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Things to know about bondage

Being restrained

Allowing yourself to be tied up or restrained by someone you don’t know has obvious risks:

  • robbery
  • physical harm
  • sexual assault
  • they might just leave you (hopefully to be found, eventually).

Being left bound, especially if gagged, can cut off circulation and interfere with breathing, with disastrous effects.

Before you start

Before getting involved in a bondage scene make your boundaries clear. These could be:

  • no bareback sex
  • no drugs
  • no interfering with the ability to breathe.

As in all kink scenes establishing a safe word is recommended. Someone won’t be able to speak if gagged, so agree a series of grunts or gestures such as leg/arm movements. For example two squeezes on the top’s hand means ‘I’m OK’, three means ‘I’m not OK’.

Other risks

Restraining yourself (self bondage) risks a lethal accident for the same reasons that things can go wrong when two are playing.

Bondage can be stressful. People with breathing problems (such as asthma), heart conditions and epilepsy are probably best advised against the more restrictive forms of it. Another bad mix is bondage and alcohol or drugs as you’re more likely to pass out, vomit or fall, leading to injury or strangulation.

Restraining

Pretending to leave someone on their own can be a real kick, but in reality a guy shouldn’t be left unless you want to risk coming back to someone who’s suffered nerve damage, had their circulation cut off or worse (choked on their vomit or suffocated).

Emergency release

Make sure you can release him, or be released, quickly in an emergency.

Handcuffs, padlocks and metal restraints

Locate keys before play starts and keep them close to hand. Try to have two of each key in case one goes missing.

Rope

A cutting tool is handy for knots tied too tight to get off in a hurry. A knife or scissors with a flat non-cutting edge on one side won’t cut skin when cutting the rope.

Tying

When tying someone the ‘one finger’ rule is useful: leave enough gap between skin and rope to fit a finger in. This reduces the chance of cutting off circulation or damaging nerves.

Tying someone around the throat risks strangling them, especially if they fall or pass out.

Long scenes

In long scenes make sure the person restrained changes position at least once an hour to avoid blood flow being cut off or suffocation. This is especially important if someone’s left on their stomach, for example when hogtied, as their weight pushing down on their chest makes breathing harder.

Take care with restraints that restrict breathing. Gags or hoods that block the mouth risk suffocation if someone vomits or the nose gets blocked (a common side-effect of Viagra).

Keeping a bottom restrained in an upright position for a long time makes it more likely they’ll pass out.

Suspending someone (suspension bondage), especially upside down, is particularly risky as body weight can make it hard to breathe, dislocate limbs, damage nerves or cut off circulation. Someone could also pass out, suffocate or fall if the restraints give way.

Check hands and feet regularly. If cold or blue/purple, the circulation’s been cut off, and they should be released at once. Even with no sign of problems, run a verbal check in to see if they’re OK every now and then.

Types of restraint

Metal restraints cut into the skin more than rope or leather, so check that pressure isn’t pinching a nerve or at risk of fracturing a bone (eg, by putting a pad of material between skin and restraint). If ankles or wrists are being secured with metal restraints, leaving gloves and boots on provides a barrier and protection.

When handcuffing, don’t fasten cuffs so tight they could cut off the nerve or blood flow. Leave a small gap between skin and cuff.

Thick, coarse rope looks impressive, but softer, thinner rope is easier to tie and means less chance of rope burns or chafing. Soft nylon rope that’s 1cm thick is ideal.

As well as gay fetish shops, a yacht chandler is good for rope. You can buy the length and thickness you want. They’ll seal the ends to stop the rope fraying/unravelling.

Chains and padlocks can be bought cheaply at DIY stores.

Special flat-edged bondage scissors can be bought online from medical suppliers. They’re also called bandage or EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) scissors as they’re designed for medical staff to cut off bandages safely.

Leather bondage wrist and ankle cuffs, sold in fetish stores and online, have an advantage over metal restraints like handcuffs. They won’t cut off circulation or pinch nerves if someone’s putting their weight against them if struggling or lying on them.

Last review: 19/09/2018
Next review: 19/09/2021