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Basically, this section will attempt to answer questions you may have about the sort of things described in this site. Are there more people like me? Am I crazy that I like these things? What will people around me say when they find out? How do I tell this to my partner? Should I tell this to my partner? Where can I meet others like me? Is this sort of thing dangerous? Is there a cure? Why am I like this, and others not? Is it a disease? How do I start playing? What can I safely do, and what should I not do?
Many people have wrestled with these questions before. I will not pretend that these pages hold all the answers to all these questions. But maybe they can give you some ideas, a starting point or just some comfort in knowing that someone understands.
Click on one of the links below to jump to the answer you wish to read.
- I am a fact-person. What is this desire called? Has there been research?
- Am I crazy because I like this?
- Is it a disease?
- Is there a cure?
- Is it dangerous?
- Are there others like me?
- How will others react when I tell them/they find out?
- Where can I meet others like me?
- I am interested in these things. How do I tell my partner?
- My partner is interested in these things. What should I do?
- Where can I find more information?
- All these strange terms, what do they mean?
Technically, these games are called sadomasochism. Sadomasochism is a contraction of the words sadism and masochism. Sadism is usually described as a desire to inflict pain on someone else. Masochism is usually described as a desire to receive pain from someone else. Both terms were coined in a time when psychology and psychiatry were just beginning, and they viewed these as sickly afflictions. Unfortunately, both definitions are still in use today, even though they are outdated. Also, they don't cover the facts. Sadomasochism is not about pain. There are many so called "sadomasochists" out there, that don't even like pain. So don't be intimidated when you discover you are a "sadomasochist". The term is much too heavy.
I made that mistake when I first learned about my desires. It took me some time to learn to live with the label. Eventually, I realized the label was wrong.
There has been research into this desire. Most of it was done in the seventies. Generally speaking, the research agrees on only one thing, and that is that sadomasochism is a sickly affliction. I know of no scientific study that explains where sadomasochism comes from, what factors can influence it and how it can be treated. So basically (as far as I know), science knows nothing about what they call sadomasochism. I have not found a single study that could answer my questions.
So, do you need help? My answer would be: no, you do not. Because, 1) science can do nothing for you at this moment but give you some psychologist to who you can talk. 2) you can live a normal life with sadomasochism.
At one time in my life, I went to seek counseling about my desires. I found it difficult to incorporate them in my normal life. It turned out that I knew more about sadomasochism than my counselor...
I rest my case.
My answer would be: No you are not crazy. I certainly don't think that I am crazy. I may have the same desires as you. The term "crazy" for me, means that you are unable to function normally in society. I go to work every day (I have a normal job), I can deal normally with my colleagues, I have normal friends, normal hobbies and I like normal places to visit when I go out. You will never find me in a leather-bar. Also, I can have "normal" sex and I enjoy it like any "normal" person does. So, I am as normal as the next guy.
The only thing that makes me different is that I like to spank my girlfriend. I like to tie her up. But if you ask me what I prefer: make love to her or spank her, I would choose to make love to her.
If you are one of those people that would prefer to beat a woman (or man) or would prefer to be beaten, rather than "normal" love-making, then, in my humble opinion, you do need help.
But if both of you like to spank or be spanked every now and then, who is to say that that is crazy? Isn't that just something between the two of you?
Medical science would probably say yes. But there is no cure, no treatment, no agent that can make you ill (at least, no agent has been identified as far as I know), no sound diagnosis, and no clear symptoms. The "disease" is found in all layers of the population, both men and women can get it. All skin-colors, religions and other groups can be "infected". So, in my opinion, this disease doesn't meet any of the necessary requirements to be called a disease.
And so, I believe it is not a disease. Not a sickly affliction at all. I think it is similar to being gay. That has been seen as a disease for a long time, and there are still people that believe that homophilia can be cured. But in fact, it may be natural. So I wouldn't be asking my doctor for any anti-bondage medication if I were you...
Medical science has so far failed to produce a cure, or anything to fight the symptoms.
And, in my opinion, such a cure is not necessary. If I can learn to live with it, so can you or anyone else.
Yes and no. It certainly can be. Just like driving your car, if you don't know what you are doing, accidents can happen. Depending on how you play and what you play with, infections, injury or even death could be caused by something which seems like a pleasant game. Emotional damage is also a very real danger. That is why you should be careful. Also, use your common sense. Never attempt to do something if you don't know how to do it. Start slowly. Create "emergency brakes". See our Rules For Safe Play section for more information.
Also many people are worried that once you start with these activities, you are prone to go further and further. Again, this is true and not true. It is true that once you start to play, you will probably expand your limits. This is because you get used to certain activities (like spanking) and therefore you can play a little harder than in the beginning. However, it is NOT true, that you will continue to expand your limits further and further. Eventually, you will reach a point when going further is simply not appealing anymore. Also, some people will never expand their limits, because they are happy about the way they are playing right now.
So, to stick to the car analogy, when you first get your license, most people tend to be careful and don't drive so fast. Later, as they get more comfortable behind the wheel and they get some experience, they will speed up somewhat and also they will develop their own style of driving. Other people never feel the need to drive faster.
To determine in which category you fall, you can only start playing and see where you end up. For me, when I first started spanking, I would not go further than a pink fanny. However, later on I discovered that sometimes a hard spanking can be fun too. I have learned to give punishment spankings. But I always respect the limits of my partner. And so should you.
The answer to that is simple. Yes, you are reading this, aren't you. Seriously though, yes there are and many more than you think. I have read studies claiming as many as 1 in every 12 people or even 1 in every 10 people is interested in some of the activities described in these pages. I have no personal statistics to prove or disprove those figures, but I know several people around me that are at least interested. I don't know if they ever do anything like this, however.
But, it is true that these people are difficult to find. As you can well imagine, it is not something you would announce publicly. You will not find a picture of me on this site, nor will you find my name anywhere. The same thing is true for my girlfriend. There is a good reason for that. I don't want the world to know that I like this. The reason for that should also be clear. I am not embarrassed that I like this. Nor am I denying that. But if I would step forward and say to the world that I like these games, it could have serious consequences for me, and for my girlfriend. I don't know how my friends and colleagues, or my parents would react. BDSM-like activities are simply not socially accepted. So to avoid any painful confrontations and other undesirable reactions, I choose to remain anonymous. Cowardly? You might say so. But on the other hand, this is a private matter between me and my girlfriend. We could have chosen not to say anything, like the millions of anonymous others out there. But we decided to provide you with information about these activities, so you won't have to think you are crazy, or strange.
Well, that is of course always unpredictable. It will also depend on who you tell and how you do it. If they find out by accident, their reaction could be worse . If you decide you will tell someone, you have obviously decided that the person you are going to tell is a trustworthy person. But even if this person is trustworthy and relatively broad minded, they could still surprise you with just the opposite reaction you had hoped for.
I have told a few people in my surroundings about these feelings I have. 5 in total. One of them is my girlfriend, and I am very happy she shares my interest. When I decided to tell her, I forced myself to scrape up every ounce of courage I had in me, because I was afraid of how she would react. I was very fortunate she did not react in a negative way. She was not happy at first, of course. But because she is such an understanding person, she didn't turn her back on me either. To this day I am grateful for her understanding and broad-mindedness. Later, when she discovered she had similar feelings, I was happy to show her the same understanding she had shown me.
When you decide to tell, you may not be as lucky as I was. But you could be, and that is what you should hope for when you decide to "come out of the closet".
When you are in a relationship with someone, and you discover you have these feelings, it is my firm belief you should tell them, unless you are sure of two things. That 1) you can suppress these feelings and be happy without seeing your desires fulfilled and 2) your relationship will end if you tell and you love the other person too much to loose them. If you believe the above two conditions are true, maybe it is better you do not tell.
However, in all other circumstances I believe it is better to tell your partner. I firmly believe that honesty is the best policy. It may hurt to tell the truth sometimes, and it is possible your partner will respond in a negative way. You know your partner best. Probably the most important thing you should make clear to your partner, no matter the reaction, is that you will not force him/her to play any games with you. That is the first thing I made clear to my girlfriend. Don't expect them to participate. And maybe, giving time, your partner could open up to your interest.
Having them find out by accident it a different story...
For most people, this is not something you would like your partner to hide from you. You may think "If he/she has not told me this, what other secrets does he/she have?". You may feel you had better not found this out. People that find out by accident usually react in a more negative way then people you have told openly and honestly. At least, this is my experience. I think this is partly due to the shock and maybe also because they feel they should have been trusted enough to be told this information.
The best thing you can do when someone has found your secret, is to be honest. Answer any questions the other has openly and honestly. If you lie now, you only make it worse if the lie is found to be untrue later. Remember, honesty is the best policy here.
Alright, suppose you are single and you found out that you would like to have a partner for your desires. Depending on where you live, there are several options open to you. First of all, if you live in a rural area, the chances that you will find someone compatible near you are pretty slim. If you live in a large city, your chances are much better. Try hanging out in bars where you think people interested in this lifestyle hang out. Maybe they hold regular meetings at a bar or some clubhouse. They may even have organizations in your city that are established for people like you. Explore all these possibilities. Become a regular at meetings.
Another thing that might work could be to post a personal ad in a newspaper, or in a magazine which specializes in such activities. If you decide to do this, be very specific about the things you would like. This prevents you from being disappointed later on or having to explain your likes and dislikes over and over again to possible candidates.
You could also contact an agency that specializes in bringing people together. Make sure that this agency caters for people into BDSM too, otherwise you will waste a lot of money.
And of course, there is the Internet. More and more people are getting involved with each other over the Internet. No matter where you live, if you have a computer and a telephone, you can go online. Very helpful if you are not in or near a big city.
Meeting people through the Internet.
There are several possibilities to get in touch with people using the Internet. This is just a short, and probably incomplete list. Anyone with additions, please feel free to contact us and explain them.
- you can find a website with contact adds and either post your own add there, or respond to someone else's add.
- you can join an online community, such as hosted by Yahoo and MSN. They have many clubs/communities that deal with relationship such as this.
- you may find someone using an instant messenger or in a chatroom on IRC. Most instant messengers allow you to create a profile in which you can tell something about yourself. On IRC, choose a descriptive nickname.
If you choose to engage in a relationship with someone over the Internet, there are several possibilities.
- You can choose to have a complete online relationship.
This is the most simple solution, especially if you live really far apart. Also, having an online relationship offers you some anonimity. (But not complete!)
Communication can be done with one of the Instant Messenger programs available for free, such as ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and more. Also you can email each other. It is also possible to meet eachother in a chatroom on IRC. And of course, there are other programs such Microsoft Netmeeting, that even allow for a complete video and audio link.
However, it is very likely that these programs leave you wanting more. If you really develop a bond, it is likely that you will want to meet.
- Part online/part real life relationship.
This is a mix. Most communication will be done over the Internet by one or more of the methods described above. And sometimes, the two of you will meet. During the actual meeting, you can really play together.
- A real life relationship
After some time has passed, and the relationship has grown strong enough, you may decide to an actual partnership or marriage. Then of course, you can really be together and play whenever you want.
- Part online/part real life relationship.
However, there are dangers involved in meeting someone online, or for real. Please check out the "Negotiating the game" section in our Safety section.