Kinky sex, like all sex, has the potential to produce rapturous rewards, but also carries a host of considerable risks. Thus, it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety and nurture healthy relationships. Though a list of kink rules would inevitably lack exhaustiveness, there are some basic guidelines that you can follow to maximize pleasure and minimize risk while exploring the world of kink. Read through this list and look out for the “Safety First” inserts before trying new bedroom tricks alone or with a partner.
R.A.C.K. stands for risk-aware, consensual kink and this basic phrase outlines two of the essential components of kink while recognizing that there is some risk inherent to all sex play.
For kinky sex to be considered risk-aware, all parties involved must understand and acknowledge the potential negative outcomes of the proposed activity. These risks should be discussed ahead of time -- not in the heat of the moment when sexual tension is already building. It is important to address the measures that you plan to take to minimize risk when your mind is clear and your judgment isn’t clouded by desire or other distractions.
To be considered consensual, all parties involved must be capable of expressing their explicit and informed consent. The absence of protestation does not amount to consent and the clearest way to secure consent is to ask. Similarly, the most straightforward way to provide consent is to offer an enthusiastic and genuine “Yes!”
Consent is a cornerstone of all kinky activities and you should ask for consent every single time you play with a partner. Do not assume that because a lover wanted to be tied up and rough-handled last Saturday night, that they also want to be bound and spanked next Thursday morning. You always have the right to withdraw your consent at any time without explanation regardless of what you may have agreed upon in the past.
Before you can consent to any activity, you need to negotiate your wants, needs and limitations. For many people, talking about sex can actually be more daunting than actually having sex, so if you’re intimidated or shy, know that you are not alone. However, despite the discomfort you may experience while talking about your sexual feelings and boundaries, this conversation is essential to hotter, kinkier sex.
Some of the items you’ll want to cover in your negotiations include:
● The role(s) you are willing to play: Do you prefer to be submissive or dominant or does it depend on the day? It’s okay to switch roles. Are you a demanding dominant? Do you like to be punished or teased as a submissive? The more you talk about your desires and concerns in advance, the hotter your kinky experience will be.
● The activities you want to try and those that are off limits: Try the Kinky Colors of Exploration activity below to explore your desires and better understand your partner’s.
● The specifics of the activities you crave: For example, if you want to be tied up, do you want to be face-up or face-down? Do you want your ankles or just your wrists tied? How much slack do you require when bound? The little details not only make for a safer scene, but also ensure that every aspect of your fantasy is fulfilled.
● The specifics of your body: Which body parts like gentle touch and which ones enjoy rough play? Are there areas of your body that are off-limits or do you have any injuries that your lover should be aware of?
● The type of language you like to use and hear: How do you refer to your genitals? Are there words that turn you off, trigger upsetting memories or make you uncomfortable? It may seem like a silly discussion, but you don’t want to be in the middle of a smoking hot sex scene and then lose all interest and passion, because your lover uses the word wiener and it reminds you of your grandmother. If pet-names or name-calling are a part of your kink play, you’ll also want to discuss terms of endearment and degradation in advance.
● You and your lovers may draw up a contract in writing or agree on terms verbally. Though a written contract is not necessary, it may be helpful to help you to review your agreement and limitations before each scene. You can also amend or add to your contract and watch it evolve as you explore your very own personal kink journey.
● Even if you opt to use verbal negotiations as opposed to a written contract, you might want to try this Kinky Colors Exploration activity with your honey before getting started. This exercise allows you to color-code your interest in a number of sexual activities and can prompt a fun, sexy and revealing conversation about your fantasies and boundaries. You can revisit this activity over and over again, as your sexual desires and tastes are constantly evolving.
What you need: 2 each of red, yellow and green markers; 2 copies of the kinky activities list (*see end of article)
Take your list and your three colored markers into a private space, so that you can complete the first part of this exercise alone. Use the green marker to circle the items that you definitely want to try (or have already tried), the yellow one to circle those that you are curious about and might consider and the red marker to circle the ones that are definitely off-limits. Add your own items to the list based on your fantasies, curiosities and limits.
Once you’re finished, you can reconvene with your lover and go over one another’s answers. Relax and share your thoughts, concerns, limitations and questions and have fun giggling and revealing your most intimate desires.
Remember that just because you circled an item as green doesn’t mean that your lover has free reign to do as they please, it just means that you may be open to experimentation with this kink at some point in time. You still need to negotiate the terms and offer consent every time you engage in a kinky activity and discuss the specifics. For instance, if you circled “being bitten” in green, you’ll need to clarify where you like to be bitten.
Because kinky sex can include activities that are new, intimidating and risky, you need to proceed with care and caution. Don’t assume that you can dive in headfirst and re-enact a scene from a film or erotic novel without preparation, education or experience. Remember, the characters in novels and films are fictional, so although their sex lives may inspire you, don’t interpret their experiences as educational. They may have had a mind-blowing first experience with little or no preparation, but reality does not usually live up to fantastical expectations.
If you find that you are interested and open to a wide range of new experiences, don’t feel you need to try everything at once. The kinky sex all-you-can-eat buffet is constantly being replenished and you can come back for as many rounds as you’d like. Seasoned kink experts suggest that you add one new component of kink to your sex life at a time and break down your wildest fantasy into manageable parts. For instance, if your ultimate fantasy involves a public scene, lots of new props, spanking and total submission, try incorporating just one of these elements into your regular sex regimen. You might gradually move sex into a semi-public space like a balcony or backyard or before beginning to try new props and power play. Too much novelty at once can overwhelm your senses and intensify anxiety to a level at which arousal becomes impossible.
Just as you need to ease into kinky activities, you’ll also want to gradually explore the relational component of kink. Predicated on trust, kink is facilitated by a strong degree of connection, shared responsibility and care for yourself and your partner. Building and deepening trust takes time, so don’t feel the need to push your boundaries beyond your current comfort zone. Accepting and taking pride in your personal limitations is both a hallmark of kink and a quality of a great, authentic lover.
Dr. Jess Says...
Everything feels better when you are already turned on, so start with the types of sex you already enjoy and then add an element of kink, one element at a time. Eventually, kinky sex can become a part of your warm-up routine, but when you are just beginning to explore your kinky side, make sure that the foreplay includes activities, positions and techniques with which you are highly comfortable.
Safe words and safe signals are indispensable to hotter, safer kink play, as they allow you to explore a wider range of activities, communication styles, fantasies and role-plays. A safe word is a coded response that allows you to communicate your limits clearly and immediately. “Stop!”, “Please don’t!”, “I can’t take anymore” and similar phrases are NOT effective safe words, as we often use this type of language as part of a scene or role-play. Instead, select a word like Red, Popcorn or Cricket that you wouldn’t use during sex play, but is easy to remember.
Safe words are meant to be used and if you want to stop or have changed your mind about any activity, you shouldn’t hesitate to use yours. Many people use the stoplight system of safe words: green means bring it on; yellow means I’m reaching my limits, so please slow down or ease up; red means stop what you’re doing right now.
If you plan on engaging in activities that may inhibit your ability to speak, you’ll need to come up with a safe signal. For instance, holding up two fingers in a peace sign raising a scarf above your head could be your signal to your partner that you can’t take anymore and they should stop what they’re doing immediately. Whatever safe word or safe signal you choose, be sure to review it before you get down to business and be clear about its meaning.
Alongside safe signals, you may also want to develop a non-verbal communication code so that you don’t have to interrupt an erotic scene with talk. For example, you can hold up your fingers to indicate the degree of pain or distress you’re experiencing ranging from zero for no pain to five for a great degree.
Kinky sex can be complicated and risky, so be sure to educate yourself. The Little Book of Kink offers some specific suggestions and techniques for a range of activities, but it is in no way comprehensive. If you want to try something new that isn’t outlined in this book, read up on it or take a course first! Check out some of the reliable online forums for support and advice and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Alcohol and drugs can severely impair your sense of judgment, communication skills, perception of pain and response time, so it goes without saying that the risks of kinky sex are exacerbated by impairment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a drink or two with dinner, but if you’re too drunk to drive, shelve the kinky sex for another day.
With most of the techniques and scenarios outlined in The Little Book of Kink, you’ll be taking on a role of either a dominant or submissive. While it’s fun to stay in-character, it’s also important to check in with your partner to make sure that you’re both enjoying yourselves.
You’ll want to check for emotional safety by asking your partner if they’re feeling comfortable. A simple “Are you okay?” may suffice or you may develop a non-verbal cue to communicate your enjoyment of a scene. For instance, two light taps can reassure your lover that you’re feeling good. You’ll also want to check in to establish that your partner’s physical safety is secured. If you’ve tied them up, you should check the skin under the bondage equipment to ensure that their circulation isn’t obstructed. If you’ve been spanking them, you’ll want to check in and make sure that the pressure isn’t too much for them to handle.
Safer sex doesn’t have to be clinical or unsexy. In fact, some of the hottest sex acts, like putting a condom on with your mouth or slathering lube all over your lover’s hot vulva, are safer sex essentials. In addition to considering barrier methods (condoms, dams, gloves, etc.) and regular testing, you should also inspect your toys and equipment to make sure that they are clean and functioning. You don’t want to play with worn out ties or toys that haven’t been washed or sanitized since your last play session.
When it comes to kink, safer sex also involves respecting your partner’s limits. You’ve already discussed your boundaries, so don’t try to push them or renegotiate during an intense kinky sex scene. Pressure is never sexy and is one of the biggest obstacles to a satisfying sex life.
You already know that strong communication skills are fundamental to sizzling hot sex, but they don’t stop when the physical contact ends. In fact, what happens after a sex scene is just as important as the activity itself, as kinky sex can involve intense emotions, sensations and activities. If your sex play was physically exhausting or challenging, be sure to find a comfortable position to rest in as part of your recovery and check in with your partner to make sure that they’re comfortable as well. If you find yourself emotionally overwhelmed by your experience, you can discuss your reactions with your partner and welcome their reactions. Offer reassurance and be empathetic to their response. You may want to kiss, snuggle, take a bath or go for a run as part of your aftercare and each person will have a unique set of needs, so be sure to discuss yours as openly as possible.
Despite all of the rules, preparations and safety precautions, kinky sex is still supposed to be a ton of fun! Having a sense of humor and accepting that not everything will go exactly as planned will help to ensure that your experience is overwhelmingly positive.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to be kinky. Whether you’re turned on by spiked high-heels and leather whips or dog collars and ball gags, you’re perfectly normal -- and perfectly kinky.
*Print or copy this list to use in the Kinky Colors Exploration Activity from section 2:
● wearing nipple clamps
● spanking my partner
● being spanked
● being tied up with scarves
● being tied up with rope
● being bound with cuffs
● tying up a partner
● submitting to a partner
● dominating a partner
● fingering your partner
● being fingered by your partner
● using a dildo on myself
● using a dildo on my partner
● ice play
● being whipped
● whipping a partner
● being paddled
● paddling my partner
● being blindfolded
● blindfolding a partner
● using donuts
● using cock rings
● performing analingus
● receiving analingus
● performing cunnilingus
● receiving cunnilingus
● biting your partner
● being bitten
● wearing handcuffs
● sucking fingers
● sucking toes
● having fingers sucked
● having toes sucked
● masturbating in front of partner
● watching your partner masturbate
● ice play
● hot wax play
● feather tickling
● being caned
● caning a partner
● wearing a cloth gag
● wearing a ball gag
● sensory deprivation
● delayed gratification
The content above is an abridged version of the guidelines in Dr. Jessica O’Reilly’s The Little Book of Kink: Sexy Secrets for Thrilling Over-the-Edge Pleasure by Quiver Books.
Images are for illustrative purposes only.