April 22

10 Step Complete Beginners Guide To Bondage | With Tips & Positions

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Dying to be tied up? Well, you’re in the right place. With more and more people curious about the do’s and don’t of bondage we thought it only right to give you a full beginner’s guide to bondage with everything you need to take the plunge.

Truth is...every man, woman, and their dog has probably heard about bondage by now…

After all, since the soaring popularity of 50 Shades of Grey (yes, we were going to mention that sooner or later), tying your partner up – alongside other kinky sexual shenanigans – has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. 

Perhaps the idea is a new and novel one, something intriguing and exciting that’s caught your imagination. Or maybe you’ve secretly harboured darker desires for a while, enticed by a world of open-minded, devious delights.

But where to begin?

The world of BDSM ( bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) can seem understandably imposing for the uninitiated. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me’, sang Rihanna; unwittingly reinforcing the intense imagery so prevalent in the public’s perception of the subject. 

BDSM encompasses a far wider variety of elements; from discipline to domination, physical sensation to psychological suggestion, all bound up by the key underpinnings of trust and communication.

You don’t need a dungeon and a dominatrix on hand to indulge in a BDSM experience; neither need you engage with the more ‘extreme’ ends of the spectrum that – while some undoubtedly enjoy – aren’t universally representative

(Another misconception is that bondage automatically involves whips, pain or being beaten: ‘impact play’ is a separate element we will return to in a later article.)

So let’s start with the ‘B’ of BDSM: bondage. 

If you’ve ever had a fantasy of being tied up – or perhaps of tying someone else up – well, I’m with you there. Read on! 

WHAT IS BONDAGE?

Bondage is the act – some might say the art – of restraining, tying up, or otherwise restricting the movement of a partner. It is just one example of BDSM practices which may or may not include sexual elements as part of the ‘scene’ (the time period in which participants engage in these activities). 

When elements of bondage are integrated into a sexual setting, the experience can be intensely erotic.  Perhaps it’s the thought of being entirely helpless against your partner’s amorous advances that secretly turns you on.

Maybe you’re the one who dreams of taking control: the opportunities are endless. Personally, there’s nothing quite like being securely restrained, anticipating the most intense orgasm only my partner can provide: ironic, maybe, that when bound - I feel free.  

As with all BDSM activities, the adage of ‘safe, sane and consensual’ applies: actions performed by informed adult participants who are aware of what they’re doing, why, and with consideration towards mitigating risk. 

It’s not as scary as it may sound; and although there are a few general guidelines to follow, a little research will help ensure your bondage experience is approached appropriately. 

This guide will talk you through some of the key elements to consider: from first suggesting the subject, to ways of actually incorporating bondage elements into a sexual scene. 

So, with all due restraint...

1. BROACHING THE SUBJECT OF BONDAGE WITH YOUR PARTNER

Are you eager to experiment? Maybe you’ve identified a role that’s resonated with you; a setting or scenario that’s caught your curiosity. Maybe your friend conspiratorially confided what they’re getting up to in the bedroom, or perhaps you’ve been using porn to inspire a few ideas of your own.

And there’s no shame in owning up to an adult fantasy: we all have them, and you certainly aren’t alone in finding flavours beyond the ‘vanilla’ end of the spectrum exciting (so-called for its apparent universal appeal).

The trick is simply finding someone with whom our fantasies fit well.

In most cases, starting slowly is the way to go. Flinging open the door of your dungeon and demanding a new partner chain you up is more than a little intimidating. 

After all, this is all about communication: finding something that works for both of you and enriches both of your experiences. And by broaching this initial conversation, by being open and honest: that’s already building that level of trust before you even bring things to the bedroom. 

What’s the worst they can say? “No, that’s not for me?” Offer your partner the opportunity to explore together. Explain what appeals to you, and help them appreciate what you both might benefit from. 

What fantasies do you find especially exciting, and how could your partner participate? Before long, you’ll be sharing your erotic ideas with a whole new perspective. And believe me, there’s a whole world of fun out there just waiting to be discovered…

2. DOM / SUB / SWITCH EXPLAINED

How do I be a Dom? What makes me a sub? And what on earth is a switch, if not something you turn the light on with? With so much terminology, it can be hard to feel like you even understand the lingo, let alone how you’re supposed to identify with it.

Many BDSM scenes involve a Dom (dominant) and sub (submissive) partner, whose actions and expectations are broadly indicated by their respective roles. The dominant partner is the one who assumes a position of ‘control’, instigating events and directing what’s happening. 

The submissive partner appears more passive, looking to the leader for direction and following instruction. In a bondage scenario, the dominant partner would be the one in charge of – and responsible for - restraining the submissive. 

Sexuality is a spectrum: BDSM is no different. Although a lot of individuals do tend to ‘lean towards’ one role or another, this is by no means a definitive decision. Exploring both perspectives is an ideal opportunity: not only can you learn what works best for you, but you can also better empathise and understand with what your partner may be experiencing in a certain situation. 

After all - how do you know what being tied up is like if you’ve never experienced it yourself?

(I’m generally the submissive one in a scene – being tied up turns me on far more than were the roles to be reversed – which is something I’ve always found deeply appealing. However, with certain ‘play partners’, taking a turn at being in control myself can be an exhilarating experience.)

Some partners may play different, defined roles during separate scenes. Others may mix things up during the same session, ‘changing places’ as you might a sexual position. Those who routinely enjoy experiencing both the dominant and submissive roles are known as ‘switches’. 

Even people who initially identify as ‘Dom’ (also called a ‘top’) or ‘sub’ (‘bottom’) may find their preference changes with different partners, or evolves over time.

3. SELECTING A SAFEWORD

What on earth is a ‘safeword’, what does it do, and how do you agree on one?

The purpose of a safeword is, in essence, exactly what it ‘says on the tin’: a vital part of any activity where - due to the very nature of the subject - you’re going to be experimenting with new ideas, experiences and sensations; both emotionally, psychologically and physically. 

Hence the need for an entirely innocuous word, with no sexual significance or ambiguous meaning, pre-agreed upon as a ‘code’ to pause or stop the scene.

So why not simply shout “STOP”? 

In certain scenarios – such as a power play in which one participant appears helpless – pleading or begging to stop can be part of the fun, therefore making the term redundant as a safeword. 

(Note: fantasies of force or non consent should always be discussed beforehand.) 

Also, “No more!” can very easily be misconstrued for “No, more!”. Equally, “Don’t! Stop!” could be wrongfully interpreted as an invitation to continue.

How to choose? Pick a word you’re sure will not innocuously be mentioned, and which has no sexual connotation; something memorable. A random animal name. A place. (A friend of mine once used to shout ‘Clementine!’, a choice I’ve never quite known how he arrived at.)

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Anything you couldn’t conceivably see as coming up in conversation, unless intended as a specific cue to ‘stop’. Some bondage enthusiasts also use the ‘traffic light system’ of safewords – red, amber and green – to denote different reactions. 

Calling “red” will immediately cease the scene altogether, ‘amber’ suggests a slowing down of pace or an easing of intensity, and ‘green’ confirms all can continue.

(Although personally, I’d rather just go for a single word and cut out the colors).

bondage lights

Calling “red” will immediately cease the scene altogether, ‘amber’ suggests a slowing down of pace or an easing of intensity, and ‘green’ confirms all can continue (although personally, I’d rather just go for a single word and cut out the colors). 

There is NO shame in using a safeword – after all, nobody knows precisely what they’re ‘into’ without a little exploration, and not every element of an experience may be something you wish to continue. 

Equally, predefining where your limits lie – how much of something you can take, or for how long – is not an automatic assumption, and although it’s always advisable to start small and work up in terms of intensity, a safeword helps protect both participants. 

It’s also worth noting that either partner can use a safeword; not just the submissive, often perceived as ‘on the receiving end’. The Dom may feel unsure, overwhelmed, or simply need to step back for a moment – in which case both of you can pause to reflect or reconsider before returning to the scene. 

4. CHOOSING YOUR RESTRAINTS

Having decided who is going to try tying up who, you need the material means with which to achieve this. 

A variety of different options are available, with different attributes and applications to consider. How do they look, feel and function? Will they ‘work’ for what you want to do with them? How long will they take to set up, and what safety considerations need you be mindful of? 

The most obvious option – rope – is explored in more detail in the following point. However, that still leaves an entire toybox of restraint possibilities to play with: from innocuous household items repurposed in the bedroom through to custom-made accessories. 

Christian Grey infamously used a tie to initiate his partner into a little light bondage, and chances are you’ve got something at home right now – a dressing gown cord, or a silk scarf, perhaps – that would do just as well. Impromptu options are a great introduction: you have immediate access to items without needing to pluck up courage to go shopping. Softer materials (such as a silk scarf) may seem less intimidating as an initial experience, too. 

Other household items can easily be brought into the bedroom. How about that roll of duct tape? 

Then we have the items designed to restrain: leather cuffs, shackles and good old-fashioned handcuffs. Bondage cuffs are designed with the ‘scene situation’ in mind: comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods yet sufficiently secure. (I’ve even fallen asleep still wearing mine.) 

As regards handcuffs, the plastic ones sold by some sex stores aren’t always ideal – they can be flimsy and poor quality; I wouldn’t bother with them myself – although can often be opened via a safety catch. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable with a more secure restraint, police-grade cuffs (available online) are almost impossible to escape and can only be opened via a key.

5. LEARNING THE ROPES

bondage ropes

Rope is a highly versatile restraint that, although may take a little practice to perfect, can be an amazing addition to a bondage toy box. It can be as simple as a few knots to bind a partner’s hands, or an intricate and complex work of art in its own right.

Are you after something soft and sensual? If so, rope bondage can be a beautiful thing. 

‘Shibari’ is the ancient Japanese practice of rope bondage; functional as well as beautiful, with an aesthetic all of its own, Shibari is popular worldwide. Ties are often practiced independently of a sexual setting, with partners instead focusing on the intimacy and trust the process creates. 

But back to basics: first, you’ll need some rope. There are a variety of different options, broadly categorised as  synthetic vs natural fibres, each with unique attributes. 

Depending on what you’re after, rope can be bought online, or in person at your local hardware store (believe me – you won’t have been the first to go shopping with this in mind!). As well as the type of rope you’re after, color and price may also be a consideration. 

Synthetic ropes – such as the nylon cord climbers use – are very strong and durable. However, they may not be the easiest to tie; designed to be ‘slippery’, synthetics do not hold knots well. 

They also have a tendency to be stiffer, although ‘hempex’ – a synthetic alternative to hemp – acts like a natural fibre and feels wonderful when snug against skin (a sensation I crave whenever I’m being tied). 

Natural-fibre options (such as hemp, linen, jute, and cotton) are ideal for ‘getting to grips’ with some rope bondage. Although quality and strength vary between type and manufacturer, natural options are often softer and easier to work with.

6. WHAT BONDAGE POSITIONS ARE THERE

You’ve talked to your partner, and you’ve got your restraints of choice. What next? One main decision is to be made here. Will you simply limit your partner’s movements – for example, by tying their hands behind their back – or will they be secured to another item of furniture, such as a bed or a chair? 

As bedroom furniture goes, a bed is an ideal (and practical) place to start. Some styles of bedframes lend themselves better to bondage than others: if you have a frame with metal bars, so much the better; a myriad of attachment points with which to secure your submissive. (I silently judge my friends’ choice of bedframes with an inquisitive eye.) 

Wooden bedposts are also pretty useful to loop a rope around, and structurally sturdy enough not to give when pulled against. If your bed isn’t blessed with obvious attachment points, many online outlets sell straps designed to pass beneath the mattress, thereby creating temporary tie-down opportunities. 

Alternatively, a chair works wonders – with an ankle secured to each leg and arms behind the back, or tied to the arms of the chair itself. What do you have at home you could use? My bed constantly has rope hanging off the headboard, but for those less liberal in letting your household know your tastes, simply stow your kit in a box beneath the bed or in a handy drawer when not in use.

Regarding positions, a lot depends on what you intend to do next. If your scene is going to involve sex, consider whether this will be practical or even possible: for example, the chair scenario isn’t going to provide the best angle for penetrative sex. Or will you remove the restraints to reposition your partner? 

In terms of being tied down, a great way to start is to simply secure your partner’s hands to the headboard of the bed; if all goes well, consider upping the intensity by fastening an ankle to each corner in a subsequent session.

7. BONDAGE SEX

Not all sex involves bondage, and not all bondage involves sex. However, it’s a great addition to spice up your love life – and can be an amazing experience to explore together.

Sex is a very sensual activity: the taste of your partner’s mouth, the touch of their skin against yours, the warmth of their body around or inside you. 

With one partner restrained, you’re effectively restricting their sensory cues: the ability to reach out and touch is removed. This in turn may heighten other senses, as the submissive partner is all too aware of their physical limitations. 

There’s also an element of anticipation that many find erotic; unable to ‘escape’, the submissive is under the dominant’s direction, unsure exactly how the scene will unfold. Bondage is excellent for building sexual tension: with my hands firmly fastened out of reach, I can’t masturbate, and chances are I’m going to be begging my partner to make me come before too long. 

Will they make me wait? How long will they tease me?

Eventually, the orgasms can be intense: I like a partner with a little imagination.  After all - a little frustration is all part of the fun. 

8. INTRODUCING OTHER TOYS

We’ll look into ‘impact play’ – ‘hitty things’, as I call them – in a later feature. However, beyond the items used primarily for restraint, bondage play can be further enhanced by a number of other toys.

Toys designed for sexual stimulation – vibrators, dildoes and the like – can all enhance the bondage experience. (The first time you’re secured spread-eagled on the bed and feel the buzz of a vibrator on your clit is pretty intense, let me tell you.) 

Non-sexual toys such as gags and blindfolds can also add an extra element of intrigue; removing the ability to see or speak. With a blindfold on, guessing your partner’s next move is an exquisite anticipation: try experimenting with that spare scarf, or an aeroplane eye mask. 

Gags are also a great way to help one partner feel helpless, although if unable to speak a safeword, remember to arrange another cue such as clicking your fingers. 

9. SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS

Regarding restraints, always bear in mind that the submissive may need to be released at a moment’s notice. If the scene is stopped prematurely – whether they’ve called their safeword, or the fire alarm’s just gone off – consider how they might efficiently and easily be released. 

If someone is rendered immobile for a lengthy period, poor circulation to hands and feet can become an issue – compounded by the tightness of restraint, certain positions and the length of time they’ve been immobile. Tingling in the fingers and toes is a sign they should be released, and circulation allowed to return. 

Experiment with positions: while you may be able to lie on your back on the bed almost indefinitely, hands secured to the headboard, bringing your ankles up over your shoulders – now unsupported by the mattress – may only be comfortable for a shorter time frame. Again, communication is key. 

Rope can be fiddly to undo in a hurry; keep an implement nearby to cut knots should you need to. EMT shears – such as the ones used by paramedics – are ideal, although a sturdy pair of scissors will work well too. I’ve even known friends who keep a diver’s knife on hand, intended to initiate an easy exit from a sticky situation. 

Another word of warning: while cable ties (or zip ties, as they’re sometimes known) might seem a great go-to option for an almost instant restraint, they’re not the most practical of items. 

Designed as a single-use item, they’re not intended to be undone, and must instead be cut off. It’s easy to inadvertently (and irreversibly) ratchet them tighter whilst struggling against them, at which point the thin band of plastic can cut in uncomfortably. In my opinion, best avoided. 

If you’re using the sorts of cuffs that are padlocked in place, keep a spare set of keys somewhere easily accessible (and unlikely to slide down the side of the bed out of reach!). The same goes for police handcuffs, the sort that can only be operated with the correct key. 

Believe me, you don’t want to be calling 911 to free your partner: law enforcement officers may seem an exciting addition to your BDSM session, but they’re never quite as enthusiastic as porn portrays them, and it’s an embarrassment best left avoided!

10. POST-SCENE COMMUNICATION

Whether it’s a dungeon or a bedroom, a sex swing or a silk scarf, no matter your means or methods – a bondage session is altogether unique. 

Hopefully you’re basking in the afterglow of an enjoyable experience, keen to explore more about what turns you on. But it’s important to pause for a moment to acknowledge your emotions. What excited you? What did you most enjoy, and why? What surprised you? 

‘Aftercare’ takes different forms for different individuals. Some couples like to cuddle, an intimate reassurance once the ropes are released. With the level of trust you’ve just gifted one another with, it makes sense to acknowledge that connection. 

And although it needn’t be immediately afterwards, make sure you take the time to discuss your experiences and perspectives with your partner. 

Be honest: if something wasn’t working for you, it needn’t be a criticism of their performance; rather, that’s all part of the exploratory process. Above all, be proud at having taken your first steps into this liberating lifestyle, whatever your level of involvement.

Bondage can be an intensely exhilarating and erotically fulfilling experience. I dived into it over a decade ago and instead of asking my partner if they fancy sex tonight, the question is now who ties up who…


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