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What Is BDSM?

And is it normal?

BDSM stands for Bondage, Discipline/Dominant, Sadism/Submissive, and Masochism. It often refers to a collection of activities that are considered kinky. BDSM can be used to add some spice to sexual activities. Many scenarios use informed consent to exchanges in power and can include a variety of toys or objects. Sometimes people incorporate pain elements to their playtime, but that is not always an objective or requirement. It's a very personal choice.

Is BDSM Normal?

There is nothing obscene or evil about the practice of BDSM. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and people who participate in it are perfectly normal. As with any community, there may be a few people who experience some mental health concerns, but that would not characterize the majority of people.

Kinky play is a lot more common than most people think. There is no right or wrong when addressing what is appealing to consenting adults. Our world is very diverse in a lot of different ways, and diversity is what keeps the world growing. It's perfectly natural for people to be diverse in their tastes as well.

For a long time, society has conditioned us to believe that we should be modest and plain in our sexual expression. People were highly encouraged to see sex as only necessary for reproduction. These ideas are still visible and pushed in our society today. It varies from place to place and community to community, but the roots of those teachings are still present.

BDSM encourages us to explore and connect with our partners on different levels to find different kinds of pleasure. It is truly a sex-positive practice that embraces the idea that people can be attracted to a variety of sexual activities.

How Do People Practice BDSM Safely?

Depending on what kind of kinky activities people are interested in, there may be some risk involved. An important piece of the BDSM lifestyle is having the knowledge about things that interest you before jumping in. A huge piece in safety is learning about the potential risks and best common safety practices for each type of kinky activity. When you are new to something, you don't always think about all the different things that could happen in a given scenario. Things may come up that you wish you had known to avoid or you may miss out on a method that would really enhance the experience for you.

When we start exploring other things in our lives, be it hobbies or new skills, we often learn about it from others. Sometimes we read about it, other times someone may teach or show us. This helps us learn the best practices for our new skill. It cuts down the learning curve and keeps us from harm or wasting money. Learning about BDSM is no different. Taking the time to put some research in can be the difference between enjoyment and having an unpleasant experience. It's important to take the time to learn about kinks you're interested in.

You will be able to prepare best by finding out what others have done or do in those activities. Once you have the proper knowledge, you and your partner can best determine how you want to avoid any risks or unwanted outcomes from exploring your interests. There are plenty of books and reputable websites that can also help offer you guidance as you explore new desires and interests. You can also join community events or online forums to meet people who can help offer advice for resources and techniques. 

How Is BDSM Explored Consensually?

The other major piece to exploring BDSM safely is ensuring that you have open communication with your partner. There should be conversation around consent, safewords, and any concerns either person has. Clear communication is key as it is with many other aspects of relationships. You and your partner need to be clear with each other when discussing what you both are comfortable with and interested in. No one should be pushed into trying something they are really not interested in.

You and your partner should be well informed of any potential risks or unwanted outcomes of your sexual interests from reading about it and discussing it with each other. From there you can have that conversation and make some informed decisions about if you actually wish to try it and where the limits are for how far you want it to go. It's common practice in BDSM to set up a safeword or series of safewords. These are words that are agreed upon before you and your partner begin to play. They are meant as a fail-safe to automatically and clearly indicate a desire to end a play session without question or negotiation. If you and your partner are role-playing a fantasy where one person wants to "protest" or fight against the activity, this can be a way to ensure that consent is obvious and maintained. It creates a safe space to ignore common stop words such as "no" and use the agreed-upon safeword as the way to withdraw consent. 

Don't Be Afraid to Explore Your Sexuality

Exploring BDSM with your partner may be a wonderful way to learn more about yourself and your partner. It only needs to go as far as you are comfortable with and want it to go. The point is to be comfortable and secure in your sexuality. Getting comfortable is one step closer to more satisfying sex.

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