You might think that BDSM relationships are all about whips and handcuffs, but there’s more than meets the eye to such lifestyles.

Lifestyles? Yes, BDSM isn’t just about sex acts – it’s about a particular way of life which involves a set of rules between two people in a relationship. There’s even a BDSM community in Singapore, which (for understandable reasons) is fairly secret and underground. But first, let’s go through the basics.

BDSM isn’t a “neat” acronym, in the sense that each letter actually stands for a few words. The comprehensive list of words that make up BDSM include:

  • B: Bondage
  • D: Discipline, Dominance
  • S: Submission, Sadism
  • M: Masochism
  • BDSM stands for B & D (bondage & discipline), D & S (dominance & submission), S & M (sadism & masochism)

The defining characteristics of BDSM relationships are the roles of each person. One is the dominant partner (the “dom”) and the other is the submissive partner (the “sub”). The dom will take psychological control over the sub, but – and this is important – both parties need to willingly consent to the relationship.

But this has led to many jokes at the expense of the whole idea of BDSM. This demeans BDSM relationships for those who are in it, and has led to a whole lot of unnecessary misconceptions. We’re going to clear some of them up today, and hopefully, you’ll also learn to see what BDSM is really all about.

 

Misconception 1: It’s all about sex

It’s not all about the sex. Most people think that it’s all about having kinky sex – but it’s just one aspect of the relationship. Sex and submission can go together, but a BDSM relationship doesn’t start with both the dom and sub leaping into bed with all sorts of painful implements.

In fact, it usually starts with submission (especially for newbies) in one particular area (for example, bondage or protocols). Once both parties are comfortable with the rules they have established (like safe words, and the extent of control the dom has over the sub), they can go on to further the dominant-submissive relationship to other areas. Sex is, of course, one of those areas. – but that requires a certain level of emotional trust and commitment.

Misconception 2: It’s dangerous

BDSM equipment. Credit: BuzzFeed/Gloria Brame

BDSM equipment. Credit: BuzzFeed/Gloria Brame

BDSM can be dangerous in the same way that swimming can be dangerous. A lot of reading and research is involved, and both parties must always be consenting to the relationship. To help keep things in line, both parties also need to agree to a safe word –  a word that can be uttered as a pause button, by both the dom and the sub. This helps to prevent things from going south, and gives both parties an out.

If you’re wondering about the implements involved (chains and whips, for example), they’re also as dangerous as kitchen knives. They’re used with the same amount of care and expertise as a chef would wield a cleaver, and doms usually start small, before progressing to the flashier tools.

 

Misconception 3: There’s no discussion or rationality involved

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There are definitely some intense play sessions involved in BDSM, which are commonly known as scenes. As long as there’s more than one person involved, it can be considered a scene (if it’s just one person, it’s probably self-pleasuring).

But scenes aren’t planned randomly. Negotiations will take place before the scene, so that all parties establish the ground rules for the activity. There’s also something called aftercare – a debriefing session where both partners talk about the experience they had in the scene.

Remember, it’s about mutual consent. This means that there will be rational discussions to help bookend the experience. There’s quite a lot of preparation involved in it!

 

Misconception 4: It’s all old-fashioned dungeon stuff

FetLife. Credit: Yahoo

FetLife. Credit: Yahoo

Yes, a room full of such equipment is called a dungeon. But it’s not as old school as you might think.

Like every other preference, a whole host of apps have risen to serve the needs of the community. However, one should bear in mind the standard precautions to take with any dating app, such as the information you reveal, being aware of predators, and watching out for scam artists.

However, the BDSM dating pool is already small to begin with, so go in with moderate expectations. The best advice we’ve seen is to use websites which have been around for over 10 years, like FetLife – they’ll have accumulated sufficient users to give you multiple choices.

 

Misconception 5: Everyone loves the Fifty Shades series in the BDSM community

Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Freed. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Freed. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

While we’re not knocking the Fifty Shades series, it must be acknowledged that it’s a fictionalised, dramatised depicting of a BDSM relationship – which started out as fanfiction for the Twilight series.

So understandably, some parts are exaggerated (not every dom has a red room like Christian Grey, for example) and some parts are dramatised for effect.

Just like regular people, responses from the BDSM community span the gamut, from those who find it cringeworthy to those who absolutely love it. But there’s one thing that they all agree on.

It’s fiction.

Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Freed. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Fifty Shades Freed. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Speak of which, the climax (yes, we chuckled too) to the Fifty Shades trilogy comes to cinemas in time for Valentine’s Day! We finally get to see whether Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey get their happy ending in the series, although several other obstacles (read: stalkers and former lovers) get in the way of their relationship. But we’re sure that the real life actors, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, are relieved it’s over – they’ve infamously hated each other throughout the filming.

If you’d like to impress your partner, there’s also a Gold Class Valentine’s Dining Set: Fifty Shades Freed to put you in the mood for this romantic drama! Just don’t get up to anything… dubious in the Gold Class cinemas, as the poor ushers will have to clean up after the movie.

 

Credits: Yahoo, BuzzFeed/Gloria Brames  Golden Village Cinemas