Guest written by Rain Andersen (@wearenotfriends_), a marketing and e-commerce coordinator for Lovers. Rain is a retired sex worker, pleasure advocate, and sexual wellness expert. Rain has worked in the adult entertainment industry for eight years and in the adult retail industry for four years.
- The ‘B’ in BDSM: Why People Love to Be Tied Up
- Choosing a Restraint System for Your Lifestyle
- A Guide to Common Restraint Systems
- Bondage Safety Precautions
When you think about the acronym BDSM, what comes to mind? For many people, this term inspires a whole catalog of kinky sounds, images, and sensations. Now let’s inspect these fantasies on a more granular level: what do they have in common? Kink and BDSM activities may splinter off into their own niche categories, but their roots can be traced back to one, singular theme. Power imbalance is at the core of any BDSM activity, helping us to define and negotiate the roles we play during sex. In the BDSM Community, we refer to this dynamic as Dominance and Submission (see: switch). By using a structure of Dominance and Submission, we can create satisfying and rewarding bonds with our partners that are fueled by an increase in communication, vulnerability, and ownership.
Restraints are a popular tool for power dynamic scenes because they demand a shift in responsibility. The wearer, who is immobile, relies on their partner to provide the bulk of the work. The giver, in turn, ensures that their partner is in a safe from harm. These clear-cut responsibilities help us to lean into pleasure and discomfort, adding complexity to our experiences, and offering us escape from our everyday lives. Our article on BDSM Orgasms explores this concept, expanding on the ways that pain and power dynamics can translate to pleasure. A 2019 study on the biopsychosocial perspective of BDSM confirms this, through observation of the physiological traits and personalities of people who practiced BDSM. They found that there was several, overlapping characteristics that were indicative of an interest in BDSM including the neurologic constitution of the brains pain and reward systems. We are still learning so much about the ways we experience and seek out pleasure, so while this may resonate with some of you, it’s not exclusive. For some people, restraints offer the permission to give into pleasure- a pure pleasure that is not performative or obligated in nature.
Before selecting a pair of restraints, take a moment to define how your restraint system will be used. The more you resist against your restraints, the more likely they are to snap. As you shop, you can look to the durability, comfort, and aesthetic of each restraint to determine what compliments your sexual interests and goals. Restraints made from leather, metal, and neoprene are designed to withstand resistance and add weight to the body’s connecting points (e.g., wrists & ankles). These materials offer durability and strength, ideal for repeat use. Keep in mind that restraints made from stiffer materials can bruise or cut the skin if pulled against over an extended period of time. You can prevent discomfort by purchasing restraint systems with a soft, inner lining. Fur and shearling are popular materials for protecting the skin from external damage.
Vegan leather, rubber, and fabric restraints offer an affordable alternative to these more rigid restraint styles, but are not intended to withstand much resistance. An enthusiastic partner can easily strain or break these styles of restraints, designed to restrict movement- not resist it. The material of your restraints and its closing mechanism help us to gauge the level of mobility that you or your partner have. Buckled restraints and D-rings that require threading offer the greatest level of reinforcement. Velcro restraints or U-bolts provide an equal level of restriction but are easier to remove. Use this information to determine what restraint system will best support the activities you have planned, considering the comfort and experience level of the wearer.
Cuffs: Handcuffs and Ankle cuffs are a popular style of restraint, designed to restrict movement of the limbs. Cuffs can be added to one or more appendages to increase or decrease the level of restriction, making them a popular choice for beginners. Individuals that pull away from sensation as it builds will love using cuffs because they limit our ability to reject or escape stimulation.
Hog Ties: A hogtie is an X-shaped restraint system designed to secure the hands and feet of a person. Hog tie’s compromise the mobility of the wearer by drawing the knees up closer to the body. Most hog ties are sold with a set of removeable wrist and ankle cuffs. By removing the cuffs from this restraint, users can adapt the experience of the wearer. Attaching a lead to the ankle connectors for example, creates a unique scenario that allows people to guide their partners movements around the room.
Spreader Bars: A spreader bar is a bondage device used to expose and, in some cases, humiliate the wearer. Spreader bars are made from metal, wood, or fabric. When attached to the wrists, a spreader bar can help to open up the chest and shoulders, leaving bust and torso exposed. When attached to the ankles, a spreader bar can be used to open up and expose the genitals allowing for deeper penetration.
Bed Restraints: Turn your bedroom into a private sex dungeon with a set of Under the Bed Restraints. Easy to configure on any mattress, this restraint system is designed to restrict movement of the arms and legs. Expose all your partners sweet spots by using four different connector points, or offer a fraction of mobility by leaving their legs or arms free.
Ladders: A ladder is a restraint system designed to bring the wrists closer to the neck. As the wearer shifts more weight to their wrists, the collar begins to tug, adding gentle pressure to the throat. You can intensify this sensation by letting the ladder travel up the spine, as opposed to the chest.
Body Harnesses & Leads: Harnesses and collars are designed to be worn around the body or neck. Worn alone, they add dimension and texture to any look. When paired with a set of handcuffs or leash, they take on a much more practical purpose. Use the metal o-rings and d-rings on your harness to affix your favorite sexcessories to. Once attached, your partner can guide you around the room, pamper you with attention, or tease you.
Thigh Slings: A thigh sling is a style of restraint designed to expose and provide access to the genitals. This comfortable and erotic looking restraint will keep the wearers hands at their side, restricting movement of the arms and shoulders.
Shibari: Shibari is a style of bondage popularized in Japan that involves tying rope around a person’s body in a specific pattern. Shibari offers people the opportunity to control the amount of pressure, restriction, and sensation a person experiences. Many people enjoy practicing the art of Shibari because of its visual and aesthetic components. You can learn some of the most popular Shibari ties on websites like The Dutchy, Rope Sensei, and Shibari Academy.
Never leave a restrained partner unattended.
As you continue to explore the world of BDSM, you’ll want to think about the precautions you can take to ensure the most memorable experiences. In the BDSM Community, ensuring a safe, sane, sober, and consensual bondage scene is key to mutual enjoyment. Staying informed and setting safewords will ensure that you and your partner have laid the foundation for success. Below, you can find a glossary of BDSM terminology that will help you to navigate safe and rewarding bondage scenes from start to finish.
Always keep safety equipment nearby, should a problem arise.
SSSC: SSSC stands for safe, sane, sober, and consensual. This acronym acts as a checklist for basic BDSM safety, ensuring that your activity is safe, that you understand your physical limitations, that you can make an informed decision to participate, and that you enthusiastically consent.
Aftercare: Aftercare refers to the act of checking in with your partner after the activity has ended. Aftercare takes place immediately following the activity, and can extend into the coming days and months to ensure that the participants are still feeling positive about the experience. We believe that Aftercare is a powerful communication tool that can benefit any sexual experience.
(See: Sub Drop, Dom Drop)
Safeword: A safeword is prearranged word, signal, or movement that signifies the end of an activity. Because BDSM scene may incorporate elements of roleplay or pre-negotiated denial, safewords help to create a distinction between fantasy and reality.
Ask, Don’t Assume.
Pressure Point: A pressure point refers to an area of the body that is sensitive to pressure. Always be aware of the bodies pressure points when placing restraints. Some restraints, such as rope, will slip or tighten on themselves- a potentially dangerous situation. Make sure to tie off your knots, and loosen them regularly to ensure that the body still has plenty of circulation.
Sub Space: Sub space refers to the cognitive state of a submissive during a BDSM scene, typically at its peak. Often compared to a runners high or walking on air, many submissive report symptoms such as loss of coordination, loss of time, a higher tolerance to pain, reduced mental clarity, and difficulty with word retrieval. Subspace can be a result of a spike in hormones during stimulation.
Not too tight! Place one finger between the skin and restraints to ensure good circulation.
Sub Drop: Sub drop refers to the mental and physical crash that can occur following a BDSM scene. Sub Drop is a product of the sudden decrease in hormones following an intense BDSM scene. Sub Drop can last for a few hours to several weeks.
(See: Sub Space)
Top Drop: Top Drop refers to the cognitive-state of the dominant participate of a BDSM scene, after the scene has commenced. Dominants describe Top Drop as provoking feelings of guilt and/or depression regarding their actions in a scene.