Two years ago, I was in a relationship with a man we’ll call Ron. Ron and I had been dating for a few months, and we had a pretty good sex life. One day, we were having sex when I felt a searing pain on my left butt cheek. Ron had slapped me — hard.
I was immediately taken out of the moment. I told him to stop, which he did immediately, and I got out of bed and checked myself in the mirror. There, on my butt, was a perfectly raised welt in the exact shape of his hand.
I pulled on a robe and went back into the bedroom, where Ron was sitting, looking horrified. “OK — that was a little hard,” I told him. “I’m not comfortable with you hitting me like that.” Ron, bless his heart, was incredibly apologetic, and we spent the next ten minutes discussing each other’s boundaries when it came to spanking.
Spanking is one of the most divisive sex acts out there: some people think it's incredibly sexy, while others find it degrading and painful. It’s the brussels sprouts of sex — people either love it or hate it. But it's still one of the most common fetishes out there, with nearly 24% of Americans saying they secretly fantasise about being spanked, according to a 2018 survey, and movies like Secretary and Fifty Shades of Grey have further contributed to its popularity.
As for me, I’ve typically landed in the “thank you, sir, may I have another?” camp when it comes to spanking — but only when I’m with a partner I can trust. I've drawn some lines in the sand when it comes to spanking during sex — and if you and your partner are interested in trying it out, you should too.
Whether you'd rather give or receive, here are 6 things you need to do before you try spanking, so it can be as safe, consensual, and pleasurable as possible.
1) Talk about it beforehand.
Most of the time, spanking during sex sort of just happens — but much like any other new sex act, it's really a good idea to have a conversation with your partner before you try it.
“Anything that falls outside of the 'vanilla' world [of sex] — and I would consider spanking outside of the 'vanilla' world — would recommend not only a conversation but a negotiation,” says Namita Caen, DHS, a U.K.-based clinical sexologist and sex and relationship coach. “Not only are you discussing what might be fun to try and what your fantasies might be in regard to spanking, you’re negotiating your desires, your needs, your boundaries, and your limits.”
Overall, the key to a good spanking is proper communication. “Sex is so much better when there’s a level of trust involved,” Caen says. “And that doesn’t really happen without talking it through first.”
2) Be prepared for the possibility that your partner might not be into it.
The fact is that spanking, while enjoyable for some, can be incredibly triggering for others. It can bring up feelings of danger, or even memories of past abuse. So it’s very, very important to tread lightly — especially because the person on the receiving end of the spank may not have even worked out in their own mind how they feel about being spanked. “Being spontaneous can sometimes mean we haven’t thought through what feels good for us or what we want,” Caen says.
3) Bring the topic up in a sexy, casual context.
Now, I know what you’re thinking — spanking isn’t exactly a topic that is easy to bring up with your significant other at brunch over eggs Benedict. But there are ways to make the conversation less awkward. Try bringing up the subject “in the context of a situation where you’re already in a sexy seduction mode,” says Caen, like a romantic dinner or a makeout session on the couch.
The conversation doesn’t have to be clinical: in fact, you can bring it up in the context of other fantasies you might have, e.g., "I can't stop thinking about running my hands all over your perfect ass and lightly smacking it," or "The next time you're going down on me, I want you to grab my butt and give it a smack." You might even find you're both so revved up that you'll want to try it out right then and there.
4) Make your expectations clear.
Spanking is one of those sex acts that exists on a huge spectrum: what some people may consider a light love tap, others might consider extraordinarily painful. So before you actually try spanking during sex, it's a good idea to establish what you and your partner is comfortable with. If your partner is the one being spanked, have them tell you how hard they want to be spanked on a scale of one to 10, so you can test it out during the act itself (e.g. "that was about a 4, can we ramp it up to a 6?"). Continue to check in while you're having sex to make sure everything is OK on their end.
5) Start slow.
Once you’ve defined your boundaries, it’s easy to start incorporating spanking into your sex life, Caen says — you just have to start off slow. Light, playful spanks accompanied by caresses on the butt or inner thighs are a fun form of foreplay. Never try anything more forceful unless your partner has explicitly consented to it, and if they have, make sure you’re both already warmed up. Orgasm can actually lower your pain threshold — so if you’ve agreed on hard slaps, save it for the climax.
6) Don't be afraid of using toys.
Once you've already incorporated spanking into your sex life, don't be afraid to integrate toys into the routine. We like Love Honey’s Bondage Boutique Seduce Me Lover’s Bed Bondage Kit, ($99.95)
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.