Know before you go: a first time kink primer

Whether just wanting to spice up your sex life or thinking of going into a kink lifestyle, starting the right way will have a big impact on your attitudes towards kink. In short here are 12 things to know before you go into the world of kink for the first few times.

1. A little information goes a long way

Get in touch with what you want but also in touch with what is out there. The best way is to educate yourself. There are lots of kink/bdsm literature out there some of it is good most of it is misinformed or misleading. One fairly interesting book is…

An easy place to start is to call the San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI) hotline. They give judgement free information about almost any sexual kink/desire you can possibly imagine. SFSI is open to any all callers whether you are in San Franciso of Medicine Hat or Kuala Lumpur. They can be reached at: 

Ask questions by phone

+1-415-989-SFSI (7374), hours are (US/Pacific time)
3-9 PM Monday through Thursday
3-6 PM Friday
Not open for US holidays or holiday weekends.

Questions can also be answered by email,

Then list a book and a web resource fetlife and recon.

2. Take it easy the first time

You do not need to do anything you do not want to do. Or in the venerable words of Master Morris, “If it isn’t fun, why bother?” Start with something you really long to do or try out. And no matter what the fantasy is try it out lightly first. If it works you can always go deeper later.

3. Reduce your risk

The overall strategy is to reduce risk. Kink can be low risk to high risk. One dimension of risk is mobility: the more you are immobilized or dependent on another person to move the higher risk is. The other is the physical risk of injury: the more invasive or the harder the impact the higher the risk of injury. The general rule here is for the first time: take it easy and slow. Be patient with yourself. When starting out ask a partner to help you ‘sample; something. Starting as light as possible, you can always build upwards to find the sweet spot for you. One could think of it like exercising for the first time: you over do it and you risk injury, 

4. Protect your vulnerability 

The first time, you may want to protect your vulnerability. You can do this by at first maximizing the level of control you have in a scene. Not being tied up, or at least not being immobilized. Being able to speak and breathe freely. Essentially the less you can move and communicate the more vulnerable you are. Some people play with complete immobilization and/or sensory deprivation. These scenes can be hot but it is something most will prefer to build up to with a trusted partner.

Another facet of vulnerability is a subs’s desire to please the dominate. Be aware of this and know that most good tops want to be informed when you are experiencing something unpleasant and undesired.

5. Getting references

Getting references from your play partner is also another way to reduce risk. References is one way to ascertain if the top has experience with what they are doing. A reference can be meeting other play partners at the bar, or calling them on the telephone, meeting them in person etc. Tops that do not have references may be inexperienced and you want to exercise more caution (reduce vulnerability) with them than someone who has a loyal following of admirers.

6. Negotiate what you want to happen/don’t want to happen

we all love surprises and the element of surprise can be really hot. It can also be very dangerous if there is not some kind of boundary. A boundary can be anything from a specific activity: I only want a spanking not a flogging; to a level, I don’t want to go deeper than my limits permit; to certain aspects of harm: i don’t want permanent marks, i only want marks that will heal in a day or two. Be careful, a top may not always know which marks will heal in a day or two versus a month.

7. Consent to the activities

SFSI defines consent as: The right to choose the experience that is appropriate for you. Consent can be given or taken away at any time

To be able to give consent, you must have:

  • The ability to understand what you are consenting to 
  • The power to say no 

Consent laws and norms vary by state, country, culture, and subculture. 

Essentially we want to echo this quote about taking control:  “If I want it say so, if I don’t want it say so: it’s up to me to take care of me.” In kink/s&m play it is very important to be clear about this upfront before a scene begins. (Source: Survivor’s guide to sex)

Simply negotiating with a newbie “I am going to spank you” does not create consent since their idea of a spanking may be totally different and no way to revoke consent was included. A more consensual interaction might be, “I am going to spank you with my hand, and then a leather paddle, if the pain beomes too much use the safe word “Yellow” to mean slow down, and “Red” to stop the scene immediately.”

8. Trusting your partner

How can you trust someone with you life whom you have barely met? Yet that is what we do when we play with someone we just met at a bar. Mostly this is not a problem as most people are responsible and experienced. but not always. A few precautions can help you learn whether you can trust the person or not. Get references of people they have played with. If possible have a private talk with someone they have played with. Discuss their experiences with what you have negotiated

9. Be transparent 

Your sex partner cannot read your mind. During a scene over-communicating is communicating just enough. Let everyone know how you are doing. If you have nothing to report, it still might be nice to let out a moan of pleasure. You want to let other partners know as soon as you feel: dizzy, a tingling sensation like nerves falling asleep, sudden numbness, when you are approaching a limit (remember telling them after a limit is exceeded may be too late). 

10. Self-image: know thyself

Remember this isn’t the olympics of kink everyone wants to have a good time. Have a strong self image of who you are and what you want. Know what your limits are. To help, you might want to make a list of what you want what you might want and what you definitely do not want. Call it a green,yellow and red list.  Start of with the green stuff in your first experiences and cautiously build up to the yellow list. Stuck for ideas, you can find a pretty exhaustive live of sexual activities here: 

11. Know what you are doing/getting into

Are you about to do something you have never done before? Do you know what it really is? While we are getting out library of sexual practices up to speed, a call or email to SFSI (see #1 above) is the surest way to get the right information on any variety of kink sex practices. 

12. Know the limits/limitations for both you and your partner


It does not do anyone any good to have a safe word if a sub does not know his limits.  Be clear about them and have ways to communicate them. 


A safeword, while very helpful. The sub is not always able to use the safeword, a top should be aware of signs when a sub is over the limit.  Subs can get dissociative with their own feelings or in a endorphin-enduced high that might impair their judgement. To avoid this try an incorporate periodic check ins. The partner just stops a moment the activity and asks the other partner(s) how they are doing.


Each partner should be aware of any health issues that might interfere with the scene. This is beyond the usual STi information, and can include things like Asthma, what do you do if your top has an asthma attack while you are in immobilized bondage?

Physical, mental and safety limitations are also important to establish. Physical limitations are the limitations of both one’s physical abilities to perform as well as physical abilities to withstand something. Mental limitations are the barriers due to one’s background, mental preparedness and mental make-up of what someone finds desirable. Sometimes these limitations are not discovered until one explores one’s kink sexuality, and that is the reason for the needed check ins mentioned above.

Exceeding the limitations will result in harm being done and that is not the purpose of kink, as Master Morris Taylor once said, “If it isn’t fun, why bother.”

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you for this. I am entering my first M/s relationship. My Master has been giving me lots of info to read and encourages me to ask questions any questions none are off limits. This makes me feel supported instead of controlled. Although he is in full control of me. This article has helped me a lot. Thank you for putting this out there!

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