If you’ve ever found yourself indulging in a fantasy or two that involved tying your partner up and teasing them to your naughty little heart’s delight, you’re far from alone. If you’re an American, you could be one of the 36% of adults nationwide that love playing with blindfolds, ropes, handcuffs, and more according to a survey conducted by Durex. (Worldwide, the percentage is closer to 20%.)

Those numbers have only continued to climb thanks to the rising popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Bondage is more mainstream and socially acceptable today than it’s ever been, so there’s never been a better time to give it a try. However, knowing you’re curious about bondage and fetish play is one thing. Knowing where and how to get started is another. Here we’ll go over everything you need to know.

What Is Bondage and What Makes It So Appealing?

Bondage is the “B” in BDSM. In a nutshell, it involves consensually restraining, restricting, binding, or tying up a partner. Yes, many people that love bondage do it out of erotic interest or to help take sexual tactile stimulation to the next level. However, it’s important to realize that bondage isn’t always done for purely sexual reasons. Some people like doing it for aesthetic or artistic reasons as well.

As far as why people love to do it, it’s all about heightening the senses. Being tied up and struggling against restraints actually produces an excellent adrenaline rush, even when it’s done in a controlled situation without any real danger involved. Some people like to enhance the experience even further by experimenting with blindfolds to add anticipation or playing with pain via the use of paddles, switches, or nipple clamps.

Expert Tips for Beginners

Bondage is like a lot of sex-related activities in that there’s really no one right way to enjoy it. Some couples are relatively vanilla most of the time, but really enjoy spicing things up with a blindfold and a pair of furry handcuffs once in a while. Others eventually grow to embrace everything about BDSM right down to the gimp masks, caning, and hardcore roleplay. Even those folks had to start somewhere though.

In other words, how far you go yourself depends on what appeals to you and your partner. The following tips should help you through the entire discovery process from bringing up the topic in the first place to learning what you like most.

  1. Approach the topic with a trusted partner.

If you’re brand new to bondage, you’ll want to avoid trying it for the first time with someone you don’t know very well. A great bondage experience really does call for trust and you’re unlikely to have that with your latest Tinder pick-up. A spouse or a trusted long-term play partner is a much better fit for that reason.

As far as how to bring up the topic in the first place, it’s usually easiest to start with some pointed hints. Try suggesting Fifty Shades of Grey the next time it’s your turn to pick out a movie rental, watching it together, commenting on how hot your favorite scenes were, and seeing how they react. Alternatively, you could indulge in some erotic fiction or film on your own and bring it up for discussion with your partner later the way you would any other type of media you enjoyed.

If you feel comfortable bluntly asking your partner if they want to go full Christian Grey on you sometime, more power to you, but sometimes planting a simple seed of suggestion and letting it take root works just as well.

  1. Forget what you think you know about bondage.

When the average uninitiated person hears the word “bondage” or the term “BDSM”, they usually picture the hardcore stuff right off the bat. They picture people being mercilessly whipped as they struggle in heavy chains and immediately panic because they can’t picture being into that themselves.

Sure, some people do enjoy BDSM play on that level, but there’s no law that says you have to. As touched on above, many couples are plenty happy keeping things relatively tame or indulging in a little roleplay now and then. It’s important to not only understand this yourself, but to make sure your partner understands it when you do start talking about the subject.

  1. Brush up on your communication skills.

Regardless of where you and your partner decide to start your play experience, it’s important to establish a safe word right off the bat. As you can imagine, relinquishing control of your own freedom to someone else – even a beloved partner – requires a tremendous amount of trust. The knowledge that everything can be stopped immediately without question with just one word is a big part of establishing that trust.

It’s also important to get comfortable with discussing what you each like or don’t like about a given experience. You should both feel comfortable making suggestions as to where to take your play next as well.

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  1. Carefully consider your position.

It’s a common misconception that you have to decide whether you’re a dominant or a submissive right off the bat and stick with that no matter what. Still more simply assume that since they’re the guy they “have to” be the dominant (or the submissive if they’re the woman). While it’s perfectly fine if you really do favor one over the other, you’re more likely to find that out once you actually start playing.

If you’re new to bondage, consider being a switch instead. A switch is someone that sometimes enjoys being submissive, but likes to take their turn at being dominant as well. They flip back and forth between the two at will depending on their mood, their partner, and so forth. Many people even decide to remain a switch for the entirety of their lives.

  1. Volunteer to be first.

Let’s say your partner’s interested in giving bondage a whirl, but they’re still a little intimidated. You can help them get their feet wet by volunteering to be the guinea pig when it comes to something new you want to try.

Go first when it comes to wearing a blindfold while enjoying a massage, being handcuffed to the bed, being teased with a suede flogger, or anything else that might be brand new or very different. Tell your partner exactly what you want them to do so they don’t have to guess at it. Then tell them all about how amazing it was afterward. They’ll probably be good and eager to try it themselves next time.

  1. Start simple when it comes to gear.

Bringing in loads of equipment and tools right off the bat isn’t necessary. In fact, it can be intimidating and confusing if you’re still getting the hang of things, so begin with the basics instead. Blindfolds are an especially good place to start. Blocking someone’s sight instantly heightens all of their other senses, so it’s a great introduction to what bondage is all about. Also, knowing the other person’s eyes are covered can help the partner in control build their confidence.

Alternatively, you can invest in a starter kit from your favorite sex shop or website. Many options not only include a blindfold, but come with light restraints, handcuffs, a ball gag, or any number of other classics. Once you take each item for a spin, you’ll have a better idea what you like and what you don’t.

  1. Don’t forget to play with temperature as well.

You don’t have to stop at what actual fetish gear brings to the table when it comes to your BDSM play. Experimenting with temperature can be a delightfully sensual way to explore how different sensations can heighten your pleasure.

Best of all, you probably have everything you need to get started around your house already. Try experimenting with ice cubes or using cold drinks to change the temperature of your mouth before going down on your partner. Warm honey, oil, or chocolate sauce can be fun to play with too.

  1. Be attentive to one another.

Yes, verbal communication is super important when it comes to bondage play. However, good play partners know how to read one another’s non-verbal cues as well so things don’t always have to be spelled right out.

For instance, if it’s your turn to play the dom tonight, pay close attention to your partner’s body language. Watch how they react to the things you’re doing and use what you see to decide where to go next. It’s easier than you think to ascertain when to push the envelope a little and when to back off.

At the end of the day, a terrific bondage experience is something you can play by ear once you get the hang of things. Start by experimenting with the basics. As you learn what you like most, you can go shopping together for gear, costumes, massage oils, paddles, ticklers, and anything else you think would fit nicely into your sessions. Don’t be afraid to be imaginative and creative. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover about yourself (or your partner)!