8 Types Of BDSM Play

PinkCherry Share
8 Types Of BDSM Play

 

The world of kink, bondage, submission, and power dynamics is very much here to welcome you into all the (consensual) depravity you desire. Catapulted into public consciousness even further due to the extreme success of 50 Shades of Gray, the trend of finding ways to enjoy power exchange in one’s social and private life is on the rise.

 

What is BDSM? 

BDSM is a multi-functional acronym. It does so many things! Seriously though, there’s Bondage and Submission (BD/SM) part. There’s the interior part of BDSM being the D/S part, Dominance and Submission. And then there’s the booty of the word, the SM part — that’s sadomasochism, or the sense of pleasure derived from causing discomfort (like spanking someone).

The BDSM community also has a whole social culture of its own. Almost every mid-sized city (and big cities, obviously), and even some towns have vibrant BDSM scenes, each with their own norms and flavors. There’s usually also a social network side, such as a Facebook group or Meetup event to get the word out. In larger cities there may be entire privately organized clubs. Kink sites like Fetlife are thriving, and dating / community-building apps have cropped up that embrace more alternative relationship styles and habits; these include Feeld and Bloom.

BDSM “scenes” (scene can refer both to the social group culture, as well as a BDSM scene itself, which is a contained BDSM play session) can also have professional “dungeons,” which are locations with professional-grade BDSM equipment for all your strapping, whipping, and flogging fantasies. Sometimes they’ll have separate, themed rooms which can be suitable for doctor/dentist roleplay. Other times they’ll have equipment that harkens back to times of medieval torture devices.

Should kinksters want to get their kink on in smaller, more manageable chunks rather than living a D/S lifestyle, dungeons are the place to do that. If a kinkster has a regular job and social life but also wants to express a secret kinky side, a dungeon is also the place to do that. At a dungeon, kinksters can engage in scenes that have a whole complete story arc, including pre-negotiation, the scene itself (with check-ins and safe words), and aftercare afterwards to ensure that after going to high highs and low lows, the sub (submissive) is brought back to a stable temperament.

Another bonus of the dungeon is that you don’t need to keep all that kinky gear in your own home. Now, that said, it can be super erotic and amazing and fun to have some of it at home. All of your domestic kink gear can be cute and stealthy, like rope attachment points on your bed for example. Yassssss.

In addition to dungeons and Meetups and FetLife, there are whole weekend conventions like Dom Con, where you can shop for all the kink gear you could ever want, and learn all about sub-space. These workshops can be very educational. And the advantage of events like this is that in addition to learning kinky things, you meet fun, like-minded kinky people. You can make friends — non-special friends as well as special friends — who can help you as you navigate the world of kinks, doms, ropes, and more.

What to hear something extra cool? In addition to the social aspect, science is now getting involved. For example, one scientific study explores the role of BDSM in sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and performance.

 

Why do people like BDSM?

There are a whole bunch of reasons to lean into getting a little or a lot more kink in your life. For starters, exploring boundaries consensually with a trusting partner can be an enriching, exciting, explorative process. For some, it can be a form of sexual medicine. Done well, BDSM is about consent as an exploration.

Knowing you can stop the scene at any time can be one reason people like it. Whereas you may not have had power in the past, you do now. And you also have aftercare. Here’s a personal story that illustrates this, by Brooke Shelley, a trans queer woman sharing why she enjoys BDSM

“The other day my girlfriend pushed me down and looked me in the eye. ‘I'm going to make you cry,’ she said. She began to hit me in earnest, and made me count the blows … Later, as I sobbed and she held me, I felt the therapy of that release: the effect of dealing with PTSD and trauma with pain that I can end any time by saying my safe word. Pain that comes from someone who I know is doing it for both of our pleasure, and not out of a desire to actually hurt me.”

 

8 common types of BDSM

BDSM has many many many different types and flavors, but there are some overarching themes in more common types of BDSM play. Here are 8 common types of BDSM:

 

1. Impact play

Probably the most widely recognized form of BDSM play, impact play is the act of striking the receiving partner in a BDSM scene or dynamic. This type of play can be relatively innocuous, with experiences like spanking, to more elaborate things like being tied and whipped or struck with a flogger. 

The quality of pain changes a lot in impact play depending on the type of tools used to do the striking, and the desires of both doms (the dominant partner) and subs (the submissive partner). Some submissives, for example, enjoy thuddy impact more than stingy impact, meaning they prefer to be struck with a larger, more weighty surface like an open hand, paddle, or the bulk of a flogger's tails.

 

2. Role play

Always present in any sort of D/S relationship to some degree, role play is the act of taking on a different personality, role, character, or archetype. This can be for the duration of a scene, with a wild torturer and helpless damsel, or play out in subtler ways depending on the agreements of any particular coupling.

Getting into kinky roleplay can be fun. Ever thought of playing the BDSM role of a captured cheerleader and crazed attacker? Or maybe you’ve had a fantasy that you’re actually someone completely different and “cheating” without actually cheating. Or maybe you want to feel owned by another, so on goes the BDSM collar as a symbol of your servitude. The sky and depraved minds are truly the only limits on this one!

 

3. Knife play

Knife play is the act of using some sort of bladed object to heighten a BDSM scene or experience. Knife play can bring in elements of sensation play with the temperature of the knife being a shock, or be used in fear play, showing off a more sharp, dangerous knife, and then swapping it with something blunted for relative safety.

Knife play can involve cutting or breaking the skin consensually, with the submissive partner agreeing to said arrangement, and takes lots of BDSM practice to get right. It’s important to keep in mind that BDSM practitioners practice immensely to be able to do these sorts of play activities safely, attending classes and practicing within a safe scope.

 

4. Pain play

Present in lots of different types of BDSM situations, pain play can show up to various degrees. Everyone’s pain threshold is a little different, and with a bit of practice and coaxing, sometimes that threshold can be slowly expanded through practice and effort. For some, pain is tied to pleasure, so pain play can be a bit of sexual play as well.

Not all pain is created equal. Getting spanked, for example, sounds a lot more fun than having a pounding headache. Different BDSM participants will have preferences on the types of pain they like to receive, and their wishes above all else should be respected. BDSM doesn’t have to contain sexual gratification, but like any other consensual sexual activity, consent in BDSM can be withdrawn at any time, and a scene stopped.

 

5. Fear play

Fear play is a bit of a psychological thriller. Fear play is the act of creating situations where one partner can safely experience genuine fear. Fear of bodily harm is an easy example to point to from a BDSM context, but it can also be fear of being humiliated, or other types of emotional triggers.

 

6. Humiliation play

Maybe what really gets your gears going is being humiliated. Humiliation play goes to all new heights under a BDSM lense, with purpose-built tools like toilet brush gags fit around the face and mouth, leaving the wearer to clean the toilet with just their neck muscles. For some, being embarrassed or called out in a humiliating situation can be very much a sexual turn-on. 

 

7. Sensation play

Sensation play is the act of dulling and/or heightening senses to make sensations more intense. Nipple clamps are one example of a way to engage in sensation play because while they can be initially painful, once nipple clamps are released, the clamped tissue becomes much more sensitive than before.

Sensation play can come in the form of dulling senses, like putting on a blindfold or earplugs, forcing the receptive partner to use their other senses to navigate their personal predicament. Masks can be used (including gas masks), perhaps dulling one or multiple senses at the same time for added inconvenience, or providing an overload and numbing out, offering up too much sexual pleasure for one person to handle. 

 

8. Wax play

Often used in sensation play or temperature play, wax play is the art of dropping hot wax onto (usually) naked skin. When done safely, the temperature of the wax causes a slight burning effect. This is highly dependent on the material of the wax candle itself, with soy candles and paraffin candles being most appropriate due to their lower melting point, in comparison to, say, beeswax candles.

 

Bonus: Pet play

Also known as animal role play, pet play is the practice of acting like a pet, be that a horse, cat, dog (puppy play), or other animal. This is commonly paired with wearing things like a collar and leash. Doms can have their pet eat out of a doggy or kitty bowl, or perhaps pull their owner around, similar to how a horse pulls an owner’s cart.

 

BDSM tips

Consent is sexy! Providing the ability for regular check-ins allows BDSM activity to remain a consensual joy and pleasure, rather than some weird egotistical torture. Always have a safe word, and a system to allow for easy conveyance of consent even in context where the mouth is stuffed or gagged. The traffic light system of Green Yellow Red works well in contexts where the sub has full access to their mouth. That isn’t always a given in the BDSM world, so if you’re gonna break out the ball gag and the best the silent scrumptions sub can do is grunt, you better have a good easy way for grunts to convey consent. Here, a series of taps can work well. 

Just how popular is BDSM? According to sexual arousal expert Dr. Justin Lehmiller, “When you consider that one-third of Americans from a nationally representative survey report having engaged in spanking and, further, that spanking is just one of many different forms of BDSM, this tells us that BDSM is far from a rare or unusual sexual interest or behavior.”

BDSM isn’t always 100% a sexual practice, and people participating BDSM aren’t weird, broken individuals with mental health issues. It’s perfectly fine to mix BDSM and sexual pleasure, with,  for example, the addition of forced orgasms in a scene, but all that needs to be agreed to well in advance. BDSM relationships can and should be constantly negotiated. If something isn’t working for you, just because you agreed once doesn’t mean your consent is given in perpetuity. You’re at choice to change your mind whenever you’d like!

It’s always worth talking to your partner about what their turn-ons are, and allow yourself to be surprised. Sometimes your get-shit-done partner is craving being out of control. Sometimes the act of being tied up or punished can be a rapid way to get someone sexually aroused. Perhaps being tied up, spanked, and forced to use some delicious vibrating sex toys is just the type of punishment that is needed today!

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your mental and sexual health are always of utmost importance. BDSM is a consent-based activity, and nothing should trump your need for personal wellbeing. Sometimes that means that scenes end early, or that a particularly stubborn dom doesn’t get to try their fancy new booperstick on you, but that’s okay because your needs do indeed matter, and you’re worth defending and fighting for. 

Remember, too, that there’s lots of support out there for you. If you’re not sure how to feel about a scene, or whether you’re “normal” for wanting what you want, reach out or read the personal stories of others who are into kink. It can be both grounding and illuminating to learn from others, and explore sides of yourself you never really knew were there. Because what’s more pleasurable, in the end, than growing and expanding as a human being?

 

Related Products