BDSM for Beginners

Don't anticipate a guy's bedroom habits based on how he's dressed

"Do you have sex with your glasses on?" my friend Lex asked me at a party recently. I laughed before answering; I most definitely remove my specs before even kissing; they're too clunky and get in the way.

Her question stayed with me, though, because it showed how we often have no idea what other people's sex lives actually look like, even those of our closest friends, not to mention potential dates. We can't tell from outward appearances what will get someone off behind closed doors. This is one of the most fascinating things about sex, both as a topic and as an act. We may not even know what we'll be like with any given person. For instance, I like spanking, both giving and getting, but that doesn't mean I want to do it with every single lover. It depends on the mood, the chemistry, and particular interests. I don't have a cookie-cutter sexual response, and there have certainly been times when someone's spanked me and I simply couldn't get into it.

I recently had a date with a guy who's a far cry from the freaky artist types I usually go for. He works in finance and dresses the part: classy clothes with a touch of metrosexuality, and gleaming, straight teeth that form a perfect smile. Yuppie tinged with rock 'n' roll, the latter seeping out more in conversation than appearance. We met at a party, through a mutual friend. He confessed his fondness for fishnets and flirted with me in a way even my often clueless self couldn't mistake. He was cute and interesting and I sensed potential, even though I worried that our worlds were too far apart.

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I knew I wanted to impress him when I found myself shopping frantically for our date. I wound up with a new pair of purple heels, a sheer pink blouse, a very short miniskirt, and of course, fishnets. We went to dinner, a show, and then out for dessert; I impressed him with my willingness to enter Pizzeria Uno. Then we walked through the chilly air while I shivered, waiting for him to ask me back to his place. Finally, slightly hesitantly, he did. I was expecting sex of the distinctly vanilla variety, even looking forward to it—perfectly normal, fun sex that might make me come, but wouldn't shake me up in any way.

By now I should know not to assume people's sexual proclivities from the way they look. Once you get a person alone, naked, stripped down to his element, anything can happen. Ask a dominatrix and she'll surely tell you about the buttoned-up businessmen, or perhaps Hasidim, seeking all manner of torture. Yet it's hard to imagine that the guy who's the epitome of normalcy won't be sexually conventional.

When we got back to his place, things started off with a make-out session that migrated from his couch to his bed. As I lay on top of him, licking and nipping at his neck and earlobe, he went wild, thrashing against me, so I pressed a little more intensely, plunging my tongue into his ear while digging my nails into his back. It was clear within moments that he got off on the pain, and I began pinching his nipples while he writhed beneath me. Things got frantic very quickly, not at all what I'd expected.

He was shocked too. "The rougher you are, the more I enjoy it," he said, a hint of wonder in his voice. It had taken mere moments to go from feeling each other up to this urgent, seething roughness. In hindsight it seems obvious that he'd want to be dominated. He'd already expressed his fishnet fetish, and told me he'd been reading my erotic spanking anthology every night before he went to sleep. I interpreted that as mere politeness, and thought perhaps he'd spank me lightly, but we were connecting on a deeper level. When I finally turned him over and simultaneously tugged on the scruff of his neck and spanked him, he was in heaven, and we were up well past 5 a.m. exploring his newfound kinkiness.

I was amazed not only by his reactions to our play, but by mine. I hadn't expected to top him, and perhaps that made it more exciting. I felt feral, primal, almost animalistic as I bit and teased and spanked him, already picturing how he'd react to having his wrists bound by handcuffs. The room felt charged with an erotic energy that I don't normally find in regular intercourse. His excitement spurred my own, and later when he fingered and spanked me, I was incredibly turned-on.

I realized how much I like that dominant position, a distinct reversal from where I was five years ago. I remember picking a guy up at a party and taking him home. He asked me to use the nipple clamps I'd bought—in the hopes of some action for my nipples—on him! I tried, moving the metal prongs so they'd pinch his tender buds, but I was too squeamish. "Are you OK? How does that feel?" I kept wanting to ask, petrified that I would really hurt him, even though that's what he most wanted. At the time, I couldn't handle, never mind enjoy, making someone else suffer. But in the last year or two, I've tapped into a sadistic streak that makes me delight in hurting others sexually, as long as it's consensual and desired. I don't have a desire to top any random person, though; it has to be the right time, person, and mood. Watching this current lover transform right before my eyes and discover something that's clearly key to his sexuality was thrilling on many levels and makes me want to go further with him, to see what other kinds of pain he can take.

One of my favorite quotes about sex comes from David Guy's The Red Thread of Passion: Spirituality and the Paradox of Sex (Shambhala, 1999), in which he writes, "Most profoundly, [sex] is an act of opening up to one another. It is a sharing of energies. It doesn't ask you to be a certain way. It shows you how you are." To me, this means that the best sex changes us, makes us different people than we were before, not just physically, but mentally. That's exactly what this date did for me. I hope he felt it too.


Please visit rachelkramerbussel.com, where you can order my newNaughty Spanking Stories From A to Z (Pretty Things Press, $14.95).

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