10 fundamental guidelines to follow for a healthy and happy BDSM relationship 

BDSM guidelines for a health, happy relationship

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It’s easy to get bogged down in the complexities of BDSM as a beginner. But really, there are just a few simple guidelines to stick to and you’ll be golden.

You’ll notice none of these guidelines are about techniques.

I think of techniques like spanking, impact play, flogging, hair pulling as the tip of the iceberg and the stuff to implement later. They are also optional. Not all Dom/sub dynamics will include all of that stuff.

But…the stuff below is the fundamentals. Every healthy and consensual Dom/sub relationship MUST have these things in place.

These guidelines cover trust & respect, safety & care, growth & learning, and fun & exploration.

The fundamental guidelines

Here are 10 guidelines to follow when engaging in BDSM.

1. The golden rule of consent

Always ensure enthusiastic consent from all parties involved. If it’s not a “fuck yes,” it’s a no. 

Consent can change over time. It’s worth checking in regularly with your partner during a BDSM scene, and after a scene to check you are still on the same page.

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2. Safewords are sacred

Establish a safe word. It’s the emergency brake of the kink world – use it without hesitation when needed. I use the traffic light system.

Green = Continue. Amber/Yellow/Orange = Continue, but be careful as I’m reaching my limits. Red = Stop play immediately.

Don’t joke around and use a safeword if you don’t mean it or your partner won’t trust you using it correctly in the future.

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3. Honesty is the best policy

Open and honest communication about limits, desires, and feelings is vital. Read my guide on Better Sex with Expert Communication for tips and tricks to improve how you talk to your partner about BDSM.

4. Respect the boundaries

Just like in sports, play within the boundaries. Limits are there for safety and comfort.

You should list out any Hard Limits you have – those that in no way should be crossed.

You might also list out your Soft Limits – these are things you aren’t currently into but might be willing to try in the future. Some submissives enjoy having their soft limits pushed. If that’s you, let your Dominant know.

However, this is more of an advanced technique and should only be tried with someone you trust.

Also, your limits will change over time naturally. This is completely normal and why you should review your Sex Menu regularly (Read Sex Menu: A Beginner’s Guide for Doms and Subs).

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5. Safety first, kink second

Prioritise physical and emotional safety. No dangling from chandeliers unless you’re a trained acrobat!

Aspects of BDSM are risky. Choking, hard impact play, bondage, cutting. Don’t engage in these activities if you’re just starting on your kink journey. And if you do try them, make sure you are fully aware of the dangers.

6. Aftercare is essential

Always provide emotional and physical care after sessions.

Read 5 Things You Should Know About Aftercare, What About Aftercare?, and listen to this podcast episode for more tips on giving and receiving aftercare

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7. Educate thyself

Continuously learn about techniques, safety, and psychology. Kink is about brains as much as brawn.

I love hearing about other’s experiences in BDSM. Just hearing them or reading what other people in the community say can be hugely insightful and helps me gain better insight into everything kink has to offer.

I’ve written hundreds of articles about Dom/sub relationships, kink, and BDSM. You can find the top 20 most popular BDSM guides on that page to start. You can also take one of my BDSM courses.

8. Feedback is a gift

Regularly discuss what’s working and what’s not.

Take a break from your power dynamic when you do talk – you don’t want to be in a position where the submissive can’t speak openly because they are trying to please their Dom.

As a Dominant, you should expect feedback from your submissive. A D/s dynamic is not about you only giving feedback to your submissive.

BDSM punishments are not the same as feedback. Punishments are a roleplay that happens within the power dynamic. Feedback is a mechanism outside of the dynamic to maintain the health of the relationship.

Hearing feedback can be tough. You must learn to not become defensive or angry when receiving it (easier said that done!).

Share positive as well as negative feedback. Share what you particularly enjoyed about a scene. What specific think did they do that you loved? What should they continue doing more of?

9. Experiment and explore

Be open to trying new things within the realm of consent and comfort. Who knows? You might find a new favourite kink!

BUT…don’t be pressured into something you know for sure you don’t want to do.

Watching porn and hearing other people’s experiences of BDSM can be a create way to get new ideas of things to try.

Moineau and I regularly send each other photos of interesting positions or BDSM scenes that we want to try. This can be easier than sharing them face-to-face – there’s less pressure.

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There are several BDSM subreddits that you might want to join for advice and ideas. Try r/BDSMCommunity to start.

10. Enjoy the journey

Remember, BDSM is all about mutual pleasure and fun. If you’re not laughing sometimes, you’re doing it wrong!

There’s no real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do things as long as you are following the above to keep everything safe and consensual.

Finally

I hear from too many submissives who have been emotional or physically abused by someone, thinking they are in a D/s relationship when in fact they are in an abusive one. (Read 7 Ways to Spot a Fake Dom (and Why You Should Avoid Them)).

If you’re ever in doubt if the Dom/sub relationship you are part of is a good one, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel happy?
  • Am I excited by this?
  • Are my needs being met?
  • Does my partner have my best interests at heart and care for my well-being?
  • Am I being listened to and respected?

If you can answer ‘Yes!’ to all of those questions, your BDSM relationship is in a good place.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Every dynamic is unique, so feel free to adjust these to fit your personal style and preferences! Happy kinking! 🌟

The Art of Submission. A course for beginner submissives
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John

To which I’d add

Be realistic in your expectations:

If you’re introducing someone to kink then you’re not going to go from Vanilla to a 24/7 D/s relationship in a few months, it may take years if you even get there.

I know a lot of guys find like the fantasy of a willing full time sex slave / Maid combo but for many of us that just ain’t gonna happen. I have 4 (soon 5) kids with my sub, there is NO way on God’s earth that she has the mental / physical energy to do all the housework, her own job, be a mother and the BSDM stuff all at the same time. Vanilla people would struggle to do all that. Just because you (shock) negotiate and do a fair bit of housework / Kids stuff does not make you any less of a Dom.

Always keep the communication open, being a Dom (even if its just in the bedroom) means taking on responsibililty for someone else’s pychosexual wellbeing, it is NOT to be done lightly. If your sub isn’t great at verbalizing their needs, have them keep a sub-journal, you may need to (gently) press them to open up, but don’t overdo it.

John.

Dee

Haven’t heard of a sub-journal before I think. Going to suggest this to my dom.