How to share BDSM with a vanilla partner

September 2 | Guest post by Karen
By: kiuko – CC BY 2.0
By: kiukoCC BY 2.0

Malik (straight male) and I (bisexual female) have been together monogamously for four years and are getting married. He's opened my mind to many things: politics, Italian cooking, and, more significantly, BDSM.

Before him, I'd dabbled in blindfolds and silk ties but never anything all that out of the ordinary. I wanted my man to be assertive and to take charge. I wanted to be swept off my feet by our romantic encounters. Malik, however, is a sub. He wanted me to take charge. He wanted me to be commanding, to dominate him. I had no experience with that whatsoever. He wanted to be paddled, blindfolded, gagged. He wanted to use leather sleeves that looked like a straight jacket. He wanted to use leg restraints. And he wanted to use all of this with me.

At first, I had no idea what to do or how to react. I wanted to please him and to make him happy, but I had no idea how to use all these tools (he has a chest of drawers filled with toys) or how to be the dominator.

If your partner wants you to try something new, be it anal play, bondage, role play, ice cubes, or anything else, here are a few tips I learned from exploring the world of BDSM as a vanilla partner.

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions

This is Number One because it is incredibly important. How will you learn about these things if you don't ask?

Start talking before you actually get into a scenario. Ask to see the toys. Handle them. If it's a striking tool, practice it on your own thigh or on a pillow. If you get accustomed to seeing them and feeling them before you're actually in a sexual situation, you'll feel a lot better when it comes time to use them.

When we first became intimate, Malik wanted to use a mask — a leather headpiece with a detachable blindfold and leather gag. Before we started messing around, he brought it out and showed it to me. We played with it, and he showed me how to put it on him. I got a lot more comfortable seeing how it looked and how it changed our play by experimenting with it outside of a scenario.

But you should be asking more questions than just "how does this work?" In order to understand my partner as a sub, I wanted to understand what made it exciting for him.

I started asking him questions like, "Why does this instrument appeal to you?" "How do you want me to talk to you?" "Why does this excite you?" A lot of sex is psychology, so don't be afraid to get into the hows and whys of your partner's workings. For example, I learned that Malik likes me to be in control and to be dominating, but that he doesn't want to be humiliated. That's an important thing to know!

Ask what your partner likes and doesn't like and what they're looking for in an encounter. The answers may surprise you, and knowing will help you figure out how to make their needs work for you.

Along the lines of asking questions, do some research! There are books on everything out there. Ask your partner for resources and read them together so you can discuss them. Check out online blogs and forums. It may take some digging, but the information is out there.

2. Set boundaries but don't be afraid to experiment

There may be certain things you just aren't willing to do, and that's okay! Your partner needs to respect your boundaries just as much as you need to respect their desires.

If you're not willing to strike your partner, you don't have to. But do ask yourself why. If it bothers you because you never want to hurt your partner, that's one thing. But if you don't want to just because you've never done it before, maybe it's time to try something new and see how it feels, knowing that it's okay to stop halfway through. It's okay to try it and not like it. It's okay to say afterwards how you felt about it.

But if you've only experienced vanilla play in the past, you're missing a whole new world of things that you might actually enjoy. Malik and I call our scenarios "playtime" because that's what it's about — playing with each other and having a good time. So play around. Try something new. You may surprise yourself. And you may even come up with something that your partner hadn't thought of that you want to try.

3. Debrief

After you try something new, talk to your partner! Ask how it felt, ask what they liked (important question!), and share what you liked or didn't like. Remember, communication is key. You have to talk to each other, to listen to each other's needs, and to build from there.

4. Compromise

If your partner wants to have bondage scenarios all the time, that can be fun, but it's okay to also insist on having plain ol' coitus. If you're trying some of his toys and his ways, he should also be trying some of yours. And don't forget that you can do both in one session! Typically what happens for us is Malik pleasures me (coitus, hands, mouth), and then I tie him up and work on him. I get what I need before he gets what he needs. It works for us.

Figure out what works for you. There may be things that get you both in the mood. For example, if I want Malik to "act like a vanilla man," he will, but he'll be a lot happier if I put a collar on him while he's doing it. That's something that doesn't get in the way of his work but still reminds him of the dom-sub relationship.

What I've learned as a mostly vanilla woman is that BDSM can add a level of intimacy to the encounter. He wants me to dominate him, sure, but he trusts me to also take care of him and to know when enough is enough. That's come from practice and experimentation. I've timed how long to keep him tied up and then asked him later if it was too long or not long enough. I've paddled him and then asked later if it was too hard or too many strokes.

And through all this practice and experimentation, I've learned a broader sexual vocabulary with which to talk to my partner. So play around and keep talking to each other. You may find something really wonderful.

Join our community!

  1. This article is perfect! I would add don't be afraid to communicate your needs or wants with new partners. They might surprise you and themselves. My new partner never experienced BDSM but I've awaken his inner Dom! Never would have happened if I didn't talk openly about my sexual needs.

    3 agree
  2. I also love this article. I would only add that starting small is also ok.

    I've struggled to get my hubbie and myself out of a "rut" of really only doing one or two things. I finally talked him into buying a toy and trying it out – and it EXPLODED in the best possible way. Turns out he was bored too, and so neither of us was enjoying things, but neither of is really knew what do DO about that. So I let him think about a toy (for months and months) and then I let him pick it out, and then I let him use it. And it's really opened things up for us.

    Sometimes just starting small leads to something great….

    5 agree
  3. I appreciate this article and will be sharing with my other half. I have been into bdsm for awhile with a little poly thrown in, but my partner is straight vanilla. When we were first together the biggest fear was I would scare them off. Needless to say we got passed that through a lot of talking, experimenting and starting small.

    2 agree
  4. This is quite condescending to think that if a new partner doesn't want to "experiment" (that new word that quite much means that if you don't want to experiment, then you're not curious and you suck, you judge without knowing while you just may not be interested and it's perfectly fine !), it's because they are "afraid". No, no, no. People who don't want to try are not "afraid" of BDSM. They just somewhat feel like they're not interested in it and may find it ridiculous, disgusting or even not their cup of tea and all of that is pretty much legit. So if you guys don't want to be judged for doing BDSM while it's another "sexual trend" like some others happened before and that there are a lot of things to say about those trends, don't judge people who don't want to touch to it. Plus, consent is a complex concept… And when you're trying to convince someone into doing something they don't like, it's rape.
    Sorry to say.

    2 agree
    • I'm really confused as to how this article is condescending or in any way implies that you should try anything no matter how you feel about it. In fact, it specifically says you should BOTH set boundaries about what you want and don't want. The only thing it says about one partner not wanting to do something is to ask themselves why, which is very fair. "No" should always be respected, and this article never implies it shouldn't.

      5 agree
  5. I'm so glad this came up on Facebook! My partner and I are both pretty vanilla, but we're looking into exploring kink-light. This gives us both a good starting point.

  6. I would be really concerned then if you had children and he wanted "playtime" with them. You know the association won't break after so many years…Is that really a situation you want your daughters and sons in ?

    • I don't think that's going to be an issue. Currently in modern culture, it's common to talk about "playing with ourselves" as a term for masturbation and to talk about "playing with children" in regards to toy trucks and plastic dinosaurs. It's even common to tell kids "play with each other." Kids don't get confused. Adults don't get confused.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.