Couple Bondage for Beginners: The Newbie’s Guide to Using Restraints for Pleasure

Welcome, lover! You are one of many people exploring bondage—restraining a partner for the purpose of pleasure—as part of your intimate life. Perhaps you want to engage in bondage to elevate your sex life or perhaps your partner brought it up—and now you have questions. What exactly is bondage? How do I do it? Couple bondage for beginners is more an art than science. Let our Bondage Is for Lovers Newbie’s Guide to Using Restraints for Pleasure be your essential bondage 101 manual to bondage basics, with bondage tips, tools, and tactics.

As you go through this guide to bondage for beginners, you’ll notice that we don’t even get to bondage practices and toys until the end. That’s intentional. Bondage entails more than just restraining someone right off the bat. Even if you do it just to spice up your sex life, it fundamentally alters your relationship, and, like any big change, requires a lot of preliminary and prep work.

With that… Ready?

IN THIS ARTICLE

Bondage for Beginners: An Introduction (AKA Foreplay)

Your exploration of bondage isn’t an isolated incident. You are the next in a long line of bondage explorers, a line that threads throughout humanity’s entire sexual history.

Bondage Throughout History

Bondage has been present in humanity’s sex lives throughout history, whether as a standalone practice, deriving from sexualizing slavery, or as a foundation for other types of play, like flagellation.

Some ancient Greek art shows people engaged in bondage practices. The Kama Sutra, written some 1,700 years ago has an entire section on spanking.

Brothels throughout history, at least from the 17th century, have provided restraint and flagellation to eager customers. In the 18th century, Marquis de Sade did a great deal to popularize, or at least bring to light, a lot of kinky practices, including bondage.

Bondage in History - DeSade Juliette

Unsigned illustrations from a 1789 Dutch printing of Marquis de Sade’s Juliette.

In the U.S., it was the model Bettie Page who put bondage on the American pop culture map in the 1950s. That’s right: the era we associate with American families bound to a male-dominated nuclear stereotype spawned the Queen of Bondage.

Which kind of makes sense.


The rest is pop culture history…of an increasing social acceptance of bondage, culminating—you guessed it—with the 2011 50 Shades trilogy which, contentious as it may be in its depiction of BDSM, untied bondage from the sexual fringes and firmly affixed it in the American mainstream.

How Common Is Bondage?

Bondage isn’t exactly a well-studied subject. Makers and retailers of sex accessories have conducted surveys of their customers, revealing a great deal about people’s proclivities, fantasies, and practices. Samples in these surveys are, of course, skewed toward people who already lean the bondage way (someone shopping for sex toys online will be more likely to fantasize about or even engage in bondage than an average person).

The condom maker Durex found that 53 percent of people they surveyed “see the benefits of introducing a little experimentation into our sex lives through role-play, massage, sexual fantasies or bondage.” Moreover, 36 percent of adult Americans “use masks, blindfolds, and bondage tools during sex,” compared to 20 percent of adults worldwide.

bondage /bon-dij/ n. 2 the state of being bound by or subjected to some external power or control. 3 the state or practice of being physically restrained, as by being tied up, chained, or put in handcuffs, for sexual gratification.
—Dictionary.com

More scientific surveys are hard to come by. A 1953 Kinsey Institute study found that 55 percent of women and 50 of men erotically enjoyed being bitten. The Institute’s 1990 report stated that 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism at least an occasional basis.

A truly scientific study down under in 2001 found that 1.8% of adult Australians have engaged in BDSM. A 1999 study found that 65 percent of Canadian students fantasized about being tied up during sex.

A recent survey about sexual fantasies (alas, again in Canada) found that two in three women (65 percent) and every other man (63 percent) fantasize about being dominated sexually; conversely every other woman (47 percent) and about two in three men (60 percent) fantasize about dominating someone sexually. What’s more roughly every other woman (52 percent) and every other man (46 percent) desire being tied up by someone in order to obtain sexual pleasure; four in ten women (42 percent) and five in ten (48 percent) men want to tie someone up in order to obtain sexual pleasure.

Face it, (North) America, BDSM may never become mainstream, and it continues to carry a certain stigma, but we’re a kinky, kinky bunch.

What Is Bondage?

Bondage is the act of consensually tying up or restraining your lover for the purpose of sexual pleasure.

Bondage can also involve the act of using restraints for aesthetic or visual pleasure, such as in the Japanese art form Shibari, or in role-playing.

Bondage typically involves some equipment which can be as simple as a scarf or necktie or more complicated like cuffs and rope (see more on bondage equipment below).

Bondage for Beginners - Rope Cuffs

Bondage can involve sexual intercourse but it doesn’t have to. In fact, it doesn’t even have to involve orgasm. It also doesn’t have to involve pain, but it can, if that’s what you and your lover want.

You can tie up your lover and give her an orgasm (or five). You can tie up your lover just to tie him up. It’s really up to you.

Some lovers begin with bondage and foray into other types of pain play such as spanking, paddling, or whipping.

Bondage Early, Bondage Often

How often you engage is bondage is, again up to you.

Sometimes we think of bondage in terms of food (yes, both bring pleasure into our lives).

You can use it the way you would a spice, to add to whatever it is you already love doing. Cuff your lover’s hands behind her back in doggy style every now and then. Tie his hands to the bedposts from time to time as you ride him.

You can use bondage as a full-on ingredient in your play. Hogtie her into a position for the entire duration of intercourse. Cuff her wrists to her ankles to put a spin on the missionary position.

You can make bondage a dish, where your entire sex play depends on and revolves around it. Tie him up and spank him while you peg him from behind.

Or you can make bondage your entire sexual cuisine. Bondage is what you do, all the time, all the way.

Pleasure vs. Pain

Some people just love the sensation of bondage, of feeling their limbs tied or their mouth gagged, or sensations other than pain when tied up. Feather dusters, soft fabrics, even light skin contact are fun sensations to play with.

While pain is an optional part of bondage (see below), we like to mix in a little pain play. You don’t have to be a full on sadist (someone who likes to inflict pain on others) or a masochist (someone who likes to receive pain) to bring pain play into the bedroom.

Pain and pleasure are very much connected. Pain triggers hormones like endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin, which can cause a pleasure response and even promote relaxation.

It may seem contradictory, but pain often leads to pleasure for many people.

Power Exchange / Domination and Submission

Unless both partners engage in bondage at the same time (which is possible), bondage involves a power exchange. In other words one partner submits control to the other, allowing themselves to be restrained while the other remains free.

The lover who relinquishes control is often called the bottom or, in more involved levels of play, the submissive partner.

The lover in control is the dominant partner or the top. Based on what both partners negotiate and consent to ahead of time, the dominant lover ultimately decides how the scene plays out—within the bottom’s negotiated limits.

In some couples, the roles are pretty consistent, with one partner acting as the dominant and the other submissive. However, there are many couples that switch roles based on each partner’s mood or preference.

Bondage As a Gateway to BDSM

Bondage is part of and can set the stage for further aspects of BDSM. Half-jokingly, we call bondage a gateway drug to BDSM.

BDSM stands for “Bondage & Discipline; Dominance & Submission; Sadism & Masochism.” It is a range of consensual practices which entail an exchange of power and control for pleasure.

The practice of BDSM is more advanced than simply tying your lover to the bedpost. There are entire BDSM communities devoted to the intricacies of this practice.

Some people call bondage a sexual fetish. However, a sexual fetish is defined as a fixation on an object, body part, or sexual act that is necessary for a person to get off. If you are able to get off in other ways other than engaging in bondage, you probably don’t have a bondage fetish.

You just like being tied up. Or tying someone else up. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Bondage Is Normal (But There’s Still Baggage)

You already know this, and you know that we believe this, otherwise you wouldn’t be visiting a website called Bondage Is for Lovers.

Toward Sex Positivity

Our culture is slowly progressing to be more sex positive and accepting of sexual orientations, behaviors, and practices beyond what was historically considered normal.

Forty years ago it may have been difficult to find people discussing bondage openly beyond very small sub-cultures that mostly kept to club scenes in cities.

These days, if you’re interested in bondage or even finding a partner who enjoys bondage, there are thousands of resources online as well ways to connect with other individuals and communities who practice the art of restraint. Many even do so publicly at festivals, BDSM clubs, sex shops, or at live performances.

Bondage for Beginners - Good Vibrations

This isn’t to say that bondage is totally mainstream, or that there aren’t individuals, family members, or communities that may not approve of your bedroom practices (and don’t even get us started on priests and politicians).

How you were raised and your family’s values and attitudes around sex contribute to how you perceive your own sexual interests and fantasies.

For example, if you grew up in a religious environment where sex outside of marriage and for reasons other than procreation is considered sin, you may feel a certain amount of shame and guilt about your proclivities toward bondage or any sexual activity outside married, heterosexual intercourse. For you, bondage is a perfect way to eroticize the repression! But that’s a whole another complicated topic.

Bondage As Self-Expression

Our view is that bondage, when explored after good communication and negotiation with a trusting and trusted partner who enthusiastically consents, is a healthy and appropriate way to express ourselves sexually. Bondage can improve relationships, body image, self esteem, and reduce stress.

Just because certain institutions within our society deem it shameful or sinful doesn’t mean that it is. Honestly, if these institutions had their way, people wouldn’t be able to wear bikinis to the beach or kiss in public.

More and more, people are opening their minds and their bedrooms to a variety of new and fun kinds of sex.

Bondage for Beginners - Couple Cuffs

If you feel shame and guilt about your interest in bondage, we recommend exploring these issues with a licensed sex therapist before engaging in bondage with your lover.

Of course, bondage with minors and anyone who has not consented is never acceptable.

Myths and Misconceptions About Bondage, Debunked

Bondage. Kink. BDSM. Power play.

There are lots of different terms when it comes to sexual play beyond what people call “vanilla sex,” or conventional sex that conforms to what a culture deems to be “normal.”

We put “normal” in quotes for a reason. While some may consider bondage and other forms of kink abnormal, as we outlined earlier, it’s actually more common than you think.

You Are Not a Bad Person

First and foremost, we at Bondage Is for Lovers want to assure you that getting turned on by bondage does not make you a bad person.

Wanting to tie up your lover and have sex with them, or even paddle their bottom, does not mean you are inherently violent or deviant. Wanting to be gagged and spanked doesn’t mean you are a freak.

As long as both you and your partner are consenting adults, bondage is a healthy form of sexual play.

You Are Not Damaged

Another myth is that a person’s proclivity to bondage is some manifestation of past abuse, either physical or sexual. Many assume that people who like bondage are psychologically “damaged” in some way. While this is certainly possible for some people, most people enjoy bondage simply because it’s fun, sexy, and it turns them on, or for other reasons completely unrelated to their past or their mental health state.

Sex Is Optional

A common misconception about bondage is that tying someone up for sex is all there is to it. Bondage is so much more than that!

Restraining someone is the what of bondage; exercising control over them is the why.

Bondage may involve sex, but not necessarily. You may do it for erotic, sexual pleasure, but not necessarily.

Orgasm Is Optional

Similarly, bondage can culminate in orgasm, but it doesn’t have to.

There are couples who use it just for foreplay, and then have sex after the bondage play. And some people separate the two completely and enjoy bondage as a different from of eroticism and sensation. It really all depends on personal preference.

No Pain, No Problem

Some incorrectly assume that pain is an essential part of bondage. Bondage is an act of restraint to which pain is an optional addition.

If you are not into pain you can definitely still experiment with bondage in the bedroom simply by restraining your lover or asking to be restrained, and using materials or restraints that are soft and won’t rub against the skin.

Some couples experiment with a practice called honor bondage that does not involve any physical restraints. Honor bondage relies on assuming a position and staying locked in that position on one’s own will alone and voluntarily.

Bondage: Not just for Swingers or BDSM Experts

Another common myth is that bondage is only for swingers or for members of an established BDSM community.

False!

Bondage is for lovers, couples, and married people, too. Bondage can be introduced even if a couple has been together for many years.

Once the Top/Bottom, Not Always the Top/Bottom

It’s a misconception that people are either tops, i.e. like to dominate their lover, or bottoms, i.e. like to be dominated) and never deviate from these agreed-upon roles.

Many people who practice bondage enjoy both roles depending on their or their partner’s roles or the mood they’re in.

Bondage Won’t Make You Gay

Many heterosexual men worry that bondage or certain sex acts in which they are a submissive or bottom, like pegging, will make them gay.

Being gay for a man means having sex or wanting to have sex with men (or to paraphrase Dan Savage, being gay means you want the dude, not just the dick). Unless you are fantasizing about men tying you up and having sex with you or tying men up and having sex with them, you are not likely gay.

Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being gay anyway.

Bondage is for everyone.

Why Bondage?

If you fantasize about bondage—if tying your partner up or getting tied up by her really, really, turns you on—we at Bondage Is for Lovers encourage you to introduce a little bondage into your bedroom activities.

Why?

Bondage Make Sex Life More Interesting

For starters, bondage is a great way to spice up your sex life, especially for couples who are in long term relationships.

While vanilla sex is good and fine and has its place in every relationship, people often complain about boredom in the bedroom with their long-term partners. If this is you and your lover, bondage can take you to another level of eroticism.

The possibilities are endless, so playing with bondage can help you sustain a healthy sex life for years to come.

Bondage Deepens Relationships

Because bondage takes a fair amount of trust between partners, it can deepen your love and affection for one another.

A major component of entering into a bondage agreement with your partner is communication. You and your lover must discuss (with words!) your wants, desires, as well as limits and boundaries.

It could even be argued that bondage sex requires more communication and trust than vanilla sex, and you may find yourself connecting with your partner in ways you never thought possible.

Bondage Can Satisfy You and Your Lover

In some relationships, one partner is more into the idea of bondage than the other. Perhaps this is you, and your partner has just shared that she wants you to tie her to the bed and make love to her.

Of course, you should never agree to do something sexual that you are uncomfortable with and don’t want to do.

But if you are game for trying new activities in the bedroom, satisfying your partner’s desires can be a real turn on.

If you are hesitant in the beginning, try listening to your lover’s fantasies. You may find yourself an eager bondage participant who can’t wait to satisfy them.

Bondage Helps You Understand and Express Yourself

Figuring out exactly what turns you on and being able to act that out can be very empowering. Playing with bondage is an excellent way to understand yourself and an even better avenue for expressing your individuality and creativity.

Bondage “scenes” (as they are called in the BDSM world) can be simple or very elaborate, involving costumes and role playing. This can be freeing if you have inhibitions about sexuality or about your body.

For example, if you are a woman with body image issues, you may find that dressing up in a corset, wearing tall black boots, or wearing a mask and leather panties, helps you feel sexy.

Combine that sexy feeling with ass-whipping your boyfriend and you aren’t just looking and feeling sexy, you’re in charge.

Sounds pretty hot to us.

Bondage Enables Release

We aren’t just talking about orgasm here, which, as you know by now, is optional anyway. One of our favorite aspects of bondage is the mental and emotional release that accompanies it.

Think about what you have read so far:

  • Bondage allows you to communicate your needs with your partner.
  • Bondage allows you to express yourself and get over your inhibitions.
  • Bondage requires trust in your partner, and their trust in you.

Now, bondage allows us to let go and truly enjoy various physical and mental sensations.

Some people love being restrained because it gives them an excuse to not think about anything but the feeling of being bound, if even that.

Some people have to be tied up to be free.
—Charles Moser, PhD, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

People who like dominating enjoy spending time expressing their dominant side or focusing on another person’s sensations.

Many people feel a sense of relaxation after a bondage session simply because they were finally free of thinking about work, kids, dishes, car payments, and so on.

Bondage Feels Good on Your Body

You may also find that you like the physical sensation of restraints on your body.

The pressure of soft, cotton rope coiled around your wrists or that rope dress around your torso. The spread-eagle position as you lay tied to the bed before your lover’s gaze. The sensation a spanking paddle or flogger leaves on your buttocks.

Bondage Has Mental Health Benefits

Surveys of people engaged in BDSM practices have shown that, compared to the vanilla folk, we are more open to new experiences and adventurous in their sex life, we are more confident, and we are less neurotic, stressed, and sensitive to rejection.

Anecdotally speaking, coming to terms with and channeling your predilections and fantasies can have a positive psychological effect on your well-being.

According to the psychologist Roy Baumeister, bondage allows you to escape from your life for a while and forget your woes or even who you are as you can be whoever you cannot be in your everyday life (many submissives, for example, work in jobs that require them to be dominant/-ing). As temporary as it may be, the escape you can experience in bondage works wonders on your psyche, particularly by relieving stress.

Safety in Restraints: How to Do Bondage and Love to Tell the Tale

We bet by now you’re feeling ready to tie up your lover and spank his ass.

Hold up.

In order to take bondage to the bedroom (or the kitchen table, for that matter), it is crucial you do so in a way that is safe for both partners.

Before you get out your rope, think about safety and discuss with your lover how you will take the following safety precautions.

Establish a Safe Word

Establishing a safe word before going forward will help ensure that you both have a fun and sexy time without feeling unsafe. A safe word is a word that, when uttered, means stop. More on that in the Negotiation section below.

Play Sober

First and foremost, if your partner is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they are not giving you true consent as their judgment is impaired. (See more on consent in the next section.)

Alcohol and drugs can make for fun times for some situations, but we highly recommend not hampering your bondage experience with an excess of drugs and alcohol. If you’re tipsy, not to mention wasted, you don’t make the best decisions. This can really affect the safety of your bondage play.

Alcohol can be very detrimental to a positive bondage experience. Some people need a glass of wine or two to relax enough to get into the mood, but a small amount should really be the limit.

Once your blood alcohol level is above .03 or .04, which come to about one drink for women and two drinks for men, you start to lose your reasoning, judgement, as well as your balance and coordination.

Impaired by alcohol, you may being less able to respond quickly if your partner is uncomfortable and wants to stop play. You may be going too hard and too fast and not even realize it.

Any kind of choking play, gagging, or hitting should be done completely sober.

Some drugs heighten sensation, but at the same time heighten the fear and panic response. There are people who play with recreational drugs and bondage and do so in an enjoyable and safe way, but these individuals are probably very experienced with bondage and with drugs.

If you are new to bondage, we recommend being completely sober during your play to understand what you like and don’t like and what might trigger a bad feeling or panic.

Get and Give Consent

To consent to something means that you fully agree to or give permission for something to happen.

When you agree to an activity, you are giving your consent for that activity to take place. For any kind of sexual activity, including bondage, to move forward, consent is essential from both partners.

A no is a definite no.

A maybe is a no.

A yes can be a yes, but we’re with the sex advocates and people in the BDSM world who recommend obtaining  “enthusiastic consent,” meaning an emphatic yes. A person needs to give a full and enthusiastic YES! for anything to move forward.

Enthusiastic Consent, That Is

Why enthusiastic consent? Particularly if you’re a woman, you may have been conditioned over the course of your life to agree to do things sexually that you don’t really want to do just to please your partner.

Bondage for Beginners - Negotiation 101

As the partner who is seeking consent, you want to be 100 percent sure the other person is agreeing because they really want to be tied up, spanked, blindfolded, what have you.

If your partner wants to bring bondage to the bedroom and you are uncomfortable with the idea but tempted to agree to please them, don’t! Yes, we did say that pleasing your partner can be a turn on, but only if you are game. Bondage, and really any sexual activity, should happen only if both partners are comfortable and enthusiastic.

Once again, if you or your lover are intoxicated, it is difficult to get full consent. You or your partner may be having a blackout and not fully coherent and able to make sound decisions. By definition, it is impossible to gain consent from an unconscious person.

Never Leave the Restrained Person Alone

If you’ve restrained your partner to the point where they can’t move or free themselves, you should never leave them alone. They could panic, and if you’re not around to hear their safe word and release them, their panic could cause them to try to free themselves which could result in injury.

If your partner wants to include abandonment in their bondage play and role play because they’re turned on by the idea of being left alone, it is possible to create that illusion, but with safeguards in place.

Install a set of baby monitors so the abandoned partner can cry out to you in the other room. Perhaps you can hide in the room, or go to an adjoining room where they can still hear the partner. You can get creative with your role playing and still play it safe.

Never leave a person alone and leave the house or building. If something happens to you along the way, your partner will be tied up with no way to access help.

Be Prepared to Set Them Free Quickly

Always be prepared to quickly remove the restraint, whether your lover begins to feel uncomfortable pain or they experience a panic attack.

Panic—a sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety which may lead to similarly uncontrolled behavior—happens. Sometimes a tied-up partner, who enthusiastically consented to being restrained and is even very turned on by being turned on, has a moment of panic.

When a person panics, it usually means they want out now, not in 15 minutes when you’ve finished untying them from an elaborate restraint and rope contraption.

Be sure to keep on hand some surgical scissors, shears, and bolt cutters if you’re using chains. Releasing a panicking partner as quickly as possible will help prevent pain and injury they could incur from jerking and writhing to get free.

Educate Yourself

To safely play with your lover, you also need to educate yourself about what you’re doing, especially if you are using more elaborate restraints than a scarf or necktie.

For example, if you want to use rope to tie up your partner’s arms and legs and slowly tease them to orgasm, learn what knots work best for what positions and learn how to tie them and untie them.

Bondage Lover’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

As a participant in bondage, you have certain rights and responsibilities.

Your rights:

  • You have the right to not consent to activities you don’t want to do.
  • You have the right to communicate your needs and desires.
  • You have the right to stop the play and be released at any time for any reason.
  • You have the right to change your mind.

Your responsibilities:

  • You have the responsibility to never engage in activities your partner doesn’t consent to.
  • You have the responsibility to be honest with your partner and communicate exactly what you need and want.
  • You have the responsibility to stop when your partner says their safe word.
  • You have the responsibility to respect your partner’s wishes and desires.
  • You have the responsibility to inform and educate yourself about what you’re doing.

Introducing Bondage Into Sex Life

If you’ve never done bondage with your lover, the worst thing you can do is launch right into it, without consent or discussing the parameters of the play.

The best thing  you can do is to follow our beginner bondage tips for introducing bondage into your sex life.

Embrace Your Fantasies

The first step to introducing bondage into your sex life is to come to terms with and embrace your own fantasies.

[T]he realization that our fantasies could become realities is the scariest thing of all.
—Jillian Keenan

If you fantasize about bondage or BDSM, what exactly turns you on? Are you the top in your fantasies, or the bottom? Do you think about spanking? What kinds of restraints do you think about?

You need to first identify your desires in order to be able to clearly communicate those desires to your partner.

Introducing bondage without having a clear idea of what that means, looks like or feels like can be frustrating for your partner.

Cultivate Trust in Your Relationship

Trust is important to maintain well before bringing bondage to the bedroom or even talking about it.

Bondage flirts with restraining freedom, having power over someone, and sometimes giving or receiving pain. These are things we usually try to avoid in real life.

But we can derive pleasure out of bondage play because we feel safe and secure that nothing bad will really happen.

A little fear is fun because it gets your adrenaline going, but only to the limits you set. If your lover takes you further than those limits, it’s not fun anymore.

Healthy bondage play is built on trust that your partner will stick to those limits, honor your safe word, and the terms and conditions you both negotiated ahead of time.

People in long-term relationships often have built-in trust from years of being together and navigating life as a team. This is why bondage can be such a wonderful form of sex play to introduce to a long term partnership: you already know each other so well.

If you are in a new relationship, you can build and cultivate trust by communicating openly with your lover and listening.

Start simple and slowly and add to your bondage repertoire as you become more and more familiar with your partner.

Negotiation: Let’s Talk About Bondage, Baby

We understand, it’s hard to communicate what you want sexually, especially if it involves something like bondage. After all, none of us have ever learned to use our words to say we want to be tied up or spanked.

Get over the hurdle and tell your partner about your fantasies. The first word you utter launches what’s called a negotiation.

Bondage Basics - Negotiation

Negotiating bondage is similar to discussing safe sex. Just do it

Negotiation is the process of agreeing with our partner what you both want to and are willing to do, and setting limits to what you don’t want to or are unwilling to do.

Here are some tips for initiating the bondage conversation:

  • DON’T bring up bondage when you and your lover are arguing about sex. The situation is too charged, and you could trigger a negative response.
  • DON’T bring up bondage right after sex, either. Again, emotions are high and “I want to try something different” can be interpreted as “That wasn’t enough for me.”
  • DO start slowly. You don’t have to share every single fantasy with your lover that you’ve ever had, down to reenacting the gimp scene in Pulp Fiction. Start by suggesting something simple involving minimal to no equipment. Perhaps something like “I love the idea of tying you up before we have sex. Is that something you would be into?”
  • DO listen to your lover’s fantasies, too. This is a time to share and get to know each other on a deeper level.
  • DO have an open mind when listening, and DON’T judge. Just as you expect your partner to not judge you for your wild fantasies, don’t judge them for things they share that you’re not expecting.
  • DON’T assume you and your partner are on the same page about things. Everyone has different definitions of sex, play, pain, and boundaries. The term bondage can have wildly different interpretations. What does a spank mean to your partner—a hard slap or a light swat? People’s thresholds for pain and sensation can be very different.
  • DO (try to) be GGG, i.e. Good, Giving, and Game, a term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage that means “good in bed, giving equal time and pleasure, and game for anything—within reason.” Does this mean you should consent to activities you don’t want to do? No. It means you should strive to be the best lover you can be and open to trying new things, and expect this of your partner as well.

Once you start talking with your lover about bondage, and describing the things you want to do, you may find that you get turned on just by having the conversation. Maybe the talking is enough to spice up your sex life, though we suggest getting real with some rope or restraints because it’s really a lot of fun.

For now let’s assume the best possible scenario: you tell your partner about you bondage fantasies and they enthusiastically agree to try out some of them in the bedroom.

Yay!

Setting Limits

In addition to discussing what you do want to do, go over the things you do not want to do. Discussing your personal limits and boundaries ahead of time is a necessary part of the negotiation.

Setting limits will help things go more smoothly once the action begins. It can be annoying to have to stop the play every time your partner crosses your limits, so you can help the flow of your fun by talking about some of your limits ahead of time.

Ask yourself what you are totally unwilling to do. Are you ok with being tied up? All of your body or just hands? Do you want it tight, or loose so you can break free if you really want to? Do you want to experiment with pain play? Do you want to be spanked? How hard? Do you want to be the top? Are you comfortable with pegging your lover if he asks for it?

You get the idea. Again, start simple the first time you try something with your partner and build up from there and continue to have open and honest communication as you add to your bondage repertoire.

Safe Word

Establishing a safe word before going forward will help ensure that you both have a fun and sexy time without feeling unsafe. A safe word is a word that, when uttered, means stop. If you hear your lover say the safe word during your play, immediately stop what you are doing and check in with them.

A safe word is especially important if you plan to add a little pain to your play, such as cinching ropes, spanking, or paddling. You will want a way to distinguish cries of pain from a real, actual request to discontinue.

Safe Words in Role Playing

In a role-playing situation, a safe word allows partners to easily step out of the role and take a time-out.

For example, if, while role-playing a domestic discipline scene, you are spanking your consenting wife’s thighs while she is bound to a chair, her cries of “Oh, god, no, please stop” may be part of the scene and not a signal to stop, but to keep going.

Without a safe word, it may be difficult to know if these cries are part of the play, or a real request to stop. However, if you agree that her safe word is “Philadelphia” a word that is arbitrary and has nothing to do with the activity, you know to stop the spanking and the role playing and check in with her.

Safe Words While Gagged

If you plan to gag your lover or be gagged, establish a safe gesture or sound as you may not be able to speak or be clearly understood.

This is especially tricky if you or your partner is also bound, so talk about a safe gesture that you will both understand and watch for.

Some examples include making fists with your hands, grunting, or nodding your head back and forth a couple of times.

A safe word establishes a mid-action limit and is very important for feeling safe and secure during your bondage play, as well as having an immediate out if you get panicky and scared.

Types of Bondage

There are several types of bondage. Some, like Wikipedia editors, classify bondage by motivation type, others, like BDSM Wiki have a looser set of criteria. We’re somewhere in the middle, combining types of bondage depending on purpose and method.

Restraining Bondage

Some lovers like to be restrained simply for the feeling of being restrained.

You can restrict your lover’s movement, say with cuffs or rope, or constrain them, either in part (corset, straitjacket) or fully (mummification, latex body suit). The feeling of being constricted or the inability to move can have both a relaxing and stimulating effect.

Pain Bondage

Bondage techniques employed specifically to induce pain in the bottom.

Rope Bondage

Sounds self-explanatory, right? Using rope to restrain, tie up, or even suspend someone is an art, however. Shibari is a Japanese form of rope play that involves beautiful and intricate designs, sometimes across the entire body. Some love shibari for the pure sensation of having their whole body tied up in rope.

Anchor (or Hard) Point Bondage

When you tie your partner to a hard point like a brace or a bed post, it’s anchor point bondage.

Suspension Bondage

Bondage whereby you suspend your partner from a ceiling by way of ropes, harnesses, chains, or other means. An advanced technique, which we here at Bondage Is for Lovers only aspire to mastering.

Bondage Equipment

Bondage requires little by way of tools, at least at the outset of your adventures.

Hands and Household Items As Restraints

You can restrain your lover with your hands, say by having him sit on his hands, or holding her hands behind her back, or pinning his wrists down.

But, using your hands to restrain your lover ties up your hands too. So you’ll find you need a few things to use as restraints.

A lot of common household or wardrobe items can do. While scarves and pantyhose sound like good options, and they can come handy in a pinch, they tighten under strain and may be difficult to untie. A scarf or a bandana is best used as a makeshift blindfold. A tied necktie comes with a quickly adjustable knot and makes for a great restraint. A belt is useful for tying arms to the torso. Clear plastic wrap (cling or Saran wrap) can also be used to tie someone up.

Specialty Bondage Toys

We divide bondage toys into two categories: those that constrain or limit body movements and functions and those that entail or enable attaching body parts to other body parts or to external fixed points.

Body-constraining bondage toys include:

  • Chastity belt
  • Cock ring
  • Collar
  • Corset
  • Gag (ball, penis, ring)
  • Harness (head, breast/chest, leg/thigh, all-body)
  • Hood
  • Humbler
  • Muzzle
  • Nipple clamps
  • Speculum
  • Straitjacket

Restraining bondage toys include:

  • Arm binder
  • Bondage board
  • Bondage rope
  • Bondage tape
  • Chains
  • Cuffs (ankle, wrist)
  • Harness (head, breast/chest, leg/thigh, all-body)
  • Hogtie
  • Hook (nose, vaginal, anal)
  • Rope
  • Shackles
  • Spreader bar
  • Stocks
  • Under the bed restraints

…and many others. Check out our dedicated articles about each piece of bondage gear.

Learn more about types of restraints »

If you are just starting out and want to explore various kinds of bondage and other practices, instead of buying these toys individually, you may want to go with a beginner bondage kit. These kits usually include a pair of cuffs, a blindfold, a flogger, and a ball gag.

Caring for Your Bondage Toys

Bondage can involve bringing a variety of toys to bed, in addition to ropes and restraints. Another important part of safety is choosing sex toys that are made of safe materials, and properly caring for and cleaning your toys after use.

Read your toy’s manual, or check out some online articles.

Bondage Furniture

Bondage furniture is all furniture specifically designed for bondage play, including bondage beds, bondage (or spanking) benches or horses, slings, St. Andrew’s Cross, and so on. If you already have bondage furniture or are getting any specific piece of bondage furniture, you may no longer need Bondage Is for Lovers.

Beyond Bondage

Bondage, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned top, can be simply about restraint, or it could be about so much more. Beginners like to start with simple bondage techniques—maybe a little tying up, maybe a ball gag—and then add a la carte from a menu of practices bondage can lead to (though you don’t necessarily need to be restraint to do them). We’ve termed the kinds of bondage that form a foundation for other types of play purpose-driven or ulterior-motive bondage.

As with all bondage play, be sure to communicate with your partner and negotiate ahead of time your respective limits, safe word, and what you both hope to get out of this play.

And check out our dedicated articles about each practice.

Impact Play

Impact play entails striking your lover for sexual pleasure. Here we list a few most common types of impact play.

Spanking = striking your lover’s butt with your (s) a simple implement like a slapper or riding crop.

Learn more about spanking »

Paddling = striking your partner with a specialty paddle, sometimes called a spanking paddle.

Flogging = striking your partner with a flogger, which consists of strands of material like leather attached to a handle.

Caning = striking your lover with a cane.

Whipping = striking your partner with a whip.

Wax Play

Dripping hot wax on your lover’s body is a delicious way to incorporate sensation play in the bedroom.

Learn more about wax play »

Breath Play

Some people love the lightheaded feeling of being choked, or the submissive feeling of a dominant partner’s hands on their neck. The restriction of blood to the brain can pressure on the arteries has been known to increase the intensity of orgasm.

Choking and breath play is considered a type of edge play and can be very dangerous. If you are inexperienced, apply very light pressure, enough for the sensation but not so much your partner can’t talk. Never play with choking or asphyxiation alone. If you want to go further with choking, make sure your partner knows CPR and do it at your own risk.

Anal Play

Another type of play bondage can intensify is anal play. To be sure, anal pleasure is an option without bondage as well. But the power-exchange aspect of bondage puts an exciting twist on anal play. Simply put, owning your lover’s ass is better with bondage.

Learn more about prostate massage »

Bondage and Privacy

Like any kind of sexual activity, bondage is an private act between you and your partner. It’s no one’s business but yours.

However, given the nature of bondage and how it is practiced, you may want to think about ways to retain privacy. Bondage can be loud, it can involve equipment, and it can leave marks on your or your partner’s body. It can be messy, too.

To avoid strange looks from your neighbors or house guests, misplaced medical concern from your healthcare providers, or even unwanted visits from law enforcement, be aware of the consequences and side effects of your bondage play.

Noise

Regular vanilla sex can surely be noisy (and isn’t it fun when it is) but bondage involves more than just orgasmic or pleasure noises.

Your play could involve screaming or insults. It could involve spanking or slapping. All of which make noise that goes beyond what you might her during regular sex. Without understanding that what’s going on in your bedroom is consensual, your neighbors could freak out and think someone’s being abused.

Music, TV noise, or white noise machines can help drown out sounds. Turn on a sexy movie in the background and maybe the sounds of lovemaking will turn you on even more.

If you own your own home you could invest in a little soundproofing. Or, if you live close to other people in an apartment building or crowded neighborhood, just be conscious of your volume and respectful of other people in the early morning and late night.

Marks on Body

This can be a bit awkward.

Say your partner tied your wrists to the bedpost while you were doggy style and slapped your ass with a paddle while he fucked you from behind.

Felt great, right? But you forgot you had a doctor’s appointment the next day, and now you’re sitting in the exam room with marks on your wrists and moving as though, well, someone beat your ass all night. This could all look really bad to the doctor and look like the warning signs of abuse.

How you handle situations where people notice marks on your body or the after-effects of your bondage play is up to you. You can always explain to your doctors or co-workers that you just like a little bondage in the bedroom and they should not be concerned.

But if you’re like us, you want to keep it pretty private because, in this information age, you never know who that news will travel to.

Avoiding inquiries and misplaced concerns means thinking ahead of time about what restraints and the type of material you use, and how restraints and other play might show up on your body.

Kids, Guests, Parties, and House Sitters

You’ve gone out and purchased a bunch of bondage gear, and you’re having tons of fun tying up your partner, getting tied up, pegging, paddling, and role playing. You’ve tried ropes, chains, restraints, harnesses, and now you’ve amassed quite a collection of toys.

Now you’re having guests or a party and the bedroom serves as a cloak room, or people simple wander in there. Or it’s time for a vacation and your friend is coming to house-sit.

In lieu of leaving your bondage gear in a pile in the closet where curious house guests and visitors can find it, our suggestion is to store your gear in some kind of locked box, chest, or suitcase.

Does this sound a little paranoid? Maybe, but if you have kids, we highly suggest it. You want to think your kids won’t snoop around in your room, but they do or they will. Put the ball gag in a locked receptacle or be prepared to answer some very awkward questions.

Travel

Headed to Costa Rica for a romantic vacation with your partner and looking forward to tying her up and spanking her in your beach side bungalow? You probably don’t want to have to buy all new bondage gear when you arrive, not to mention try to find adults stores in unfamiliar countries.

However, you also don’t want TSA rifling through your private collection and getting greasy fingerprints all over your beautiful new leather whip. There’s also the possibility that gear like whips, chains, riding crops, or spreader bars will look like weapons to security staff.

Many cuffs and collars look like fashion accessories, and are probably fairly safe to take in carry-on luggage. Rope is a fairly common item for travelers as many backpackers use it for clothesline. When in doubt, but bondage gear in your check-in luggage where it’s less likely to be scrutinized.

Be very wary of taking bondage gear or sex toys to some countries with non-secular, religiously conservative governments, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, or even Turkey these days.

Online Privacy

If you are sharing your computer with other users and love to browse bondage sites or shop for bondage equipment online, you might not want them to know that you’re doing so (we strongly recommend not doing so at work or your public library).

The solution is simple: always use your browser’s private or incognito mode, with the no-tracking feature turned on.

Bondage Privacy - Firefox Private Browsing

The Private Browsing mode in Firefox has a delightful color scheme and mask icon.

If you shop for bondage gear on Amazon, make sure you don’t share your log in with anyone you don’t want to view your browsing or purchase history (and don’t forget the list of items suggested/recommended based on your browsing or purchases) or to see the bondage items in your Wish List.

Bondage Coda: Aftercare

No matter what your role in a bondage experience and what happens, a bondage play session transports you and your partner to an elevated, euphoric state of mind, a sort of high brought on by a rush of endorphins, dopamine, and adrenaline.

After the scene ends, the high subsides, with the good hormones crashing, and a different, “downer” set of hormones kick in. This is called drop; in the vanilla world you may have heard of it referred to as the post-orgasmic chill.

Returning to normal is the time for aftercare.

An aspect of bondage safety, aftercare entails providing physical and emotional support and nurturing to your partner through the coming-down period following bondage play.

Once again, communication is key.

Wanna Talk About It? Absolutely

You should discuss aftercare before bondage play, during negotiation, though some aspects of it will come up as you go.

Talking about the concluded play—debriefing, so to speak—allows you and your partner to reflect on the experience, discuss what worked and what did not, and thus start preparing for the next play.

Take Care of the Body

The first order of aftercare business is slowly removing any restraints and tending to any sore spots that the bottom may have endured during play.

Because the heat of the bondage play moment is, quite literally gone, your bodily temperature will drop, so it is important to cover up with a sheet or a blanket.

Replenish liquids with water and eat something sweet to balance out the blood sugars (we prefer medium-dark chocolate).

Other physical elements of aftercare include gentle stroking, embracing, cuddling, or spooning with your partner. A body rub with warm massage oil is also excellent. Typically, the top comforts the bottom, which is especially important if pain was part of the play.

Be careful not to touch the areas of your partner’s skin sensitive to touch, including those that were roped up or flogged.

Emotional Support

Following more intense power exchange play, emotional support is a must for both partners, though especially for the bottom.

From soothing noises and coos to words of appreciation to soft questions about the partner’s experience, aural and verbal aftercare helps lead your partner out of the bondage head space back into the everyday.

Long-Term Aftercare

Aftercare extends beyond the immediate aftermath of play. Intense bondage experiences, extending into the domination/submission and sadism/masochism play, require a longer aftercare period, sometimes stretching into hours or even days.

Simply being there for your partner, listening to them with an open mind and nonjudgmental understanding, will go a long way to mutually satisfying bondage experiences. Never leave your partner to their own devices until aftercare has concluded and you are both in a solid head space, recovered from the bondage session.

Aftercare is an indelible and responsible part of bondage. It enhances intimacy and trust between you and your partner; it shows you care for them, value them, and appreciate them; and it makes for a superior bondage experience.

Bondage for Beginners: The End Is the Beginning

That’s all we know about bondage basics. There’s so much more to say, of course, but we’ll leave it to our dedicated articles, many of which we’ve linked to throughout this article.

Restrain and Enjoy!