What Are the Common Rules in BDSM?

What Are the Common Rules in BDSM?

by Alex Yefremov

The more you delve into the world of BDSM, the more it becomes apparent that the basic tenets are about keeping things safe, sane, and consensual. But for many, the lack of understanding of the common rules in BDSM can result in long-lasting pain, discomfort, and even trauma. So before diving headfirst in BDSM, you will want to gather as much knowledge as possible to experience the most fantastic experience ever. 

Breaking the BDSM Myth

There are a lot of misconceptions in BDSM. Those [vanilla] people who do not understand this world are quick to judge and shame. The recent Armie Hammer debacle demonstrates that the general public continues shaming people who express their kinky fantasies and their desire to explore them within the world of BDSM. In Armie's case, however, it seems he was gung-ho in being a Domme but perhaps not so interested in educating himself so that the partners would feel safe and respected. Not that you would garner much media attention, however, but the BDSM community is small and tight-knit, and one misstep or breaking of BDSM rules can get you banned -- and then no one will want to play with you!

BDSM play is vast. For some, excitement comes from simply being bound and tickled, while others enjoy more extreme play that may involve the mix of pain and pleasure. Some BDSM scenes are meant as foreplay for sex, while others can go on for hours. This is what makes BDSM so unique. You have the freedom to express fantasies and desires in a safe space. This form of sexual expression can be liberating and exciting as you explore a willing and like-minded partner.

 

Common Rules in BDSM

Following the common rules in BDSM has benefits and provides you and your play partner with structure during the play scene, spells-out your expectations, makes subs (s-types) feel safe and secure, helps build confidence between partners, and creates a critical distinction between abuse and consensual power exchange.

In the interest of keeping everyone safe, sane, healthy, and kinky, we've compiled a list of the common rules in BDSM that will help you through this fantastic journey.

 

BDSM Rule 1 - Understanding the Risks

 BDSM, as with any other form of sexual expression, has inherent risks. However, with an understanding of the common rules in BDSM, you can prepare yourself and mitigate harm to yourself and others. Before engaging in any type of BDSM, you will want to take inventory of your mental and physical health as well as your boundaries. Understanding your limitations will help keep you safe. Once you understand and acknowledge BDSM risks, you can then consider other BDSM rules.

BDSM Rule 2 - Community Ideology

The BDSM community is exceptionally loving and supportive. Throughout the years, professionals within the BDSM lifestyle have shared common rules that make this play fun and exciting for anyone.

  • SSC - Safe, Sane & Consensual is the foundation of all BDSM play. SSC emphasizes that consensual play is the key essential to safe and sane play.
  • Hurt not harm is the concept that someone may have temporary pain or hurt but that it should never result in extended, long-term harm.
  • RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) understands that most kinky play is risky and not always safe. Being aware of risks allows you to consent in kinky playtime.

BDSM Rule 3 - Communication

Now that you have considered the risks in BDSM, you can move to the most essential part -- honest and open communication. It does not matter how mild or wild your scene; communicating allows you to share needs, wants, desires, thoughts, and feelings. Now for some people, even talking about sex feels uncomfortable. But you must speak with your partner.

 You can use the following as a guideline to get the conversation started. Some of these questions may be hard to answer, but they are a great start to understanding yourself and your partner as you begin the process of discovering your inner sexual personality.

  • Why do you want to try BDSM?
  • What are your thoughts and views on BDSM?
  • Do you feel safe with your partner? What are your concerns?
  • Are there any particular kinks or fantasies you want to play out?
  • Are you interested in being dominant, submissive, or a switch (someone who can perform both)?
  • What are your [soft] limits? These are activities that you are willing to try but need to take it slow.
  • What are your [hard] limits? These are activities you will never want to attempt, no matter what.

BDSM Rule 4 - Safe Words 

Now that you understand what you want to experience in BDSM, it's time to establish a way to communicate with your partner during play. Safewords are meant to keep you safe and end a scene immediately when it becomes too intense. There is a common misconception that only the sub has a safe word, but we find it's just as essential for Dom(me)s too. BDSM safewords can be anything you want. However, we recommend selecting a word or phrase you don't usually say. When first starting out in BDSM, we recommend using the green/yellow/red system. Red means stop immediately—yellow means to proceed with caution, and green means to continue forward. You must listen to your partner's safe words or risk losing trust.

 

BDSM Rule 5 - No Play While Under the Influence

 It's okay to feel nervous before your first play session. The best way to combat anxiety and nervousness is through deep, steady breathing instead of using drugs or alcohol. BDSM requires your full attention; medications, illicit drugs, and alcohol can slow your reaction time and even inhibit your judgment. Being under the influence will also make it hard to feel if you are harmed. If you value yourself and your partner, keep this rule in BDSM at the forefront of your mind.

 

BDSM Rule 6 - Know Thy Tools

 Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me. There are many BDSM tools available on the market, which include impact play tools such as paddle, canes, whips, crops, floggers, and more. There are also bondage gear essentials such as restraints, collars, blindfolds, binding tape, hogties, ball gags, and spreader bars. And some enjoy incorporating vibrators, violet wands, and dildos. For sensation play, the use of hot wax, candles, stainless or glass sex toy can be used. For more extreme players, they incorporate needles, knives, bondage furniture, and sex machines. Now you are not expected to understand EVERYTHING about your implements, but you should know how each item is used safely.

Your tools also need to be cleaned and maintained to function correctly and offer you the best benefit during play. Read the care instructions of your product to ensure safe play every time. Another thing you want to consider before using your BDSM essentials is how to use them properly. With impact play toys, you may want to practice your aim so that you hit your target perfectly. Keep in mind that BDSM whips and floggers can wrap around your partner and strike unintended areas like organs and tender spots. Consider a brief anatomy course before taking out the toys.

 There are plenty of videos out there that demonstrate the safe use of your bondage essentials. Check them out, so you know how to use each item wisely. You may also want to check out SM 101 by Jay Wiseman for more information. But most importantly, don't ever feel afraid to reach out and ask more advanced BDSM players. You can find them on most forums like Fetlife.com.

 

BDSM Rule 7 - Don't Rush Yourself 

BDSM is a journey, not a destination. The fantastic thing about the BDSM journey is discovering more about yourself and your partner. One common rule in BDSM is having reasonable expectations and an open mind regarding new experiences. There may be some things your partner wants to try, but you are not open to yet. And that's okay. When you first start, take baby steps and be kind yourself. The art of patience will help you grow as a couple in BDSM. Having realistic expectations will keep you grounded and safe. BDSM can be rigorous, and understanding the realities means you can combat surprises as they arise.

BDSM Rule 8 - Be Prepared

One essential rule in BDSM is being prepared for anything that comes up, which means unexpected emergencies. With preparation comes empowerment. Here are a few things you need to have ready in case of an urgent situation.

  • Keep your phone in reach, and don't be afraid to call 911. No matter if you're bound by your toes, EMTs have seen everything, and your emergency won't be any different.
  • Have a first aid kit within reach
  • Keep fire extinguishers close by if playing with candles.
  • Do NOT ever leave someone bound and alone.
  • Make sure you have copies of your keys for locking bondage gear.
  • EMT shears will be your best friend and get you out of a tight situation.
  • Remain hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • DO NOT strike broken or irritated skin.
  • Treat wounds, bruises, or inflamed skin immediately.

 

BDSM Rule 9 - Take Care Afterward

BDSM play is mentally and physically taxing, no matter how mild the scene. The most common rule in BDSM is providing yourself and your partner physical and emotional comfort support following a play session. Aftercare is essential in keeping you both connected and grounded and can include cuddling, a warm blanket or shower, soothing tea, or a gentle massager. Aftercare is also the perfect time to treat bruises and irritated skin with balms or soothing lotions.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Common Rules in BDSM. Although this list is not as long as some, it provides you with the basic tenets of having safe, sane, consensual fun in BDSM. You are invited to add to this list of rules and break a few of your own. Now, go forth and explore BDSM safely and boldly!

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