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A Motto for Rope Bottoms Facing Challenges
So you can’t touch your toes or ft into size-0 pants, or ibuprofen is your constant companion. Is rope bondage destined to just be forever a dream? Not likely. While you should always consult a medical professional before trying bondage if you have concerns, and should research all the risks (nerve damage, for instance)1 along with consent and negotiation,2 so many kinds of rope bondage exist that there could easily be one that suits you. It may just take a little fguring out.
You may beneft from modifed ties or positions. You may need to fnd a partner who can work with your issues. You may fnd changing your own assumptions, perceptions, or mindset benefcial. And you may fnd my own motto, which I came up with to help me deal with being an older (47-year-old) rope bottom, helpful too:
Patience. Persistence. Resilience
1. Patience. An older body may take longer to warm up and heal. A male body, a curvy one, or one with physical issues may take longer for a rope top to learn how to tie. A gender-nonconforming body may be going through stages of changes over a long period of time. Instead of seeing this time needed as a negative, we can see it as a gift that allows us to more deeply experience our bodies than someone who takes the body for granted because things come more easily.
In my 20s I was so impatient and restless that I couldn’t really enjoy anything in the moment—I was always wondering what was next, how the situation could be improved, was there something better/more fun/more worthwhile somewhere else? Two decades later as I slowly and carefully stretch before a rope scene or see marks that linger for months, I savor the joy of just being and ofer gratitude for my body that it has taken me so far and done so much, and gratitude for life that over many years has given me the gift of more patience.
Patience applies to our minds when we compare our- selves to others and when self-doubt arises too. I’ve started thinking in terms of meditation: how when we meditate, we treat those random thoughts that wander in as clouds foating by—we notice them and move on, without judgment or self-criticism. When I fnd myself looking at photos of younger, bendier rope bottoms in amazing poses and comparing my- self in a negative way, I notice the thought and then let it foat past. I’m patient with my thoughts instead of lamenting them. Tose photos have nothing to do with the beauty and magic of my own rope scenes. And amazing poses are certainly not required for an amazing scene anyway!
Kel Bowie and Ashley Lane. Bondage by Kel Bowie. Photo by Te Silence
2. Persistence. “Find 12 ways around the word ‘no,’ ” recommends TMZ founder Harvey Levin in an interview in an in-fight magazine. Sage advice for a rope bottom facing challenges, and it applies to ourselves and our bodies as well as to things like fnding partners.
Persistence might be needed for working around physical issues, whether from age or size or shape or things like chronic pain or limited mobility. Some rope bottoms have found ways around the body’s saying no that will make your heart sing.
Persistence might be needed for fnding partners, because rope bottoms facing challenges may have to work harder at this. Finding ways around no doesn’t mean hounding someone until they give in to playing with us, by the way. It means honoring one person’s no and moving on to someone who may say yes. We may have to do this way more times than someone else, but think of it like being an actor who gets rejected over and over before landing a big part. Oscar nominee Naomi Watts made her flm debut in 1986 but didn’t hit it big until 15 years later, with Mulholland Drive (2001). She sometimes thought, “I can’t handle it. I’m giving up” during all those years of low-profle or no roles, but did she give up? Nope, and now she’s a celebrity. Tat’s persistence.
3. Resilience. Rope bottoms facing challenges may have to deal with more frustrations, setbacks, and rejections than other rope bottoms. Not internalizing those things—learning how to deal with them without letting them defne us, rising above them—is key to getting the most out of our rope journeys. We can’t experience the heights of rope joy if we’re stuck in the muck of feeling regret, self-pity, bitterness, or any other feeling that doesn’t serve us.
My resilience as an older rope bottom comes from reminding myself that my body has done amazing things, like given birth to a child, climbed a mountain in Switzerland, held the hand of a loved one as she passed from this earth. Other people’s resilience might come from remembering that they’ve changed even one person’s stereotypical perception, or had the courage to be true to themselves when no one else they knew was like them, or did a challenging rope scene after they were told it wasn’t possible. Whatever renews and reafrms our confdence and sense of self-worth in the face of challenges can help our resilience.
Anne-X. Bondage and photo by KnotRod
And resilience may be helped by reminding ourselves that the more we’ve been through, the more we’ve grown and deepened. All of our experiences, whether we consider them positive or negative, are our teachers. Tey teach us compassion; they give us a greater understanding of ourselves and the world. Tey make our lives richer and more meaningful. Tey allow us to live our lives more fully.
With patience, persistence, and resilience, we can all celebrate what makes us uniquely us, and how we make the rope community as a whole richer, deeper, and more vibrant. A single musical note doesn’t make a song, let alone a symphony.
All of us, with every unique note we contribute, make the rope community a symphony. And that’s something to celebrate.
Te “Not Good Enough” Rope Bottoming Mentality
After the bliss of a rope scene fades, maybe in an hour or two, maybe in a day or two, thoughts of all my shortcomings start rearing their ugly heads. I curse my lower back’s infexibility, feel ashamed about asking for adjustments, wish I had been able to stay in the rope longer, wish I had been more graceful or more attractive…just more. Better.
Bill Dudley. Bondage by Aeolis Est. Photo by Tyler Neuroth
Maybe it’s the rope drop talking. What goes up must come down, and maybe the self-doubt is on the other side of bliss on the pendulum’s swing. Or maybe it’s just my perfectionistic personality. Whatever the reason, I know my perception is warped. But warped or not, there it is, that dark cloud of selfdoubt hovering relentlessly.
Surely other rope bottoms have felt this at some point Te question is, What can we do about it?
We could try to eliminate all the things we have the self-doubt about. For example, I could fnally buy that darn contortionist DVD and seriously strive for more fexibility. I could lose those extra pounds and get more ft. I could fnd someone to do more rope bottoming “lab time” with to work on improving.
But something tells me I’d still feel not good enough. Because there’s always room for improvement. If you eradicate those particular issues, others will just slide in to take their place. Because beating back self-doubt doesn’t happen by letting it control you.
Of course, improvement can be a worthy idea, as long as our self-esteem isn’t tied to the results—as long as we aren’t attached to the outcome, which is a Zen concept and which is much easier said than done, for me anyway.
If “fxing” the issues won’t make the self-doubt go away, what will?
Talking with the partner in the rope play seems like a good idea. But I’m loath to unleash all of my insecurities on someone I’m hoping will fnd me desirable enough to want to tie with again. Telling a rope top all the ways you think you fell short as a rope bottom… not so sexy I think. It could also make them think they did something wrong. Besides, I know my perception is warped and that the feelings will ease eventually (ease but not entirely disappear).
E-mechanic and Kat. Bondage by Kat.
Journaling helps a little. So does writing down one positive thought for every negative one, in two columns. For instance, in column A goes “stupid embar- rassing infexible lower back,” and in column B goes “was totally present.” But I tend to give more weight to the negative side, so that’s not a complete solution.
What seems to help the most is talking with other rope bottoms, in person or online. Every time I’ve spoken or posted something about my mistakes, thoughts, or feelings, someone if not many someones has been right there saying, “Me too.” I think a lot of us feel like our issues and problems and insecurities as rope bottoms (or even just in general) are unique just to us. But I’m also pretty sure that no matter what it is, someone else can identify with it—and often can even ofer wisdom or insight that helps.
Tat’s one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the idea of a rope community, and in particular a rope bottoming community. Tis thing we do, there’s no road map for it. You can’t study rope bottoming in college or read reams of rope bottoming studies and manuals, because they don’t exist. All we have is one another and our collective knowledge and experiences. And the more we can share that knowledge and those experiences, the more we can support one another, the better of we’ll all be.
Te One Ting Tat Will Make You a Super Rope Bottom
You gaze in awe at the gorgeous bondage models, their slender limbs stretched into unbelievable poses by artfully placed rope, their faces enrapt or etched beautifully with sufering. “Well, hell,” you might think. “I could never be as good a bondage bottom as they are.”
And you would be wrong.
What makes a great rope bottom? Tis question comes up often in the rope community. You’ll hear answers like fexibility, stamina, an ability to surrender…and yes, those things do help expand the range of bondage play possibilities. You may hear about good communication, which is essential, since rope play even with experienced partners can cause nerve damage and other injuries. You may hear about being a petite size, which is utter bullshit (see Shay’s article in Chapter 6). What you might never hear is the one thing I consider to be the most important of all:
“Tat’s it?” you might be thinking, shaking your head in disbelief. “How is honesty going to help me touch my toes to my head in a full backbend 10 feet in the air while spinning around blindfolded? How is honesty going to make me 20 pounds thinner so the rope doesn’t squeeze my fesh like an overstufed sausage?” It’s not. But those things aren’t what makes a great rope bottom. A great rope bottom—a super rope bottom—is simply one who is an active participant in creating a successful scene. And what exactly makes for a successful scene, the kind that lingers long after it’s over, causing those sweet little shivers of joy at random moments? It’s one where you meet each other in a place beyond everyday mundanities, where you feel raw or intimate or connected or like the whole world is in its place. You see and are seen like never before. And that has zero to do with physical feats of derring-do or supermodel looks.
How does being honest help make a scene successful?
You will choose partners you instinctively and honestly feel good about, as opposed to playing with people because you feel bad about turning them down or for whatever other reason. It’s hard to have a beautiful, memorable scene with someone you don’t really feel good about (duh, right?).
Being honest about both your desires and limits (physical and mental) will help set the intention, help you relax, and help keep you safe. If you haven’t been honest that you’d like a sensuous seduction and you’re playing with a hard-core sadist, what are your chances of success? (Hint: not good.) And if you haven’t been honest about, say, your troublesome shoulder, a scene featuring many common ties can tank pretty quickly.
When you let your honest self shine through in the rope, the one who is scared or shy or thrilled or passionate, you open the door to that otherworldly place and invite your partner to enter with you. When you drop into the moment with your partner, feeling whatever you’re feeling instead of trying to be that flm-worthy bondage model, seeing your partner for who they are too, you are summoning the deepest magic you have as a bondage bottom.
When you are honest with yourself about what did and didn’t work in a scene, and the things you can do to make future scenes better, you put yourself on the path to improvement. And having the mindset of always looking to improve—while still understanding that you are perfect exactly as you are—you will continually grow and contribute new and wondrous things to your rope scenes and partners.
SaucyBelle and ShesANatural. Bondage by ShesANatural. Photo by Conroy
Without honesty, you may as well be a sack of potatoes. With it, you ofer your partner the most precious gift of all: your true self. With it, you become an empowered, active contributor to a wonderful experience for you both. In my opinion, that makes you the very best kind of rope bottom. (And btw, the bondage models whose photos tend to be so compelling are the ones whose honest, real commitment to their partner and the scene just radiates of the image, don’t you think?)