How to avoid topping from the bottom

“Topping from the Bottom” refers to an instance in a BDsM scene where the submissive partner, or bottom, seeks to control the scene.  It’s a frowned-upon practice in the BDsM community and a somewhat controversial topic.  Today I wanted to unpack the idea of “Topping from the Bottom” and discuss some of the things I’ve found help to avoid it.

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What does “Topping from the bottom” actually entail?

One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to discuss topping from the bottom is that there isn’t a universally agreed-upon definition of the kind of behaviour that it involves.  What some dominants consider acceptable, others will be angered by.  For example, some submissives indulge in “bratting” during a scene, where they refuse to do what their dominant orders until they are made to comply.  For some people, bratting is part of their dynamic, and having the dominant “make” them submit is an important aspect of play.  For other players, this type of behaviour is deeply disrespectful to the dominant.

 

So it’s difficult to say “X behaviour is topping from the bottom, while Y is not” because what is acceptable varies from person to person and scene to scene.  There are a range of practices that might be considered topping from the bottom depending on the circumstances.  But generally speaking, any instance where the submissive partner tries to manipulate play in a way that has not previously been agreed upon would constitute topping from the bottom.

 

Why does it matter so much?

Topping from the bottom is so frowned upon because it violates the power exchange that is the core of most BDsM scenes.  Usually, when a scene takes place, the submissive party gives up some of their power and control to the dominant, who promises to look after them and drive the scene.  For many dominants, when their submissive tops from the bottom, it can be seen as a declaration that they do not trust them.  It can also be extremely frustrating for a dominant who has carefully planned a scene to have it disrupted by a submissive saying “No, use the red flogger, not the black one”.  Planning and executing BDsM scenes is mentally and physically draining for a dominant, and it can feel like the submissive doesn’t appreciate that hard work and effort if they interrupt or manipulate the scene.   At it’s core though, topping from the bottom is seen to matter because it means that the submissive has failed to carry out their role in the scene.

 

So, how can we avoid topping from the bottom?

Clear and comprehensive negotiation is the best way to avoid topping from the bottom.  Negotiation is an important part of BDsM scenes, and there are a few things that should definitely be touched on to diffuse a situation that could give rise to topping from the bottom:

  • A lot of the time, when a submissive won’t submit or tries to manipulate a scene, it’s because they’re afraid.  They’re worried that they might get hurt or that their dominant will harm them in some way.  Discussing fears, phobias, triggers and limits is a vital part of negotiation and if the submissive party feels that they’ve been heard in this realm, they’re a lot more likely to be able to hand over the reigns to a Dom.
  • Sometimes, people have a very clear picture in their minds of how they want a scene to play out.  Perhaps they have a particular fantasy that they’re trying to recreate, which means that certain details have to be just so.  If you’re trying to do a fantasy role play scene, discussing these details and planning out how to achieve them beforehand can help.
  • Set out rules and limits that all parties agree upon as to what is acceptable during play.  For example, if you know that you like to be a bit of a brat during a scene, speak up and decide if this is ok.   Whatever works for you, just make sure that you’ve set out the rules for the scene clearly before you begin.
  • Finally, agree on a safeword or signal and decide what will happen if the safeword is called.  Many submissives will have one safeword that means “Slow down and check in” and another that means “Stop right this second”.  Both parties should commit to following the rules you set out for safewords.

– Trust is another important factor in BDsM in general, but it is a huge component in avoiding topping from the bottom. When a submissive feels secure in their relationship with the dominant, and they are confident of their top’s abilities, it’s so much easier to put themselves in that person’s hands:

  • Build up scenes slowly over time.  Don’t leap right into a suspension rope scene or heavy impact play with a new partner.  Start with something simple, a light spanking scene or some scarf bondage and build up to the heavy stuff.  Each time you navigate a new scene or type of play with your partner, your trust in them will grow.  Start out with play that involves a small exchange of power, and work towards the big, complicated power dynamics as your trust grows.
  • Talk about your individual skills and abilities, and don’t commit to doing scenes that are beyond your comfort or skill level.
  • Debrief after the scene is over.  Once everyone is feeling calm and you’ve done your aftercare, have a conversation about how things went, what was good and what could be better next time.

There is a lot of introspective work that goes into BDsM.  A huge amount of time goes into soul searching and self evaluation

  • Be very honest with yourself about your personal limits and desires.  And then be unwavering on your limits when negotiating a scene.  Don’t agree to participate in play that you aren’t comfortable with.  That way, you won’t be put in a situation where you’re afraid and anxious and trying to manipulate play to protect your ego.
  • Commit to your role in the scene. If you’re in the submissive role, your job is to submit.  Even if you’re a brat or you resist, your ultimate role is to submit and do as you’re told.  And if you don’t want to do that…then maybe BDsM play isn’t for you. Or maybe you’d be better off in the dominant role.
  • If you’re a submissive, it’s very normal to experience resistance to submission.  Even when I trust my partner and I’ve given my full consent, I still experience moments where Sir will tell me to do something and I hesitate.  In these moments I’ve learned to have a quiet word with myself, to remind myself that I trust my partner and that He has a plan for the scene.  I remember that He knows what He’s doing and that Sir would never harm me.  Reminding myself of those facts helps me to relax and give myself over when anxiety or fear creep in during a scene.
  • Manage your own expectations.  This is particularly important if you’re doing a fantasy role play, because fantasies rarely translate perfectly into reality.  When you let go of the need for the scene to go exactly the way you pictured in your head, it makes it easier to resist the urge to micromanage it.

Topping from the bottom is a very tricky topic to discuss, because it can mean many things to different people.  But ultimately it’s about a submissive who is either unwilling or unable to surrender and submit.  And I believe that honest communication and slow building of trust will go a long way to allowing that submissive to let go and hand control over to their dominant.  It’s not easy to submit, but once you’ve established that safety and trust, it’s so much easier to release your grip and just enjoy the ride.

 

Do you have any tips on how to avoid topping from the bottom?  Or any questions about BDsM scenes and negotiation? If you do, please leave a comment below.

 

 

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Vegan transition tips

We are now into the third week of Veganuary and I thought that this would be a great time to share some of my tips for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.  I’ve been a vegan for around eighteen months now and I can tell you that the first six weeks are the most difficult. But those weeks were difficult for reasons I hadn’t anticipated.

I had expected that I would have to deal with strong food cravings during my transition period.  In particular, I predicted that I would have the most trouble separating from cheese, because it was my favourite food in my pre-vegan days.  In actual fact, food cravings weren’t that much of an issue for me.  What I found the most difficult was just navigating the shops and restaurants as a new vegan.  Tasks that had previously been second-nature took on a whole new dimension and became time consuming and difficult.  I had to check labels, ask questions and the whole process was kind of overwhelming.  Additionally, modifying recipes to make them vegan was tricky in the beginning.  But as time passed and I gained more knowledge and experience, these things became much simpler and less stressful.  Let me share with you some of the things I wish I’d known when I first became a vegan, as well as my top transition tips.

  • Go at a pace that feels manageable for you.  There is no rule that says you have to be completely vegan from the get-go.  You might find it easier to cut out meat one month, then progress to dairy and eggs when you are ready.
  • Don’t rely on meat substitutes.  In the early days of adopting a vegan diet, you might be tempted to replace your usual meals with the “meat free” version.  Although this sounds like a good way to ease away from meat, I found this actually made it more difficult.  Meat substitutes are great, but most of them don’t have the flavour or texture of meat.  This means they’re less likely to satisfy cravings. Use meat substitutes sparingly and instead stock up on fresh veggies, legumes, grains, pasta and spices.
  • Try new things.  This is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes and ingredients.
  • Eating out can be a bit of a minefield when you’re a new vegan.  But there are loads of options available, even at restaurants that aren’t specifically vegan.  Mexican restaurants have a huge range of options, pizzas can be ordered without meat or cheese, salads are served at most restaurants and most burger places have at least one veggie burger.  Even my local pub has a veggie stir fry with smokey soy sauce that is accidentally vegan.
  • Plan ahead when you go shopping.  Make a list and spend a little time researching at home which brands offer vegan options.  You can find lists of accidentally vegan snacks at Veggieful which are super helpful.  This will save lots of time and stress when you actually hit the shops.
  • Embrace home cooking.  If you don’t know how to cook, this is the perfect time to learn.  Even though it might be difficult to find vegan versions of your favourite foods in stores, it’s pretty easy to make your own snacks, sweets and meals at home.  It’s also so much cheaper than buying pre-packaged meals or eating out.

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  • Don’t stress out about protein.  A lot of people believe that meat, eggs and dairy are the only sources of protein.  This isn’t true at all.  If you’re eating a wide range of foods that includes nuts, legumes and grains, you’ll be fine.
  • Some folks love to be jerks to vegans.  It sucks, but it’s a fact.  Accept this, but realise that it’s not your job to respond or be an ambassador for the vegan lifestyle.  If you want to, that’s your choice, but you do not have to engage with someone who is harassing you over your diet.
  • Don’t be alarmed by portion sizes.  When I first went vegan, I got really worried because I had to eat a much larger meal in order to feel satiated.  This occurs simply because plant-based foods don’t have as many calories and therefore it takes a larger amount to make you feel full and satisfied. So if you’re eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, you might find that your serving sizes need to increase in order for you to feel full.
  • Make your own rules and choices.  You don’t have to be the “perfect vegan” and you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.  You get to decide how to implement your lifestyle and make choices that suit you.  For example, some vegans get rid of all of their animal-based clothing and only buy animal free clothes.  I still own wool and leather from my pre-vegan days, and I will continue to use these things until they are worn out.  I won’t buy new items that are made from wool or leather but I will still purchase second-hand items made from animal products because I believe in recycling and getting the most out of clothing that is still wearable.  That’s my choice, and it feels right to me, even if it might not be the “perfect vegan” choice.
  • You are going to make mistakes.  You will buy things that have sneaky animal products in them.  You will accidentally order a meal that you didn’t realise had cheese or cream included.  It’s ok.  Mistakes happen and we learn from them.  Don’t beat yourself up or expect to be perfect.

It’s true that the first month or so of trying a vegan lifestyle can be difficult, but I promise you that it does get easier.  And the benefits definitely outweigh the initial struggles.

 

Do you have any transition tips that you’d like to add?  Or any questions about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle?  I’d be happy to answer them.

Why I can’t teach you to orgasm

I love writing about sex.  It’s one of my favourite topics to blog about and I enjoy publishing posts about toys, BDsM and sexuality.  But I’ve never felt right publishing those Cosmo-eque “15 ways to have an explosive orgasm” posts.

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I was a passionate consumer of these types of articles for years.  I never had trouble finding my orgasm, but I was always eager to find new ways to bring on that pleasure for myself.  I felt compelled to try every new position, every technique that might possibly bring on a bigger, better climax.

 

And for years I found myself deeply disappointed.  Because each time I read one of these articles I wound up feeling broken.  More often than not, the fail-safe techniques contained therein didn’t work for me.  They didn’t bring me an earth-shattering orgasm.  In fact, most of the time they didn’t bring me any orgasm at all, just a feeling that I was inferior, that my body wasn’t working right and that I was missing out on untold pleasures as a result.

 

I vividly recall one holiday I took where my hotel room was equipped with a spa.  I was excited because I’d read so many stories of women who had masturbated by allowing the water from the jets to stimulate their clitorises or by letting a running faucet flow over their vulva.  Eager to try this method out, I ran myself a bath, scooted in line with one of the jets and waited.  And waited some more.  And shifted position.  And then began to wonder “at what point does this start to feel good?”  It wasn’t doing a darn thing for me.  I pulled out the plug, towelled myself off and went to bed feeling disappointed.

 

This pattern repeated itself over the years in so many different ways.  It even popped up when I was given my first ever sex toy.  I jumped into bed, eager to play with it because I was sure it was going to give me an earth-shattering orgasm.  I pressed it to my genitals, turned it on and waited for the magic.  And turned up the power and waited.  And finally gave up.  I thought my beautiful new vibrator was a total dud because I hadn’t wanted to scream with pleasure as soon as it made contact with my body.  How wrong I was.

 

I think the problem I had was twofold.  Firstly, I was taking a purely mechanical approach to pleasure.  I was reading the techniques in these articles and following them stringently.  But the thing is, our erogenous zones can’t be manipulated by pressing the right series of buttons in the right order.  You’re trying to have an orgasm, not operating a coffee machine.  And a lot of the time articles that promise to show you a new technique to help you come are written like an instruction manual.  So even if you follow all the steps, you still might not reach the desired end result because most of us need more than that to orgasm.  We need to be sufficiently relaxed and we need to feel safe.  There are hormonal fluctuations, physical rhythms and stress patterns that come into play.  Our body is a hugely complicated system, and so many factors come into play when you’re talking about physical pleasure.

 

The second part of the problem is decidedly more personal.  It’s taken me a while to be able to articulate it.  But a few days ago I listened to a lecture by Sonalee Rashatwar that set off a lightbulb in my brain.  In the lecture, Sonalee pointed out that in many non-Western cultures, people hold the idea that each person is born with all the knowledge they need to be happy and fulfilled, and that it’s merely a matter of accessing that knowledge.  This is different to the more western notion of a person looking outside themselves to learn what they need to know.  This statement resonated so fiercely with me because it so beautifully described how I feel about learning to orgasm.

 

I believe that for each of us, our body already knows what it needs to feel pleasure.  Think about it.  When we’re hungry, often our body will give us a signal of what kind of food we need to satiate ourselves.  If we are feeling agitated or upset, often an idea will pop up of something that will feel good or comfort us.  And I think that our bodies know what we need to bring us physical pleasure and orgasm.

 

In my experience, the times when I’ve learned a new way to orgasm, whether that be using a different sexual position, a different technique for touching myself, a new kind of toy or whatever, the orgasm has been a result of finding something that feels good and moving towards it.  In the case of my first vibrator, the way I eventually got it to work for me was when I was playing around with it one day, noticed that one of the settings felt really good against my body, and just relaxed and ran towards that feeling.  Finding that spark of “Oh, this feels nice” and then pursuing it has always been the way that I’ve achieved climax.  I’ve learned to look for the signals that my body throws up when I’m enjoying myself, or listen to those ideas that pop into my mind about different ways to move or play that might feel good.  It’s that experimentation and willingness to listen to my own body that have allowed me to learn how to have great sex, not from rigidly following the instructions in an article I read in Cosmo.

 

And that’s why I don’t feel comfortable writing articles that set out techniques that “guarantee” amazing orgasms.  Because I don’t think that approach to pleasure is helpful.  Sexuality and pleasure is intensely personal, and varies so much from person to person.  Although I can give you suggestions for things to try, or recommend toys that are great to play with, I don’t want to offer guarantees or step-by-step instructions.  Because by doing that, I’m discouraging you from being creative and playful in bed, from listening to your own body and chasing pleasure when it pops up.  I don’t ever want to write something that makes someone feel ashamed or broken.  I want to write posts that inspire you to try new things and look for the ways you can achieve pleasure that work for you.

 

A guide to choosing sex toys as gifts.

I’ve been asked many times for advice on choosing a sex toy to give as a gift to a partner.  I had planned to write and publish this post in the lead-up to Christmas, but the last few weeks have been swamped with work commitments, family engagements and wild weather that left me without power or internet connection for long stretches.  Even though Christmas is over, I still wanted to address the topic of buying sex toys as presents, because it’s relevant year-round.

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Choosing a sex toy for another person can be fraught with difficulties.  The potential for embarrassment (both theirs and yours) is high.  You can accidentally insult someone if you buy something that is wildly contrary to their interests, or even potentially make them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts that they aren’t truly comfortable with.  It’s a bit of a minefield but I’m here with some top tips and tricks to help you choose a gift that your partner will find exciting and pleasurable.

 

Before you begin shopping, it’s really important to have a think about why you’re buying a sex toy for your partner.  Have they expressed an interest in trying toys?  Have they mentioned wanting to dip their toe into a particular area of sexual exploration, such as BDsM or anal play?  Do you live far apart and want them to be able to enjoy steamy masturbation sessions when you aren’t with them?  Or are you hoping that by buying them a toy you’ll be able to pressure them into letting you watch them use it?  You have to be really honest with yourself here.  If you are hoping to increase your partner’s pleasure or open the door to some fresh exploration, then that’s awesome.  If you’re using the toy to entice your partner into doing something they aren’t comfortable with, then you should back off.

 

Ok, so assuming you’re buying a toy for the right reasons, the next thing to consider is what your partner is into.  Think about the kinds of activities your partner enjoys in the bedroom, and look for toys that will enhance that experience.  For example, if you know that your partner enjoys being restrained during sex, maybe you could get them some gorgeous cuffs and a blindfold.  If your partner prefers clitoral stimulation, try an external vibrator.  Also, it pays to think about any areas of sexuality that your sweetheart has mentioned they are interested in trying.  If they’ve previously mentioned that they find pegging really hot, then a simple harness and small silicone dildo could be fun.  Or if they’re itching to try spanking, a paddle or a crop could be a cheeky addition to their toybox.  Pay attention to your partner’s preferences and desires and choose accordingly.

 

Another thing to consider is whether your partner already owns any toys.  If they have a budding collection, then it’s worth looking for any patterns in the toys they own.  Do they seem to prefer insertable toys?  Vibrators?  Is their bedside drawer filled with butt plugs of various sizes?  If there is a particular thing that they seem to love, try getting them something similar, with a twist. Dildos in luxurious materials like glass are a great start, as are vibrators with unique shapes or functions.

 

Once you’ve got an idea of the kind of thing you’d like to buy for your honey, do some research.  Look at online stores for ideas, read reviews from sex bloggers, watch youtube videos and pay attention to what they have to say.  Take into account any criticisms and decide whether these are deal-breakers for your partner.  Also remember that bodies vary wildly and what feels pleasurable to one person can be irritating or even painful for another.

 

Is your head spinning yet?  I’m not surprised.  Shopping for sex toys can be an overwhelming experience.  There are so many to choose from and so many different factors to consider.  Which brings me to my most important piece of advice.

 

If you aren’t 100% sure what to get for your partner, get them a gift voucher.  Unless you know for a fact that your partner is drooling over a specific model of vibrator, the best thing you can do is give them a voucher for a reputable adult store.  This way, they can either go by themselves or you can make it an adventure for the both of you to go to the store and choose something that suits them perfectly.

 

My first ever vibrator was a gift from a partner.  They took me to an adult store for Valentines Day, gave me a budget and asked me to take my time choosing the toy that I most wanted.  I’d been interested in getting a vibrator for some time, but I had absolutely no idea what type of toys were available or even what would work best for my body.  So actually going to a real-life store was the best thing to do.  Not only was I able to touch the toys, press buttons and feel vibration quality and materials, but I got some amazing expert advice from the shop assistant.  She knew her toys so well and helped me to choose a vibrator that I absolutely loved.  I left the store with something that brought me years of joy, my partner was chuffed that he’d given me the gift of pleasure and I didn’t feel pressured or uncomfortable.  To this day, I still believe this is the best approach to giving a sex toy as a gift.

 

Giving a voucher or a toy-shopping expedition as a gift overcomes a lot of the pitfalls of shopping for a partner.  It takes away all the guesswork or trying to imagine what they might like.  It makes your partner feel empowered to choose something that they would find pleasurable, rather than being pressured into using the specific item you picked out.  Going shopping as a couple can be a really fun bonding experience and you won’t waste money on something that your partner won’t use.  Unless you’re really certain that your partner wants a specific toy, I think that going shopping together or giving them a voucher to spend at their leisure is the best way to gift a sex toy to your partner.

My BDsM aftercare kit

Aftercare is one of the lesser-known aspects of BDsM.  It refers to the kind of care or treatment that a person needs after a BDsM scene to help them to relax and come back down to earth.  BDsM can be an intense physical and emotional experience, and endorphins and adrenaline can run amok in your body during a scene.  Afterwards, your brain chemistry begins to return to normal which can be a jarring experience.  Aftercare is a way to ease yourself and your play partner back into reality to avoid a sudden drop.

Depending on the type of play that you’ve engaged in, aftercare may also involve first aid treatment, such as cleaning wounds, dressing bruises and tending to sore muscles.

The type of care each person requires after a BDsM scene will vary from person to person.  Some people require a lot of aftercare, some need little or none at all.  Some people want their partner to be involved in their aftercare, others prefer to be left alone.  While a lot of articles about aftercare focus on the needs of the submissive, it’s important to note that dominants or tops may also require aftercare when a scene has ended.

I’m a submissive, which means that I’m the person who is on the “bottom” during a scene.  I like to be dominated by my partner and enjoy serving Him.  I engage in a number of different types of play, including bondage, impact play, service submission and sensory deprivation.  I’m a monogamous BDsM player, which means that I play exclusively with one person, my Sir.  Currently my partner and I live far away from one another, so I regularly travel to be with him.

When I’m at home, I have all the things I need for my preferred aftercare routines at my fingertips.  However, if I’m away from home at my Sir’s house or a hotel or a party, I may not always have access to the things I need to help myself calm down after a scene is over.  So I came up with the idea of creating a small aftercare kit.  This kit is little enough to throw into my bag when I travel, and has a few vital items which myself or Sir can use to end a play session.  Want to take a look in my aftercare kit?  Here we go……

What’s in my Aftercare kit?

  1. Warm socks

It’s common to feel cold after a play session.  When you’re in the thick of a scene, adrenaline makes you less sensitive to temperature and you don’t always notice when you’re chilly.  Often, I play in the nude or in underwear, and even when the room is warm I feel chilled when the scene is over.  Plus, the rush of endorphins leaving your body can lead to shivers.  At home I like to have a warm blanket to cuddle up in, as well as some comfortable clothes to pull on.  I made these socks myself and they are super soft and keep my toes so warm.  They are really comforting to put on when I’m coming down after a play session.

2. Teabags

A steaming cup of tea can really help you to warm up if you’ve gotten chilly, as well as being comforting and relaxing.  I always make sure that I have a few varieties of tea, and enough teabags so that my Dom and I can enjoy a cup together.  There’s something very soothing about wrapping your hands around a hot mug of tea.  It’s also nice to have something to sip on while you debrief with your partner, discussing what aspects of play you enjoyed, any emotions that bubbled up, and things that pushed your boundaries.

3. Lollies and dried fruit

My blood sugar usually drops after an intense scene, and I can feel fuzzy-headed and vague when the adrenaline starts to drain away.  Having something sweet on hand like dried fruit or candy is great for a quick sugar hit.  I prefer these small packets which I can munch on right after I play, and then I will usually have a proper meal once I’ve calmed down.

4. Bubble Bath

Another great way to warm up after play is to take a relaxing bath.  The hot water also feels wonderful on sore muscles if you’ve been tied up for a while or if you’ve been paddled or spanked.  If I feel like being alone after a scene, my Sir will run me a bath and then leave me to soak for a while so that I can gather my thoughts and relax.  Or if I want company He can sit on the edge of the tub and chat to me while I wash.

5.  Lotion

Affectionate touch is a really important part of my aftercare. It helps me to relax, brings me back into my body and reassures me that I am loved and cherished.  Having a partner rub lotion over your sore spots or massage you after play is a wonderful way to relax.  It also fosters a great sense of connection between you and your partner and helps you both to unwind.

6. Scented candle

I find scent very soothing and it’s always nice to have something that smells lovely nearby.  I prefer sweet, fruity scents and this pomegranate candle in a tin is ideal.  I can light it while I’m bathing or while Sir and I are drinking our tea.

These are just a few essentials that I carry with me to ensure that I can get the aftercare I need when playtime is over.  Like I said, every person is different and aftercare needs vary widely.  But knowing what kind of care you like after a scene and preparing for that with a small kit of helpful items is a great way to make sure that you are able to relax after BDsM exploration and get the most our of your play.

What items do you think you’d put in your aftercare kit?

How to have great sex

There seems to be an overwhelming insecurity around sexual ability.  So many of us worry about whether we’re actually good in bed, whether we’re capable of pleasing our partners.  This might be the reason that magazine articles or guides that promise to improve sexual prowess and technique are so popular.

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As a woman who loves sex, who spends a fair whack of her time thinking about, reading about, writing about and having sex, I like to think that I’m not too bad in the sack.  I’ve gained enough knowledge over the years to offer some sage advice about what makes for great sex.  And I’d love to share that with you in the form of a few bullet points.  So…..how can you be good, or better, at sex?

  • First and foremost, relax.  We treat sex like a big, serious act that must be perfectly choreographed and executed.  But it isn’t.  Funny noises happen, silly faces get pulled and body parts are flung about in ungainly ways.  Don’t stress about it.  Have fun, laugh at the silly bits and enjoy yourself.
  • Ask for what you want.  There’s this weird idea that our ideal sexual partner will be able to magically divine our deepest desires and automatically know how to touch us in a way that makes our knees weak.  This rarely happens.  Rather than hoping that your partner will touch you how you like to be touched, ask them.
  • Conversely, ask what your partner wants.  Encourage feedback and follow it.  Learn from it.  Respect your partners wishes if they say they don’t want something, and don’t shame them if they say they do want something you aren’t comfortable with.  Just politely decline and do something else.
  • Take a “let’s just see” approach during sex.  Explore with your partner, rather than just doing the one or two techniques that you know work.  See what happens when you lick here, touch here, stroke there.  Try lots of different things and note how they feel.  Not everything will produce and explosive response, but it’s only by trying things out that you find exciting new ways to play.
  • Talk about sex with your partner. Not just while sex is happening, but before, and after.  Don’t make it a difficult or embarrassing topic, just relax and speak openly and honestly.  Communication makes sex so much better, and being able to talk with your partner about takes so much of the worry and shame out of the bedroom.
  • Use lube.  There’s this idea that if you’re doing sex properly, lube is not required, but that is total bullshit.  Lube will only make your sex play better.  Whether you’re on your own or with a partner, use lube.  Whether you’re doing p-in-v, anal, hand jobs, oral or any other kind of sex play, a few drops of good quality lube will take it from feeling pretty good to downright fantastic.
  • And finally….just have fun.  Sex is playful and beautiful and expressive.  It can be raw and vulnerable, or light and joyful.  But in my opinion it should always be fun.

What do you think makes sex great?  What’s the best piece of sex advice you’ve ever been given?

M is for Masochism

This is part 4. of my ABC’s of BDsM series.  In each post, I will break down one letter of the BDsM acronym to delve deeper into what practices and preferences make up the world of BDsM.  This is by no means a definitive discussion of BDsM, but is rather intended to be a primer for interested beginners.

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M is for Masochism

Masochism is when a person derives pleasure or enjoyment from pain. This pain may be physical, emotional or psychological.  Masochism is the flipside of the S/m coin, the opposite of sadism. Even though these two practices are opposite and complimentary, that doesn’t mean that a single person can’t enjoy both masochism and sadism.  There are lots of people who enjoy both halves of the S & M pie, but usually they tend to prefer one over the other.

Masochism may show it’s face in a huge range of BDsM scenes.  It often goes hand-in-hand with bondage and discipline, as well as other types of play including:

  • Impact play, where the submissive party is hit or struck with paddles, floggers, hands, canes, whips, crops and a variety of other impact tools.
  • Humiliation play, where the submissive party is forced to dress in clothing that they find embarrassing, may be called names or is made to perform actions that they find degrading.
  • Play piercing, where needles are inserted into the top layers of skin.
  • Primal play such as chasing, biting and scratching.
  • Torture play, in which the submissive is subjected to physical torture, often while bound. This may include breast and nipple torture and cock and ball torture.
  • Hair pulling
  • Breath play, where the submissive is choked or smothered
  • Erotic trampling, where the bottom is stepped and trodden on.
  • Forniphilia, or human furniture.  Submissives may be required to act as tables, footstools or other furniture.
  • Medical play scenes.
  • Electro-sex play, through the use of a violet wand or tens unit.
  • Fire and ice play, including scenes involving fire wands, wax and ice cubes.

To a person who has not explored the world of BDsM, or who cringes at the idea of being in any kind of pain, the thought of intentionally submitting to painful treatment may seem absurd.  Why on earth would anybody want to subject themselves to such play, and how could you possibly enjoy it?  The reasons why masochism is so thrilling are as varied as the people who practice it.  Some of the most common reasons for exploring masochistic tendencies may include:

  • Feeling a rush or natural high from pain.  Pain triggers the release of endorphins in the body, which in turn may cause feelings of euphoria, relaxation and pleasure.
  • Wanting to explore physical and emotional limits. Some masochists liken their practice to endurance running or weightlifting, in that they are fascinated to see how much their body can take and explore and expand limitations.
  • A desire to own one’s pain and learn to cope with it.
  • Enjoying being at the mercy of another person.
  • Wanting to expand trust in a relationship.
  • Getting a thrill from intense sensation.
  • Using intense sensations such as impact, heat or pain to stimulate certain parts of the body, making them more sensitive to gentle touch later on.

I very firmly identify as a masochist.  I find pain erotic and I’ve definitely experienced that natural high after being flogged, spanked or tortured. I also enjoy pushing my personal limits to see how much I can withstand.  In this way, I find things like impact play or wax play almost meditative. Although they do hurt, I try to relax into the sensations, noting them and breathing through the pain until I get to that place of bliss beyond.  I liken it to running and yoga, both things that I enjoy immensely.  With all of these things, to get to the benefits and euphoria, you have to first push through a barrier of pain and resistance.

 

It’s extremely important to note that not all pain will trigger a pleasurable response in a person with masochistic tendencies.  I don’t feel sexy after stubbing my toe or being humiliated by a stranger in public.  As with any BDsM play, it’s vital that the activity is safe, sane and consensual.  The pain should be inflicted in a controlled environment, after lengthy negotiations about needs, wants and limitations. It’s extremely important that both parties trust one another so that both feel safe to explore and enjoy themselves.  It’s also vital that play progresses gradually.  With things like impact play, you can’t just start flogging the living daylights out of a submissive.  You have to warm up with gentle taps, slowly ramping up the intensity.  Proper preparation makes it a lot more likely that you will both enjoy your scene, and increases the chances that you’ll want to do it again.

As well as proper preparation before a scene, aftercare is especially vital in scenes that explore masochism. Pain can bring up all sorts of emotional stickiness, and you need to be prepared to devote the time needed to work through those feelings if they happen to bubble to the surface. The rush of endorphins and adrenaline involved with pain and fear can result in an emotional crash called Subdrop when those chemicals subside.  Subdrop is a fascinating and important topic, and one that I will talk about more in future posts.  Proper aftercare can help bring the submissive back to earth and limit the impact of drop.  Additionally, physical aftercare, such as tending to bruises and cuts, helps to make sure that the bottom is healthy and happy.  Aftercare is really important to foster trust between play partners and reassure everyone involved that they are loved, respected and cared for.

 

Masochism is a fascinating practice, and one that shows up in a variety of different BDsM scenes.  It can be a gateway to pleasure and freedom for some, even though it might seem scary to others.

Fascinated by masochism? You might like to read the other posts in this series”

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my ABC’s of BDsM. If any of these posts have raised any questions for you, or if there is anything you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to get in touch.