I date and bang people who are older than me. Always have. They’ve ranged from one month to eight years my senior, with the average coming in at 28 to my 24. When asked why I skew older, I usually tell people, “I’ve always been mature for my age, so I get along better with older people. Plus, they know what they’re doing in bed!”
I’ve been saying this less lately, though, because actually I’ve given a lot of sexual instruction in the past year. It’s not that my partners are inexperienced or unknowledgeable; most are neither. But several of them were of the vanilla persuasion, so they had little to no experience with one of my biggest kinks: spanking.
Let me be clear. Sometimes it is not worthwhile, or even possible, to get a vanilla person on-board with your kinks. It depends on how “out-there” the kink is, how much commitment it requires, and where your partner’s personal boundaries are. If your partner isn’t interested in fulfilling your kink, or if your enjoyment would rely on a far higher level of enthusiasm from them than they can comfortably conjure or feign, then you may need to have a tough conversation about whether the two of you are sexually compatible.
But assuming your vanilla partner is willing to give your kink a shot, there are ways to help them along. I wrote this about spanking specifically, since that’s the proclivity I’ve schooled people in, but I’m sure these tips apply to various other kinks, too, with a bit of tweaking.
Broach the topic casually and confidently. If you cringe, blush, wring your hands and apologize as the word “spanking” falls from your lips, you won’t exactly set your partner at ease. Granted, talking about what you want in bed is hard, but the more coolly you can approach the discussion, the calmer your partner is likely to feel about it. Remember: there is nothing immoral or shameful about consenting adults participating in risk-aware kink together, and you don’t need to feel bad about wanting what you want.
Identify and address their fears. Do they think they’ll hurt you? Explain that you want to be hurt. Explain how pain can feel good, euphoric, cathartic. Remind them of the existence of “good pain,” like stretching your muscles or getting a deep-tissue massage. Teach them about safewords and check-ins. Practice and drill these skills together. Tell them “no” when you need to, so they know they can trust your “yes.”
Does it baffle them that you enjoy being spanked? Watch spanking porn or read spanking erotica with them. Tell them what turns you on about it. Explain what Jillian Keenan says about the common iliac artery and its role in spanking-based sexual arousal. Listen to “Why Are People Into… Spanking?” together. Explain the emotional and psychological appeal of being spanked. Tell them your specific fantasies. Tell them about a time spanking got you soaking wet, rock hard, or even made you come.
Do they worry they’ll look silly or be “bad at” spanking? Teach them some concrete skills (see below). Watch porn together where the top/dom turns you on, to give them an idea of what you want. Assign them a character or archetype to play, if they are dramatically inclined. Remind them that you’ll be so deep in the throes of lust and carnal gratitude that you won’t be paying much attention to how they look.
Put safety measures in place. So basic and so important. Make sure they know what a safeword is, what your safeword is, and what they should do if and when you use it. Keep post-spanking treatments on hand, like arnica cream or refrigerated aloe gel. If bondage is part of your play, have your safety scissors, keys, etc. at the ready. Make sure your home is stocked with possible emergency aftercare requirements, like blankets, ice cream, Gatorade, and Pixar movies. Be slightly overprepared, if possible; the knowledge of these protections will help your partner feel more confident and capable.
Prepare them for what might happen. When I get spanked, I tend to go into subspace. I get nonverbal, finding it difficult to form thoughts more complex than “Yes,” “No,” “More” or “Stop.” I might scream or cry from the pain, but that generally doesn’t mean I want to stop. And I might get very, very wet. These are all things I tell a partner when they’re about to spank me for the first time, because these are things that could scare or startle someone if they’re not prepared. Whatever knowledge you have about how your body and mind react to being spanked, you should share that information upfront with your partner so they’ll know what to expect.
Additionally, make sure to explain to them what aftercare is, and what specific aftercare you tend to need after a spanking. If they’re a gold-star vanilla, they might never have encountered the concept of aftercare before, so explain this thoroughly – it’s important!
Give them specific dos and don’ts. A spanking veteran might assume that the instruction “Slap my ass!” is detailed enough. But for a true novice, it isn’t. They might not know where to hit you, how hard they can go, how hard they should start, how much to vary the position and power of their smacks, how to hold their hand, how to wield a spanking implement, what to say to you while they spank you (if anything), when to know it’s time to stop, what else to do to you while they hit you, or whether they’re allowed to leave marks on you. And that’s just for starters.
Lay this stuff out really clearly for them, in advance. “I like to be hit here, here, and sometimes here – but never here.” “It’s best if you start off slow and light, and build up from there.” “Don’t hit the same spot a bunch of times in a row… unless you wanna be really mean.” “You can pull my hair/hold me down/call me ‘dumb slut’ while you do that.” “Stroking the paddle over my skin in between hits feels really nice.” Whatever your particular preferences are, communicate them lucidly and with gusto. The better your partner understands what you want, the likelier they are to give it to you, and the lower their anxiety level will be while they do it.
Teach them to use a 1-to-10 scale. This is an absolutely invaluable tool that I’ve used time and time again, not just for spanking but for other things too. Tell your partner to ask you two questions when they check in with you mid-spanking: “Where was that?” (as in, where would you rate that last hit, pain-wise, on a scale from 1 to 10?) and “Where would you like to be?”
This is fantastic because numbers are really easy and quick to say, even when your brain is addled with pain/pleasure and words are hard. It’s also a useful tool because it gives your partner a concrete way to understand how much pain you are actually asking for. I’ll always remember the time a fuckbuddy asked me how hard he was hitting me, and I said, “I dunno, a 3 or a 4?” His eyes bugged out of his head, and he replied, “I’ve never hit anyone this hard in my life!” With the knowledge that he was currently at a 3 and I wanted to reach an 8, he knew with increased certainty how hard he could actually hit me, and didn’t have to be so scared about overdoing it. This tool rules; use it often!
Give honest but affirming feedback. It’s all too easy to lie about your sexual enjoyment level – especially for folks socialized as women, who were taught to be polite and accommodating even at the expense of honesty. But it’s vital that you tell the truth about kink, not only so your own experience will improve, but so that your partner can trust you.
When you’re learning a new skill and you ask the person teaching you, “How can I improve?” it’s because you actually want to improve. So when you’re lying in bed with your partner after a spanking and they ask you (once you’re able to speak and think again) for feedback, be honest and get specific. A comment like “You could’ve hit me a little more on my upper thighs and less on my buttcrack” might sound like nit-picking, but the more you display your willingness to communicate about details, the more your partner will trust you to tell the truth about big and small aspects of your sex life together. And that means they’re likelier to give you the proper thrashing you’re after!
That said, as with any topic as sensitive as sex, you’ll want to be diplomatic in the way you phrase these suggestions. Tell a kinkster-in-training that they did a bad job, and they’ll never want to try again; tell them they did [a, b, c] right but could improve monumentally by working on [x, y, z], and they’ll be eager to give it another shot.
Have you ever taught a kink newbie to enter the life less vanilla with you? How did you do it? How did it go over? Got any tips?