Kinky sex can be a bit intimidating: it includes everything from bondage to BDSM and role play. Fortunately, you don’t have to jump into a life of sadomasochism to try out kink (you totally can if you’d like, though).
HuffPost spoke with Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah to get some tips for women who want to get into kink (also known as “kinky play”) but don’t really know where to start. Stepping outside of your comfort zone in the bedroom can be hard ― and, for women, sometimes even harder. After all, letting your sexual freak flag fly isn’t part of your average girlhood experience.
But, never fear, Cavanah said trying new things is natural to a person’s sexual development. “Novelty is fun,” she said. “We’re always growing and changing. You don’t reach the end of your sexual development unless you forget to keep going or you put an artificial limit on it.”
Cavanah’s first piece of advice to anyone new to kink is, well, you might like it. “I would start with accepting that you might be into it,” she said.
So, if you’re new to kinky play and don’t know where to start, scroll below to read a few handy tips for your next sexual escapade.
1. “Kinky sex” is different for everyone.
It’s a form of “playing,” Cavanah said. It’s everything that falls outside of the confines of having sex simply to orgasm, which means it can take many different forms. Kink is an umbrella term that includes everything from sadomasochism (SM) to bondage, fantasy, sensation and toy play.
SM is finding pleasure in inflicting pain or receiving pain from your partner, while bondage is when you tie your partner up or your partner ties you up for pleasure. To bring it back down a notch, Cavanah said, sometimes simply bringing a vibrator into your sex life with a partner can be kinky.
“Kinky is in the eye of the beholder,” Cavanah said. “It reflects what your values are and what you like to do.”
2. Communication, trust and consent are key.
Communication is key for any sexual activity, but it’s even more important when stepping outside of your sexual comfort zone. You should always have a full conversation with your partner about what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
“If you don’t take care of your inhibitions or your worries beforehand then you probably won’t have a very good experience,” Cavanah explained. “If you’re going to try this with your sweetheart ― even if you know them well and you’ve been with them a long time ― you still have to communicate what your limits are and how you will express those limits.”
Kinky is in the eye of the beholder.
3. Make sure you set boundaries beforehand.
If someone’s tying you up, you’ll probably want to be on the same page beforehand. Setting ground rules and boundaries (such as agreeing on a safe word) will be the difference between kink “working and not working” for you, Cavanah said.
One great way to start the boundaries conversation? Try out lists like the “Yes/No/Maybe” list, Cavanah said. The list comes in different variations depending on the sexual escapades you’re looking for. The list is an exercise you and your partner can use to see what you both like and don’t like and what you’re willing to try.
“It’s a really great conversation starter and it’s very illuminating about where you and your partner’s desires overlap,” she said.
4. Do your research.
Cavanah said hitting the books can actually help in bed: “Get some sort of masturbation material and find out what your fantasies are. It will really guide you in the right direction of getting what you want and finding out what you need in order to get what you want.”
How do you do that? Read, read, and read some more. Take a sex workshop at Babeland. Talk to your friends. Talk to your partner. If you’re still not ready to talk about it, pick up a copy of 50 Shades Of Grey. Although the books were problematic in some ways, Cavanah said they gave women “a big permission slip” to be interested in and explore kink.
5. Start out small.
Most beginners aren’t going to dive into a 24/7 lifestyle of sadomasochism and that’s just fine. Start by buying a vibrator (if you don’t own one already). Talk to your partner about using sex toys together. Explore your own fantasies: Do you like role play? If so, what kind of role play? Do you like being tied up? Do you like tying your partner up?
“All of it sort of mimics power over someone or giving your power up or hurting someone or asking to be hurt by someone ― it’s not easy when you’re starting out,” Cavanah said. “You have to be sweet and kind to yourself.”
6. For kink, sex toys are quite literally all around you.
According to Cavanah, a wooden spoon works very well as a paddle. Things to stay away from? “We don’t suggest using scarves or neck ties as restraints because they’re slick and they can tighten more than it’s safe,” she said. “A proper set of restraints is a really good idea.”
Cavanah suggested Babeland’s “Under The Bed” restraints for anyone looking for an easy-to-use set of bondage restraints. As for that wooden spoon, Cavanah said “striking somebody means you have to know a little bit about where it’s OK to strike someone.” So, again, do your research.
You should treat your sex life with the same respect that you treat the rest of your life.
7. You probably won’t hit it out of the park on your first try. And that’s OK.
Kinky play ― like most other experiences ― takes practice. You’ll get better at it the more you do it.
“The more communicating that you do the better you’ll get at whatever you choose to try,” Cavanah explained. “And the more you practice this kind of sex play, the more you’ll learn about yourself and the better you’ll be at it. Don’t expect great things the very first time.”
8. Variety is the spice of life, people.
Trying out new things is integral to a healthy and enjoyable sex life. You don’t have to become a full-blown dominatrix, but getting out of your comfort zone (in a safe and consensual way) is really important.
“Stepping outside of any ruts or boxes you find yourself in just gives yourself a chance to find something new that you like,” Cavanah said. “You don’t know what door you’re going to open when you try something new. It may not be a door that you want to open again, but it might be.”
Cavanah likened trying a new type of kink to trying a new genre of fiction for your next book choice ― it’s healthy to try new things: “You should treat your sex life with the same respect that you treat the rest of your life.”
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