BDSM and Power Exchange

BDSM & Power Exchange Practicalities

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here.  Thanks for joining me for part 4 of this series on BDSM and Power Exchange.  Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

In parts 1-3 of this series we examined BDSM and power exchange from a number of angles.  This week, I look at the practicalities for getting started if BDSM and power exchange turn you on.

I will start with things everyone needs to consider whether partnered or un-partnered.  Then I will give specifics for singles.  I will follow this with specifics for couples.

Where to start?  You might want to grab something to write with and some paper now.

Some people believe they need to work out every detail before actually leaving the house.  Not only isn’t this a good idea but it isn’t possible.  You won’t know exactly what you will enjoy until you have begun to experiment.  I advise not to think in terms of NEVER or ALWAYS.  Even some hard limits may shift after some time.    However, it is a good idea to have an idea of your current limits, interests and desires.

Start with the shape of your relationship.  If you are single, decide if you are looking for one person or people to experiment with, or if you are looking for one relationship that will include BDSM as part of the relationship or more than one relationship (and if only one or more than one will include BDSM).  If you are partnered, are you going to involve anyone else in your exploration of BDSM and power exchange?

Next consider whether you are going to explore in public venues or in private on your own or both.  Many people enjoy going to public venues (like Torture Garden in London, UK) or private parties (which are still public as you are playing in the presence of other people) or at public events (like Weekend Reunion in New Jersey in the US every August or Master slave Conference which happens annually in the Washington DC area usually Labor Day weekend).  Some people prefer to experiment on their own at home and not to attend any events.   There are pros and cons to both.

Pros to going to events where there are other people present:

You can meet people who you might want to play with.

Events are a good place to connect with others who may share your interests and desires.  Meeting people in person is still the best way to figure out if you are compatible and also to get a sense of trustworthiness.  Most of us get gut feelings when we meet people and if we feel uncomfortable can walk away from any potential relationship right then.    Meeting people online can be useful but until you make contact face to face, you won’t truly know if there is any chance of things progressing.  Some events have only a few attendees and others have thousands.

You can meet people who you might wish to learn from.

Experienced people often attend public events and that gives newer people the opportunity to watch them and also to learn from them.  Sometimes you can get actual instruction and other times the opportunity to arrange a time to learn from them.    It is a good idea to get some hands on instruction to learn things like flogging, using a single tail whip or bullwhip, suspension bondage, needle play or any kind of edge play.  There are many other things where you can benefit from instruction.

You can enjoy watching others play.

Watching others play is really hot.  It gives you the opportunity to see a variety of activities which will help you to decide if that is something you might want to try.  Sometimes watching helps people to eliminate activities as well.

You can enjoy being watched by others.

Some people get really turned on by having others watching them.  Parties are great places to indulge in exhibitionism that doesn’t put you at risk of being caught and arrested.  (Or at least drastically lowers the risk)

You can socialise with people who share your interests.

Parties and events are great places to socialise with people who also enjoy BDSM and power exchange.  For people who are in the closet amongst most if not all of their family and friends, these spaces are the only places where they can truly be out and congruent with all parts of themselves visible.  Of course just because you enjoy BDSM doesn’t mean you will have lots of other things in common.

 

Cons of going to events where there are other people present:

You will be visible.

Events where there are other people mean that you will be visible.  If you are worried about running into people who may not approve of what you are doing, this could be a reason not to play in public.

Events cost money and can be expensive.

Most parties and events cost some money to cover the cost of the venue, safe sex supplies, dungeon furniture, event insurance and any refreshments.

You might not feel you fit in.

Some events have cliques.  Some events have very few LGBTQ people.  Others have few POC (people of colour).  The first event my husband and I attended we didn’t feel we fit in terribly well.  There were almost no POC present and there were no other interracial couples.

Sex during a scene may be off limits.  Look for sex positive events if you want to integrate penetrative sex into a scene.

Pros to experimenting alone

Things are completely private between you and your partner.  This can increase intimacy.

You can have full penetrative sex during your scene if you wish.

At many events, full nudity is prohibited and full penetrative sex is prohibited either for legal reasons or because it is a rule of the event.

Cons of experimenting in private only:

When things go wrong, there is no one to get advice from.

If you are new to all of this, it can be really helpful to have someone experienced around in case something doesn’t go to plan.

Now consider who is going to be in charge?  How do you want to shape your power exchange?

If you are single:

What role are you most drawn to?  Have you always wanted to call the shots and be in control?  If so, you may be dominant.  Would you love to be able to surrender to someone else for a change?  If so, you may be submissive.

Do you feel equally drawn to both roles or is your desire dependent upon who you are interested in playing with?  If so, you may be a switch.

If you are partnered:

Many couples fall into natural roles before they decide to experiment with power exchange.  These may be the roles they adopt when they start experimenting but they are not always.  Talk through who would like to be in control, who would like to surrender.  Consider service.  While some dominants enjoy service – they enjoy giving the submissive what will make them happy, many prefer to be served.     It may be that you both feel you could be in either role and enjoy it and then you can work out switching and talk about who will be in charge when.

Sometimes both partners feel strongly that they are dominant or that they are submissive.  When this is the case, they usually find they wish to look for someone else to take the other power role as in the last podcast when I spoke to Pharoah Khaf Re and Empress Nahara who are a dominant couple.

Next the activities you are interested in:

It is a good idea to make a list of all the things that turn you on and that you might want to try at some point.  When you have finished this list, it is a good idea to make a list of things you absolutely don’t want to try.  These are the things you may consider your hard limits.

If you are single, have this list to hand when you meet someone you might want to play with as you will refer to it as you negotiate.

Pick a few things that you would like to try first.  It’s a good idea to have the things you start with be entry level things.  For example, if you have never experienced any pain during sex and you are in the submissive role, don’t start with whipping with a bullwhip.    Instead, if pain appeals to you, start with a light flogging or light spanking.    Don’t forget service activities like giving a foot massage, bringing drinks and snacks and serving them to the person who is in the dominant role.  Ask the person who you think you want to play with what they like for service.

If you are partnered:

Set aside some time and share your lists with each other.  Be clear about hard limits first.   Then look at the things that you might want to try.  Consider entry level activities first: various types of service, if you are looking at using pain consider light spankings or light floggings.    Consider things that demonstrate that the dominant is in charge like binding the submissive’s hands or having the submissive kneel or sit at the dominant’s feet.

Both single and partnered need to consider if you are going to include sexual activities integrated in the BDSM and power exchange.  Some people do not at all though orgasm can occur as part of the power exchange activities (for example during a flogging).  Orgasm is often controlled by the dominant person and can be used as a reward for performing service or taking pain.  If you are going to include sexual activities, consider the context.  If you are not, consider when you will engage in sexual activities after the BDSM session.

Single and partnered:

Now you have done most of the pre-planning, the next step is planning.

If you have decided to attend a public event, pick the event and get in contact with the organisers.  It’s useful to request a list of rules and expectations and check the prices.

Pick out the clothing you will wear.  Most events have a dress code and this usually requires fetish clothing or all black clothing.  No jeans allowed.  In the next podcast I will cover resources for finding events, clothing and accessories.

If you are single:

Consider how you will deal with approaches from people who want to play with you.  Do you want to just observe the first time you go to an event?  If you decide you will play if asked, do you want to limit your activities to the event?

If you are playing with someone, make sure to arrange a safeword.  This is a word that stops the action when it is said.  If this new person does not want to use a safe word – walk away.  Lots of people choose not to use safe words but this is usually when they know people reasonably well so that they can read each other.

It is important to consider if you will leave the party with someone you meet or not. If you are going to do so, please tell someone you know where you are going and have them make a safe call to you .

A safe call is when you arrange for a friend to telephone you to make sure that you are safe.  You pick a phrase that will tell a friend that you are not safe and to call the police.  Make the phrase something that will sound normal in the course of a brief conversation.  For example, you could say ‘I am having a good time’ or ‘thanks for calling’.  Whatever you choose, make sure it isn’t something you are likely to say by accident if you are really excited and having a great time.  The last thing you need is the police showing up when nothing is wrong!    Make sure your phone is accessible and can be heard because if you don’t answer, your friend will send the police and there will be lots of embarrassing explaining.  You should arrange a safe call any time you are engaging in BDSM with someone you don’t know well.  Work out what you will do for after care.  After care is important as BDSM and power exchange sessions can touch off intense emotions.  Adrenalin can run high and after you pump out lots of it, you will have a physiological drop so it is important to plan for this.  Quiet cuddle time usually works well as after care.  But keep in mind that drop may not occur immediately so if you are feeing suddenly emotional 48 hours later, make time for each other or make time  to look after yourself.

If you are partnered:

Are you playing with anyone else?  What kind of scene do you want to engage in?  Will you bring any toys with you?  Talk about all of these things before heading to the event.  It is a good idea to have a safe word when you are a beginning player even if you are playing with a partner you know well because you haven’t engaged in this type of activity before you won’t necessarily be able to read them when it comes to BDSM.  Make sure you agree that you will leave when one of you wants to leave so that there is no argument during the evening.  Work out what you will do for after care.  After care is important as BDSM and power exchange sessions can touch off intense emotions.  Adrenalin can run high and after you pump out lots of it, you will have a physiological drop so it is important to plan for this.  Quiet cuddle time usually works well as after care.  But keep in mind that drop may not occur immediately so if you are feeing suddenly emotional 48 hours later, make time for each other or make time to look after yourself.

Building anticipation

In the lead up to the event, you may find that anticipation is building.  This is great when the event itself is all you hoped it would be.  If the event turns out to be bad or a drag, it can be an even bigger let down because of the built up anticipation.  At those times, remind yourself that this isn’t the only time you will try something and that you learn from everything you try.  Then see if you can find the things that are positive you can pull from the experience.

Thanks for joining me this week for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter @drbisbey.  For a free 30 minute strategy session with me, head over to https://the-intimacy-coach.com and click the button that says Schedule Now!  If you have enjoyed the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher and subscribe!  The top three reviews will receive a copy of my eBook A Consumer’s Guide to Online BDSM Resources.  I look forward to seeing you next week for part 5 of this series when we will cover resources so you can connect with other players, find events, find clothing, accessories and erotica.  I look forward to seeing you then.

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