[Guest Post] Aftercare for D-Types: Mental, Emotional and Physical by Kelvin Sparks

I recently put out a call for guest bloggers to write about aftercare in BDSM from the Dominant’s perspective. I published the first post earlier this week. Today’s, by Kelvin Sparks (he/him), is the second. Kelvin has written for C&K once before.

Amy x

Aftercare for D-Types: Mental, Emotional and Physical by Kelvin Sparks

Aftercare—the activities and/or attention given to a partner after sexual, BDSM, or kink experiences—is something widely discussed within kink communities. However, a lot of the discussion of aftercare focuses on aftercare for submissives, bottoms, and masochists (who I’ll collectively called s-types). This seems intuitive at first—they’re the person being acted upon, after all—but it’s important not to dismiss the importance of aftercare for dominants, tops, and sadists (who I’ll collectively call D-types).

Why Do D-types Need Aftercare?

Just as with aftercare for s-types, aftercare for D-types incorporates three kinds of well-being; mental, physical, and emotional. 

Leading a scene can take a huge amount of mental energy. While the power exchange within D/s scenes is mutual, it’s tops within a scene who have the greater responsibility when it comes to managing risk. Being a D-type in a scene involves practiced and involved skillsets—such as using impact toys with accuracy, assessing a bottom’s emotions during a scene, and assessing risk and safety both pre and mid-scene—and the attention, careful observation, planning, and empathy involved in topping and/or domming can easily lead to mental fatigue after a scene is concluded.

Depending on what kinds of play partners are engaging in, topping can also be physically exhausting or taxing. It can be easy to think of the physical impact of BDSM scenes being only pain and/or injury, and that this is something limited to s-types, when in reality that’s not the case at all. For one, dominants can be bottoms, but it’s also worth noting some forms of play can be physically taxing on tops as well as bottoms. As an easy example, for people new to strap-ons, topping during play can be physically exhausting, as it uses muscles that they may not have used much before.

Finally, aftercare is important for emotional wellbeing. “Drop” is a well known phenomenon in kink circles, referring to the period after a emotional/endorphin high during a scene. Sometimes specifically called sub-drop or top-drop depending on who it’s used to refer to, it can happen immediately after a scene, hours later, or even days later, and is characterised by intense negative feelings.

In dominants or tops, the emotions of drop can be intensified or informed by the cultural conversation around dominance and sadism. Feeling a sense of guilt at one’s actions and desires—even after risk-aware and consensual sex—isn’t uncommon, and these feelings can be intensified for marginalised D-types. In my own experience, the guilt I sometimes feel after SM play is impacted by the cultural perception of trans people and masculine queer people as sexually predatory. As another example, some of my sadistic Domme friends have expressed that their feelings of guilt after a scene are sometimes mixed with a sense of shame for their deviance from a lot of the gendered expectations around dominance. 

What Does Aftercare for D-types Look Like?

Aftercare for D-types is as varied as it is for those on the other side of the slash. Different scenes can feel intense in different ways and to different extents to different people, and what people enjoy and/or need as part of their aftercare can vary from person to person. Depending on your wants and needs, aftercare for you may look like administering first aid, having a snack and a drink, praising your partner(s) for what they did during a scene, watching a film together, having some alone time, or creating a “buffer zone”—a period of time spent with your partner/s doing something unrelated to BDSM.

I’d also like to emphasise debriefing as a kind of aftercare in itself. Once both partners are grounded, talking over what went well (and not so well) in a scene doesn’t just help when playing in future, but can alleviate the guilt that contributes to top-drop. Hearing that their partner loved being hit and why, for example, can work wonders in alleviating the guilt somebody may feel around enjoying hitting their partner. 

Aftercare Compatibility

If both sides of the slash need aftercare, and it’s just as important for D-types as it is for s-types, how do you navigate situations where these needs are in conflict? This is why aftercare is just important to bring up in negotiation as what players are looking for in the contents of a scene. If a submissive prefers to have alone time following a scene, but the dominant person they want to play with needs cuddles and affirmations, then it’s best if these things are worked out in the discussion stage. 

In some cases, conflicting needs when it comes to aftercare can be solved by delegating aftercare to a third party person, or by players compromising some of their wants so all players have their needs met. In other cases, vastly different needs when it comes to aftercare means players aren’t compatible, even if they’re otherwise agreed on what they want from a scene. It may suck finding out you’re not compatible with somebody you want to play with, but it’s far better finding out before you attempt to play together than after.

Kelvin Sparks logo

About the Author

Kelvin Sparks (he/him) is a bisexual trans man who writes about sex on the internet. You can find him at KelvinSparks.com, or at @Kelvinsparks_ on both Twitter and Instagram.

[Guest Post] Aftercare for D-Types: The Care and Feeding of Your Sadist by Bethany Baker

I recently put out a call for guest posts on aftercare in BDSM from the Dominant’s perspective. I received a few great pitches and ended up commissioning two. Today’s piece from Bethany Baker (she/her) is the first. The second will follow later this week. This is Bethany’s first piece for C&K.

Amy x

Aftercare for D-Types: The Care and Feeding of Your Sadist by Bethany Baker

Aftercare is vital in BDSM. The focus of aftercare tips is usually on submissive types, who have experienced very intense sensations in the scene and who may experience sub drop even days later.

I’m here to talk about aftercare for the person who took the dominant role in the scene. This applies to Dominants, Tops, sadists, and so on (D-types for short) including those who identify as switches.

What is sadism, really?

Sadism is one of the Ss in BDSM. There’s a perspective on sadism that I’ve found very helpful to understanding dominant/sadistic types, which I discovered through Carolyn Elliott’s book Existential Kink and which she attributes to Tani Thole and Leslie Rogers of the Light/Dark Insitute: “Sadism isn’t necessarily the desire to inflict pain; it’s the desire to inflict sensation, to make oneself felt.”

This insight is what fully unlocked my sadistic kink. It helps to explain why kink without pain is still so, well, kinky! And when the submissive type enjoys pain, that makes it an extra fun sensation to inflict.

So, as someone who loves to inflict intense sensations of various types, what kind of aftercare is most helpful?

Tell me how it felt

I want to know that I have been felt. Did you love it? Love to hate it? Was it exquisite torture?

The dominant person in a scene is usually doing a lot of reading-between-the-lines. Submissive types are often either non-verbal (due to subspace, literally being gagged, etc) or are contrary or facetious on purpose (such as in the case of bratting). Pre-negotiation of the scene and safe words create guardrails, but the dominant person in the scene still has to steer between those.

So while aftercare for a submissive (especially after intense scenes such as humiliation play or hard impact play) involves explicit confirmation of “I am affectionate towards you, I regard you positively,” this type of explicit confirmation can be important for the D-type as well. Messages like “I love what you did to me” and “I want to do more of that” are affirming and restorative. (Always be honest. More on constructive feedback below!)

This doesn’t have to be immediate. It’s natural for it to take a day or two (or longer) for a submissive type to collect their thoughts, and in my experience, being genuine is more important than being prompt. What might that look like in practice? My partner recently said to me about a scene where he was submissive, “I love being the subject of your creativity.

Angels sang. My heart is soaring, just remembering him saying that. That is the sort of thing that goes into my mental bank of quotes to pull out on bad days. That kind of genuine feedback easily refills my bank of motivation to take the reins in the next scene. Speaking of that bank…

Dom debt and the energy bank

I’d like to put forward the idea of “Dom debt” as a counterpart to sub drop.
While submissive are generally experiencing a lot of intense sensations, Dominants are making a lot of intense decisions. We’re expending emotional energy, especially if we’re affectionate Dominants closely reading a submissive. When a dom spends more energy than they have, that incurs “Dom debt”.

My Dom debt tends to feel like overwhelm, exhaustion, withdrawal. It’s a “I just don’t have it in me today” kind of feeling. So, what to do about it?

Research shows that a small blood sugar boost (think: a light snack, a piece of chocolate) can replenish the brain’s decision-making capabilities in the short-term. Other effective strategies are adequate sleep, exercise, and relaxation (think: yoga, meditation, hot bath.)

Interestingly, if a D-type can be impulsive in a scene, this can actually help alleviate decision fatigue. So, the better the members of the scene know each others’ boundaries, the more impulsive the D-type can be, and the less decision fatigue they incur. This is another reason that feedback is crucial!

Check in on how to give feedback

Affirmation is important, and so is constructive feedback. As a submissive resurfaces from subspace, it may be intuitive to share feedback with a D-type as it comes to mind. This might work well for some people, but not for everyone.

One way to care for a D-type is to check in with them on when and how to give your feedback. At the end of an intense scene, the D-type may be feeling sensitive themselves, or may be emotionally tired and have a harder time remembering or processing feedback. If that’s the case, try jotting that feedback down and then sharing it as you’re planning for the next scene. 

Mutual aftercare

Additionally, the aftercare that is good for S-types is often great for D-types too! The cuddling, checking in, gestures of affection — these are verbal and nonverbal ways to affirm the mutual positive regard in the relationship.

Curious for an inside peek at a dominant headspace in action? Check out The Art of a Bad Day, an erotic short that I wrote for Pride Month 2021.

In conclusion: want to give a dominant type a little extra love? Tell them how they made you feel, buy them sweets, confirm how to best share feedback, and most importantly… behave! 😉

About the author

Bethany Baker avatar for guest post on aftercare for Doms

Bethany Baker (she/her) writes erotic romance that blends the familiar and the fantastical, the erotic and the emotional, the silly and the sexy, into one downright tasty concoction. You can read her novels and short stories for free on bakecookieswritesmut.com because she’s just a little slutty like that, and feel free to reach out on Twitter @BakeSmut.

[Guest Blog] Kink: Not All Whips and Chains by Violet Grey

Ms. Grey is becoming a C&K regular at this point, and I couldn’t be happier about it. She always pitches me great ideas and writes fantastic, thought provoking pieces it’s a privilege to publish. Today, she’s here talking kink and why it’s not all whips and chains!

Amy x

Not All Whips and Chains by Violet Grey

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me!

This classic line from Rihanna’s hit song, S&M, encompasses a general flavour of sadomasochism. It’s a common perception that BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism) involve some form of pain or impact play. 

What comes to mind when you think of BDSM? Is it tying people up? Spanking? Paddles? Whips? Giving control to someone else, or being the one in control? 

All these kinks, and many more, are surprisingly common. But “kinky” esn’t mean the same to everyone – it depends on the person. In everyday life, as we’ve seen with books and films like Fifty Shades of Grey, BDSM is often misunderstood if not completely misrepresented. 

Two of the most common misconceptions are: 

  • BDSM, fundamentally, is abusive. 
  • As I heard one person say, “It’s just all hitting each other, isn’t it?”

Firstly, BDSM is not abusive as long as it’s done between consenting adults, limits and boundaries are respected, and they are playing safely and responsibly. While there are individuals who can and do use BDSM as a guise to abuse others, they are not representative of the majority of kinksters. Most of us just want to have good, safe fun. That being said, it is important to vet any potential partners properly and call out abuse when you see it in the community.

Secondly, no, BDSM is not “just hitting each other”. Any knowledgeable and safe sadomasochist will tell you that. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this piece, it’s this: kink doesn’t have to be about pain. 

Kink without pain!?

This can be quite a shocking revelation to some folks, especially if all they’ve seen of BDSM is someone having a whip cracked against their arse. My first introductions to BDSM were through very two-dimensional Femdom scenes in crime dramas, usually involving heavy bondage and whips. Male submissives were often ridiculed, and sometimes BDSM as a whole was the butt of a joke. 

So when I was first exploring my kinks, it came as a surprise to learn that you can still be really kinky and not incorporate sadomasochism. I’ll be candid here: I’m no pain slut by any means. While I enjoy erotic spankings and rough sex as much as the next person, if you bring a tawse or thick cane near me, I’m running for the hills! 

So how can you navigate getting kinky without pain or impact play? It’s simple: the same as you usually do. Through negotiation and consent, safety protocols and risk assessment. You have your boundaries, and they can and should be respected. 

Painless kink? Let me count the ways!

So what kind of kinks can you have that aren’t necessarily about whips and chains and pain? Oh, so many! 

From someone whose kinks are mostly not pain-related, so to speak, let me list some of mine for you: 

  • Praise kink – A praise kink is where someone feels aroused or enjoys other positive feelings from being praised by a partner in a scene or during sex. A common example is “good girl/good boy”. Basically, if you call me a “good girl” I’m putty in your hands! 
  • Dominance and submission (D/s) – This dynamic forms the foundation for many BDSM and kink arrangements or fantasies. D/s play can incorporate pain and impact play if you want, but it doesn’t have to. Something as simple as doing the dishes or cuddling can be made kinky when you add a D/s twist. 
  • Blindfolds – Pretty self explanatory. Blindfolds can be made of soft material, like a scarf, satin mask, etc., or tougher materials like leather. My go-to blindfold is my silk sleep mask. 
  • Light bondage –  Light bondage can involve something as simple as a scarf, or you can use cuffs or basic Shibari (Japanese rope bonage) ties. As well as the super-hot element of restraining someone, many people find bondage relaxing. However, bondage – even light bondage – carries a risk factor. Always play safely and responsibly
  • Sensual domination – Sensual domination is my kinky happy place. I love it. This is domination that focuses on delighting the senses, rather than giving pain. It is domination that focuses solely on pleasure, and can involve implements like feathers, satin, bondage rope, massage oils, and candles to set the mood. It can even involve all of the above (which for me, it does!) Sensual domination can often be seen as a gateway for people experimenting or getting started in BDSM, but it’s a valid activity in itself that many experienced kinksters enjoy.

Though sometimes I crave the rough stuff, which I also adore, sensual or “soft” kink (as it’s sometimes called) is where I feel most in my element. 

 On that note… 

No shame in soft kink

Some of the more “hardcore” kinks are so-called due to carrying a great deal of risk. Needle and knife play, for instance, are by no means activities for beginners and require deal of studying, safety, and risk awareness to master. 

I’ve seen less “extreme” kinks, or those not involving pain, described as “diet kink.” Some even go as far as to kink-shame people for “not being kinky enough”. Obviously this is not ok.  It’s easy, when looking into BDSM, to internalise “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”. I should like hard spankings and floggers, or I should be able to do 24/7 Total Power Exchange if I want to be “really kinky”.

But the truth is, if you’ve got a kink, even if it’s just one? Congratulations! You’re kinky!

No two people are exactly the same. It can be easy to internalise (guilty as charged) feeling like you have to fit into a kinky box – and, of course, feeling you have to be into pain. For all the reasons I’ve discussed here, you don’t have to be and if you’re not, that’s ok. Your kinks are entirely unique to you. 

So go forth, experiment, and have fun! And as always, play safely and responsibly!

Violet Grey describes herself as “your 20-something lady who loves to write. I write erotic fiction, along with real-life sex stories, thoughts on sexuality, kink, BDSM, and generally whatever else is on my mind.” Check out her blog and give her a follow on Twitter!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, tips and shopping with my affiliates help me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Fetlife

Ahhhh, Fetlife.

Love it or hate it, the “Facebook of kink” is still the absolute number one place to be on the internet if you’re a kinky person who wants to interact with the BDSM and fetish community outside of your bedroom.

But if you’re not careful, it can be a bit of a cesspit. Here are my top ten tips for getting the most out of Fetlife.

Fill out your profile

You really need to fill out your profile if you want to use Fetlife to help you build a community. You don’t have to post an essay, but “I dunno just ask me” or “I hate talking about myself” do not constitute a profile.

Tell us whatever it is about yourself that you’re happy to share. For starters, try: how long have you been on the scene, what does kink mean to you, what your relationship(s) look like, and what you’re looking for. You could also include an outside-of-kink hobby or interest or two!

Choose your role carefully

There are tonnes of different role options you can choose from. Of course there’s the ubiquitous Dom/Sub/Switch, but there’s also Kinkster, Hedonist, Pet, Brat, Daddy, Princess, and many more. Choose the one that best suits you (and, if you want, say something about what it means to you in your profile!) Remember you can always change it, too, so don’t be afraid to swap things around as you gain experience and change as a kinkster. I wrote a deeply personal post last year about the different role descriptors I’ve used over the years.

Consider your location

The running joke is that there are more kinksters in Antarctica than people, because so many Fetlife users put “Antarctica” as their location to avoid revealing where they really live.

If you need to conceal your location, I’m absolutely not judging. Please do what you need to do in order to be safe! But if you can, consider putting your actual town/city or at least somewhere close to it. (Or a general area, like your state or county.) This makes it easier to connect with people who live near to you, and also means you’ll get event recommendations based on your location. (Not many dungeon parties in Antarctica, funnily enough!)

Say what you’re looking for

In your profile header, you can pick “What I’m Looking For” from a dropdown menu. Options include everything from “a Master/Mistress” to “a lifetime relationship” to “Events” to “Friendship.” You can choose more than one. Consider carefully what it is you’re looking for and be honest here! Saying you’re only looking for friendship or events won’t entirely stop the creepers from messaging you, but it will cut down on it. If you say you’re looking for a romantic, sexual or kinky partner, it’s a really good idea to delve further into what you’re after in your profile (or by using the “Writings” feature.)

Read profiles before messaging!

I really cannot emphasise this enough. Please read someone’s ENTIRE profile before messaging them – and pay attention to what it says. My profile states very clearly that I have no interest in submissive cis men and that they should not under any circumstances message me. I still get an average of one “HeLlO MiStReSs CaN i LiCk YoUr BoOtS?” type message per day. I also say I don’t add strangers as friends, and yet the random friend requests still flood in. Read a damn profile, and heed what it says. You are not the exception.

Message respectfully

So you’ve read someone’s profile and they’ve sparked your interest enough to want to make a connection. The first message can really make or break things here. Don’t go in with sexual content straight away (yes it’s a fetish site, but there are human beings on the other end of your message!) Don’t make demands, make assumptions of roles (this means no calling someone Sir, Mistress, Daddy, slut, slave or any other kinky title without consent!) or ask people to meet straight away. Do at least a cursory check of your spelling and grammar (graduate thesis level perfection is not expected but making an effort is nice.) Don’t wall-of-text. Don’t ask someone to meet straight away. Just… be a friendly, normal, respectful person.

Join groups

There are literally thousands of groups on Fetlife! These operate as discussion forums based around topics. Many are for specific kinks or fetishes (for example, Spanking, Orgasm Control or Needle Play.) Others are based around a specific geographical location, or even a specific event (Attendees of Fetish Fest 2020, for example.) There are even non-kinky groups where you can just discuss a topic of mutual interest! I’m in book groups, health and fitness groups, groups for people who are childfree-by-choice, and many more. Pick a few interests and join groups.

Read and obey group rules

All groups have rules governing the kind of content that is allowed in them. Many, for example, will specify “no personal ads” (cruising for dates/play,) “no advertising” (commercial or business content or advertising your event,) or even be limited to a certain demographic (such as under 35s, women, or LGBTQ folks.) Disregarding group rules is likely to get your posts deleted and may even get you kicked or banned from groups. It also wastes moderators’ time, annoys group members, and makes you look like a dick. Just read the rules and follow them.

Don’t pay too much attention to Kinky & Popular

Ugh, Kinky and Popular. This page highlights posts (photos, videos and writings) which have garnered a lot of attention in a short space of time. No-one is 100% clear how the algorithm works, but that’s the gist of it. The thing is, K&P is mostly full of what can best be described as “vanilla porn” – videos of fairly heteronormative, vanilla sex acts and nude pictures of skinny, young, normatively attractive white girls. Which are fine if these are your thing, but they’re not really what most people go to Fetlife for.

K&P also generally makes people who don’t fit into these narrow beauty standards feel shit about ourselves and our bodies. There are occasional K&P writings that are absolute gems, but you have to weed through a lot of crap to get to them. Just ignore K&P is my advice. Kink isn’t a popularity contest.

Reach out to community leaders and prominent figures

See someone who looks like they’re a leader, event organiser or prominent and respected person in your local community? Reach out to them! Amongst all the crap in my inbox, I love receiving the “I’m new to the scene in [place where I live,] saw you’re pretty active and wondered if you’d be willing to be a friendly face at [the munch next Tuesday/Bob’s party on Friday night/the next Peer Rope workshop] as I’m a bit nervous” type messages. Community leaders become community leaders because we love helping people and helping the scene to thrive. Reach out. Be polite, be respectful of their time, and be specific if you can in what you’re asking.

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The Kinky Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

This is the first in a mini-series of posts where I explore the five love languages as they can relate to kink and BDSM. If you don’t know your main love language, take the quiz to find out! Most of us are a mix of several or all of them, but have one that comes out most strongly. The model is somewhat flawed (I think there are more than five languages – two additional ones of mine are co-creation and food, for example) but it’s a useful starting point for exploring how you like to give and receive love. I believe that a lot of problems with one person feeling unloved and unappreciated, in relationships where everyone is acting in good faith and doing their best, come down to a mismatch of love languages and not understanding each other’s.

Words of Affirmation

People whose primary love language is words of affirmation like to be told they’re loved. They like to be told explicitly, out loud and in detail that they are valued by their partner(s.) People who understand love via words of affirmation do not ascribe to the adage that words are meaningless and only actions count. Don’t get me wrong though – your actions still need to back up your words!

How to show love to a submissive whose primary language is words of affirmation

Many submissives will tell you that the words “good girl,” “good boy” or similar will just make them melt in their Dominant’s arms. If you have a submissive who will do anything for these nuggets of praise, you might just have a sub whose love language is words of affirmation. Offer them genuinely as often as you can.

You can take it a step further, too. Mix in other compliments and words of praise. This can range from “I’m so proud of you” when they accomplish something, to “you look so hot kneeling for me like that” during a scene. Compliments – on their achievements, talents, character and looks – should be given freely. Remember to make sure everything you tell them is genuine and heartfelt. A person who speaks this language can tell when you’re just parroting the lines with no feeling behind them.

A submissive who needs words of affirmation is likely to need regular reassurance, too. They might need to hear that you love them, that you value them, and that they’re not too much or too needy. If you’re in a non-monogamous dynamic, they’re likely to need verbal reassurance sometimes when you’re spending time with others. Tell them explicitly how much they mean to you.

Don’t underestimate the power of written words, too! If you live apart, a “good morning beautiful/handsome” text could brighten their whole day. If you live together, a naughty or affectionate IM while they’re at work will make them smile and keep them thinking of you.

Writing tasks were also made for these submissives! Have them write down fantasies, write in a daily journal, or write down mantras to increase their confidence in themselves or the relationship. You could even set “lines” as a punishment if they misbehave! As with any punishment or protocol, make sure you negotiate fully.

How to love a Dominant whose primary love language is words of affirmation

People tend to forget that Dominants have emotional needs too! Like anyone else, D-types also have ways that they prefer to give and receive love. So if your Dom is into words of affirmation, how can you make sure they feel loved and appreciated consistently?

A Dominant who is into words of affirmation might love to hear lots of verbal feedback during and after play. You don’t have to go overboard or fake it, but a well-timed “mmm, that feels so good” or “this is making me so hard/wet” is likely to go over well. After play, general words of appreciation (“I needed that so much, thank you”) or specific compliments (“the way you handle the whip is so sexy”) are likely to make them glow. Again: whatever words you give, it’s important that they are genuine! Only say things you mean!

It’s amazing how often submissives don’t realise this or forget it, but: COMPLIMENT YOUR DOM! I often say “hey, nice ass” when I see Mr CK walking around naked. (Words isn’t really his language, but it is mine.) Tell him that shirt really suits him. Tell her the way she looks in those boots makes you go weak at the knees. Make sure they know you really appreciate their skills as a… whatever it is they’re good at. Tell them you love their laugh, their random acts of kindness, their devotion to their family. Just pick something and tell them how great they are!

However confident and stoic they seem, Doms can also feel insecure, jealous or wobbly. Regardless of your relationship structure – but especially if you’re non-monogamous – check in with your Dom regularly to see how they’re doing. Be prepared to offer any verbal reassurances they need. Ask them what they need you to remind them of, or pick it up from contextual clues, and tell them that thing. Let them be vulnerable with you and meet that vulnerability with words of love and support.

If your D-type sets you a writing task, take it on promptly and joyfully. Do the best you can with it. In fact, you might even suggest this to them if they haven’t thought of it!

Additional tips that are good for anyone

Don’t be afraid to remind your partner of your confidence, faith and pride in them. As someone who speaks the words of affirmation language, if I have a big interview, presentation or important meeting coming up at work I love nothing more than hearing “good luck, I know you’ll rock it!” from my partners. And if something they aim for doesn’t pan out, be there to pick their spirits up with loving reassurance that it doesn’t mean anything about their ability and that things will go better next time.

Sexting was made for relationships between people who communicate their love in words. Share a filthy fantasy, a sexy dream you had, or spinning an elaborate scene together over text or IM are all great ways to feel more connected… and to gain delicious new ideas of things to try together.

If you live apart (or even if you don’t!) then consider love-letters. These could be emails or actual, old-fashioned pen-and-paper letters. However you do it, they’ll give you something to look back on and cherish for years to come.

Say “I love you.” Seriously. Say it often. No-one who speaks the “words of affirmation” language will get tired of hearing it.

Do you speak “Words of Affirmation” as your love language? How do you like to give and receive love in your kinky relationship?

Do you want to support my work and help me to keep producing content like this? Buy me a coffee!

[Kink Product Review] Lovehoney Take Control Bondage Kit

I often groan at the idea – and the reality – of sex toy kits. Too often, they’re lots of cheap and bad quality things shoved together in a pretty box and sold for a premium. If pressed for an opinion, I’ll nearly always tell my readers to forego a kit and spend a bit more on just one or two quality items. However, I try to keep an open mind, and occasionally something surprises me. The Take Control Bondage Kit from Lovehoney pleasantly surprised me.

The Take Control bondage kit box

Through the eyes of a beginner…

I’m practically a kinky veteran at this point. I’ve been practicing BDSM for about a decade and have accrued a sizeable collection of toys – expensive leather floggers, my fabulous vegan leather collar, the gorgeous hand-made whip I gave Mr CK last Christmas, our electro-play kit, and more. So beginner kits are not something I would ever normally buy for myself. Therefore, I am trying to step back in time ten years or so and view this kit through the eyes of someone who is just starting out in their kinky explorations.

The back of the Take Control Bondage Kit boxInviting and Fun Packaging…

The Take Control Bondage Kit comes in one simple box, with all the products clearly displayed on the front so you know exactly what to expect. The packaging is bright and fun, which I suspect is a deliberate choice to make it non-intimidating to the new and nervous.

There’s a LOT of information on the box, too. I really like the way that there’s a brief description on how to use each item on the back, and also that they pay attention to safety and consent! The box reminds you to use safewords, never leave a bound person alone, and have a non-verbal safe signal if someone is gagged. In this regard, I’m really impressed. It’s pretty 101 stuff, but safety/consent 101 is exactly the information that the target market for this kit needs. A+ for that.

Take Control Kit: the unboxing…Various kink items on a wooden floor. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.

I wasn’t delighted with the way the box was packed – everything was just sort of piled in, each item wrapped in a cellophane wrapper. It would have been nicer to have an inner tray with slots for everything. Some little storage bags for the items would also be a welcome addition. Assuming you don’t want to throw everything back in the box when you’re done playing, it’s not an ideal storage solution.

With that said, I was immediately pretty impressed with what was inside the Take Control kit. Some (many) beginner BDSM kits are filled with things that are dubiously even safe, let alone of good quality.

Let’s take a look at what’s inside, shall we? Just for fun, I’ve included a fun tip or an idea to try with each item in the Take Control kit.

1: Blindfold

A black blindfold. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.This blindfold is super comfy. It’s nice and thick and padded, and I couldn’t see a thing when it was on. The band is stretchy, too, so it should fit most people comfortably.

Pro kink tip: blindfold your partner and stroke different things across their body – a silk scarf, a piece of velvet, the tails of your flogger – and make them guess what each item is.

2. Nipple suckers

I really liked these! They’re a A pair of purple nipple suckers. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.great gentle introduction to nipple play, and perfect if you want some sensation but without the pain of clamps or clothes pegs. I have pretty small nipples on fairly large breasts, and I found these stayed in place very nicely once I’d suctioned them onto my chest.

If you flick or hit them too hard, they will fly off, but they can withstand some gentle playing and wiggling.

Pro kink tip: tell your partner to fetch you something from another room with these on. They’ll have to move carefully… they’ll be spanked if one falls off!

3. Ball gag

A black ball gag. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.Full disclosure: I hate ball gags. I fucking hate them. They make my jaw hurt, they make my face contort into an expression that no-one could possibly find attractive, they make me drool, and I can’t kiss my partner when I’m wearing one. I. Hate. Them.

With that said, this is a good one if you like that sort of thing. The holes make it breathable, and being silicone it’s non-porous which makes it hygienic. The holes do make it somewhat of a pain to clean, so take extra care when you’re cleaning it. Warm water and gentle soap is the best way to go here.

I also like how adjustable this gag is. With 9 buckle holes, it will fit most people comfortably.

Pro kink tip: make your submissive try to repeat words back to you (try phrases like “I’m a dirty little slut”) while gagged.

A black flogger. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.4. Flogger

This is a stingy little bastard! Don’t let the small size fool you, it can pack a wallop. The falls are made of thin rubber, which delivers a vicious sting when you put some force behind it. If pain isn’t your thing, you can drag it sensually across the skin for a gentle tickle. I would have liked the handle to have a bit more width and weight to it.

Pro kink tip: Try – gently – flogging the vulva or penis if your partner is up for it. Remember to clean your flogger thoroughly afterwards.

5. Wrist and ankle cuffs

These were the weakest A woman's hand in a black velcro cuff. For a post about the Take Control bondage kit.part of the kit by far, for me. They’re quite thin and made of nylon, with no padding, which means they chafe if you put any pressure on them at all. They’re fine for exploring the feeling of being restrained, but if you’re into rough play and would be wanting to pull against them, they’re not a good option for that.

Try restraint with these, by all means, to see if you like it. But then ditch them and get some proper cuffs. And I hope it goes without saying that you should never, EVER suspend from wrist or ankle cuffs. These are not designed to take any real weight.

Pro kink tip: Restrain your partner then make them watch you masturbate in front of them.

6. Under-bed restraints

These are great, except for the tiny detail that they don’t fit on our bed! We have a Super King bed (which is the best thing ever, seriously. I always tell Mr CK that my relationship with him and the bed is polyamorous in itself.) Turns out these restraints fit up to King Size. So they’ll be fine for the vast majority of people, but if you have a ridiculous bed like us, they may not fit.

That said, they’re still a great addition to the kit. They’re strong, durable, and easy to set up… and tuck out of sight when you’re done, if you want to. The little clips mean you can easily add different cuffs to them, so when you ditch the rubbish cuffs in this set and get some better ones, you can still use them with this restraint system.

Pro kink tip: when your partner is restrained, run a cube of ice along their body… or drip candle wax onto their skin (read up on how to do wax play safely first, of course!)

7. Silicone suction-cup dildo

Do my eyes deceive me, or… no, it’s actually a body-safe dildo in a BDSM kit! With an insertable length of 6 inches and a diameter of 1.5″, this toy is perfect for vaginal play. It’s possibly a bit ambitious for first-time anal sex or pegging, but most people could easily work up to it with a bit of time and warm-up.

The slight curve makes this dildo feel delicious for G-spot or prostate stimulation, and the silicone is super soft and silky. The suction cup is also a nice addition and makes this toy more versatile.

It’s even got a convenient hollow in the base where you can slip the bullet vibe that comes with this kit to turn your dildo into a G-spot vibrator!

Remember to use water-based lube with your silicone dildo for the best experience.

Pro kink tip: tease your lover’s entrance with just the tip of the dildo. If they want it inside, they have to thrust on to it!

8. Strap-on harness

This is actually the same harness that I bought as part of a pegging kit a few years ago. I’ve used it many, many times to top for both vaginal and anal penetration, and it’s still my favourite harness. It’s comfortable, the dildo stays in place well during thrusting, and the rings are interchangeable so you can use it with any dildo with a flared base.

Pro kink tip: If you have a vulva, put on a wearable vibrator before you put on your harness, so that you get some clitoral pleasure while you fuck your partner.

9. Wired bullet vibrator

This was the biggest surprise in the Take Control kit for me. I was fully expecting it to be awful. While it’s not the strongest vibrator in the world, it’s not a bad little bullet for the size. I was able to orgasm with it quickly and easily. It has a number of patterns as well as steady vibration speeds.

I didn’t love the wire element, but you cannot expect to get a wireless bullet for this price-point. It’s long enough for one partner to comfortably have control of the remote while the other holds the vibrator against their genitals.

Pro kink tip: switch it off just when your lover is on the edge of orgasm. Make them beg for release.

Other things to note if you’re thinking of getting the Take Control kit:

  • The bullet takes 2x AAA batteries, not included.
  • There is no real leather in the Take Control kit, making it entirely vegan-friendly.

Overall Verdict: do I recommend it?

On the whole, a very solid kit for the price. I wouldn’t recommend it to folks more experienced in kink and BDSM, but for those of you who are new and looking to explore different sensations and types of power-play, this kit is a great starting point.

The Take Control kit retails for £79.99 ($109.99 US) which is a reasonable price for the quality and variety. As you get more into your kink and discover what you like, I’d encourage you to drop more money on single items if you can – a quality, handcrafted whip or flogger will last you a lifetime, perhaps, or some really high quality natural fibre rope? But to get you started? Look no further.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the Take Control Bondage Kit in exchange for an honest review. If you choose to purchase this or anything else from Lovehoney, please buy through my affiliate links – it supports the blog at no extra cost to you!

My Scene Went Wrong, What Now? – A Guide to Getting Back on Track

Sometimes, play sessions or scenes will go wrong. Mishaps, mistakes, and even the occasional genuine crisis can happen to all of us. It’s an unfortunate fact of this thing we call kink, sex or play, and we would all do well to learn better how to handle it when they do. Anyone who has been playing for any length of time and tells you they’ve never had a scene go wrong is either astoundingly lucky or lying.

A woman turned away from the camera looking upset. For a post about scenes going wrongI’ve had three scenes go wrong in relatively quick succession (a period of about 3 weeks). The first time, the equipment we were using at the club malfunctioned and dropped me. Thanks to Mr CK’s quick reflexes, we were both shaken but there were no injuries. The second time, there was somebody else at the party who I hadn’t expected to see, and who makes me feel profoundly unsafe. I tried to play in the main party space anyway, thinking I shouldn’t let him ruin my good time, but unfortunately I badly misjudged my own mental state. The third time, I let my head convince me that a situation that was actually most likely completely safe wasn’t.

To be clear, none of these was a disaster (though the first could have resulted in much more serious consequences than it did). Even so, they were all unpleasant and left both of us rattled. The after-effects could be felt for the next few days, both individually and in our interactions together. Luckily, we managed to have a spectacular play session a few days ago and I feel much better about it all as a result.

So let’s look at some techniques to get things back on the rails after something goes wrong.

In the immediate aftermath

I’m assuming that, at this point, you’ve moved away from the play area to somewhere safe if possible, and that anyone who is injured has received appropriate medical attention. I am also assuming good faith from all parties and that there were no malicious intentions or consent violations.

First of all, both/all players involved are likely to be shaken up. This is a really good time to be very kind and gentle to both yourself and each other. Sit somewhere comfy. Drink a glass of water, cup of hot tea or other comforting beverage. Maybe have a snack to get your blood sugar back up. Have a massive fucking cuddle, if you’re in the kind of relationship where you cuddle.

Don’t beat yourself up. If the problem was because of a mistake you made, you can and should apologise, but one genuine apology is much better than self-flagellation. This should go without saying, but if there was fault on the other person’s side, don’t be mean to them about it! You can absolutely say what you perceive happened and what you wish they’d done differently, but don’t harp on it more than is necessary and try to gracefully accept an apology, if one is offered. Again: be kind. This is a great time to reaffirm that you still love/like/fancy the pants off each other.

Don’t feel the need to discuss what happened in depth there and then if you don’t want to. You can, if you’re both up for it, but it’s often better to focus on caring for yourselves and each other initially. The debrief is often more productive if it comes an hour or two later, or even the next day.

Later that day/the next day

Check in with the other person. Ask them how they’re doing and be prepared to offer what comfort or support you can. Be honest about how you’re doing and ask for their support in return.

This can be a great time to have the debrief conversation: you’re over the initial shock/upset, but still close enough to the incident to analyse it effectively. Discuss what went wrong, your respective headspaces (and physical states, if relevant) at the time, the factors that contributed, and what controls you’ll put in place to try to mitigate the risk of a similar incident next time. This is also a good time to discuss what you need in the aftermath: do you need some cuddle time, verbal reassurance, some hot sex? Or just some alone time to process? Ask for it! If you can, give your partner what they ask for.

When it comes to processing, if you’re struggling with difficult feelings following the experience, this is a great time to consult a kink-friendly therapist, reach out to other kinky friends, or write in your journal.

It’s also worth remembering that you might experience sub-drop or Dom-drop. Even though you didn’t finish your scene, when something goes wrong you’re yanked out of your headspace very quickly and abruptly, which can actually be worse. Check out my list of self-care tips to try if drop, depression or anxiety hits.

Try to view a scene gone wrong as a learning experience. It doesn’t need to spell disaster for your relationship, your future as a kinkster, or even necessarily your night/day/week!

Next time you play

Re-acclimating to your partner and your play together after a scene gone wrong can be a challenge. It’s a good idea, before you next play, to touch base with regards to where you’re both at emotionally and physically following your incident. It can also be wise to negotiate your next scene or two very explicitly in advance, especially if miscommunication or misunderstanding contributed to the problem. This also applies in very long term relationships where you know each other incredibly well. It’s not a failure to spell things out upfront if relying on your knowledge of each other and nonverbal cues doesn’t feel safe right now.

Sometimes, verbally affirming consent can be really reassuring the next time you play, too. Our first really good scene after the string of issues started with Mr CK asking me to very explicitly state my consent to what we were going to do.

You can also ease back in slowly! You don’t have to go straight to a 10 on the intensity scale if a 4 feels more comfortable right now. Even if you were hanging upside down from the rafters when something went awry, you can dial it back to a gentle spanking next time you play. The only thing that matters is that you play at a level that’s comfortable for you both. A less intense scene isn’t a failed scene. The only criteria for success is that you are both safe, gave free and enthusiastic consent, and had fun.

Final thoughts

There are basically three main things I want you to take away from this post. When a scene goes wrong, remember:

  1. Practice kindness, patience and forgiveness. To yourself as well as to your partner.
  2. It happens to everyone sometimes and does not mean you failed as a kinkster, Dom, sub or partner.
  3. You CAN move past it, learn from it, and use the experience to strengthen both your skills and your relationship.

And if you’re reading this because you went Googling in a panic after your scene went wrong? You’ve got this. I believe in you. It’s okay.

My Safety Philosophy: Why I Practice (C)RACK

I always listen to Loving BDSM Podcast the day it comes out (Fridays), usually on my way to work. They’re always insightful, frequently hilarious and often make me think.  Today’s episode was all about the different safety philosophies within the kink community. Kayla and John discussed why they personally practice SSC – Safe, Sane and Consensual. As always, they’ve got loads of great things to say and I highly recommend you take a listen.

A cracked wall with flowers growing out of it. For a post on safety philosophies in kink.As I was listening, I realised I’ve written about safety tips for kink, but I’ve never actually written about my own personal safety philosophy before.

In kink, the three safety philosophies you’ll mostly hear cited are:

SSC: Which states that everything we do must be Safe, Sane and Consensual.

RACK: Which urges us to practice Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

And PRICK: Which asks us to take Personal Responsibility (in) Informed Consensual Kink.

Each of these has their merits and I will never knock anyone else’s safety philosophy as long as it’s based around the cores of safety and informed consent. Personally, though, I practice RACK. Let me tell you why.

What is “safe” anyway?

Very little in life is completely safe. We take risks in our life every day. It would be absurd to think that sex or kink could be completely free from risk. I take a risk every time I use a sharp knife to chop vegetables. I take a risk every time I get in my car (driving, when you think about the size of the machine you’re in and the speeds at which it moves, is fucking terrifying). And I definitely take a risk every time I let someone spank me, string me up in ropes, or get into edgy and emotionally fraught places in my psyche. (Yes, not all risk is physical. Mental risk is just as real).

Risk Aware, for me, doesn’t just mean knowing the risks are there but taking active steps to reduce them. We know driving is dangerous, so we wear seatbelts, don’t drive drunk, and don’t text while we’re driving. And in kink, it’s exactly the same.

Being risk aware means letting a partner know about any physical issues I might have that could impact our play, and keeping an eye on them during. It means letting my partner know about a pinched nerve or pins and needles in my hands. It means, when I’m Topping, getting proper education on the acts I want to do to another human being and not playing beyond my competence level.

So: nothing we do is, or can be, completely safe. Even vanilla missionary position sex with the lights out carries some degree of risk. By being informed, we can meaningfully mitigate risks to the best of our ability.

Who gets to define “sanity”?

I, like approximately 1/4 of the adult population (conservative estimate,) suffer from a mental health problem. Does that mean I’m incapable of doing kink responsibly? No, absolutely not. As a person with mental health conditions, I find classifications of “sanity” to be intensely problematic.

As long as I’m aware of where my mental health is at, and can communicate that to a partner, it’s generally reasonably safe and completely healthy for me to play. Which… circles us back around to that risk aware piece, doesn’t it?

At best, sanity is nebulous and difficult to define. What feels “insane” to one person might be “average Saturday afternoon” for another.

My unease with PRICK

PRICK is a fine philosophy, in so far as it goes. But it makes me feel a vague uneasiness whenever I hear it, and today I finally put my finger on why.

I’ve been involved in various ways in anti-sexual-violence activism for 6+ years. The phrase “personal responsibility” has been thrown at me and so many of the survivors I know more times than we can count. In those instances, unfortunately, it is taken to the extreme of meaning that you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens to you.

This means that a generally good philosophy (“look out for yourself, take responsibility for your actions and the impact they have on yourself and others around you”) has been co-opted and twisted to mean “if someone harms you, it’s your fault”.

It’s not that I’ll never play with someone who practices PRICK, but I would need to make damn sure that their meaning is closer to “we are responsible for taking care of our own and each others’ safety and wellbeing to the best of our ability”. That’s what a good philosophy of personal responsibility would look like.

Sadly, I just know too many people who say “personal responsibility” when they mean “if you get raped, what were you wearing how much did you drink why were you out late how did you not know that guy was a rapist?????

It all comes back to consent

Whichever you practice, you’ll notice that the one thing all these philosophies have in common is consent. Consent is at the core of everything we do. However, it occurred to me today that there is one key ingredient which none of these philosophies explicitly address…

The missing piece

Kayla and John so often come back to the importance of communication in their discussions on Loving BDSM. I often find myself nodding along, and am in absolute agreement with them that effective communication is at the core of everything we do. You cannot have safe(r) kink and sex without communication. You cannot have a good relationship without communication! And I don’t think we can meaningfully discuss good philosophies of safety without also discussing the importance of strong communication.

Therefore I present to you my new philosophy, adapted from RACK, which you are all welcome to use if it speaks to you:

CRACK: Communicative (&) Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

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Image from Pixabay and used under Creative Commons licensing.

When You’re Exploring, Not Everything Will Work – and That’s Okay!

This one’s late! Sorry sorry sorry! I had a really bad mental health day yesterday.

Trigger warning: this post talks about consensual non-consent including rape fantasy.

Today’s prompt from 30 Days of D/s (it’s nearly over, y’all!) is all about exploring your kinks together with a partner, in particular things you haven’t tried but would like to.

I’ve tried a lot of kinky shit over the years. Like, a lot. I’m not gonna say “name a kinky thing and I’ve probably done it,” because some of you have truly devious imaginations. But I’ve been doing this stuff for well over a decade. I have a lot of experience. At the start of our relationship, The Artist asked me what I hadn’t done and might like to try. I was just like “oh shit what have I not done!?”

Inevitably, perhaps, I’ve done some things that I do not care to do again. When you’re exploring an area as broad as kink and sex, you won’t like everything you try. That’s okay! Trying something and not liking it isn’t a failure. It’s a valuable learning experience.

I’m pretty big into consensual non-consent, or CNC – also known as “rape fantasy”. This is a really, really common kink especially among (people socialised as) women. I am nowhere near qualified to start delving into the reasons for that. Anyhow, I’m into it, and I practice it carefully with safe partners and safewords. Up until last year, my biggest fantasy was a group CNC scene, where several partners would ambush and ravish me. Um, to be honest, this is still one of my biggest fantasies.

But you know what happened when we tried to make it a reality? It didn’t work. Some combination of the time of night, my tiredness level, the people involved and my sense of disorientation combined to make it too much. I safeworded out and then spent the next two hours crying and apologising. What was wrong with me?

This was my fantasy, why hadn’t it worked for me?

The truth is there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with my partners, either – everything they did was 100% consensual! It was what we thought we all wanted! None of us did anything wrong. The scene just didn’t work out. Sometimes scenes don’t work, and that’s okay. Sometimes you can be absolutely sure you’ll like something… and then in reality, you won’t. That is also ten million percent normal and fine!

There’s an anecdote in, I think, one of Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton’s books. I’ve just spent an hour searching for it and can’t find it, which is really annoying me! Anyway, it tells of a woman who has always fantasised about receiving caning… until she finds she reality too painful. This is because fantasy isn’t accurate, realistic information. Fantasy is there first for fun and titillation. Yes, it gives you an insight into things you might like to try, but liking it in fantasy doesn’t mean you’ll like it in reality. You might, you might not. You might like a modified version. Either way, that’s completely okay!

I still have group CNC fantasies, and I may or may not try to act them out again at some point. If I ever do, I’ll use the information I learned from what went wrong last time to modify the scene. If I don’t, it’s still okay for me to enjoy the fantasy! Not wanting to do something for real doesn’t mean you can’t fantasise about it!

Even trying something and having it go wrong doesn’t have to be a barrier to continuing to enjoy your fantasies.

The key to exploring, I think, is to try not to attach too much to one particular outcome. This sounds ridiculously “zen,” and I appreciate it’s really difficult. But if you approach trying something new with the mindset of, “it might work, it might not, but we’ll learn something either way,” the pressure to have it be the best scene of your life lets up almost immediately.

Approach with an attitude of open exploration, communication and the goal of mutual pleasure and discovery. You might find your new favourite thing. You might also find out that some things are happier staying in your inner fantasy world – and that’s valuable too.

Kinky item of the day: Spreader bars! For me, there is very little sexier than being spread open and vulnerable in front of a Dominant lover. Especially if they’re also slapping my cunt and/or ripping an orgasm from me with the Doxy. Try this lovely adjustable bar from Sportsheets.

FYI, this post uses affiliate links!

Five Tasks and Rituals that have Nothing to do with Sex

Quickie-post today, dear readers, because I am up to my face in PhD research proposals. Today’s prompt in 30 Days of D/s is about tasks and rituals: the little things you do to help you feel more submissive or more Dominant, to “bring you back to your mental, emotional and even physical D/s space.”

These things can often be sexual. In my previous D/s relationship, my tasks included things like rolling a dice and edging that number of times. There were times when he instructed me to wear Ben-wa balls to work every day, or to go to the grocery store without panties every day for a week.

These sexual tasks are all well and good, but D/s isn’t always about sex. Sometimes you just want to feel Dominant or submissive without your genitals involved. Here’s a few ideas for tasks or rituals and have nothing to do with sex.

1. Text (/call/email/message) at a specific time each day

This is especially good if you’re long distance or don’t live together. Simply texting “good morning, Sir,” “goodnight, Pet” or some other variation on a daily touching-base can be surprisingly powerful.

2. Making their drink

I used to always make my ex-Master’s tea and then serve it to him in a specific way. Learning how your Dominant likes their drink and serving it to them is a lovely, affirming submissive action for the service-oriented among us.

3. Write a journal

Loads of Dominants task their submissives with journalling regularly. Whether this is open to your D-type to read or entirely personal is up to the two of you. It’s a great way to get to know yourself, explore your desires and experiences within the relationship, and check in with yourself to make sure you’re happy and functioning.

4. Eat or drink something specific

Massive disclaimer to maybe avoid this one if food is a trigger for you or you’re recovering from any kind of eating disorder. This could be something really simple like “drink 2 litres of water a day” or “eat a piece of fruit after dinner,” but it can be a nice way for a submissive to feel like they’re doing as they’re told and a Dominant to feel like they have a hand in their submissive’s health and wellbeing.

5. Repeat a mantra

You can do this to yourself in the mirror, to your partner, or even on your kinky social media if you like. Try something like, “I am beautiful and Sir loves me,” or “I am proudly owned by my Mistress”. Whatever works for you and your relationship!

I hope you find some inspiration here! What tasks and rituals do you use in your D/s relationship?

Kinky item of the day: remote-controlled vibes! Want to get your sub hot and bothered on the bus, gagging for it in the grocery store or worked up at work? These beauties have got you covered!

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