Edge Play: How to Safely Experiment with Darker Kinks

“Don’t worry about the darkness in my soul. It ignites me like an embered coal.”
– Anon

I’ve written before about the darkness we all have within us somewhere, and the ways in which I feel it is important to honour the dark parts of ourselves rather than running from them. I believe that consensual kink is one of the places that we can safely revel in our darkness in a controlled and safe way.

I’m deliberately not defining what a “dark kink” is here, because it’s different for everyone. One person’s hardcore edge play is another person’s average Friday night. If you’re playing around your edges, you’re doing edge play, and this advice will be useful to you.

Ensure your partner is enthusiastic about going there with you

Consent is always vital, of course. But it takes on a new level when you’re experimenting with your edges or your darkness. Edge play is inherently risky – even if there’s limited physical danger, it’s entirely possible for someone to end up triggered or traumatised.

This applies to Tops, too, by the way. Tops get to give or withhold consent just as much as bottoms do – and Tops can also be traumatised by engaging in something that they’re not fully consenting to or something that goes wrong.

Practice RACK

Risk-aware consensual kink, or RACK, acknowledges that we cannot eliminate all risks inherent in sex and BDSM. But we can take steps to understand and mitigate them.

So if you’re going to try something edgy, take the time to understand the physical, mental, and emotional risks in what you want to do. Once you understand them, put

By the way: when you start doing this, you might decide the reality is too risky and you’d like to keep this kink as fantasy-only, for now or forever. That’s fine too – you get to pull the plug at any stage.

Have an aftercare plan

Don’t try edge play or a kink that’s straying into darker territory for you the night before a big meeting or an early start or a long drive. Ideally, if you’re going to experiment with edgier kinks, it’s best to do so when you’ll have plenty of time to recover, take things very easy, and take care of yourself.

Talk to your partner about an aftercare plan ahead of time. Ensure they’re fully briefed on what you’re likely to need and willing to provide it – and willing to adapt on the fly if the reality turns out to be slightly different.

A good aftercare plan might involve a long sleep, time to cuddle and debrief with your partner, and your favourite snacks within easy reach. Remember that drop from an intense scene can hit several days later, so plan how you’ll handle it if that happens.

Take it slowly

It’s always better to come away from a scene still wanting more than to come away upset or traumatised because you went too far. Remember that there will always be a next time.

Take things slowly, check in often, and don’t try to do everything all at once. If you’re experimenting with a new kink that’s edgy for you, maybe start out just by reading some erotica together or doing some dirty talk around it. When you do start playing, only go as far as feels good… and try to stop before you hit the “shit, we went too far” point.

Get some advice and do your research

Almost any kinky thing you want to do, I guarantee that someone else has already done it and probably created a tutorial on it. So do your research, learn as much as you can, and if possible get some advice from an expert. Many local kink clubs and swing venues hold tutorials on how to do various kinky activities safely (outside of pandemic times, obviously) – and you can also find endless resources online.

Other people’s experiences can’t prepare you for every single eventuality, but they can give you more context, help you think through how you’d handle various scenarios, and show you some of the common pitfalls to be aware of.

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I wrote this post as part of Quote Quest, a fun blogging meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the logo to see what everyone else is writing this week!

[Quote Quest] Honouring the Darkness

“Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.”

– Lana Del Rey

CW: this post discusses mental illness, trauma, abuse, and suicidal ideation (in the past – I am safe now.) It also refers to consensual non-consent in a kink context.

We all have something dark within us somewhere. I firmly believe this. We contain multitudes and we all have depths that most of the people who surround us will never see. Some of those depths will contain elements of our selves that frighten us, shame us, or harm us if we dwell there for too long. It is impossible, for most of us, to let a lot of people in to those scary places within us. Some never let anyone in at all.

As someone with depression and a history of abuse, my personal darkest corners are all informed by my trauma. There are perhaps five people on the planet who have seen the depths of the darkness my trauma history sometimes takes me to.

But something I have learned is the transformative power of exploring my darkness through kink. All the worst and most traumatic experiences of my life were in situations where I had no power, or where my power was taken away from me. Paradoxically, giving up power – for a limited time, and to a loving partner – soothes and calms those broken places in my psyche. Perhaps it is reclamation through choice, or perhaps it is the ability to rewrite the narrative. Perhaps it is simply the knowledge that the only reason I can willingly give power away is because I have it in the first place.

Not that kink is always about going to those dark places, of course. In fact, it usually isn’t. Sometimes it’s giggly and playful and just plain silly. Sometimes it’s intense but in a different way. It’s all a matter of degrees. But once in a while? Exploring the full extent of my psychic darkness through playing out things like consensual non-consent fantasies is not only hot but cathartic. Healing. I go willingly into those dark corners with someone who cares about me to hold my hand, and I feel lighter for days afterwards.

I don’t believe I’m kinky because I am traumatised. No. I was kinky long before I was this particular brand of fucked up, and there are millions of kinksters who have no trauma history at all. But I also think it would be foolish to say that my experiences of trauma had no bearing on the consensual things I do for fun now.

The reality is, I cannot say that I definitely would or definitely would not have had these specific kinks had I not been abused. Because I do not have that choice. I do not live in that world. The person I might have been without those traumatic experiences, and the woman I am now, are not the same.

My trauma is a part of me. My darkness is a part of me. It would be a lie to say I no longer fear it, because I do. My last mental illness-induced trip into the most terrifying corners of my own psyche is recent enough that I can still feel it viscerally. But I have learned not to hate it. Not to blame myself for its existence. And, usually, not to get so lost in it that I cannot find my way back out.

Kink gives me a space to honour that darkness, to revel in it and play in it and fucking dance in it. And then to come back out again and find that the light is still there, too.

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!