The key to any healthy relationship—kink included—is communication. Our Sex Expert, Erika Fore, gives us the lay of the BDSM land.
“My girlfriend and I have a healthy sex life, I think.
We’re experimental, respectful and have a decent sense of humor about things. My question is this: How do I go about distinguishing from healthy, rough sex (which seems to be a preference of hers) to being too aggressive?
She’s never said anything about being uncomfortable, but I’d hate for her to just not speak up to appease me.
Are there signs or signals I can look for? Is it fair to move forward with things on her word that everything still feels safe?
While consideration for our partners should be standard, many of us have experience with inconsiderate folks who don’t stop to question what feels good and how to talk about it.
And that’s the crux of your dilemma: how do we communicate about this? When your girlfriend wants it rough, stopping to timidly ask, “Um, sweetie, is this too rough?” is a total buzz-kill.
But of course, you don’t want to get too rough and hurt her, especially if you’re not sure she’ll speak up if it’s too intense.
It’s wonderful your girlfriend feels safe enough to ask for what she wants without feeling shame or fear of rejection.
A quick note for you singles: You’re under no obligation to share your fantasies, kinks, etc. with someone you’re newly dating. But when you do, safety first: you want to make sure the person you’re playing with is considerate, kink-educated, and a good listener. If your playmate is new to kinky stuff, make sure you discuss the types of scenes you enjoy and gauge their interests.
Never push someone into what you want—respect and thank your partner for “no’s,” because that means they’re taking care of themselves and playing is most fun when both people are into it.
Now, on to directly answering the question!
To quote the movie Pineapple Express, “Safety first, then teamwork!”
Most importantly, you’ll find a “Want To/Willing To” checklist.
This list helps you each determine what you want to do (this turns me on, I fantasize about this, or even though I’ve never tried it, I’m curious), what you’re willing to do (it’s not really my thing, but I can try it for you) and what you’re a “no way” to.
You can each fill out this list and see where you both have “want to’s” in common. No matter what, don’t ever push anything on your partner’s “no way” list.
(Singles, this is a great list to share even with your new playmates, because it goes further than kink play and really into any kind of sex play you might both enjoy!)
One of my favorite online resources for BDSM kink play can be found here.
This site talks a lot about kink communication, naughty ideas (based on how spicy you want things to get), how-tos and lots of safety information (for example, did you know using regular metal handcuffs can cause nerve damage for the wearer?).
There’s even a section for how you can be dominant, yet also a nice guy. Give it a read and when you find an idea you think is sexy, share it with your partner!
One last tip for you: lots of people talk about “safe words,” which is a word mutually agreed upon that one partner can say when the play is getting too intense.
Personally, I like something a little more specific, so I recommend the “green/yellow/red” idea. While you’re playing, this makes it easy to check in. Green means “this is great, keep going,” yellow means, “don’t stop, but don’t get more intense” and red means “I’ve had enough, stop right now.”
A “red” is never negotiable and should always be respected.
Another important (and often overlooked part) of a rough sex scene is aftercare. Whether all you’re doing is pulling her hair or you’re administering a hard paddling, pain and intensity open us up emotionally.
After you’re both done with the scene, it’s important to end with tenderness and care. This can be cuddling, massage, loving words, showering together, or anything else you both find comforting or sacred.
This brings the scene to a close and reinforces a positive, nurturing connection—which really builds trust in each other.
After all, let’s not forget how much trust one must have to ask their partner to cause them pain!
If you’re concerned that your partner might have a hard time speaking up, try this model during non-aggressive play.
Take a massage, for example. Prompt her to give you greens, yellows and reds while you’re working out a knot in her shoulder.
This can give you a fun, safe space for experimenting with the cues that work for you, because once you feel confident and safe in your communication, you’ll both enjoy asking for what you want in bed.
Take some time to get educated with these materials and I guarantee before you know it, you’ll be the assertive, dominant lover of her dreams!