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A professional guide to BDSM

If sex were like fashion, then the trend right now would be bondage. Partly thanks to a certain book and subsequent film, and partly because we're always increasing our confidence and desire to try new things in the bedroom. A recent survey found that 60% of couples had experimented with bondage. Tying each other up was the most common BDSM activity they'd tried.

Whatever sparked your interest in bondage and S&M play, the important thing is that you do it safely, sanely and consensually (SSC in fetish terms). After the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey books there was a reported increase in the number of couples calling the emergency services because of bondage related injuries. Couples we're jumping in to play like Christian and Ana without thinking about the consequences and separating the practical realities from the saucy fiction.

Trying sexy new things isn't actually any fun if you hurt yourself in the middle of it. We'd go as far to say it can be a bit of a mood killer.

To avoid any more bondage disasters, we've put together this beginner's guide to BDSM. Here you'll find over 30 tips written by some of the worlds most experienced bondage Dominants, submissives and sex educators. From the basics of what bondage is and isn't, to how to communicate with your partner, games to play and how to look after each other, you'll find expert tips to help (safely) whip your BDSM sex life into shape.


You've read the book, you've seen the film, you've eyed up that silk scarf and thought about what else it could be used for. The seeds have been sown, but how does it go from being an idea, to a reality...


“Before coming out as kinky to your partner, gauge their reaction to the subject. Test the waters by making kinky jokes, asking about Fifty Shades of Grey, or dropping terms like “safeword”. Even viewing films together that contain bondage or other BDSM elements can help. Did they seem repulsed, nonplussed or turned on? You can then take the conversation from there.” Danarama (FiftyskillsofGrey.com)

"Discovering kink should be an exciting and adventurous journey into the unknown self and shine a torch on the areas of the mind that were once locked in judgement. It should also involve being aware and seeking information. There is so much about fetish and bondage online that you can easily look it up and be anonymous. Ignorance or discretion are no longer an excuse." Miss Velour (@MissVelour)

What BDSM is and isn't

“It's a common misconception that BDSM is a dark, sinister pursuit involving hitting someone until they surrender. But there are many different ways to play under the BDSM banner. Some like the art and connection forged through Japanese rope bondage. Others might choose for a session to completely comprise of tickling – which can be funny, sensual or excruciating. To find out more, or look into what might suit you, browse the thousands of different groups on fetish networking site Fetlife.com.” Sarah Berry (SarahBerryTherapy.co.uk)

“Don't forget what BDSM really is: it's joyous childhood play, combined with adult sexual privilege and cool toys.

Find out what mood the two of you want to get into. Do you want sensual, fierce, soft, rough, gentle, vulnerable, playful? Decide what to do around this goal.

Build in time for the afterglow, after care and gentle transition back to everyday life.” Midori (Fhp-inc.com)


Talking and communicating can be one of the most powerful tools when it comes to sex. Here our BDSM experts explain why verbal and non-verbal communication is so important to successful bondage play...

“Honesty and communication are key. Without these two elements in any role play, or BDSM relationship, you can open yourself up to a world of disappointment and the wrong kind of pain. So, remember to talk and do it honestly.” Mistress Ladybird (@MistressLB75)

[Ensure you and your partner have pre and]

“When someone says, “I like to be hit hard”, this can mean very different things to different people. Get as much detail as possible before the action starts, so you can have more fun once it begins because you know where the boundaries really are.” Mistress Sia (@TheMistressSia)

“What players need to practise is better communication, psychology and after care. This means ensuring you and your partner have pre and post-session discussions about likes and dislikes. Then, during play, you can both focus better on using sensory and physical awareness to meet your partner's desires.” Jackson Rocco (JacksonRocco.com)

“Remember that giving up control, does not mean giving up responsibility. Always consider what could go wrong and take rational steps to decrease risk where possible.” Stefanos & Shay Tiziano (Stefanosandshay.com)

Look out for non-verbal reactions and set a safeword

“BDSM is about the mind and body's reactions to sensations. We understand the smallest inclination of the hand; the sudden jolting of a shoulder; the grimace of mouth or eye, even if gagged or bound. Watch your partner's changing reactions and be empathetic to what is good and what isn't so. It's all written on the body.” Mistress Fabula (MistressFabula.com)

“In addition to using a safeword, like “Red” for the submissive to call if they need a break, Dominants can assure their partner's safety and enjoyment by intermittently checking in with them throughout the session. Some prefer non-verbal feedback, like asking the sub to give two hand squeezes if everything feels good. A “lighten-up” safeword like “Yellow” is also useful if the sub wishes the Dom to ease up, but not stop.” Danarama

“A big concern with bondage is the possibility of nerve damage. The person doing the tying can't see nerve damage happening, so they're relying on the bound person to communicate. Let your partner know right away if you have sharp shooting pains, numbness, tingling or weakness in a bound body part. Ask that they release or modify the bondage.” Stefanos & Shay Tiziano

[Traffic Light Signals]

“Discuss your playtime before as equals and focus on achieving mutual delights and pleasures. This doesn't require a contract.” Midori

“Reading body language is important. Watch for the aroused wriggle, a startled arch of the back, tightly gripping fists or a thin film of sweat on the body to gauge how your sub is feeling.” Governess Painless (@PrettyPainless)

How to chat to a professional Dominatrix

“Approaching a Dominant can be intimidating. Ensure you make a good impression by being respectful. If the Dominant you wish to approach is busy, wait patiently in their line of sight until they are finished what they're doing. You should never interrupt a play scene.

Once you're able to approach, politely introduce yourself. A Mistress may present her hand. You should kiss it, do not shake her hand. Have your conversation, ask what you wish to know and tell them what you feel they would want to know, then, unless you are invited to join them, excuse yourself. Do not continue to harass them. Do not throw yourself at their feet begging to worship them or serve them. Do not make a nuisance of yourself.” Goddess Cleo (GoddessCleo.co.uk)


You've done the research, had the chat and know how to keep safe through communication. Now, the really fun part begins...

“I love the mind games element of BDSM. Sometimes the most delicious part is finding a reason to punish someone. It could be for something as simple as the forgetting to put their breakfast bowls in the dishwasher. Message or call them to let them know that a smacked bottom is in store for them when they get home. The anticipation can lead to a level of excitement that you never knew possible, all because of their sloppy household care.” Miss Redd (TwistedOrchid.co.uk)

[Rope Pull]

“If wanting to try rope bondage, cotton ropes are great. They're soft, easy to tie and hold knots well, which means less awkwardness and more fun. Cotton ropes are also easy to wash, which is fab for when the night gets sexy.” Midori (@PlanetMidori)

Be creative with bondage games

“Let's wrestle! Some intense physical rough 'n' tumble can be a delicious warm up. Create as much space as possible in your living or bedroom (yes, that lamp needs to move). Playing 'Rip n Strip' is simple. Start wearing some flimsy items of clothing (shorts, vest, t-shirt) and and agree your scoring system and forfeits for the loser. First one to strip their opponent is the victor.” Miss Scorpion (MissScorpion.com)

“Get your undressed submissive to stand straight with their arms by their side. Sprinkle a little talcum powder over their bare feet and on the floor around them. Then, clearly state that if their feet move from the shape that you've just made, then that will earn them a sound punishment.

Proceed to stroke, poke, probe, spank and tickle them to test their resolve. Be as creative as you like!” Vestra (Vestra.org.uk)

“Gradually building up the intensity of play is the most straight forward way to ensure both safety and overall enjoyment. In impact play – like spanking – using hands before whips and paddles gets your submissive warmed up and physically ready to receive heavier punishment.

Build up intensity slowly, until their limits are almost reached, then bringing them back down to a comfortable level, before building back up again. This ebb and flow encourages longer, more intimate sessions that ultimately leads to a more intense and fulfilling orgasm.” Governess Painless (PrettyPainless.com)

Experiment with chastity

“I love locking my boys up in chastity devices and then setting them tasks that involve lots of sexual tension. Simple things like bathing me, or massaging my naked body. I feel aroused by denying them pleasure and seeing the results of the chastity training.

To clear up some misconceptions about playing with chastity: these devices are designed to be put in place before play and prevent blood from rushing in. So in terms of pain and such, the wearer in fact feels a slight discomfort and not much more. It sounds counter-productive to sex, but this is a highly psychological kind of play.” Madame Caramel (HoxtonDungeonSuite.co.uk)

[Restraining the hands and feet allows]

“When it comes to finding safe restraints, your imagination is the only limit. Sexy stockings, ugly neck-ties, long thin scarves, cling wrap (just remember not to cover the nose and mouth), bathrobe belts, luggage straps, strands of plastic pearls! Bind firm enough to feel restrained, but not tight enough to compromise circulation.” Midori (Fhp-inc.com)

“If it's your first BDSM experience, a nice gentle way into it is tie and tease. Nothing too technical is required. Restraining the hands and feet allows the Dominant the freedom to explore their partner's body. You can give pleasure, or denial. Sex toys are fab to use in this instance. Being in control of his/hers orgasm, for instance, can be extremely fun.” Mistress Esme (Mistress-esme.com)


BDSM isn't all about humiliation or being mean to someone. Care, compassion and safety go hand in had with bondage play. Here's how and why...

“If you need to avoid welts and bruising, avoid a hot bath or shower until 24-48 hours have passed and massage the area regularly.” Submissive Alex (KinkyAlex.co.uk)

There's no need to always be mean...

“A sub finds pleasure in knowing that he/she is pleasing you. Use coaxing questions to find out what your sub likes to be called during the session. They're handing themselves over to you, for your complete control, and you should reward them for it with positive affirmations, loving words, and phrases to emphasise that you are proud to own them.” Miranda (Coinoperatedgirl.co.uk)

“During rope or restraint play, you may need to get your sub out of their binds quickly. It's a good idea to always keep a pair of blunt end safety scissors (the type you find in medical kits) close by, just in case.” Ms Morrigan (Morriganhel.com)

Practise your aim before spanking your sub

“Slipping up, or “botching” a throw, when flogging or caning your partner can be pretty disastrous and result in all manner of injuries. Before taking your new toy to the bedroom, it's always best to practice.

Take a cushion and sprinkle a little talcum powder on it, then you can practise your aim because the impact clearly leaves a mark. Try and hit that mark again, exactly, and keep trying until you've perfected your swing.” Vestra (Vestra.org.uk)

[During restraint play, it's always a]

“Sensory deprivation is an exhilarating experience, but as with any play it's important to put the care and safety of the submissive first. Never leave the room while your sub has a gag in their mouth. It could impair their breathing and if you're not there to assist and remove the gag, this could prove fatal.” Ms Morrigan (Murdermile.com)

“Vigorous movement can tighten bonds, be it handcuffs or rope. Although it was nice and loose when you checked five minutes ago, the knot has likely pulled tighter.

A quick, simple way to check if a restraint is too tight is to slip a finger between the restraint and your partner's skin. If it's a struggle, it's definitely too tight. Also, be sure to briefly take hold of the tips of their fingers. A tight restraint will slow the blood flow and their fingers will become cold.” Vestra

“Unless you're doing bondage on a doll, masking tape is a really bad idea. Invest in a well made set of padded leather, or fabric wrist and ankle restraints.” Midori

Feeling inspired to 50 Shade your sex life?

As well as all of the brilliant additional information you'll find on our expert's websites, you can also find the right kit for BDSM play here in Harmony. Visit our Bondage section to get ropes, bondage tape, restraints and whips and paddles that are suitable for bedroom bondage.

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