Kinksters come from a variety of backgrounds and practice kink for a variety of reasons. Kink is an incredibly powerful vehicle for self intimacy. Getting in touch with who you are, what you want, and what you are capable of can give you great strength and confidence. It can also lead to shared intimacy between yourself and others. This can lead to intense feelings, connections, and attachment.
Kink can also produce a sense of mastery as many techniques for both tops and bottoms require training, practice, and skill to do well. In addition, scenes can be planned to be challenging or even harrowing resulting in a hero’s journey or sense of accomplishment, greater self-confidence, and feelings of strength. For others it’s the thrilling experience of pushing their limits and even being uncertain of the outcome. This risk seeking behaviour can be dangerous. Sometimes, conquering personal demons is a goal. For some, receiving mentorship, coaching, or support is the payout. For others, giving that same support can fill one’s need for purpose or meaning as one may feel appreciated, validated, loved, valued for knowledge, and more.
Some people pursue the endorphin high produced by the acceptance of pain. For others, kink is empowering. For some it’s simply arousing. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomplicated.
Q10) What interests you in kink? Why do you want to try a kink scene?
The Absolute Basics
BDSM stands for three different categories of play: bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; and sadism and masochism.
Each category can be practiced separately. None of these categories is inherently sexual or necessarily sexual though each may be sexual separately or together. In bondage and discipline the top is the one doing the action while the bottom is the one receiving. In Dominance and submission, the Dominant exchanges power or takes control in the scene while the submissive gives control. In sadism and masochism the sadist gets fed or feels satisfaction from inflicting pain, this includes self-inflicted pain if the satisfaction comes from causing the pain, not from experiencing the pain. The masochist gets fed or feels satisfaction from experiencing pain. Again this could be sexual or asexual satisfaction. Think of scratching a mosquito bite. It’s satisfying, but not usually sexually satisfying.
Communication in Scene
Universal safewords like “safeword” or “red” work, but it’s better to fix issues before needing to stop. Consider getting your top’s attention. “Yellow” is a warning word used to keep a scene at its current intensity. If you’re submitting, consider “please help me, sir!” It’s best to just talk in plain English if you’re able. You may be too emotionally overwhelmed and unable to safeword. A good example of a safe signal would be using a hand-tap to “tap out.”
Safe totems are items (ex: keys) that when dropped end the scene like a safe word. They are great if someone is tied up and gagged; or if you’re pushing someone into subspace where they may lose the ability to form coherent sentences.
Subspace is an altered state that bottoms and submissive may find themselves in depending on their unique psychology, physiology, and experience of kink. Endorphins and adrenaline released by prolonged exposure to pain can induce it. For some it is the acceptance of that pain that leads to space. For others, the power presence of a good dom(me) and the anticipation of submission. This psychological subspace is said to be different from the physiological one.
If you haven’t tried a type of play before, consider that it may induce subspace in you and may render you incompetent to make decisions. This is especially a danger when doing rope as some find rope immediately erotic or inexplicably intoxicating. This reaction is very person dependent and such rope space is somewhat uncommon.
These are some of the many reasons why up-negotiating in scene is a risky practice, especially for new partners (though down-negotiating.
Subdrop is diverse experience ranging from mild disquiet or anhedonia to a temporary but fairly intense experience of depression, loneliness, or frustration. For those with a history of depression, this can initiate longer term depression if not managed. It only occurs some of the time and can occur as many as three to five days after your scene or happen immediately the following day. It can occur due to physiological reasons and happen like clockwork based on your body. It can also be psychological and be based on your self judgments, fears, and insecurities. in scene is always allowed). Longer term partners may choose not to follow these best practices leading to additional risk.
Q11) Is reaching subspace a goal for you? Physiological or psychological or both?
Planning for Health: Aftercare and Emotional Processing
Since subdrop can be so serious, it’s worth looking at strategies to manage it. The first line of defense is planned aftercare. Some players do not need aftercare and do not get subdrop. Don’t assume you’re one of these players. Some players do not provide aftercare or provide insufficient aftercare. Avoid a difficult, frustrating headspace by negotiating adequate aftercare in advance.
Aftercare often involves physiological care like having access to food like a fatty chocolate, protein rich meal, or sugary snack. Hydrate.
Soft, fuzzy blankets or stuffed animals are amazing. Time to rest or cuddle is often essential. Some have their most intimate make-out sessions or sex as a form of aftercare, but this only applies to established sex partners as one isn’t usually competent to negotiate sex immediately after a BDSM scene. Music can be a useful tool for balancing emotion.
While acclimatizing and readjusting after the scene, it’s important not to drive and not have important conversations with others, especially if they don’t know you’ve scened. You may be in an altered state though for most people this passes rather quickly, usually less than fifteen minutes.
Q12) What kind of aftercare supplies do you think you’ll need? Will you bring them to your scene with you?
Feelings: Communicating Through Baggage
It’s critical to manage the many emotions BDSM can provoke; so it’s extremely helpful to have the language to discuss it healthily. Communicating about what went well, what went poorly, and what could be improved is a great way to consistently make your scenes better so long as no one is being hurt. Reassurance to reduce your partner’s insecurities is helpful but ideally this should come from the partner who has needs for emotional safety. Sometimes we need to be told we’re not shameful or disgusting in order to work through societal baggage and conditioning.
Express only your internal experience and not implied intentions of others (I felt lonely rather than I felt abandoned). This is where you must identify judgments or assumptions. If you haven’t already read my new relationship primer, it’s worth taking a look as this is built on that.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication (c) 2005 has compiled a list of feelings (below) based on whether your needs are met or not. Their website has many resources. They can be contacted by e-mail or by phone at 1.505.244.4041. As always, listening to the audio book Nonviolent Communication or reading the book is the best resource.
Feel free to skim through the lists of feelings once you have a good sense that none of them imply intention in others (i.e.: “feeling” abandoned requires the narrative that someone or something abandoned you) and that they instead all describe internal states (i.e.: feeling alone does not require any narrative surrounding anyone else).
Feelings When Your Needs Are Satisfied
AFFECTIONATE:compassionate, friendly, loving, open hearted, sympathetic, tender, warm
ENGAGED: absorbed, alert, curious, engrossed, enchanted, entranced, fascinated, interested, intrigued, involved, spellbound, stimulated
HOPEFUL: expectant, encouraged, optimistic
CONFIDENT: empowered, open, proud, safe, secure
EXCITED: amazed, animated, ardent, aroused, astonished, dazzled, eager, energetic, enthusiastic, giddy, invigorated, lively, passionate, surprised, vibrant
GRATEFUL: appreciative, moved, thankful, touched
INSPIRED: amazed, awed, wonder
JOYFUL: amused, delighted, glad, happy, jubilant, pleased, tickled
EXHILARATED: blissful, ecstatic, elated, enthralled, exuberant, radiant, rapturous, thrilled
PEACEFUL: calm, clear headed, comfortable, centered, content, equanimous, fulfilled, mellow, quiet, relaxed, relieved, satisfied, serene, still, tranquil, trusting
REFRESHED: enlivened, rejuvenated, renewed, rested, restored, revived
Feelings When Your Needs Are Not Satisfied
AFRAID: apprehensive, dread, foreboding, frightened, mistrustful, panicked, petrified, scared, suspicious, terrified, wary, worried
ANNOYED: aggravated, dismayed, disgruntled, displeased, exasperated, frustrated, impatient, irritated, irked
ANGRY: enraged, furious, incensed, indignant, irate, livid, outraged, resentful
AVERSION: animosity, appalled, contempt, disgusted, dislike, hate, horrified, hostile, repulsed
CONFUSED: ambivalent, baffled, bewildered, dazed, hesitant, lost, mystified, perplexed, puzzled, torn
DISCONNECTED: alienated, aloof, apathetic, bored, cold, detached, distant, distracted, indifferent, numb, removed, uninterested, withdrawn
DISQUIET: agitated, alarmed, discombobulated, disconcerted, disturbed, perturbed, rattled, restless, shocked, startled, surprised, troubled, turbulent, turmoil, uncomfortable, uneasy, unnerved, unsettled, upset
EMBARRASSED: ashamed, chagrined, flustered, guilty, mortified, self-conscious
FATIGUE: beat, burnt out, depleted, exhausted, lethargic, listless, sleepy, tired, weary, worn out
PAIN: agony, anguished, bereaved, devastated, grief, heartbroken, hurt, lonely, miserable, regretful, remorseful
SAD: depressed, dejected, despair, despondent, disap
pointed, discouraged, disheartened, forlorn, gloomy, heavy hearted, hopeless, melancholy, unhappy, wretched
TENSE: anxious, cranky, distressed, distraught, edgy, fidgety, frazzled, irritable, jittery, nervous, overwhelmed, restless, stressed out
VULNERABLE: fragile, guarded, helpless, insecure, leery, reserved, sensitive, shaky
YEARNING: envious, jealous, longing, nostalgic, pining, wistful
Moving Through The New Feels
Comfort for me begins with the thoughts “I have everything that I need” and “I am safe.” This begins with a strong sense of emotional self awareness. Being able to know what one’s feeling, put a name to it, and then understand the needs that brought about those feelings is an incredibly useful skill. It’s specifically useful because with experience, you can coach yourself out of the unseen panic many experience when their needs are unfulfilled.
Sometimes getting one need met contradicts another. Getting one’s needs for attention or novelty or meaning met in kink can contradict one’s needs for safety if one loses hope that one can last through a scene (sometimes safewords threaten a sense of emotional safety and or self confidence). Thus when one need is “bottoming out,” positive self talk is incredibly useful.
NVC: Resolving The Feels
Once you know what you’re feeling, some kind of emotional resolution is often helpful. One strategy for emotional resolution is simply feeling heard. There are four steps I follow to disarm defensiveness and communicating your experiences to willing partners: observations, feelings, needs, and requests. I’ll use depression as an example.
- It’s incredibly important to differentiate observations versus judgments. This means neutrality in observations – they shouldn’t mean anything at all on their own. Communicate factual and detached observations. Example: “I noticed you haven’t been showering as frequently this past week. I also noticed we haven’t spent as much time together.”
- Secondly, communicate your feelings about those observations. What were you feeling internally? Again, try not to make these mean anything except as a description of your internal state unrelated to others. Example: “I have been feeling a little lonely and helpless or maybe even afraid.”
- Next, describe how those observed situations met your needs or did not meet your needs. Example: “I would like to have more of my needs for peace, connection, security, and appreciation met.”
- (Optional addition) How do you feel about getting your needs met or not? Example: “I think if I got those needs met, I’d feel motivated, energetic, and possibly inspired.”
- Make a request to improve the situation about what you want not about what you don’t want. Don’t make a demand. A request means an openness to rejection where you will not punish a no in any way (like shame or guilt). Requests can be gifts to your lovers: an opportunity to bring you comfort, satisfaction, and happiness. Example: “I want to acknowledge you aren’t responsible for my feelings or for my meeting my needs. I also want to stress it’s totally fine if you don’t want to meet my request. Still, it would help to have some reassurance that nothing I did prompted this and that we’re okay. I would also like to reconnect in some way. If none of our usual ways work, can we modify what we’re doing to meet new needs you might have? I also want to be supportive in whatever way works for you which may mean giving you space. I just think if I had reassurance or a plan of some kind, my needs for security could be better met.”
If someone is really upset and not using the nonviolent communication process, try to hear them out as best you can. When in doubt, ask for more information and delay reacting. Hear what they’re saying happened. Try to understand rationally how they came to the conclusions they did. Put yourself in their emotional headspace and consider their past experiences and greater context. Apologize if they’re upset – it was probably unintentional, and being supportive if you can stay emotionally uninvested in their (assumed) temporary state is not necessarily emotionally expensive. Ask how they’d like or negotiate how you’d like things to work in future. Try to synthesize a fair solution considering all perspectives. Approach hurt with love and compassion. We are each enough just as we are. Through hardship we grow stronger and more whole.
Anticipate relationship consequences. If you’ve got current partners (kink or vanilla), they should know what you’re planning on doing in advance as a best practice. If you’ve considered not only nudity but sex, have you informed all of your partners this is something you’re considering? If not, you may unexpectedly hurt some people who are more attached to you than you think or than they may have said. It’s always better to mention these things in advance as people tend to feel less hurt as they have more time to emotionally adjust and prepare.
Q13) How do you usually form attachment or connection with others? Do you anticipate kink will form attachment?
Q14) How do you find the sensation of vulnerability or intimacy? Difficult? Rewarding? Connecting?
Consider nudity. Would you like to try a bare bottom spanking or flogging or would you prefer impact play over clothes or both? It’s a different experience. Have you ever felt rope digging in against your skin? If not, maybe consider a topless tie.
Consider marking. Are marks trophies for you or souvenirs from a scene? Are marks bad? If you don’t know what marks you might get from the play you’ll be doing, ask!
Q15) What do your relationship configurations look like? Do they allow for this exploration of kink? (Please ask.)
Q16) Is nudity okay with you and your partners? Is marking okay with you and your partners? (Please ask.)
Consider mistakes. Don’t panic if something goes wrong. Avoid defensiveness. It’s okay to ask for space, text communication only, or even to appoint someone to communicate for you if it’s bad enough you don’t feel like you can manage communicating yourself for a while. Just know that I will strive to hear feedback with compassion. I won’t shame you for coming forward. Having said that, Risk Aware Shit Happens (RASH). These activities are rarely entirely safe and sometimes things go wrong. That is okay. I will endeavor to minimize it.
There is always another scene and you don’t have to do that thing right this second if you haven’t thought it out.
How does the scene you’d like to have fit into future play. Is there an arc you’d like to follow? Do you want to be built up to an accomplishment (like being a bad-ass bottom who can take a fifteen minute spanking session)? Or are you just looking to try a little of everything?
Consider practice and regular improvement. Actually close your eyes and walk yourself through what it would feel like to experience/perform the skills. Especially relevant to tops, imagine the scene in its entirety: your warm up and tension building, first activity and some light pushing, second activity, cool-down, and aftercare.
Q17) Do you have any questions? If you think of any later, feel free to ask them then.
First Interactions in Kink
There are a few kinds of first interactions in kink. Let’s use rope as one example of the many varieties of kink.
Labbing is where you practice skills but there is very rarely any exchange of power or even necessarily any connection (if rope is tied on someone while labbing, the focus is rope not the connection). It isn’t a scene.
Demoing is where you show a skill to someone (someone is tied but the focus is on educating the audience even if scene elements are present). Performance conversely is where the focus is on performing for the audience (spectacle).
Scening (having/doing a scene with someone) is where there is a focus and attention placed on the people involved in the scene and their experience of that interaction. This might look like one person tying themselves with a spotter at a public venue but paying absolutely no attention to the audience. It might look like two people interacting so as to cause intense sensation from pain to pleasure, fear to joy, support to abandonment, or many others. How that happens within a given kink (how you cause a continuum of sensations from abandonment to support in rope for example) is something people spend a lifetime learning.
It’s all back to your goals. You’ve already thought about why you’re doing this. So what do you want out of kink?
If you’re struggling to think of things, use your fantasy as a guide to brainstorm ideas. Think of things you’ve done that you know you like. Consider what you want to do again, and what you feel is appropriate for where you are (a trust-building first scene). Writing erotica can be a fun exploration of fantasy if kink is sexual for you. When you have some juicy ideas written down, maybe it’s time to sit down with your partner and negotiate.
Rehearsing a scene in your head (visualization) is one of the most effective ways to improve a scene. It will fundamentally help you create touchstones (key moments in scenes). Think about your scene and likely things you (or your character if role-playing) would say.
Even if you’re just going to be in a dominant or submissive headspace, practice saying key phrases out loud until they sound and feel natural to you. If topping, think about movements or techniques and imagine yourself doing them to the other person in your head. If it seems like a chore to you, maybe masturbate to it.
Good luck and happy scenes!
Q18) What elements/situations/fantasies would you like to explore in kink scenes?