If you’re new to BDSM, you may be curious about how pain can be pleasurable. Most people experience pain as something unpleasant such as getting a spanking as corporal punishment, getting hit in anger or by accident. Pain play can feel good because of the chemicals released when experiencing both pain and pleasure. The rush we feel, with the release of endorphins and epinephrine, along with the release of melatonin and serotonin, react in our minds and bodies similar to a runner’s high. The impact also stimulates nerves that heighten arousal. So rather than thinking of pain play as just being beaten with painful objects to illicit extreme pain, think of it as a consensual stimulation of the senses that also triggers pleasure. The giver receives pleasure for the arousal of their partner and the intimate connection during play.
Where to start
Don’t just jump in, start with communication. Talk about what you’d like to try and what you’re afraid of trying. Incorporate safe words and discuss boundaries. Stay in tune with each other and check in from time to time. Try less intense toys and work your way up. Just remember that it doesn’t have to be scary and intense, it can be fun and lighthearted too.
What’s your pleasure?
There are different kinds of impact styles. Thudding, a blunt heavy hit and stinging, a sharp burning hit. Some prefer one more than the other, while some prefer a combination of the two. Paddles and heavy floggers have a thudding feel while crops, whips, slappers and canes are more stinging. You can also find softer versions of these toys that are neither thudding nor stinging. Start with gentle hits and work up. Move around the body; don’t just stay in the same place, and alternate smacks with soft touches. Take your time; anticipation can be an amazing turn on.
There’s something about carrying a crop that just feels sexy and empowering. Riding crops have a handle with a long flexible rod and usually a classic leather tip. The hit is usually not thudding but can be a soft smack or a strong sting depending on how you use it. You can find a variety of tips from the classic leather loop to hearts shapes, feathers or fur. Starting with crops can be fun because of the role-play aspect and it just looks sexy. It’s a great beginner’s toy.
Paddles used in BDSM can look like fraternity paddles but also come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, textures and materials. Start with something wide, similar in shape to a hairbrush or ping-pong paddle, or rectangular like the fraternity paddle. The wide shape will spread out the impact making it easier to use gentle pats. Narrower shapes can give you a more pronounced sting. You can find basic wood and acrylic paddles but leather, suede or fabric covered pressboard or spring steel will give you rigidity with some flexibility. That flexibility can give you a nice thwack with little effort. You can find some covered in faux fur or padded paddles to give you a gentler intro. Beware of paddles with holes; the holes reduce air resistance resulting in a more intense hit. Silicone paddles with more flexibility can very easily go from thudding to stinging. They can be more intense than wood or leather paddles so be more mindful when using them. Another useful paddle is your hand. It can be soft or thudding or stinging depending on how you use it. A cupped hand feels different than a flat hand. You can spank with a fur mitt to soften the blow then use the mitt for soft caresses.
Floggers can be gentle and come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Floggers have several strands of various lengths and widths all attached to a handle. They can be made of leather, suede, rubber, metal beads, mylar or even vegan faux leather. Handles can be made out of the same strands or made of rubber, leather or metal. Longer thicker strands will give you a heavier more thudding hit while thinner lighter strands will be more stinging. You can get soft fur tipped floggers too. Avoid braided floggers to start with, especially with knotted ends, as they are far more stingy. Start with something light enough to control with a comfortable handle. Suede is usually less stinging than leather so is a nice beginner’s choice. It also feels really good when you softly drag it over your partner’s body. Your strokes are very important so experiment with different styles.
Slappers and straps are longer in length and more flexible than paddles. They are usually made out of leather but also wood, silicone, even tire tread. Slappers lend themselves to a more stinging smack. The longer the length, the harder to control and can inflict a marking sting if not used carefully. Some look like short straps, others like a classic belt looped in half. Avoid ones with holes if you don’t want the reduction of air resistance to makes them more stinging. Classic slappers are two lengths, one on top of the other, so when you hit they smack together to make a louder slapping sound. Often just the louder sound can increase the reaction from your partner. Stick to smaller versions in softer materials. These cross the line a bit from light S&M into more intense territory but can be used as a bridge between the two if used carefully.
More advance pain play: whips and canes
These toys need to be used with much care and technique is really important. Whips and canes are not light S&M toys and can leave permanent marks. If used properly, they can feel wonderful and some more experienced kinksters like marks, albeit temporary ones. Start with the easier toys above and if you want to move into whips and canes take a class or find someone with experience.
The pleasures of light S&M
Light S&M toys can be used to enhance your sexy time with a little bit of sensation play, some diversity and even some role play. A couple of light smacks with a fun shaped paddle, soft flogger or sexy crop can be a hot part of foreplay. A little pain with your pleasure can even enhance your sexual experiences. Experiment and find what works for you.
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