Sadomasochism (or S&M) essentially consists of feeling pleasure in the face of pain. On the surface this may seem like a sexual practice that's only for the most experimental or kinky among us but sadomasochism, at least in mild forms, has been a part of almost everyone's sex life at one point or another. When people are sexually aroused, their tolerance for pain has a natural way of increasing. Spanking, biting, and nail scratching seem to find their way into even the most conservative bedrooms. Here are some ideas for toys that will give you the most out of your S&M experience.
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One toy that's classically associated with sadomasochism is the whip. Using a whip during intimate interactions is not unlike spanking at all (in fact it can even be used for spanking). The best type of whip to start out with, as someone new to S&M, is called floggers. Other types of whips (such as single tailed whips and the “cat o' nine tails” whip) tend to be a bit more painful and take more skill and accuracy to use properly (use them improperly and you can end up with lacerations; not serious or permanent by any means but still annoying). A flogger is a whip with several tails which are generally made out of leather or a more soft-fibered type of chord. Look for the floggers that have tails made of either very light leather or the soft-fibered chord to start out with. So long as you don't swing for the fences and you avoid wrapping the tails around your partners body, these whips are extremely unlikely to leave any marks. Whips are great for “master and slave” style role playing.
Paddles are a cousin of the whip but give out a slightly different sensation even more akin to spanking. Leather paddles are a good starting place for beginners, as they really don't cause too much pain to the skin. Wooden paddles are okay too, but require a little more delicacy when being used, especially right at first. Try to avoid paddles with studs and rivets and the like until you've gotten some more experience. S&M and role playing go hand in hand with this item as well, as paddles are a great means for the principal to punish the bad school girl.
Another tool which is often employed in the wildly creative world of S&M is the restraint. Restraints are used essentially to keep one partner's limbs immobilized so that the other partner can exert complete domination over the situation. The helplessness one feels while being restrained in a sexual situation can be quite erotic, while the power felt by the controlling partner can have an exciting effect as well. Handcuffs are the most popular type of restraints out there. You can buy police style metal handcuffs (perfect for some “criminal bribes officer” or “officer abuses his power” role playing) or go for the more comfortable fluffy variety. Silk sashes are an alternative form of restraints that can actually be quite comfortable, attractive and aesthetically appealing. Be creative when using restraints; you or your partner can be tied up pretty much anywhere in virtually any pretzel position imaginable, so experiment. Blindfolds work very well in conjunction with restraints to enhance the helplessness versus power dynamic.
Nipple clamps are toys which can really heighten the sexual sensations of the female breasts (they can be used on a man's chest as well but frankly the guy would need to have some unusually big nipples). Nipple sensation is often something that is only enjoyed briefly during foreplay and rarely factors into actual intercourse, but this doesn't have to be the case. When first buying a nipple clamp try to find one with the ability to adjust tightness, as it can take a little time and practice to get used to the pain (though it's a good kind of pain) of these toys. Be gentle when applying a nipple clamp to your partner; sometimes it helps to sort of mimic the clamp's actions by squeezing the nipple tightly just before applying the clamp. The clamps should be applied parallel to your partner's body (as opposed to perpendicular as this allows for too much clamp movement; if your partner is standing up then the clamps should be “hanging” down; not pointing outwards). Never forget to remove nipple clamps in a timely manner (within 45 minutes), as they do reduce blood flow slightly.
With every single one of these toys (and any other fun S&M instruments you may come across) you should always start slow and work your way up. Everyone's pain threshold is a bit different and it's important to respect what your body's trying to tell you. If something hurts too much, then take a break. The body has a way of getting used to the type of pain that's not really harmful (which is what S&M is really: harmless pain). Think of it as a really hot bath; if you dive in all at once then it's going to be a very bad experience that you'll be forced to end immediately. But if you allow your body to adjust then you'll feel a very pleasing sensation that isn't achievable through a normal warm bath. S&M works the same way, so pace yourself.
Sadomasochism can unleash an element of your sexuality that you never even knew you had. Pain is a feeling which has much more potential in the bedroom than many people give it credit for. Easing into S&M with the painless toys like handcuffs can't do any harm, so why not give it a shot? Ultimately, what is weird and what is normal are purely subjective opinions, and there's a reason why S&M is so popular among so many “weirdos” (and it's not because they're weird). Humor your curiosity.