The softer side of BDSM doesn't exactly flash into your mind when you hear dark leather whips through the air. The crack is thunderous as it connects with tender flesh. Cries, shrieks, screams echo in the thick air. Somewhere the players wielding whips and knives chuckle, a dark sound that haunts the listener.
Sounds kind of enticing, doesn’t it?
Do you picture a dimly lit room where half-naked bottoms and submissives bend to the wills of their leather-clad dominant partners? It’s what most people imagine.
Taking it down a notch, maybe you imagine a lot of hair-pulling, spankings, kneeling, crawling, and dirty talk, even if you can’t picture the dungeon scene. In these imaginings, submissives are meek and quiet, quick to do a dominant’s bidding. That dominant is probably barking orders and making demands.
The truth is all of that is possible in BDSM, but it’s not the sum total of kink, fetish, or the lifestyle. There is a softer side of BDSM, whether you’re playing for a day or looking for the kinky love of your life.

A Look is All You Need


Ask any submissive or anyone who bottoms, and they’ll tell you that when their partner gives them The Look, they know it means something is happening. After you’ve been with someone for a while, you know that look might mean kneel or strip or be quiet. It all depends on your dynamic, but shouted orders are rarely needed. Sometimes, not one word is said, but the meaning is clear.

Softly Spoken Requests


When I think of my own relationship, I notice that my Daddy Dom rarely issues a direct order: “Do this now” isn’t part of his style unless we’re in the middle of a scene. Instead, he makes requests, asking me to complete this task or another, to stand here, to kneel there. Because of our relationship and my own willingness, there’s no doubt I’m going to comply. But a firm command isn’t the only way for a Dominant to get what they want from you.

The Softer Side of BDSM: Pain Isn’t a Requirement


For those of us who enjoy pain or those who simply want to please our favorite sadist, pain may be a big part of our BDSM life. But it’s not a requirement. In kink, there’s a power exchange, even if you’re not in a D/s relationship. Someone is tied up and someone does the tying. Someone kneels while the other stands or sits. Someone does what they’re told, and someone gives the orders. Every bit of it can be done in a gentle, quiet way without any pain.

Laughter Makes Everything Better


softer side of bdsmHang around the BDSM community for a while, and you’ll meet a few people who take the lifestyle very seriously, rarely joking or laughing. Certain things should always be a serious matter - consent, negotiation, limits - but there is definitely room for laughter. You can laugh and crack jokes and still be respectful, subs and bottoms. Doms and tops, you can smile and give big deep belly laughs and still command respect. Frankly, weird things happen when people get naked - for sex or otherwise - and the best way to relieve a little (unwanted) tension is to laugh.

Love Has a Place in BDSM


You may be like me and play really rough with a partner you love. But for some people, loving their partners means they won’t ever let themselves cross certain lines. That’s okay, too. It goes back to the exchange of power and the activities you enjoy. My own partner lovingly wraps rope around my body when we explore our mutual appreciation of bondage. His commands are issued in a gentle voice, unless we’re feeling a bit feisty. His desire for discipline is from a place of wanting to see me grow and become a better person. Hell, even when we play rough, the act is an expression of our love.  You can love the one you strap to a cross and flog, but you can also show your love with sweet whispers and gentle hands as part of your kinky, softer side of BDSM.

I would never tell anyone how they should experience the BDSM lifestyle - well, after safety and consent, of course. If you want to play rough and tumble and walk away with bruises and cuts from every interaction, go for it. But it’s important to understand that there is a gentler, softer side of BDSM. The lifestyle is what you make of it. Kink and BDSM fun isn’t an all or nothing event. Get rough when you feel like it, and enjoy the softer side when that feels right, too.

Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.
Image by Sonny Semansco via Flickr with CC BY 2.0 license

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[…] about how masturbation led me down the sexual path I’m on today at Kinkly. I wrote about the softer side of BDSM for Fetish.com. At Submissive Guide, I answered questions about introducing kink into a […]

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I'm still looking for a 'softer' D. My previous Dom was into more than I liked. It's all in what we desire.

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This one took me a while to come to terms with. Daddy is in to the softer sensual things and I just thought we weren't "doing it right". In the end it really only matters what is right for us. :)

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