychological effects after engaging in rough play — no matter how experienced they are and how much care they take in setting healthful boundaries for an erotic scene.

Among BDSM practitioners, this negative side effect is known as “sub drop,” or simply “drop,” and it refers to experiences of sadness and depression that can set in, either immediately after engaging in rough sexual play or days after the event.

Researchers Richard Sprott, Ph.D., and Anna Randall argue that, while the emotional “crash” that some people experience immediately after rough play could be due to hormonal changes in the moment, drops that occur days later most likely have other explanations.

They argue that feelings of depression days after erotic play correspond to a feeling of loss of the “peak experience” of rough sexual play that grants a person psychological respite in the moment.

Like the high offered by the mix of pleasure and pain in the moment, which may be akin to the highs experienced by performance athletes, the researchers liken the afterplay “low” with that experienced by Olympic sportspeople in the aftermath of the competition, which is also referred to as “post-Olympic depression.”

In order to prevent or cope with feeling down after an intense high during erotic play, it is important for a person and their partner or partners to carefully plan aftercare, both at the physical and psychological level, discussing individual needs and worries in detail.

Whatever a person decides to engage in to spice up their sex life, the key is always consent. All the people participating in a sexual encounter must offer explicit and enthusiastic consent for all parts of that encounter, and they must be able to stop participating if they are no longer interested and willing.

Research suggests that fantasies about unusual or rough sexual play are very common, and some people decide to take the fantasy out of the realm of imagination and make it a reality.

If you decide to stray from “vanilla” sex and try other flavors too, that’s fine, and there’s nothing wrong with you. Just make sure that you stay safe and you only engage in what you enjoy and feel comfortable doing.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 Kinky Sex Tips For Curious Vanilla Girls

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Are you ladies more kinky than you are admitting? Considering the popularity of “50 Shades of Gray,” the erotica book burning the laps of lady readers across the country, I’m guessing you gals might be a tad kink-curious. Of course, there is a difference between reading about kinky sex and actually doing it– but both can be hot. Why not give those fantasies a whirl in the bedroom?

Being a vanilla girl who is curious about BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) can be intimidating. You’re probably conjuring images of dog collars, dungeons and the leather-clad man who calls himself Master DragonBallz. Fret not, there are ways for a normal gal to try this stuff out with her partner in the comfort of her bedroom. No dungeon is necessary. Click through for some tips on how to dip a perfectly manicured toe into the dark waters of BDSM. And remember, you can use your safe word at any time during this slideshow.

Initiate A Kink Conversation

It all starts with talk. Kinky sex educator Maggie Mayhem has some ideas for broaching the topic: “If you’ve never discussed your fantasies out loud with your partner it may be helpful to refer back to a song, blog-post, movie or even porn/erotica.” Saying something like, “I just saw a movie where a woman’s partner tied her up to the bed while they had sex. And the connection they had was intriguing. Wanna watch it with me?”

If you want to take a more blunt route, frame the suggestion for kinky sex as a compliment, rather than as an accusation that there is something missing in your sex life. “You could say something like, ‘I really enjoy having sex with you because you listen to my body and make me feel safe. The idea of [being tied up during sex/spanked/dirty talk/doing chores naked] is something that makes me feel turned on and a little vulnerable, but I think it would be sexy to explore.”’ Maggie suggests using “and” instead of “but.” Example: “I really enjoy sex with you and I want to try spanking” sounds much different than “I really enjoy sex with you but I want to try spanking.”

Start Off Slow

You don’t have to try everything all at once! Looking at rows of floggers, paddles, and nipple clamps at the sex shop can be a little overwhelming. There are so many things you can do with BDSM, but there is nothing wrong with starting slow. Try mixing one new thing into your sex routine at a time. You can start with a blindfold during sex or maybe a little spanking in your foreplay (you can always use your bare hands before forking over the money for a paddle.)

Books, websites, workshops can be helpful as well. You can try saying something to your partner like, “I have so much fun with you in the bedroom, and you make me feel so good that I feel comfortable checking out something I’ve never done before, like maybe bondage. I don’t really know very much about it. Do you think that we could attend a workshop just to find out how it works?”

Do Some Erotic Brainstorming

Okay, sure all of this is great if you know what you want to try, but what if you don’t know? Brainstorm it out. Think back on the (kinky) sexual images that have turned you on. What elements stick out and what parts you could do without? Is your goal to feel the physical sensations involved in a particular act, or are you more interested in the emotional side of the fantasy?

Make a list of the things you might want to try. “Write down a basic idea such as ‘Bondage’ or ‘Spanking.’ Then make one column for the different things about spanking you think are sexy and another column for what you don’t find sexy at all,” Maggie encourages. Then share that list with your partner.

Tantalize Your Partner’s Senses

So you know what you want to try, but how do you get around to actually trying it? Start with the senses. Tantalize your partner. Bring a sensual surprise into the bedroom to break out of your routine — a tray of fruit, wine, chocolate (or all of the above). Try rubbing your partner’s body with furry or feathery things, massage, bite, find dull kitchen utensils to graze over their skin, use ice cubes.

Then work your way up the sensory ladder to something more intense. If you want to get rough, try a handkerchief as a gag. “It can be a reminder of how much tension we release through our voices and can heighten the feel of an orgasm,” says Maggie. The rope is also fun. “For some, bondage is about the vulnerability of being unable to escape, but for others, it’s about the sensation of smooth rope gliding over different parts of their body like their arms, legs, or torso,” she says.

Take turns doing this stuff to each other. But if you already know that it only turns you on to be the “bottom” in the situation, take the reigns and get the ball rolling. Lay out some toys, put on your sexiest outfit and ask, “What can I do to serve you? What would please you?”

Be Creative

Trying out kinky things is all about getting creative with sex. Role play and other sex games are just that — games. So have fun. Try putting on sexual performance or ask your partner to perform for you. “Stripping or masturbating for your partner can be a sexy and kinky experience, especially if your partner (or you) remain fully clothed the whole time,” says Maggie. Or try getting it on in public. Go to a fancy restaurant dressed to the nines, then excuse yourself. Go to the bathroom, slip off your panties and then discretely hand them to your partner under the table. It’s a safe way to play with being an exhibitionist. “Play wrestling is another way to explore power dynamics,” Maggie suggests. “Or turn on a sports game and assign a sexual act that one of you performs on the other every time their team scores a point.” Whatever you decide to try, its’ most important that you be creative and have fun.

Use Safe Words

In the world of BDSM, consent is paramount. And one of the first things you can start with is a “safe word”– a single word that stops the scene. You can make one up, but I personally like using the stoplight system. Red for Stop.Yellow for Slow down and Green for Oh god yes. But let’s admit it– it can be hard to speak up in the heat of the moment.

While exploring, try to establish non-verbal cues together to help you communicate at the moment. If you like something, you can make it a point to moan in appreciation or give a thumbs up. If something is getting too intense, pantomime turning down the dial or put a hand up in a Stop sign. Remember to always honor your safe word. Unexpected things can happen in our minds or bodies. A cramp in the foot! A buzzing cell phone! A sudden feeling of discomfort!

Have A Post-Kink Debrief

Having fulfilling kinky sex with your partner can be a great way to bond as a couple and build trust with each other about exploring any sexual fantasy. If you are playing bottom, also be aware you just might find yourself in sub-space, a mental state of euphoria that comes from playing with BDSM. Regardless, after that, toe has been dipped into kinky waters, don’t forget after-care.

Debrief and talk about what just happened. Did you enjoy it? Was there something that didn’t turn you or your partner on? Keep the communication going so that next time you can push the envelope even further … ya know, if you’re into that.

Complete Article HERE!

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Get tied up with these trusted BDSM dating sites

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Long before 50 Shades of Grey was ever published, bondage dating sites have brought people together to indulge in their shared passion for shibari, suspension, and other forms of rope bondage. But since the series highlighted all types of kink, more BDSM dating sites have popped up–which begs the question: how do you know which sites are worth your time (and money)? You can spend countless hours typing websites into Google and sifting through user reviews, or you can just get a head start with one of the sites we’ve reviewed below.

Are bondage dating sites safe?

When used correctly, dating apps like these can be a helpful tool to have. However, as with any online community, if you don’t take the right preventative measures you risk putting yourself in harm’s way. Here are a few tips to prioritize your safety:

  • Remain skeptical and never rush to meet someone–take the time to properly vet their identity.
  • Fully discuss consent, safewords, and boundaries.
  • Establish rules and aftercare rituals.

These details may seem minor, but they’re mega-important for protecting yourself and weeding out those who won’t be a match.

Best bondage dating sites according to reviewers

1) Perversions

Neatly designed, this bondage dating site is easy to use and makes searching for potential matches hassle-free. In fact, it’s so organized that reviewers claim it’s what leads to the site’s high matchmaking rate. Perversions.com also offers users access to private cam rooms, chat rooms, community blogs, and more. The site is also very good at making what each member is looking for very clear. When you sign up, you’ll be prompted to answer questions pertaining to your political beliefs, masturbation practices, even your favorite sex positions. Users can join for free but in order to access all the site has to offer, you’ll need to upgrade your membership to a Silver or Gold plan.

Silver members can view and contact members, show up in searches (after Gold tier members and before free members), contact new members, unlimited access to live and recorded videos and 24/7 phone support.

Gold members will have access to all new content first, appear in search results before Silver and free members, receive full access to the Gold Room (which includes erotic photos, movies, downloadable videos, erotic stories, and live webcam shows).

2) Alt.com

Alt.com (apart of the FriendFinder Network) hosts a platform for masters or mistresses of BDSM and people looking to practice erotic bondage. Members are able to connect with other users in chat rooms, webcam sessions, and through private messaging. Reviewers claim that Alt.com isn’t as reliable as other sites that are a part of the FriendFinder network (like AFF), but that doesn’t mean it’s total garbage either. You’ll just have to be careful about who you connect with in order to avoid scammers, but that can be said for meeting people IRL too! However, one user did offer a pro tip for navigating this site: hang out in the chatrooms and get to know interested parties that way, instead of scouring profiles for countless hours trying to find the perfect person. 

Joining is free, but if you want to access everything the site has to offer you will need to upgrade your membership to a Silver or Gold plan. Silver members can view and contact members, show up in searches (after Gold tier members and before free members), contact new members, access members photos and video introductions, and 24/7 phone support.

Gold members will have access to all new content first, appear in search results before Silver and free members, receive unlimited access to members photos and screen names, movies, downloadable videos, erotic stories, blogs, groups, magazine stories, and live webcam shows.

3) Bondage.com

Founded in 2004, this top bondage dating website is mobile-friendly but has no app (yet). Its matching algorithm is GPS-based and designed to show you profiles of top members in your region. But what sets the site apart from the rest is that when users sign up they can choose to upload a profile video instead of a static photo. Users can also choose to sign up with Facebook. However, reviewers claim that this site is no longer as active as it once was, so unless you’re looking to find matches in a big city, you may want to sign up for one or two other sites as well (or just be patient). 

Joining is free but in order to send gifts and come up as a priority in search results, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid membership.

4) MeetDominatrix.com

Reviewers claim that MeetDominatrix.com is one of the best bondage dating sites available, and we have to agree. The site allows users to create custom profiles that reflect their experience in the scene, so if you’re new to bondage you can find comfort in matching someone more experienced with the patience to show you the ropes (literally). The site design is a bit boring but it does a great job at representing users from all experience levels, backgrounds, ages, and interests–in other words, don’t let the look fool you. 

Joining won’t cost you a thing, but free members will only receive restricted access to features like sending flirts, instant messaging and searching the site. So if you’d like to carry a conversation through the site-based email system or access advanced search filters, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid membership. Luckily, you don’t have to subscribe immediately, since all new members receive a free Premium membership to test out before they sign up. 

Complete Article HERE!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Impact Play

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We’re here to answer all your questions about this particular kink and how to practice it safely, spank you very much.

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Impact play, simply put, refers to any form of impact on the body for sexual gratification purposes. Many sexual partners practice impact play the most common way, through spanking, but those who are more experienced will often bring toys into the mix or try a slew of other acts. Impact play is a prevalent kink with a wide umbrella.

Some people prefer various toys, such as whips, floggers, and paddles. Each instrument delivers a different sensation. While it can be tempting to spend money on beautiful black leather BDSM accessories, for those new to the experience, it’s best to start small and use what you have at home. Your hand is the most obvious answer, but even a kitchen spatula can double as a paddle. In addition to saving money, using what you have on you familiarizes you and your partner with where to hit on the body, how hard is comfortable, and what you’re each looking for out of a scene. Are you unsure what a “scene” means? Keep reading. Allure created a glossary of common impact play terms and what they mean. After you brush up on our kinky dictionary, learn how to negotiate with your partner, where it’s safe to hit on the body, and what kink guidelines encourage for post-play etiquette. We spoke to a New York City professional dominatrix and a sex therapist to ensure you have accurate and important information, so you can explore impact play from a place of understanding and confidence.

Common Impact Play Terms and What They Mean

Aftercare: Aftercare is post-play etiquette in which all parties check in on one another to ensure the scene was enjoyable, tend to any bruises as well as emotional needs, and communicate how all parties feel.

BDSM: BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism, and is an umbrella term for any kinky play that involves a consensual power exchange.

Bondage: Bondage is when one partner (typically the submissive) is tied up by the dominant partner. Bondage is frequently part of impact play, because tying up the submissive, who then consensually can’t move, adds to the thrill of the scene.

Dom drop and sub drop: During a BDSM scene, endorphins and adrenaline run high for all partners. As a result, like a comedown from a drug, both the submissive and dominant partner may experience a comedown immediately after or even a few days later. All parties involved have a responsibility to tend to their partner during their drop.

D/S: D/S stands for dominance and submission. Typically one partner takes on the dominant, or top role. In impact play, this is the person inflicting the spanks or other forms of play. The submissive is the bottom, or the person receiving the impact on their body.

Edge play: Edge play refers to BDSM activities that push the limit of what is considered safe, sane, and consensual. This often refers to activities involving bodily fluids and blood. Single-tail whips are considered a form of edge play as they can draw blood and inflict harm if not used correctly.

Hard limits: Your hard limits are activities that are absolutely off-limits and should be communicated to your partner prior to play.

Kink: A kink refers to any sexual interest that is outside the heterosexual vanilla norm.

Pain slut: Pain sluts are people who enjoy erotic pain.

Play: Play is a word used within the kink community to refer to any erotic activity, from penetrative intercourse to impact play.

RACK: RACK stands for risk-aware consensual kink, and is the guideline all kinky play should follow. It means all parties understand the risks they are taking and consent.

Safe word: A safe word is a word agreed upon by all parties that indicates it’s time to immediately stop the play. A safe word is used over “stop” or “no,” as some people enjoy scenes in which they (consensually) “fight back.”

SCC: SCC stands for safe, sane, and consensual. It is another acronym for safety guidelines, although RACK is more commonly used today because what is considered safe and sane varies from person to person.

Scene: A scene refers to the time in which the agreed upon kinky play occurs.

Soft limits: Soft limits are things that you are curious about but hesitant to try. Perhaps in the future, you’ll want to try them, but as of now, it’s a no. Your limits may change with time.

Switch: A switch is someone who can literally switch and enjoy both the dominant and submissive role.

What is impact play?

As stated before, spanking counts as impact play, but toys such as floggers, paddles, whips, and crops may also be used, though most people don’t start there. “At least 50 percent of people have some interest in spanking,” says somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond. “When we’re talking about anything harder than that, the number drops a bit, for sure.” Whether you want to try some light spanking or learn more about how to practice impact play in BDSM, there are some things you should know to do it safely.

How do I talk to a partner about trying impact play?

First things first: You must negotiate and communicate with your partner about what you both desire from the experience. “For my clients who want to be slapped, or spanked with a paddle, I prefer they start the conversation days before the actual event itself,” Richmond says. She suggests an in-person conversation to discuss what you both want and what is off-limits.

Nervous about sharing your kink? “Always lead with a compliment,” Richmond suggests, “if possible, like, ‘I’m really happy with our sex life, but I saw this scene in a movie,’ or ‘I saw this scene in porn, and it really titillated me. I’m curious to try it. Could I show it to you and see what you think?'”

How do I safely try impact play for the first time?

After you’re on the same page, pick out a safe word. “Safe words are just a really easy way for your bottom [submissive] to communicate when they’ve hit their limit,” says New York City professional and lifestyle dominatrix Goddess Aviva. “I use the words ‘yellow’ and ‘red,’ so yellow is slow down and red is a full stop for whatever activity is taking place.”

Whether you take Aviva’s advice and use “yellow” and “red” or choose a word specific to your relationship, it’s important to have a safe word. Some people who enjoy impact play also role-play as part of a BDSM scene. “They might be into a role-play and say things like ‘no,’ or ‘stop,’ but they really want to keep going. That’s why you’d use safe words rather than ‘oh, no, that’s enough,’” Goddess Aviva explains.

In addition to communicating, you need to know where it’s safe to be hit. “You want to hit areas on the body that are fleshier and fattier,” Aviva says. “The ass, thighs, and front of the legs. You want to avoid hitting someone on their spine. You want to avoid hitting someone on the lower back where the kidneys are. You want to avoid basically any area in which you could damage organs.” If you’re into slapping, make sure to avoid the eyes, mouth, and nose, and keep a flat hand on the fleshy cheek. It’s a good idea to practice on a pillow before engaging in impact play. If you are curious about BDSM impact play toys, start small with a hand, and then work your way up to some of our favorites.

What sex toys can be incorporated into impact play?

Different toys feel different on the body. Goddess Aviva suggests starting with a crop because it’s multifunctional. “I personally love using a crop for impact play because you can angle it really well and it can go on lots of parts of the body. You can use the crop in more of a sensual teasing manner, or you can whack it down really hard,” she tells Allure. Try the Kookie Riding Crop from Babeland, $24.

If you want something harder that hits with a “thud,” opt for a paddle. “If someone is really into hard spanking, I tend to like a paddle, because you can deliver a lot of force and impact,” Aviva says. Try the Bondage Boutique Faux Leather Spanking Paddle available at Lovehoney, $20. If you’re curious about floggers, which can be gentle or extremely painful, depending on how hard you use them (do not flog a person without practice), try Lovehoney Beginner’s Flogger, $20.

Whips, despite the frequent use of their name, can actually be the most dangerous toy of them all, because longer whips can wrap around the body and cut through flesh. “Whips are always just so beautiful and I love the way they sound,” Goddess Aviva says. That said, if you’re new to this, stick with a paddle for a while. But if you or your partner absolutely know what you’re doing and are at least an intermediate, try the Bondage Boutique Faux Snakeskin Whip from Lovehoney, $30.

What is aftercare, and how do I practice it properly?

Aftercare is a word used in BDSM circles that refers to checking in with your partner post-sex, or in kink speak, after a scene has ended, to make sure you both feel good and secure with what went down. It’s an essential part of any sex that involves risk of physical harm, including impact play, and may require bringing the submissive partner (or the one who was hit) food, water, a blanket, and ice for any bruises.

Dominants need love, too, so both parties should share how they felt, tend to each other, and discuss how to improve the next time. Aftercare is a term that has grown out of the BDSM community, but all sex should involve checking in with each other afterward to make sure you’re feeling taken care of.

Complete Article HERE!

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What’s A Dom?

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This BDSM Term Is All About Perception

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Like being born with brown eyes or being right-handed, some traits are naturally dominant. When it comes to the sexy stuff, a dominant trait can mean more than what you learned in ninth grade biology. Whether you’re just starting to learn about BDSM or if the idea of being the boss in the bedroom seems pretty exciting, knowing what’s a Dom can be super important in uncovering all the sexy stuff you may be into. “A dominant is a person who likes to have the perceived power in a situation,” Amy Boyajian (they/them), co-founder and CEO of Wild Flower tells Elite Daily. “Usually, they’re the one controlling the experience, directing a partner and delivering sensations and stimulation. Some people might like engaging in these dynamics during BDSM play or sex only, while others like to incorporate them into their relationship and overall lifestyle.”

As BDSM takes on so many forms, it can be challenging to fully unpack what it really means to be a Dom. “Most dominants in media are portrayed as cruel and unreasonable, or troubled and insecure, Boyajian says.I don’t think there has been a healthy representation of what a loving, caring dominate can be! If you’re out to cause real harm to people, exploring dominance is not for you. Power play is about exploring safety within boundaries, in a mutually beneficial dynamic. It is never about simply doing whatever you please with someone.” Since so many misconceptions about Doms exist in the media, learning the real tea, can be super helpful in learning about BDSM, in all its forms.

According to Boyajian, there are a myriad of ways to navigate a Dom experience. However, whatever role or dynamic is unfolding, the most important aspect to keep in mind is consent. “People exploring Dom/sub dynamics and BDSM play have some of the most involved conversations about consent and include many safety measures to ensure everyone is happy and taken care of,” Boyajian says. “There is a huge misconception that dominant and submissive dynamics do not include consent — one person simply gives all power to the other. This couldn’t be further from the truth.” Prioritizing consent and healthy boundaries is super important in fully understanding Dom play and activities.

Although it can sometimes seem as if a Dom wants complete control over their partner(s), oftentimes, Dom sex or play is about perceived control in a roleplaying or dynamic. “People who explore dominance are rarely wanting to actually control another person completely. Rather, play that incorporates power dynamics is about roleplaying scenarios and subverting societal norms, like traditional gender roles,” Boyajian says. “Someone who enjoys being dominate is exploring their fantasies of control and what it would be like to have authority over someone.” From subverting gender norms to exploring control fantasies, being a Dom or incorporating dominance into your sex or romantic life can be a super empowering way to recreate societal power dynamics.

Apart from consent and control, there are several crucial behind-the-scenes conversation to have playing with dominance. “Both dominant and submissive roles require a solid amount of non-judgmental communication before, during, and after exploring,” Boyajian says. “Much like any sexual encounter, it’s vital that both dominant and submissive partners share any boundaries, limits, or hard no’s they may have.” These conversations can also be a great time to establish a safe word or action, a phrase or physical motion that signals stop, if a scene is making someone uncomfortable, or if for whatever reason a parter wants to take a break or fully stop. “Since consent is an ongoing thing, it crucial that everyone is able to indicate their consent or refusal at all times,” Boyajian says. If you and your partner(s) may have previously discussed trying something new, or may have all been on the same page at the beginning, it’s still important to check in consistently throughout the sex or scene, to make sure everyone is continually feeling comfortable and good.

If you’re thinking of experimenting with Dom/Sub activities, there may be some personal ideas to reflect on. “It’s important to assess, to the best of your abilities, if something maybe upsetting or triggering to you and be understanding in a situation where you and your partner may not feel comfortable,” Boyajian says. “Different people have different affinities for power play during sex and some may not find it as rewarding as others.” Experimenting in the bedroom and trying new things can be a super fun and totally hot way to learn about your own desires. Still, it’s important to keep yourself safe and protected in all you do, and getting clear on your boundaries is very important before jumping into Dom-play. “While your skills on expressing yourself will expand with experience, it’s important to enter into power play dynamics with a firm understanding of consent and set of communication abilities,” Boyajian says.

When it comes to exploring Dom/Sub dynamics, there may be restorative post-thing practices to factor in as well. “Aftercare is also a factor to consider. Since you may be exploring practices that are physically and/or emotionally draining, plan some activities that will provide some relief to these feelings,” Boyajian says. “That could be physical care like rubbing lotion into bruises or sore sports or emotional comfort like cuddling or talking through the experience afterward.” Aftercare can be necessary in winding down and processing after an intense BDSM scene to provide comfort and support to all parties involved.

There are many ways to dip your toes into BDSM if you or your partner(s) are dying to try to sexy Dom-play. “Start small with some commanding dirty talk or directing your partner to get yourself comfortable with being in an authoritative role,” Boyajian says. “A little spanking session can be great foreplay and things like gentle biting and hair pulling can be an exciting new inclusion.” From commanding dirty talk to a light spanking, there are plenty of ways to experiment with dominance that you can really make your own. If you want to try being a Dom, but don’t know where to start, Boyajian suggests some sexy pretend play. “Roleplaying is essentially the gateway into exploring power dynamics. Playing the role of a sexy dominant is the pathway to becoming an IRL sexy Dom!”

Although BDSM can look different for everyone, healthy Dom/Sub dynamics are always built on consent and communication. From enjoying the perceived control to wanting to subvert gender roles, Doms can take on many forms. And while Doms may be the ones calling the shots, Dom/sub sex ins’t all about them. So, if you’re thinking about experimenting with Dom play, remember it’s not about being bossy, it’s about being the boss.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Do People Like BDSM?

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Here’s What 8 People Who Love It Have To Say

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If your tastes tend to run toward the vanilla end of the sexual spectrum, chances are you’ve probably wondered why people like BDSM. Do they actually like pain, or is there something more and deeper going on that isn’t readily apparent? The reality is that sexual desire and pleasure are really complicated. Turn-ons and sexual satisfaction are deeply personal and diverse. That’s really the beauty of it: You get to decide for yourself what works for you and, so long as there is consent, and you are taking all of the safety precautions, then there is no right or wrong way to be a sexual being. Frankly that’s what makes BDSM so interesting; people who participate in it are boldly pursuing what they most enjoy in the bedroom (or dungeon, for that matter) without apology (unless, of course, that is a part of their kink). That said, the question remains: What specifically about BDSM makes it enjoyable to those who participate in it?

To help explain why people are drawn to this type of sexual roleplay and activity, I turned to the source: Folks on Reddit and social media who explain why they enjoy BDSM, in their own words. Honestly, it makes so much sense. Here is what they had to say.

It’s about giving up control.

I try very hard to have a lot of control in my life and there is something about being submissive in the bedroom that is foreign and exciting, in a way. I wouldn’t live the lifestyle that goes with it, but just the intimate part of it can really be fun.
     — u/Albimau

For many reasons. It allows feeling very vulnerable and open to a partner, and that being ok. It can have a wide range of different experiences. It can be silly, intense, unique, sensual. Also, I just like the sensations.
     — u/FreySF

For me, it’s being at someone else’s complete control that knows you and you trust them. It can be absolutely thrilling. I’ve had other people tell me that they control everything else in their life, so they want someone else to take control in this area of their life.
     — dontcallmevicki

I love the release it gives me and the power and control aspect of it. It helps me access emotions that are hard to get to otherwise.
     — Courtney, 40

The exploration and experimentation makes it hot.

There’s something about exploring and trying things with someone I trust that’s just a lot of fun.
     — u/molly-ofcourse

It’s a release. I’ve been in the BDSM scene for a little under 6 months now and I’ve never felt more balanced and free. The people are totally chill too. We meet for coffee, dinner, and other numerous activities (it’s not always about sex you know). We’re a group of freaky people who promote safety and self awareness first.
     — u/SpankSpankBaby69

It’s a creative form of sexual expression.

The most exciting perk of enjoying BDSM is the role playing. When done safely, the bondage and roles become a total escape from reality. For gays & lesbians, BDSM tends to be an extension of reality, since in many cases our regular sex lives have surprising parallels to bondage, particularly the dominance and submission.

Another unexpected benefit whilst partaking in bondage: It’s quite a creative form of expression, and it sparks creativity within us, giving us a rich source of material for writing, acting, art, film production, and even video game development!
     — Daniel, 49

It enables them to fully surrender.

I am most often acting as a receiver in a BDSM exchange (or scene) and being overpowered, restrained, struck or yelled [at] takes me out of myself and allows me to be so overcome with sensory stimulation that I am utterly lost in the moment. To experience such complete surrender is disorienting and emotional and I come out of it feeling spiritually cleansed. When such an exchange or scene is done for the purpose of orgasm and not just play, the orgasms are extremely intense and the level of intimacy felt with my partner is unparalleled in those moments.

“Losing myself” through BDSM play is so appealing because I overthink constantly and it’s awful. It’s especially awful when it happens in sex and so engaging with a partner under specific terms with specific roles, takes all of that away. There’s simply no capacity left to think when I’m so fully consumed by physical sensation and mental assault. To that end, being yelled at, insulted, etc., is probably the most effective method of achieving the escape and surrender I seek.

I only engage in such exchanges with people I have a real connection with, who fully understand that what is allowed to happen in the specific moments of exchange are sacred and don’t carry over to any other area. I ALLOW them to do and say the things they do, with absolute trust and knowledge that we respect each other and our boundaries.
     — Brianne McGuire, host of the Sex Communication podcast

While BDSM may not be for everyone, it’s clear that, for those who love it, they have really compelling reasons for doing so. Sexual desire is complicated, but that’s one of the reasons it’s so amazing!

Complete Article HERE!

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Yes, Your Fetish Is Totally Normal

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Fetishes are way more common than you might realize—here’s how to explore yours in a healthy way.

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Kinks and fetishes are less taboo than ever—ours is a post–Fifty Shades of Grey world where BDSM has become mainstream and shows like Broad City, Hot Girls Wanted, and Slutever have helped normalize everything from pegging to cannasexuality. It’s real progress, but it doesn’t erase the fact that for many of us, fetishes can still feel totally weird or even shameful.

The first thing you should know: Fetishes are much more common than you might realize. Nearly half of participants in a representative survey published in the Journal of Sex Research in 2017 reported being into something psychologists consider outside of the “normal” range on the sexual spectrum. An earlier survey taken in 2015 found nearly half of participants had tried public sex, a quarter had tried role playing, 20 percent said they’d experimented with BDSM, and 30 percent said they’d tried spanking.

That doesn’t mean you have to jump straight into a BDSM dungeon if you think you might have an unexplored fetish. The idea of dripping hot wax over someone’s body or having a toe in your mouth can feel a little bit…intimidating. Maybe even scary or weird, so take it as slow as you need.

Here is everything you need to know about what a fetish is, how to know whether your fetish is normal, and the healthy ways you can incorporate it into your sex life.

What is a fetish?

The simplest way to define fetishes according to sexologists: usually nonsexual things that ignite sexual feelings in a person. “A fetish is sparked when things that seem completely normal bring you great sexual satisfaction and pleasure,” says Daniel Saynt, a sex educator and founder of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW). You can have a fetish for a thing (perhaps being attracted to feet), or a place (as in having sex in public); you can even have a fetish for a texture, such as latex.

By definition, fetishes fall outside of the sexual “norm,” but that doesn’t mean every out-there sexual desire qualifies as a fetish. There’s a line separating a fetish from something that you’re just kinda into. To be considered a true fetish, the object or act must be a part of a sex act for you to get turned on. If you enjoy the occasional or even regular spanking, for example, that doesn’t mean you have a spanking fetish—people with a true spanking fetish need that act of domination to get off.

So where do these sexual kinks and quirks come from? “Most fetishes are thought to be learned behaviors in which a person comes to associate a given object with sexual arousal through experience,” says Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of Tell Me What You Want. That may come from childhood or adolescence, or you might stumble upon a fetish as a sexually experienced adult. “You may not know you’re into a fetish until you try it,” adds Saynt, “which is why I always encourage people to try new things and be curious.”

Is what I’m into normal?

Most of us can relate to having a sex fantasy that feels downright weird, but most of them are totally harmless and fine to explore. If you have a thing for fishnet stockings and your partner agrees to wear a pair to help get you off, go for it. If you get turned on by feet and enjoy watching foot porn while you masturbate, you do you. Totally normal fetishes include everything from age play to gagging and golden showers.

A fetish crosses the line when it harms another person in any way and/or violates consent. For instance, pedophiles have a fetish for children, but this is not in any way healthy or OK—acting on this fetish is both completely illegal and morally repugnant. Frotterism, when someone gets pleasure from rubbing up against someone else in a crowd, can also be deeply problematic for the same reasons. Violating another person in any way is never OK and should be reported immediately. “If you have strong, recurring fantasies about an activity that is nonconsensual and/or poses a serious risk of harm to you or others—and especially if you’re concerned that you might act on this fantasy—it’s worth seeking help in the form of professional counseling,” says Lehmiller. “Find a credentialed and certified sex therapist in your area. They’re the ones who will be most well-equipped to help.” To find a qualified therapist, check out the The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

Fetishes can also become detrimental to your sex life if they get out of hand. If it feels like your fetish is taking over your life or keeping you from having healthy relationships, or “you’re seeking it like an addict might seek their next fix,” that’s a problem, Saynt says. In these cases, it’s also worth reaching out to a sex therapist who can help you deal with shame, anger, and overwhelming compulsions that might arise from a fetish.

How to have a healthy relationship with your fetish

If you’re looking to add your fetish for feet or bondage into your sex life, you can definitely do that in a way that’s healthy and positive.

The first step: opening up to your sexual partner about what you’re into. With so much shame and stigma around fetishes, this can admittedly be difficult—it might take some time. “A useful place to begin is by sharing some of your more ‘vanilla’ sex fantasies first and perhaps acting on some of those,” Lehmiller says. “This will allow you to build up trust and communication skills at the same time, which can lay the groundwork for introducing more adventurous fantasies later.”

As you experiment, always check in with your partner to see how they’re feeling. It’s important that both of you are feeling comfortable and sexually satisfied.

What to do if your partner really isn’t into it

If you experiment with fetish and find your partner really isn’t into it—or they find it straight-up weird—that’s OK. Not everyone is going to have the same turn-ons. Still, it’s important to have an open and honest discussion about it. Shaming a partner for what they are or aren’t into is not a productive way to move forward in a relationship.

If you can’t agree on a fetish, Saynt suggests talking about ways to incorporate your fetish into your sex life in a way that doesn’t directly involve your partner. If your partner isn’t down with golden showers, ask if they’d be comfortable watching porn that involves pee play.

You can also spend some time experimenting sexually with your partner—maybe you can discover a new fetish or kink you can both enjoy.

Complete Article HERE!

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3 Sex Positions For People Who Want To Try Bondage That Will Teach You The Ropes

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If you’re just dipping your toes into the kinky end of the pool, you may be on the prowl for some sex positions for people who want to try bondage. Whether you’ve listened to Rihanna’s “S&M” more times than you can count or have always been curious about incorporating some kink into your sex life, there’s no shame in feeling a little intrigued by BDSM, or curious enough to want to try it out yourself. When starting to experiment with bondage, it’s important to remember that diving into the kink pool doesn’t need to feel intimidating. Unlike extreme sports or wacky science experiments on Youtube, these moves can actually be tried at home.

Incorporating more physicality into your sex life may call for you and your partner(s) to develop a safe word, perhaps discuss “aftercare,” or engage in the types of conversations you’ll need to have after an intense sexual interaction — like a verbal debriefing or some nonsexual physical contact. When trying any new sexual activity, especially those on the kinkier side, it’s paramount to talk consent and boundaries before taking the plunge.

If you’ve talked the talk and you’re ready to rumble, these three beginner bondage positions can really help you learn the ropes.

Tie Breaker

From ribbons to scarves to literal neckties — there are plenty of household materials you can use to bring some light bondage into the bedroom. If you’re just starting out with bondage, *rebranding* your silk belt or knitting yarn as sexy restraints can give you a taste of BDSM, before buying special harnesses or toys.

With your scarves, try blindfolding your boo, tying your partner to the bed frame, or trying their hands to each other. When starting out, it may help to tie down one hand or one ankle, and see how that feels before moving forward with extra restraints. If you or your partner enjoy the restraint, tying both arms and legs down, or being blindfolded as you’re tied down may be your speed. Like anything, start slow, check in frequently, and build as you go — there’s certainly no rush to get it on.

Sitting Pretty

You and your partner(s) may already incorporate chairs or positions where someone is sitting upright into your sex life. In that case, having either the penetrating or receiving partner sitting can be a super spicy way to mix things up, and hit different erogenous zones.

To put a little bondage play into it, try having the seated partner tied down to the chair, either by hands, ankles, or a combination of the two, or both. The seated partner can have the arms straight down in restraints on the chair legs, or tied together around the back of the chair — opening their chest up. The standing partner can then strip, tease, or otherwise interact with the seated partner, and ultimately climb on top of them and have their (consensual and previously agreed upon) way.

Bend It Like Beckham

For a spicy standing up position, have a partner bend over (like they are touching their toes) and tie their hands or forearms to their feet or legs. This can be ideal for bondage in the shower or otherwise out of the bedroom.

As something like this takes some flexibility and strength, this one calls for some major communication. The bend can be a super sexy way for deep penetration but it also can potentially cause some unwanted neck cramping. Additionally, something like this can be done lying down, where a parter is on their back and stretches their legs up to their arms often called ‘Happy Baby’ position in yoga. Restraining your wrists to your ankles while you’re on your back can allow for deep penetration with the comfort of lying down.

Trying bondage can be as low-key or intense as you and your partner(s) want it to be: From scarf blindfolds to getting tied up in the shower. If you’re looking to try bondage, the first thing to do is to talk to your partner. If everyone is on board, experimenting with bondage can be a fun and sexy way to make your sex extra knotty.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Very Complete Beginner’s Guide To Erotic Spanking

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By Erika W. Smith

Spanking is one of the most common kinks out there, and if the thought of someone bending you over the knee (or bending someone over your knee) turns you on, you’re in good company. A LELO survey of 1,100 people found that almost 75% of respondents had tried some form of BDSM, and of those people, over 80% had tried spanking. This isn’t surprising, not only can spanking be fun, but for the spankee, it can also release endorphins, causing a natural high. It’s also a low maintenance activity. Though all you need for erotic spanking is a partner — no ropes, costumes, or sex toys necessary (though they can be added, if you’d like) — there are still a few important things to keep in mind before you get started.

Know What Turns You On Before You Start

“Spanking is a really fun way to dip a toe into BDSM,” says sex and intimacy coach Shelby Devlin. BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (yes, the D and S are doing double duty), and spanking has all aspects of the above. This means that what turns on one person about spanking could be different from what turns another person on. One spankee might love the feeling of powerlessness, while another might be all about the physical sensation. So when you first decide you want to explore spanking, Devlin suggests taking a little time for self-reflection. Think about what it is about spanking that appeals to you, and what you want to feel during the experience — both physically and emotionally.

Knowing what turns you on about spanking will help you figure out how you want to go about it. For example, if you’re into the feeling of powerlessness, you and your partner would want to focus on setting up a “scene” (a pre-planned BDSM encounter) or role-playing, and the actual spanking “could be really light, and you’d get your needs met,” Devlin says. It’s okay if you don’t have a super clear explanation for what turns you on about spanking at this point. “‘I want to try this because it seems naughty and it really turns me on is a good place to start,” Devlin says.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

As with all types of sex, consent is absolutely mandatory, and you should discuss spanking with your partner before you begin. Talk about what you both want (and don’t want out) of the experience, and discuss your boundaries. “If a couple is interested in doing spanking, and the spanker really gets turned on by creating pain, but the spankee doesn’t get turned on by receiving pain, then we have a problem, and this should be figured out before any spanking [begins],” Devlin says.

Devlin also encourages partners to “establish a safe word or an agreement about communication” before starting. She points out that usually during spanking, you can’t see your partner’s face, so verbal communication is extra important. A common safe word is the “red, yellow, green” system: green means go, red means stop, and yellow means “it’s getting a little intense, but I want to keep playing.”

There’s A Right Way To Spank

Emily Morse, Doctor of Human Sexuality and host of the Sirius XM radio show and podcast Sex With Emily, says that when it comes to spanking — and for that matter, trying anything else new in the bedroom — you should start lightly and gradually and work your way up to more intensity, checking in with your partner as you do so. Make sure the spankee is turned on before the spanking begins — begin with some foreplay, and then the spanker should “start rubbing and caressing and massaging” the spankee’s butt, “so their partner is all warmed up, before even going in with the spank,” Dr. Morse says.

There is also a technique to keep in mind — or as Dr. Morse calls it, an art. “You want to keep your fingers together, and you don’t want to separate them, because that can hurt,” she explains. “And remember, as you’re slapping your partner’s behind, you should be hitting the fleshy part of the butt with an upwards motion. You’re not hitting on the bones or the side, but you’re slapping up.”

Devlin says that the spanker should vary the place they’re spanking, and rub the spankee’s butt in between spanks. “When we hit someone in the same spot over and over again, we create a bruise, and if we continue hitting someone while a bruise is already forming, it can cause harm,” she explains. Instead, the spanker should make sure they’re “covering a wide surface area, so the whole patch of skin is getting the bloodflow, rather than just focusing on one spot over and over again.” And, she adds, “if someone is getting turned on and they’re really enjoying the experience, but one part of their body’s getting really sore, you can move to another part of the body and then come back to it.”

If a couple is new to spanking, the spanker should begin with their hand, but after some practice, they may want to use something else for spanking, such as a belt or a strap — at which point, Devlin would change the label from spanking to flogging. Flogging is different from spanking because you don’t get the same level of feedback with an object as you do with your hand: with your hand, you can tell how hard you’re hitting someone, you can feel their skin getting hot, and you’ll notice if your hand starts to get red. “If you don’t have that kind of feedback, then you don’t have a good idea of the impact you’re having on another person,” Devlin explains. This means that communication and starting slow are extra important. The flogger can also test the device on their own hand first, so they can get a sense of how the impact feels, Dr. Morse suggests.

After the spanking, you can move to another sexual activity, or spanking can be done on its own — it all depends on what you and your partner are into.

Find A Partner You Can Trust

If you’re in a relationship, you can tell your partner you’re interested in trying spanking and ask how they feel about it — similar to how you’d begin any discussion about changing up your sex life. If you’re dating someone casually, you can ask them if they’ve ever tried spanking, and if the’d be interested in trying it. But if you’re single and want to find a partner specifically for spanking, Devlin suggests you approach with caution. You can use a BDSM-specific service such as FetLife, or you can simply tell your Tinder matches you’d like to try spanking and ask how they feel about it. But keep in mind that there are people out there who approach BDSM unsafely.

Devlin says that she’s seen men connect with BDSM-curious women on dating sites and then “send her a checklist or a contract, where she’s reading all these options and checking these boxes and signing a consent form.” This is not how consent works. Consent means that someone who wants to stop a sexual encounter can do so at any moment, including changing their mind about something they’d initially wanted to do. “If you can’t have a face-to-face conversation and gauge vulnerability and use communication skills, then you shouldn’t be playing with someone,” Devlin says. So if you meet a new partner specifically for spanking, Devlin suggests “going on a couple of dates and getting a feel for someone, and giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re good with boundaries, before you do any BDSM.”

Do Some Aftercare

Dr. Morse says that after spanking, it’s important that the couple take some time for aftercare. What aftercare means varies from person to person, and encompasses everything from cuddling to a post-spank convo to getting your partner a glass of water. Essentially, it means taking some time to check in and take care of each other — it’s especially important after BDSM, but it’s a good idea after any other kind of sex, too

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Here’s How To Decide On A Safe Word

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No matter who you’re sleeping with, how long you’ve been sleeping with them, and what type of sex you’re having — if you’re not feeling it anymore, you’re allowed to tap out at any point, for any reason. While it’s important to discuss consent and knowing what you and your partner(s) are comfortable with before turning up the heat, knowing something like how to decide on a safe word can be a great way to keep everyone safe and comfortable during sex.

“A safe word is a word selected by sexual partners together that when used indicates one partner would like to pause sexual activity for any reason,” McKenna Maness, sex educator and former education and prevention coordinator at The Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), tells Elite Daily. “Perhaps sex got too intense, or the partner is physically uncomfortable or in more pain than they would like to be, or roleplaying crossed into something less desirable for that person, they’re overstimulated— in any of these cases, the partner who would like to stop can say their safe word and the other partner would know that it is time to stop immediately and check in!”

Although having a safe word can be a tool for communicating with your partner(s), it it no way means that partner(s) are allowed to skip the boundary convo or try something new without first getting consent. “It should not be your goal to make someone use their safe word. A safe word exists for reasons of safety. Boundaries are made for a reason and not everyone likes theirs’ pushed. At the same time, it does not make you weak to safe word out,” Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional says.

“Safe words” have roots within the BDSM community and are often associated with more kinky types sex. Additionally, expressing when you’re not feeling something or need a time out, can be useful in all types of sexual activity — from bondage and role play, to gentle spooning and basic missionary. Whether you’re going at it and your legs are in a weird position so it kind of hurts, or you want to check to make sure your contraceptive is in place, a “safe word” is nothing more than a signal that you need to stop and check in.

“You always have the right to stop whatever you and your partner(s) are doing to each other for any reason — communication is key and safe words facilitate that!” Maness says. If you just got your IUD replaced or you’ve had the worst day ever and can’t stop thinking about your terrible coworker Shannon, you may not realize that you’re not trying to have sex tonight until you’ve started to have sex. Safe words, then, are like an immediate “eject button” from sex, without feeling pressure to explain what you’re feeling in the moment, before winding down the physical touching or expressing everything on your mind to your partner(s).

When choosing a safe word, it may be helpful to pick a universal phrase — like traffic light colors. “It’s easier to remember the difference between yellow and red even when in the depths of sub space,” Jeans says. “You can add words like ‘Red Stop’ to end completely as opposed to just “Red” to stop what you are currently doing.” If your first grade teacher ever used a paper traffic light as a public-shame discipline system (I’m triggered) or if you’ve ever been in a moving vehicle, it’s easy to remember that “Red means stop.” Words like traffic light colors, that hold deep cultural significance can be great choices for a safe word, as you’re unlikely to forget them.

If you’re not a big talker during sex or a verbal safe word doesn’t feel comfortable, Maness suggests incorporating a physical “safe word” or a physical signal that you need a time out. Yet, like a safe word, a physical tap-out should be a motion you wouldn’t otherwise do during sex. “Maybe tapping your partner’s shoulder or winking, a peace sign or crossed fingers — as long as they will see it and understand it,” Maness says.

If you’re someone who likes to laugh or joke during sex, it may be a good fit for you and your partner(s) to choose a funny safe word. “My safe word is ‘Mike Pence’ because that would make someone stop dead in their tracks during a scene to question what was going on —plus I do like a safe word that makes me giggle,” Jean says. Although humor may play an important role, Jean also speaks to the importance of finding a word that’s memorable and literally easy to say. “When choosing a safe word, it’s important that it is something you can easily remember and say. It should be a word that would likely not come up within play or a word you don’t say very often. (I rarely would use Mike Pence’s name in my sexy times.) Mike Pence is also an easy two syllable punch.”

Maness too agrees that choosing a safe word ideally means picking something unforgettable. “It has to be something you will absolutely be sure to remember during sex. If you are single or non-monogamous, you can choose one just for yourself and communicate it before sex, and if you have a partner you consistently hook up with, whatever that looks like for you, you can decide together what to use,” Maness says. “It could be parachute. It could be persimmon. It could be shovel. Just make sure it’s memorable and you both/all know what it means.”

Maness also suggests thinking about a word you wouldn’t otherwise say when having sex. Something completely random like an inanimate object, an inside joke, or something otherwise unfamiliar to the communication you and your partner(s) typically have during sex. Though it may feel right to have your safe word be something silly or totally random, using it is a serious move. “Using a safe word — even with a long term partner — has a certain weight to it that other words do not. A safe word means business. It means slow the f*ck down and check in with your person,” Jean says.

Of course just like finding the right safe word for you, understanding exactly what your safe word will mean is another important conversation. “It’s important to set forth what the safe word or signal means too— usually it means ‘stop now’ but you could also ask your partner to give you physical space when you use it, or tell them you want comfort and aftercare at the point where you use it,” Maness says. “Using a safe word is revoking consent in that moment. Your partner shouldn’t take offense, or be upset or hurt. You aren’t necessarily ending the sex permanently, although if you are that’s fine too.”

If using a safe word means your boundaries were crossed, you may want to further discuss with your partner how you’re feeling and what you need to feel comfortable and safe when having sex. Your safe word could mean anything from, “Your knee is knocking into my hip and it kinda hurts can we switch positions” to “I don’t like where this is going, we need to stop”. Having an open dialogue with your partner about what your safe word means and how it will be used is just as important as choosing the right word for you. “It’s a great tool that just requires honest/open conversation,” Maness says.

If you are thinking about the right safe word for you, take time to ponder your personal boundaries, preferences, and the types of sex you do and (maybe more importantly) do not want to be having. During any sexual encounter — a LTR, one night stand, or super hot orgy with ninety people — the most important thing factor is active consent. When it comes to deciding on a safe word, you get to choose how it’s used, when it’s used, and what it means.

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Sexually Submissive Men Have Something to Say

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Learn About the Complex and Varied Experiences of Sexually Submissive Men

by Aysha White

It’s pretty much unquestionable that BDSM is having its 15 minutes of fame culturally.

The massive popularity of the book 50 Shades of Grey and it’s inevitable, on-screen adaptation prove that the public is eager to learn more about the world of BDSM, which commonly stands for bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, though there are variations under that moniker.

It’s not surprising that BDSM is enjoying more mainstream success; a study revealed that 51 per cent of men and approximately 39 percent of women were sexually aroused by the idea of having a dominant or submissive sexual partner. These results also reveal that more men than women are attracted to the idea of having someone be sexually submissive to them.

What is lacking about the mainstream depictions of BDSM is variety. 50 Shades of Grey centres around the love/sex story of two characters, the naive/innocent student journalist Ana and the mysterious and damaged businessman Christian Grey (the namesake of the movie).

A lot of cultural dialogue around the subject, including mainstream media sources, have imposed a heterosexual idea that reinforces existing gender binaries, where the man is the dominant partner and the woman the submissive.

It ignores the experiences of sexually submissive men and dominant women, arguably because they flout social customs. We live in a sexist patriarchal culture that promotes and profits off the physical and emotional submission of women.

Men who are sexually submissive are essentially giving the finger to social norms, and that isn’t comfortable to people who promote a mainstream, church-on-Sundays, mashed-potatoes-every-Wednesday kind of existence.

Pseudonyms have been used for the people interviewed, to protect their privacy, as well as their current and future employment opportunities.

Calvin Hobbes

Hobbes is a submissive latex-loving man,] who loves to serve his Mistress. “I feel complete when I’m submissive—whether that’s in a sexual context or in terms of being obedient to my partner in day-to-day life,” said Hobbes.

He views his sexuality as kinky or submissive, though he can often enjoy vanilla sex. Vanilla, in the context of the kinky community, is meant to describe sex that doesn’t have any BDSM elements to it, but it can also be used to describe people who don’t practice BDSM.

Hobbes described himself as essentially straight, but does experience occasional attraction towards other men.

“I think a lot of submissive people, of whatever gender, find that being submissive is a release from responsibility in other aspects of their life—whether it’s work, family, or just being responsible for your own behaviour and emotional state,” he said.

Hobbes began to realize he was interested in being dominated by a woman around the age of 16 or 17. “I think that from a fairly early point in my adolescence, I felt that women were more in touch with their sexuality than men. That awareness came across to me as a type of power that I found very appealing,” he said.

As a teenager, he felt confused about all of the new things he was feeling, and by the conflicting societal messages he received about how to behave. “The idea of a woman who knew what she wanted and unambiguously asserted that was delightful.”

“For over a year now I’ve been in love with a beautiful dominant woman who loves having me as her slave. The connection there, and how happy and proud she makes me feel to be her slave, makes me want to be completely open about the nature of our relationship,” he said.

Catiya Kass, his Mistress, described being a female dominant as an empowering kinda of experience. She said the intimacy it created between her and Hobbes led her to fall in love with him quicker.

“We’re socialized to defer to a man’s needs, and this relationship style flips that on its head. Through prioritizing my pleasure together we’ve discovered my body is capable of more than I ever thought possible—hands-free orgasms, orgasms from inflicting pain, multiple orgasms (current record is 54 in one day!). This has made me appreciate and love the body that I live in, and given my slave even more reason to worship it,” said Kass.

Believing in destiny is a personal choice, but if you do believe in it, you might see these two as an example.

Kass reached out to two online profiles in one week, one kinky and one vanilla. Long story short, they both belonged to Hobbes, which he subsequently revealed to her. The two have built a successful sexual and romantic relationship, built on open communication about their interests, needs, wants, and boundaries. The full-time domination that they engage in together has been a new experience for both of them.

“I like challenging and pushing my sub to explore boundaries, such as wearing his collar or latex in public.”

Hobbes likes employing latex in his sexual practices, describing it as the most sensual material he knows. “I find that the way it stretches as you move makes it feel almost like wearing a lover that caresses you all over at once. It’s sublime,” said Hobbes.

Hobbes noted that the process of getting dressed in it, including the application of polish to make it shine, can be a be a sensual form of foreplay as people run their hands over each other’s bodies. “I find that wearing latex makes my sense of stimulation less penis-focused and more of an all-over bodily experience,” he explained.

Hobbes pointed out that while for women being objectified is a form of misogyny, for men, not used to being seen for their appearance, the experience can create the opposite feeling. He feels like in the context of sexual submission, being treated like an object, “to be used and admired,” and the feeling of being completely and totally wanted provide him with an ego boost.

“I feel that being submissive is really part of how I was born. But I do think there’s something to the idea of submission being a release from being smart all the time, and from overthinking things.”

“There’s definitely a threshold one crosses into ‘subspace,’ where you stop thinking about what’s happening to you and how it could go next, and reach this mindful or meditative state of complete acceptance, let go of responsibility, and just enjoy existing for your partner’s pleasure,” said Hobbes, pointing out that the feeling can be especially strong if his Mistress is flogging or pegging him, or else having him placed in full body, restrictive bondage.

Flogging means being whipped. Pegging is a gender flipping sexual act, of a woman penetrating a man anally, usually with a strap-on.

Afterwards, he explained that the dominant will release the submissive, a practice known as aftercare. It’s meant to ensure they are physically recovering from the scene, as well as emotionally supporting their process of re-attaching to responsibility and being in charge of themselves again.

“Mistress and I don’t have a relationship where we ‘play’ occasionally. I’m always submissive to her, she’s always dominant over me, sometimes it just becomes more intense. I find that the more intense the dynamic between us becomes at any given time, the more I crave for it to become even more intense, and I slip deeper into submission,” explained Hobbes.

“Women who are self-assured, smart, know that they’re capable of taking care of themselves, and know what they want have always made me melt,” he continued.

Hobbes said that he derives a lot of fulfillment from serving women and knowing he’s making someone he loves happy. He feels that being submissive removes some of the guesswork out of relationships, as he’s comfortable following orders, trusting that his Mistress wouldn’t abuse her power over him.

“Dominance isn’t about abuse, or manipulation. It’s about care, and earning authority. And submission isn’t about weakness, it’s about confidence, dependability, and trust,” said Hobbes.

He pointed out that many people who are not a part of kinky society may not understand the amount of time, effort, and negotiation of boundaries that gets put into establishing a healthy kinky relationship.

Hobbes doesn’t believe in the idea of divine powers influencing life on Earth. “There is no cosmic judge who wants us to avoid certain foods, wear certain clothes, or gets angry if we fuck or fall in love in certain ways.”

He said that having an open-minded yet rational attitude has made him more open to alternative life choices, like BDSM and polyamory. “We’re on our own, but we’re free to live our lives how we see fit, and find meaning and value in our relationships, our work, and our communities,” Hobbes explained.

“Letting someone else be in charge is really nice. It’s a strange irony I suppose, that politically I identify as an anarchist—the pacifist type, not the Molotov cocktail type—and believe very strongly in egalitarianism and individual freedom. But I feel so happy being owned, commanded, restrained, and objectified by the woman I love, where that power imbalance is consensual,” he said.

Logan Roland

“I’ve never been a leader or anything. I like following a lot more” said Logan Roland, a cross-dressing submissive man who works at a John Deere factory where the overt masculinity contrasts with his private and overly feminine desires.

Roland describes himself as a straight man. “I like it in the back for sure [but] I don’t think I’d let a guy do me,” he said “I’m straight but also really feminine. I don’t mind plugs and toys with [male genitalia], but wouldn’t want to be with a man.”

He likes using toys such as butt plugs to give him that feeling and likes to leave them inside his rectum, experimenting with different lengths of time, or vibration. He also really loves being restrained.

Roland explained that he had always been curious about the act of cross-dressing since childhood, when he first started to try on women’s clothes.

He began understanding how he was aroused by BDSM practices. He enjoyed seeing girls tied up in cartoons and movies. He began to experiment with touching himself and tying up his ankles with belts or long socks, until “I got better things like actual ropes and cuffs.”

He began to understand more about BDSM and the way his own sexuality fit into that by watching related porn on the internet.

Roland is a practitioner of self-BDSM, meaning he experiments with putting himself in bondage positions. He describes the feeling of being tied up as being very comfortable and natural for him, even relaxing enough to fall asleep in.

So far, actually having a Mistress and being her slave remains a fantasy to Roland, but one he is eager to make a reality.

“I would definitely consider being a full-time slave as long as I got to see my family and friends,” said Rolland. “I’ve definitely been getting more into it and wanting a dominant partner.”
“[Following] excites me a lot more. I’d like to not be in control and have someone else controlling everything.”

He is open to the idea of trying to find one on a site like Fetlife—consider it Facebook of the BDSM community—but he lives in small town in Tennessee, meaning he doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of options in close proximity.

“I try to be careful about who I tell about it honestly. I’ve slowly been opening up to more people about BDSM and [my] girly side.”

He thinks that if more people were aware of his interest in submission and cross-dressing, they wouldn’t accept it, and pointed out that dominant men are seen as more acceptable in the mainstream than submissive ones.

Roland has a fondness for women’s skirts and capri pants. He recently tried shaving his legs, which was a positive experience as he continues to experiment with his sexuality in relation to cross-dressing.

He said his ideal outfit to cross-dress in would be “capri pants, a cute top with flip flop sandals, or flats.”

“I honestly love how girl clothes feel. They are so much more comfortable than guy clothes, and it’s also exciting, kind of like a forbidden fruit in a way because of it not being accepted really in the norm of our society now, but I do really love how they feel honestly and I love how cute they are and how [many] more [styles of clothing] girls have over guys.”

Some of Roland’s friends know he likes to cross-dress and are supportive of it. No one in his family, apart from a cousin and his brother, know about his feminine side. When his parents leave town for the weekend, he’s able to dress up in women’s clothes while hanging around the house.

“It definitely sucks hiding my girly side but I’m happy with the time I get to be myself, like at my friends houses or my cousin’s. They both let me dress girly and I’ve done self-BDSM around both. So it’s definitely a nice escape from hiding it a lot and it feels amazing when I get to let it out,” he said.

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The Sexy, Secret History of Leather Fetish Fashion

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From post-war motorcycle groups to modern-day sex apps, this is the story of how leather became a symbol of masculinity and sexuality

By Louis Staples

This article is part of a series on AnotherManmag.com that coincides with LGBT History Month, shining a light on different facets of queer culture. Head here for more.

“When I’m wearing my leathers, I like the way I get to be such a symbol, a trope, of masculinity and sexuality,” explains Max, a 38-year-old gay man from London. Max is a “leatherman” or “leatherdaddy”, two common descriptors for gay and bisexual men who fetishise leather clothes and accessories.

“Fetish fashion” is the term used to describe the intrinsic link between clothing and sexual fetishes, with materials like leather, lace, latex, and rubber holding particular prominence. Dr Frenchy Lunning, author of the 2013 book Fetish Style, writes that fashion has historically been the easiest way to “traverse” from one spectrum of fetish to the other. Lunning gauges that, in the history of fetish fashion, there have been two climaxes – no pun intended – with the first occurring between 1870 and 1900. “The Victorians went crazy over silk and velvet,” writes Pat Califia, author of Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex. “As quickly as new substances were manufactured, somebody eroticised them.”

When fetishwear resurged for its second peak a century later, between 1970 and 2000, leather was the material of choice. On the gay scene, an infatuation with leather was alive and well as early as the 1950s. Today, leather fetishwear is worn by leathermen like Max in sex clubs, parties, Pride parades and hook-ups, but some incorporate leather into their everyday lives, too. Common clothes and accessories include leather trousers, boots, jackets, gloves, ties and caps, with harnesses, masks and jockstraps more often worn during sexual encounters.

While leather fetishwear is not exclusively queer, there is a widely acknowledged parallel between the increased visibility of gay and lesbian identities and leather-based fetishes in contemporary culture. Recon – a fetish app for gay and bisexual men – allows leather wearers to connect with others and follow a year-round calendar of global events such as “London Fetish Week” and “Leather Prides” in cities from Los Angeles to Belgium. Paul, a 34-year-old Recon user, tells me that he equates leather with “power, strength and dominance”. He doubts that he could be with someone “vanilla” – a term for someone who doesn’t have any fetishes. “There’s nothing hotter than the feeling of leather on my skin, it’s peak masculinity,” he says. Max, who was first drawn towards leather five years ago, also associates it with manhood. “It’s just so fucking masculine,” he explains. “The more masculine I’ve become over time, the more I’ve been into it. When I wear leathers, it feels like my exterior is reflecting my interior. It’s weighty too: the opposite of something light, diaphanous and feminine.”

“There’s nothing hotter than the feeling of leather on my skin, it’s peak masculinity” – Paul, 34

These remarks reveal leather fetish fashion’s significance to masculine gay identities, particularly those relating to sadomasochistic (S&M) sexual practices. In Hal Fischer’s seminal photography book Gay Semiotics, which analyses coded gay fashion signifiers in 1970s San Francisco, leather accessories like caps were indicators that the wearer was interested in sadomasochistic sex. Lesbians also adopted leather and, nowadays, female sex workers and dominatrixes often wear the material. Though, traditionally, the gay leather scene centres on “dominant” men wishing to “own”, or exert control over, a “submissive” male partner.

Sociologist Meredith G. F. Worthen, author of Sexual Deviance and Society, writes that the leather community first emerged after the Second World War, when military servicemen had difficulty assimilating back into mainstream society. For many of these men, their military service had allowed them to explore homosexual desire for the first time. When the war ended, a void was left by the absence of homosexual sex and same-sex friendships. Instead, many found sanctuary in motorcycle communities where leather clothing was popular. The men who rode these bikes were icons of cultural masculinity, conjuring up an image of dangerous rebelliousness that was alluring to many gay men who were weary of seeing themselves depicted as effeminate pansies. Peter Hennen, author of Faeries, Bears and Leathermen, believes that this caused gay men to “invest in leather with a certain erotic power intimately tied to the way it signalled masculinity.” Queer cultural historian Daniel Harris suggests that the “raw masculinity” that leather evokes “shaped a new form of masculinised gay identity among leathermen.”

Leather’s military routes, combined with its significance in hierarchy-driven male social groups, are thought to be behind its importance to sexual practices like S&M, which centre on order, discipline and control. Yet outside the leather fetish scene, artist Andy Warhol famously used garments such as the leather jacket as a device to appear more masculine from the 1950s to 1960s. Transforming his personal style, Warhol sought to present a more macho, aloof persona to the heterosexual male-dominated New York art establishment.

“Tom of Finland ‘set the standard’ for the ‘quintessential leatherman replete with bulging chest, thighs and cock’”

Max tells me that cultural imagery, such as “Tom of Finland, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlon Brando and James Dean” contributes to his love for leather. Finnish artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, commonly known as Tom of Finland, is behind leather’s signature homoerotic aesthetic. According to feminist studies professor Jennifer Tyburczy, Finland “set the standard” for the “quintessential leatherman replete with bulging chest, thighs and cock.” By depicting working-class men like construction workers, bikers and lumberjacks, Finland allowed gay men to feel masculine and strong while maintaining their interest in those of the same sex. His images are the antithesis of the effeminate gay stereotype that was widely circulated at the time, bringing connotations of hyper-masculinity, strength and, of course, sex to black leather. After being circulated in physique magazines such as Physical Pictorial throughout the 1950s, his work quickly became emblematic of the gay fetish community.

Following the popularity of leather in the queer sanctuary cities on America’s coasts, international travel increased its global appeal, with leather kink scenes developing in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and parts of Scandinavia. Imitations of Finland’s images became the customary advertisement of fetish events in these places, which were often disguised as motor sport or biking clubs. For the first time, Finland’s reclamation of masculine imagery provided gay men with what communications professor Martti Lahti describes as an “empowering and affirmative” gay image.

Though after years of resurgence, the leather fetish scene is facing challenges. Rising rents and gentrification in the world’s queer-friendly cities have caused most clubs to shut their doors. Fetish apps and websites now mean that attending a leather event is not necessary to connect with leather admirers. Lesbian leather wearers, who have traditionally operated their BDSM club scene separately, have been most harshly impacted by club closures as most gay leather nights purposely ban women from entering. With a full outfit of leathers costing several thousand pounds, it is little wonder that younger kinksters are turning to cheaper alternatives like rubber or sportswear to fulfil their fetish needs.

“Rising rents and gentrification in the world’s queer-friendly cities have caused most clubs to shut their doors. Fetish apps and websites now mean that attending a leather event is not necessary to connect with leather admirers”

The extended rights and freedoms won by queer people in recent decades have also resulted in pressure from wider heterosexual-focussed society to assimilate to their norms. Queer historian Lisa Duggan has described how the pressure to comply with what she calls “neoliberal” aims has resulted in a “depoliticised” and “desexualised” gay identity revolving around “domesticity” and heteronormative institutions like marriage. This gay identity can be exclusionary to those that fall outside its “acceptable” norms.

As the visibility of “vanilla” gayness has extended, heterosexual kink aesthetics have moved further into the mainstream, ushered in by pop moments like Madonna’s Justify My Love, Rhianna’s Disturbia and Christina Aguilera’s Bionic era, plus books such as 50 Shades of Grey. Reality star Kylie Jenner even graced the cover of Interview magazine dressed as a “sex doll”, clad entirely in skin-tight black latex. Though despite figure skater Adam Rippon wearing a leather harness once on the red carpet and the occasional performance costume from Jake Shears, the Village People’s Tom of Finland-inspired outfits and Robert Mapplethorpe’s extremely explicit photographs – both almost 40 years old – remain gay fetish fashion’s most visible representations.

With visible mainstream gay identities remaining “desexualised”, the false link between kink, sexual deviance, immorality and even criminality – a trope peddled for decades to depict gay men as “socially wrong” or “sick” – still lingers, even within the LGBTQ+ community. Andrew Cooper, author of Changing Gay Male Identities, suggests that overt sexuality has become less important to gay identities since the AIDS crisis, when sex – and communities like the leather scene that revolve around sex – became associated with death and shame. In Beneath the Skins, a book that analyses the politics of kink, Ivo Dominguez Jr writes that, as gay identities and attitudes become more sanitised, “leatherphobia” remains a significant barrier. Dominguez suggests that those who practice leather are seen by the wider LGBTQ+ community as “poor relatives they wish to hide” or an “albatross around their public relations neck”.

Yet the leather scene could certainly be more inclusive itself. In addition to its exclusion of women, it is overwhelmingly white. When combined with the fact that elements of the leatherman aesthetic have been co-opted by various sub-fetishes and groups that eroticise white supremacist roleplay and Nazi iconography, this paints a particularly objectionable picture. Then there’s the fact that much of the hyper-masculine culture that surrounds leather promotes the idea that feminine men are inferior. Society’s ever-evolving understanding of the effects of entrenched, socially-constructed gender binaries and toxic masculinity has undoubtedly reduced its appeal further.

However, despite its current challenges, the history of leather fetish fashion is as fascinating as the black cowhide is transformative to those who lust over it. Leather can conjure solidarity among those who feel alienated, while acting as a symbol of sexual liberation. Its history tells a nuanced, important story of just how integral fashion can become to communities and subcultures. To its devotees, it represents more than mere aesthetics or the leather-clad bikers of the past. To them, leather fetish fashion is a way of life.

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