Trying a new sexual activity — be it new toys or gear, role playing, BDSM or fetish play, or anything else — can be exciting. It can help you expand your sexual horizons, learn new things about yourself, and even strengthen your bond with a partner. But In order to keep the experience sexy and fun, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Some activities require a certain amount of education, safety, and aftercare.
Here are eight tips for making a first-time kinky experience safe, fun, and hot. Note that while these tips might be geared toward kinky activities, they can be applied to any new sexual activity, from the vanilla to the spicy.
1. Do your research
Before trying anything new in the bedroom, do your due diligence by performing some preliminary research. This can help you get a better sense of exactly what the activity entails, what excites you, what your limits are, and how to communicate those things to your partner(s). It can also help set realistic expectations as we often receive misinformation from porn and media on what some sexual activities might look and feel like. (50 Shades of Gray isn’t the most accurate portrayal of an S&M dynamic after all.)
If you’re interested in kink and BDSM activities, learning about the spectrum of activities and intensity levels that fall under these umbrellas can give you an idea of what you might want to try. Then you may want to narrow your search to learn about specific types of BDSM punishments, for example.
Your research will also reveal if equipment or props are needed and if there are safety risks involved. If you’re interested in bondage for example, research the different kinds of body safe ropes, where you can get them, the origins of bondage, and what kind of situations may arise and how to handle them. There are many resources to give you the information you need.
2. If the new activity involves a partner, establish consent, boundaries, and safe words
Before you try anything with your partner(s), establish enthusiastic consent and communicate boundaries.
Isabelle Uren, certified sex expert, writer, and manager for Bedbible.com, tells O.school that one way to understand your boundaries is by making “a yes, no, maybe list to figure out what you do and don’t want to happen.” Uren adds, “For example, if you are experimenting with bondage for the first time, you might be open to having your ankles and wrists cuffed, but wearing a gag is a no-go, and you are not sure about wearing a blindfold…You can then compare this with your partner(s) to select activities that you both want to try.”
Consider choosing a safe word you and you partner(s) can use any time throughout your sexual experience to signal a full-stop. For example, a safe word might be used if someone is experiencing unwanted pain, discomfort, gets triggered, isn’t enjoying the scene, or if a boundary is being approached or crossed. Think about choosing a word that would never come up organically during sex. Words like “stop” or “no” aren’t always great safe words because they could be part of a scene. Something random, but easy to remember, can be a good way to go. Check out our guide on safe word ideas for some inspiration.
Remember, consent can be withdrawn at any time. Your boundaries and interests may change over time, whether that’s during one sexual encounter or over the course of months. So, it’s important to keep checking in with your partner to let them know what you are and aren’t into and to hear where they’re at.
3. Make sure there is a foundation of trust
Some activities — such as using restraints and blindfolds or trying impact play — require trust that your partner will care for your physical safety. Other activities — such as trying a role play scenario, cuckolding, or a threesome — require a large amount of emotional trust. For some, putting their emotional and physical safety in the hands of another person is a large part of the turn on. But while this can be a positive, it’s important to establish how far you’re willing to take the activity with a partner and what the boundaries are.
Trusting a partner will respect these boundaries can mean first trying activities with smaller stakes and seeing how the experience plays out. If it goes in a way you like, you may trust that partner enough to up the ante a little. Establishing this kind of trust can be a gradual process, require lots of communication, and effort.
4. Safety first, especially if equipment or gear is involved
If equipment is needed, make sure you know how to use it and that it’s safe for your body. This is especially important when it comes to knot tying, for example. Make sure the ropes are body safe and you know how to safely tie knots so they can be easily untied. “Wax play requires body safe candles, not regular candles” and “certain toys should be used with certain lubes (silicone toys should be used with water-based lube),” says Gabrielle S. Evans, MPH, CHES, sexuality educator and researcher. If you’re trying anal play, make sure you have lube and the base of your toys are flared. Read reviews and instructions for new toys, and know that finding the right one for you may be a bit of a trial and error process.
While there are lots of accessories and household items you can incorporate into sexual play, it is very important to do your research first and make sure the item you are using is safe for your body, that you know how to use it, and you know what to do if something goes wrong.
In some cases, being safe requires a certain amount of education or even courses. For example, there are training sessions for gaining dominatrix or mistress skills. This might be a bit more advanced for someone just trying light play for the first time in a home setting, but the deeper you get into it, the more you may find a certain skill set is required to ensure the safety of yourself and anyone else involved.
5. Don’t go from 0 to 100
When it comes to trying any new sexual experience, start small and go slow. If you’re trying impact play (spanking, paddling, etc.) for example, do it gradually. Start with a light tap first and see how the receiver (you or your partner) feels about it. Ask if they want it harder, lighter, or somewhere else and go from there. Try using a scale from one to ten to describe the intensity of the impact and how much more or less is wanted, “if that was a two, I’d like you to try a three,” for example. If you’re trying a butt plug for the first time, start with a beginner size that’s smaller. If you find you want a fuller sensation, try a slightly bigger one, then an even bigger one after that. There are some butt plug toys that come in a set with various sizes so you don’t have to buy multiple plugs at different times.
“For temperature play, start off light. Alternate with having ice cubes in your mouth and also drinking warm water when sucking on your partner. You can also use frozen grapes and warm massage oils” adds Liv Arnold, erotic rom-com author.
Starting slow allows you and your partner(s) to minimize the risk of unwanted pain or discomfort and also allows you to explore the sensations and experience more fully.
6. Check in with yourself and your partner throughout the experience
Even if you have talked explicitly about what you and your partner(s) are going to do beforehand, you must continue to check-in throughout the experience, both with yourself and your partner(s). This is an essential part of consent and practicing kink, BDSM, or any other kind of sexual experience safely.
Checking-in can involve both verbal and non-verbal communication. This means asking things like, “What you do/don’t like,'' and “What feels good,” says Evans. “Check in with each other often to make sure you are both ready to go to the next level” says Uren. “You can use a pleasure scale from one to ten to rate each type of touch or ask simple questions like ‘Are you ready to go further?’ ” they add.
Non-verbal communication is also just as important as verbal communication. Pay attention to your partners’ body language as well as how your own body feels. Notice if there are any big changes in your partner(s) body language or your own, like no longer making eye contact, feeling distant, or drawing your body away, for example. If you notice these things happening, and they are not actively taking part in the scene, check-in verbally or use your safe word. You might also talk with your partner(s) beforehand about signs that show they may no longer be enjoying themselves so you can look for them in your partner(s) throughout the sexual experience.
7. Don’t fake it if you don’t like it
“There’s no ‘faking it til you make it.’ If something isn’t working for you or isn’t enjoyable, don’t fake it for the sake of your partner,” says Evans, “Your pleasure is just as important as theirs.”
If you aren’t enjoying yourself, you don’t have to keep going — even if it’s something you and your partner(s) have been talking about trying for a long time, or it’s something you know your partner really wants to do. For some people, continuing a sexual experience when they actually don’t want to can have a big impact on them.
8. Have some aftercare activities ready
“While [aftercare] is important after all sexual activities, it’s extra important after trying something new for the first time as it involves a high level of emotional and physical vulnerability” Uren tells O.school.
Before you and your partner(s) try anything new, talk to them about the kind of aftercare you enjoy so you can have it ready after your scene. Aftercare can be physical or emotional. It may be removing any equipment, cleaning off or bathing, sharing kisses, cuddles, or a massage, getting a snack, or rehydrating. It can also be a moment where you and your partner(s) tend to emotional needs by discussing everything that just took place or giving each other affirmations. Evans says it can be helpful to start with what you enjoyed and then move to what you didn’t like. Think about your favorite and least favorite parts and talk about what you’d want to be different next time.
The bottom line
Sexual exploration can be a powerful way to get to know yourself and feel more connected to your partner(s). There are so many different things to try when it comes to kink, but regardless of what new activity it is, it’s important to take the appropriate measures to ensure your first experiences are safe, fun, and hot.