Last update Wed Mar 27, 2013

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(This page is written to address BDSM for nice guys; there's an
introduction to BDSM for good girls on the Web here.)

So you're a nice guy. You think that people should be treated with respect and courtesy; you find violence, particularly violence against women, reprehensible; you would never, under any circumstances, raise your hand in anger against someone you love. And now your partner is asking you to tie her up, or call her names, or spank her, or maybe even "rape" her. All this goes against everything you believe. What do you do?

For starters, it's not what you think.

The first thing to do is to understand, deep down inside, that it's possible to do these things and still be a good person. While some of these things may superficially resemble abuse, there's an important difference; unlike an abuser, you are doing these things because you both enjoy them, and you're doing them in a way that is safe, consensual, and respectful of her limits and desires.

One way to think about it is that you're playing a role. A person who plays a villain on TV is not actually a villain; and if you and your partner play out roles for your mutual enjoyment, it doesn't mean you're being abusive. You and your partner can play out roles in which you are harsh and demanding and she is your sex slave, and this does not mean that you actually believe women should be subordinate to men.

But I was always taught to treat women with respect!

There is nothing wrong or disrespectful about treating people the way they want to be treated.

Even if the way they want to be treated is not what you're accustomed to.

Not everyone has the same desires, wants, or needs. Treating your partner with respect means treating your partner the way she wants to be treated--even if that means she wants you to treat her like a dirty little minx sometimes. Seriously--if your partner is approaching you with the idea of exploring BDSM, then most likely, there is some part of her which responds very strongly to filling that role.

There is not one "right" way to behave that applies to all people all the time. If something adds pleasure to your life and to your partner's life, then it's not a bad thing, even if it is unconventional. And there's certainly no crime in taking pleasure from bringing your partner pleasure!

There is no rule which says that nice guys can't be adventurous. No law says that nice guys never fuck their girlfriends in the ass or tell their girlfriends to strip and masturbate in front of them. It's about learning what you like, learning what she likes, and creating a scene that brings you both pleasure; being a nice guy means being willing to explore avenues that bring joy to your partner's life!



What kind of guy enjoys doing these things?

The kind of guy who enjoys exploring with his partner and pleasing his partner, of course!

More than that, though; by exploring your fantasies and your partner's fantasies, you create a deep intimacy that's hard to beat. This kind of exploration, and sharing of fantasies and sexual feelings, helps form a bond of intimacy and trust that's at once more romantic and more passionate than you may believe.

And the pleasure to be gained simply from seeing your partner eager to service you and submit to your desires shouldn't be discounted, either...

To do this, though, you may need to unlearn some things about what "nice guys" do and feel. "Nice guy syndrome" can sometimes prevent you from being able to really focus on your partner, and see what she wants; you may see social proconceptions of who "women are" or what "women want" instead. Women are individuals; focus on what the woman you're with wants rather than what "women want."

In extreme cases, "nice guy syndrome" can make you feel uncomfortable seeing your partner as a sexual being at all. But human beings are sexual beings, and it's hard to imagine anyone who doesn't want to be seen as sexually attractive by her mate; seeing your partner in a sexual light is not only healthy, it's an important part of any sexual relationship!

I don't even know where to begin with this stuff...

As with most things, you begin simply. Sex in general and BDSM in particular are learned skills; like all learned skills, you learn by doing. Start slow, learn what you and your partner like and don't like, and elaborate on the things you learn as you go along.

The best way to get started exploring BDSM is by talking to your partner. Discuss your fantasies and her fantasies; don't worry about whether or not those fantasies are things you would really explore or not, or even if they're things that are plausible or feasible. You're just talking about the things that turn you on, no matter how outlandish or how kinky they may be. Don't be timid, embarrassed, or ashamed, even of fantasies that seem extreme or frightening; these are fantasies, after all, not reality. Even extreme fantasies that you would never consider doing in real life can provide ideas or suggestions about places to explore, or things that turn you on!

Let's say, for example, that your partner has fantasies about being tied up and molested. You can start to explore by trying some light bondage or restraint; no need to go all-out, just start by holding her down or tying her arms with ordinary rope. If things go well, you may discover that you want to go farther next time, or you may come up with new ideas to try. And who knows? You may just find that it really turns you on...

At this point, it's probably worthwhile to discuss a few general guidelines as you start exploring this stuff. Some things to remember:

- Don't feel that you have to try everything all at once. Don't do too much, too fast. You have plenty of time! You're exploring what turns you on, what turns your partner on, and what you can create together; it's far better to end a scene thinking you could have gone farther than ending a scene thinking you've gone too far!

- Talk to your partner after you're done, espeically when you've tried something new. Spend some time talking about how you felt, how she felt, what turned you on, and what things you might want to explore later. Remember, whenever you try anything new, you will sometimes find things that you or your partner respond to in ways you didn't expect. You may even find that something you thought you'd like, or something she thought she'd like, triggers a negative reaction that you didn't anticipate. There's nothing wrong with that; you're exploring. By definition, when you explore, you don't always know what you'll find! If you discover something that you don't like, or that didn't go the way you expected, it's okay; you've learned from it, and now you have greater knowledge about how to please yourself and your partner.

- There's nothing wrong with taking pleasure from dominating your partner. If you find that you respond to taking charge in the bedroom, and your partner responds to being dominated, great! You're both happy; enjoy yourselves! Besides, it's much more fun to submit to a person who enjoys being dominant. It works both ways; you can take pleasure from pleasing your partner, and she can take pleasure from pleasing you.

- The greatest asset you have is a sense of self-confidence. It doesn't matter if you don't think you know what you're doing, or if things don't always go the way you wanted them to; it doesn't matter if you're uncertain about something you're trying. All this is normal. What does matter is that you project an air of confidence and control; just this alone can get you through a number of problems. You forget something? Something not working right? Smile and keep going anyway; chances are, she'll never even notice. Remember, you're playing a role; project confidence even if you don't feel it, and you'll do okay.

- Keep your eyes open and your common sense sharp. The best single safety tool you have is your common sense. Watch for problems; don't leave someone tied up unattended, don't try devices or gadgets on your partner if you don't have a sense of how they feel yourself.

But she wants me to spank her! I don't want to hurt her!

Ah, that's a bit tricky. Things are not always what they seem; there's a big difference between erotic pain and ordinary, garden-variety pain. The experience of pain in an erotic context, for someone who's wired that way, is nothing like what you may imagine; it's an incredible rush, that adds a powerful spice to sexual pleasure. Think of it like spice in chili; you might not like taking a bite out of a hot pepper, but in the right amount, it makes the chili a whole lot better...

Even things that look extreme, such as flogging or whipping, can be deceptive. These things don't feel like you imagine they do, and in the right environment with the right warmup, they're wonderful. And once your partner's endorphins, the natural painkilling chemicals produced in the brain, get going, it's the most intense, delightful high you can ever believe.

Of course, pain play is something you want to explore slowly. You don't jump right into it; it takes time and practice to learn where your partner's limits are, and how your partner responds to things like spanking. But don't be so afraid of anything that looks painful--your partner is less fragile than you might think, and in the right setting, pain is both a powerful aphrodesiac and a tremendously pleasureable high. Pay attention, go slow, and you're not going to hurt her. As with many aspects of BDSM, pain is not always what it seems...

If you are worried about hurting your partner for real in a not-fun kind of way, it's easy with a little practice to calm that fear. It's really just question of paying close attention to your partner, noticing the way that she responds, and keeping communication open. When you start out, ask for feedback. Pay attention to what you're doing, and pay attention to how she responds. As you get to know what your partner likes, you'll find that you learn to gauge what you're doing and you learn how much is too much, and how much is "just right."

You can get a bit of my own perspective on pain play, if you'd like, here.

She wants me to boss her around! Men aren't supposed to do that to women.

Men aren't supposed to do that to women non-consensually. Men aren't supposed to assume that they can automatically tell women what to do and expect women to hop to it; that's chauvanistic.

It's not the same, though, when your partner wants you to tell her what to do. In the context of a mutual D/s relationship, it's not chauvanism; it's something you both do because it's fun and enjoyable for both of you.

Sometimes, it's a lot of fun to have your partner say "Okay, I want you to strip and lie down with your legs spread," or whatever. It's fun to surrender to your partner and let your partner call the shots, as long as you both understand that you're doing it because it's a fun way to mix things up in the bedroom rather than because it's something that all women should always do for all men. Remember, if you were to start bossing around every woman you meet, that would be disrespectful; not all women want to be bossed around, after all. But if your partner wants you to boss her around because it's fun, then thre's nothing disrespectful about it; respect is in asking people what they want, and then doing the things that bring them pleasure and bring you closer together.

Whenever you let ideas about what men are "supposed" to do, you run into trouble. The problem with thinking that men are "supposed" to not be in control is the same as the problem with thinking that men are "supposed" to always be in control--it ignores that different women have different tastes and different desires. If there's anything that men and women are truly "supposed" to do, I think it's this: Men and women are supposed to recognize that not everyone is the same, and work together to recognize those differences and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be happy.

What if she wants me to call her names and humiliate her? That's not respectful!

Humiliation play, like pain play, is another of those things that's not what it looks like from the outside. In a sense, it's the emotional equivalent of pain play; and like pain play, it's all about context. In the right setting, under the right circumstance, with the right person, it can for some people be an intense, white-hot turn-on; and as with much of BDSM play, it's helpful to think about it as playing a role.

Remember, this is something you do because it's something your partner wants. You can, during a BDSM scene, call your partner a dirty, filthy whore, and it doesn't mean that's really how you see her; you're in a role, and you're doing it because it's a turn-on. Outside of that role, you may think your lover is the most exquisite woman ever to walk the face of the earth; the things you do during a scene are not the whole of how you see her in your ordinary, day-to-day life!

And there's nothing wrong with enjoying erotic humiliation, if your partner enjoys it. It doesn't make you a bad person; it doesn't mean you want to degrade women; it means you take pleasure in creating an environment that's arousing and exciting.

This kind of play may seem silly, or awkward, or both, when you first start experimenting with it. You may find it's difficult to say and do things which humiliate your partner, and it might feel forced or contrived. That's a normal part of playing any unfamiliar role. This sort of play, like any skill, becomes easier and more natural with practice.

Don't worry about it becoming something that changes the way you think about women in the real world; like pain play, humiliation play is contextual both for your partner and for you. It's not going to suddenly make you into an insensitive clod. The difference in mindset between exploring humiliation play with a lover and actually believing that women deserve to be degraded is as great as the difference between playing a hit man in a movie and actually being a hit man.

But I still don't know what to do!

The best way to begin is to talk to your partner, and ask her what she might like to try. Here are some ideas to start with:

- If you want to explore bondage, the easiest way to do this is with plain old cotton or nylon rope. Nylon stockings and silk scarves can cause problems, because they tend to bunch and be difficult to untie. You can tie your partner to the bed, to a chair, or simply bind her hands behind her back. Once you have her bound, you can go in a number of different directions. For example, you can kneel over her and tell her to service you with her mouth, or you can penetrate her and have sex with her. Or, you might try sensation play, running your hands or ice cubes or soft cloth or things like that over her body. Blindfolding her can make these sensations more intense. You can add a little bit of light pain play to the mix by pinching, pulling, or twisting her nipples, running your fingernails over her skin, and thinngs like that. Biting her, teasing her with tongue or fingers, and that sort of thing can be a lot of fun too.

- For introductory pain play, spanking, pinching, and biting can be good ways to begin. You might bend her over your lap, or--for a bit more fun--tie her down bent over the bed. You can combine this with roleplaying if you like; perhaps she's a naughty student and you're the disciplining teacher, for example. You can spank her with your hands, a paddle, or even a wooden spoon. Start with light, rapid strokes, and gradually increase the force until you find her limit. Remember, if you start light and build up gradually, you can get those endorphins going, which is exciting and intoxicating!

- Humiliation play can be verbal, or can involve things you do to her, or things you order her to do, or some combination of all three. For example, you can order her to kneel in front of you and give you oral sex while you tell her she's a filthy slut, or you can order her to call herself a slut or beg for sex while you tease her with your fingers and tongue, or you can kneel over her as she lies on her back and tell her to stroke you in her hands until you ejaculate over her body.

- Give her instructions to do things that excite or arouse you. For example, if you enjoy watching her masturbate (and who doesn't?), tell her to touch herself while you watch. You can be as detailed as you want, instructing her how and where to touch herself, and how hard, and how fast, and in what way; you may even enjoy instructing her to moan and sigh as she does. Or, take a different approach. Take her out to dinner, but give her detailed instructions about what she is to wear. Have her wear something that makes her easily accessible--a skirt with no panties, for example. Throughout dinner, keep her aroused by dropping hints about how you can't wait to get her home, and how she's so sexy that you're planning to have your way with her; then, when you get home, bend her over, hoist up her skirt, and take her!

- Surprise her. Mix things up. If you're exploring dominance and submission, try calling her at work one day and telling her to remove her panties, or go into the restroom and touch herself. Or, send her a text message on her phone telling her that you have plans for her and you're going to tie her up when she gets home. If she's at home when you're at work, send her an email with a list of things to do to arouse herself so that she's in the proper state of mind when you get home. If you've been talking about trying something new, create a scene where you're doing something you've done before, then add it in! Or, buy a new toy without telling her, and introduce it into your scene.

- If you run out of ideas, try doing things you've done before, but in a new way or with a new element, or combined with other things you've done. If you enjoy watching her masturbate, try adding a blindfold and telling her to touch herself. Or, make her touch herself as she watches herself in a mirror. Or make her describe how she feels out loud as she masturbates. If you enjoy having her give you oral sex, try tying her hands behind her back and then having her kneel in front of you. The possibilities for combining even simple, basic ideas in novel ways are endless; by doing this, you can keep things new and exciting all the time.

Remember: You're doing this to have fun, to share yourself and your fantasies with your partner, to make your sexual lives more exciting and dynamic, and to increase your pleasure and your partner's pleasure. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Have fun! Experiment! Be creative! And above all, enjoy yourselves!


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