[Book Review] Pain Play for Everyone by Luna Caruthers

Luna Carruthers has been running Submissive Guide, a large website of resources for anyone identifying as a kinky submissive, in 2009. I actually found the website way back in the early days of my kinky explorations in my late teens and very early twenties. It’s been years since I visited the site, so getting reacquainted with it while reading Pain Play for Everyone and writing this review was a fun trip down memory lane!

Pain Play for Everyone by Luna Carruthers book cover, featuring a pink background and picture of a paddle.

Pain Play for Everyone by Luna Carruthers is a quick read at 102 pages in length. But there’s a lot of useful information packed into this slim volume.

A book for receivers rather than givers

If you want to be the person dishing out the pain in a kinky scene, this book is not going to teach you the practicalities or necessary safety tips on how to do that. There are great resources available that teach you how to do that, and I encourage you to check them out.

Pain Play for Everyone is very much geared towards the submissive or receiving partner. I liked that about it. So much BDSM content is written by and for Dominants, possibly due to the assumption that us submissives just lie there and get stuff done to us.

But I’ve long held that bottoming well is a skill, and one that deserves to be taught – and celebrated – as much as Topping. Therefore, I’m glad to see a book written by a submissive, for submissives.

However, though it’s aimed at submissives and bottoms, I actually think Dominants and Tops should read it, too. The hallmark of a great Dominant is being able to understand and empathise with their submissive’s experience. By understanding how masochists experience and process pain, sadists can become better, more empathic, and safer players.

Accessible and easy-reading

Luna uses accessible language throughout the book, making it easy to read and absorb the information. She simplifies complex concepts and brings them into the realm of real-life kinky play situations.

The book is well-structured with clear headers for each section that make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Practical tips

Luna shares a number of practical strategies for increasing pain management and pain processing ability during kink play. The strategies are clearly described, making them easy to try out and implement. They won’t all work for you, because everyone is different. But by trying a few different options, you’re likely to find something that is helpful for you.

Experience-informed and well-researched

Luna uses her own experiences throughout the book to help explain the points she makes. By sharing her real-life experiences, she brings the content out of the abstract and into the real.

Pain Play for Everyone seems solidly researched and delves into a little of the neuroscience, psychology, and physiology of pain processing.

I would have liked to see a bibliography or footnotes referencing sources for some of the more science-heavy bits. But that’s because I’m a massive dork and want to go and read more. There are a couple of links to relevant studies and book suggestions included, but I would have liked to see a much more extensive list of sources.

Who is it for?

I’d definitely have found this book useful when was a new submissive and just starting to explore pain play. Most of it was stuff I already knew, given with my well-over-a-decade-at-this-point of experience.

I still got something out of it, though. I particularly found the descriptions of the various types of pain – beyond thud and sting – to be useful. It also gave me a couple of new ways of thinking about processing intense sensation during a scene. But as a broad generalisation, it’s more likely to be useful to newer kinksters than experienced players.

If you’re new to submission or being on the receiving end of sadomasochistic activity, there will be something for you in this book. In particular, you might find it useful if you are looking for ways to increase your pain tolerance or play at a higher level of intensity.

Where to buy it

You can get a free signed copy of Pain Play for Everyone (along with a host of other cool benefits) when you join the Devoted tier on their Patreon page. The book is also available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition, along with Luna’s other releases.

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting the blog – and my caffeine habit – by buying me a coffee.

[Quote Quest] You Need to Have Power Before You Can Give it Away

“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”
Oscar Wilde

TW: abuse, abuse of power, shitty Doms

I’ve always found the term “power exchange” – to describe a Dominant/submissive dynamic, relationship, or scene – fascinating. It’s not called a power over or a power from, but an exchange. I think there’s a reason for that. And I think that reason is as this title says: you need to have power before you can give it away.

Have you ever noticed how toxic and abusive Dominants (particularly cishet male Doms) try to get into relationships with the most powerless people they can find? Dominants who are insecure in their own masculinity and their own power chase submissives who are extremely young, extremely inexperienced and new to the scene, and whom they can groom into a relationship under the guise of “that’s what dominance is.”

It’s no surprise that those relationships tend to end up with, at best, a wildly uneven level of dependency. Often, they end up horrifyingly abusive.

Is it really consensual dominance if you take control over someone who has so little power, relative to you, that they can’t meaningfully push back or say no or leave? I don’t think it is. Are they truly giving power consensually if they can’t take it back? I believe not.

My first Dom was intimidated by me the moment I gained any real power. When we met, I was meek and quiet and obedient and so very, very young. A few years in, when I went to University and met my people and found my voice. He told me that he didn’t know what to do with me any more. “You don’t need me any longer,” he said. What he meant was, you can live without me now. And he didn’t like that.

Later, he told me that he couldn’t be my Dom any more because he was worried I was smarter than him. Because I was suddenly confident and outspoken. And what I realised is that he didn’t want to consensually dominate someone who was consensually subservient for fun. He wanted to domineer over someone who he could conceptualise as genuinely lesser.

Power is complicated and multi-faceted. You can have more power than someone along one axis, and less power along another. It’s not always an easy thing to quantify. That’s especially true when Dominant and submissive kink dynamics come into play.

But if you’re seeking out someone who doesn’t know any better due to age or inexperience, who won’t question you, who won’t leave because they need you or feel like nothing without you… ask yourself why.

If you feel threatened by someone who is a little older, has a modicum of experience, or is as smart or as successful or as confident as you (or perhaps even more so,) you need to interrogate that. Why do you need to feel like your partner is beneath you? Isn’t it more satisfying for someone who has a secure sense of their personal power to choose to give it away to you as their Dominant?

And if someone is chasing you who clearly has a hugely disproportionate level of power over you, ask questions. Do they fetishise your youth or your newness or your inexperience or your naïvety or the sense of security they get from feeling like they’re just kinda better than you? Do you feel the urge to put them on a pedastal or to do everything they say, even if it doesn’t feel right, because they say they know better?

Don’t give power over you to someone who doesn’t view your personal power as a beautiful thing that you alone own.

Learn yourself first. Explore with people who will make space for you to be curious, to try things out, to not know. Not with someone who treats you like an untouched lump of clay they can mold to their specifications.

Because you can only consensually give away your power, for a scene or a weekend or a few years or a lifetime, if you have that power to begin with.

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I wrote this piece for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see the other contributions or to take part. And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[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!

[Wearable Review] Lovehoney Brand X A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set

It’s rare I find a piece of sexy lingerie I could describe as “reasonably comfy, actually.” It’s also rare I find a piece of sexy lingerie that actually contains my boobs. Finding both of these things in one item? Well, that’s a rarely-seen miracle! The A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set, from Lovehoney’s new Brand X collection, is one such piece.

X Marks the Spot

Brand X is a new line of lingerie and fetishwear from Lovehoney, designed by a team of professional Dominatrixes. The range features 24 lines in a mixture of standard and plus sizes, from harnesses to dresses to body-stockings and more. Everything in the range is black, and made from a combination of wet-look PVC and fishnet.

The A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set from Lovehoneys Brand X range

I received the A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set. This two-piece set contains a longline bra which zips up at the front, and a hair of high-waisted knickers with zip running all the way around.

First Impressions

I loved this set from the moment I took it out of the packaging. The fetish-inspired design and fishnet decoration is just so my style. I’m actually completely in love with this whole range and might need to see if I can get my hands on some more pieces to review for you guys.

The other thing I thought when I opened up this set was “holy shit, my boobs might actually fit in that!”

Read on to find out what I thought when I actually put it on…

Comfort and Fit

Fetishwear is not often associated with comfort, and for good reason. Sky-high heels, stomach-sucking corsets and boob-sculpting underwires are hardly the epitome of cosy.

So I was delightfully surprised by how comtortable the A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set is. The wide elasticated bands and stretchy fabric means it sits comfortably and clings to your body like a glove. As there are no wires or boning, there’s nothing digging in painfully or contorting your body into uncomfortable shapes.

I also really love the easy-on nature of this set. I didn’t even have to unzip anything – I could just pull it on, adjust it into place, and go. This means I’d be likely to wear this set to a date or event where I was planning to play. It’s super easy to take off if necessary for playtime, and then put back on afterwards.

Similarly, the fact that the bra closes at the front is likely to make it more accessible and friendly to those who cannot manage back-fastening garments by themselves. No fiddling with clasps – just zip and go!

The fit, in my experience, is true to size. I wear a size 14 and received the L/XL set, which is recommended for sizes 14-16. It fits pretty much perfectly and, because it has some stretch, accommodates for a range of the bodies that sit within those clothing sizes. The S/M will fit a size 10-12, while the plus size versions cover sizes 18-24.

Finally, joy of joys, my boobs actually fit! I so often find I’m falling out of lingerie that is ostensibly my size, that finding something I don’t have to adjust every 15 seconds is a small miracle.

Aesthetics

I feel sexy as fuck when I wear my A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set! I think the idea is that the style is meant to say “Dominatrix,” but you all know that’s a thing I am definitely not. I’m pretty close to exclusively submissive these days. And actually, wearing kinktastic lingerie that makes me feel really sexy helps me tap into that headspace. (See also: the Catsuit of Joy.)

Me in the A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set from Lovehoney

I feel like this set really flatters my curves – by which I do not mean minimises them, but flaunts them unapologetically. The band of the longline bra hits in just the right place to show off the curve of my waist, and the high waisted knickers show off my full hips and my finest feature of all – my fabulous butt.

I especially love the cut out section between the top of the main bra cups and the decorative fishnet panels and straps. Something about this hint of skin, when the rest of the breasts are thoroughly covered, is just unspeakably sexy to me.

Me in the A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set from Lovehoney

The zips also add an extra sizzle of sexiness and potential. You can unzip just a little bit to tease your lover, or they can tie you up and then unzip you…

So do I recommend it?

Oh my goodness, Lovehoney have knocked it out of the park with Brand X! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a team of kinksters would know how to design wonderful fetishwear.

Brand X is sexy as fuck, comfortable enough to actually play in, and will look fabulous on a wide range of bodies.

The A Rider Zip-Up Bra Set retails for a very reasonable £34.99. Other pieces in the Brand X range retail from £19.99 up to £39.99.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me this set in exchange for an honest review. I’m partnering with them throughout Masturbation Month to bring you sexy content and product reviews! This post features affiliate links. All views, as always, are mine.

[Masturbation Monday] Watching

He watches me. His glasses perch on the bridge of his nose and his mouth curls in a small smile at my embarrassment. I feel his eyes fixed upon me, even when I close my own. Watching, always watching.

I feel his gaze as surely as hands on my skin. He can carress me from across the room with a glance. An approving nod can make my whole day, a warning raise of an eyebrow bring me back into line. Under his control. Under his watchful gaze.

Some nights he doesn’t even touch me. He just sits in the armchair, sipping a glass of Merlot or a strong black coffee, and waits for me to put on a show for him.

I stretch out on the bed, running my hands over my own body. Slowly peel off my clothing, one piece at a time. I never stop being self-conscious. Every time, I feel the flush of humiliation creep warmly through my veins. He just watches.

I pinch my own nipples until they’re erect and smarting. Spread my legs, showing him the deep pink and brown folds of my vulva, running my fingers through my curly black pubic hair. He, watching, knows that I am drippng for him.

When I can’t stand the ache between my thighs any more, I dip my fingers into my cunt. Perhaps I pause to taste my own need, savoring the faint tang of my arousal on my tongue. Or perhaps I just fuck myself, head thrown back, arching my back and thrusting my hips, exaggerating my moans because I know that’s what he wants to see.

The show ends when he’s had enough. If I haven’t had time to reach satisfaction when he says it’s time to stop, I go to sleep aching and wanting. If he wants more, I’d better keep performing for him, forcing climax after climax out of my overstimulated cunt until he’s satisfied. It is for his pleasure. My own is incidental.

Sometimes I wish he’d just fuck me, but that’s not what we do. Knowing I’m gagging for it is part of what gets him off. Knowing that he won’t fuck me. Probably he won’t even touch me. He’ll just sit there, while I make a spectacle of myself for his entertainment.

Watching.

The Masturbation Monday meme is run by Kayla Lords. This week’s prompt image, shown at the top of this post, is by the absolutely gorgeous and extremely talented Cara Thereon. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week, and please buy me a coffee if you enjoyed this little sexy story! Plus don’t forget it’s #MasturbationMonth and I’m working with Lovehoney to bring you sexy content all month long.

[Review] Lovehoney Bliss Orgasm Balm

I admit that I am sceptical when it comes to products that aren’t sex toys but claim to boost the chances of orgasm. However, I am also a curious creature and willing to try most things once. So when this little tin of Bliss Orgasm Balm from Lovehoney appeared in my shipment of Masturbation May products, I thought it was high time I gave it a go.

Lovehoney Bliss Orgasm Balm

What is Bliss Orgasm Balm?

Bliss is a topical balm designed to increase sensitivity in the clitoris. It comes in a small heart-shaped tin and is white in colour and has a creamy consistency that melts onto your fingers – similar to a lip balm.

Bliss Orgasm Balm is infused with peppermint, menthol and essential oils. These ingredients stimulate the nerve-endings in the clitoris and encourage blood flow to the area, increasing sensitivity.

Lovehoney Bliss Orgasm Balm

Is it body-safe?

To answer this question, I took a closer look at the ingredients.

  • Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil. A natural oil commonly used in cosmetics, make-up and skincare products. It has been shown to have beneficial properties for the skin and is considered safe.
  • Hydrogenated Olive Oil (and) Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil. We all know olive oil has health benefits when used in food, but it is also a common ingredient in skincare and cosmetics. These forms of olive oil were investigated by the Cosmetics Ingredients Review and declared safe.
  • Hydrogenated Jojoba wax. Jojoba oil and jojoba wax were investigated by the International Journal of Toxicology and proven safe for cosmetic use. (Warning: link contains mentions of animal testing.)
  • Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter). An incredibly common ingredient in skincare and cosmetic products. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review investigated shea butter and found it to be safe.
  • Menthol. Menthol is widely used for its distinctive minty fragrane and the cooling sensation it creates on the skin. The FDA has found it to be safe for these purposes and also in food.
  • Tocopherol. Tocopherol is a form of Vitamin E, typically derived from vegetable oils. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review and International Journal of Toxicology concluded that it is safe for topical use.
  • Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil. An essential oil derived from the peppermint plant, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review determined that peppermint oil is safe as long as the concentration of the compound pulegone does not exceed 1%.

In conclusion? Every ingredient in this little balm has been declared safe for topical (external) use by experts. Full marks, Lovehoney! Unless you’re allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients, you can use Bliss Orgasm Balm with confidence.

How do you use it?

You may look at this tiny little tin and think, “is that all you get?” But believe me when I say you only need a little bit to make this stuff effective!

Dab a small amount onto your fingers and massage into your clitoral area. It can be quite intense, so start off cautiously – if you want a more intense sensation or aren’t getting the desired effect, you can always add more.

From there, continue to masturbate or have sex as you normally would.

Remember: Bliss Orgasm Balm is for external use only. Don’t put it inside your vagina or butt.

What does it feel like?

Have you ever used “cooling” or “tingling” lube? It’s a bit like that, only more intense! If you’ve ever put toothpaste on your genital area (which is something I don’t recommend, but a lot of people do) this is a similar sensation – and safer!

The best way I can describe it is as a cool tingly sensation when the balm first goes on. Then, as your body gets used to it, the initial sensation fades but you’re left with a higher than usual level of clitoral sensitivity.

Does it work?

Yes – with caveats.

If you struggle to orgasm, don’t expect Bliss Orgasm Balm to be a cure-all. It isn’t. But it definitely does heighten sensitivity, which can absolutely help when it comes to inducing orgasm. I also suspect it might act as something of a placebo for some people – you expect the balm to help, so you feel more relaxed and less stressed, so having an orgasm is easier.

I absolutely recommend trying a product like this if you find orgasm difficult. But manage your expectations going in, yeah?

If you don’t generally struggle to orgasm but are just looking for some extra sensitivity or a fun way to play with sensations, you might well enjoy using Bliss Orgasm Balm.

Some extra fun ways to play…

As ever, there’s no right way to use sexuality products and you should do whatever works for you. But I found a few fun ways to use Bliss Orgasm Balm that might appeal to some of you.

  • Put some on before you get dressed in the morning to give you a little tingle of arousal as you go about your day.
  • Use it during oral sex and have your partner gently blow on your vulva. This will send cool minty tingles through you!
  • Put some on and then start watching porn or reading erotica and see how long you can wait before you simply have to touch yourself. (Or order your submissive to put some on and then not touch!)
  • Use it to increase clitoral pleasure during penetrative sex. This greatly enhances the chance of orgasm for most vulva owning people!

So do I recommend it?

I rate this product a lot more highly than I expected to! I really liked the tingly sensations, the extra level of sensitivity, and the fun variety it added to my solo playtime. I’m also seeing some great potential in it for kink and power exchange play and I’m looking forward to experimenting more with my partner.

At just £9.99 for a 20g tin (which will last you ages – remember you only need a little bit) it’s a steal. Throw some in your next Lovehoney order!

Thank you to Lovehoney for sharing this product with me in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links appear in this post. All views are, as always, my own. Pictures property of Lovehoney and reproduced with permission. I’m partnering with Lovehoney throughout May to bring you #MasturbationMay reviews and content!

Masturbation Monday: Three Ways to Explore Masturbating With Your Partner

Masturbating together is a hugely underrated sex act, in my opinion. The overwhelming majority of us are our own first, last and only truly lifelong sexual partner, so no-one knows what we like quite like we do!

Despite this, many of us forget that mutual masturbation can be a wonderful way to explore sex with a partner – or consider it “not real sex.” So today I want to give you three possible ways to explore masturbating together, and why you might want to try them.

Show your partner what you like

This works well in newer relationships where you don’t know each other’s bodies well yet, but is equally wonderful for more established relationships – particularly if you feel stuck in a sexual rut or one of you isn’t feeling as satisfied as you’d like.

Masturbating in front of your partner shows them, in intimate detail, how you like to be touched. This could involve them touching you too, mimicing your movements until they get it just right, or just watching and taking mental notes.

Does this sound cold and clinical to you? It doesn’t need to be! Imagine your partner lying back and spreading their legs, their eyes closing in bliss as they give themselves pleasure. Imagine them saying something like, “I like to have my clit rubbed in little circles like this…” or “I really like someone gripping the base of my cock hard. Don’t worry about hurting me, I’m into it.” Super fucking hot, no?

Talking about what you like in bed is hot. Showing your partner what you like can be even better.

Putting on a sexy show

Is there anything hotter than seeing your partner’s pleasure up close and personal? Masturbating for your partner can be an incredibly hot way to put on a sexy show for them.

Some people find it sexy to exaggerate their moans and movements in this context for their partner’s enjoyment. Others like to simply lose themselves in the pleasure and let their partner see them at their most raw and vulnerable. Experiment to see what works for you.

This can also work really well as part of a D/s game. As a submissive, I enjoy being told to touch myself for my partner’s amusement – especially if I’m not allowed to come (or stop) without their express permission. If you’re in a power exchange relationship or enjoy these games, try telling your partner to touch themself for your entertainment. The details are up to you – are they forbidden to come? Instructed to edge a certain number of times? Ordered to bring themself to orgasm within a specific timeframe? Have fun with it!

Exploring a new fantasy together

Masturbating together can be a lower pressure way to explore a new fantasy. Interested in threesomes, bondage or watersports, but nervous to try? Touch yourselves side by side while you talk through a scenario involving your fantasy. (Frankly, even if you’re not exploring something new, masturbating together and talking through a shared fantasy is a really hot way to have lower-energy sex!)

Another way to do this is watch some porn or read some sexy erotic fiction together while you both touch yourselves.

Have you tried masturbating with your partner? Tell me in the comments or tweet me to tell me what you love about it!

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Masturbation Monday is a meme by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone is getting off to this week! This week’s prompt image is by Shelbie Rie of House of Eclipse. This post contains affiliate links, which make me a small commission if you purchase through them. You can also buy me a coffee to show your appreciation!

[Guest Blog] When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It) by RT Collins

For today’s guest post, I am delighted to be publishing this essay by the exceptionally talented R.T. Collins. When they approached me with this pitch, I knew I simply had to accept it. Painful sex isn’t something we talk about enough, and I’m always here for opening the conversation.

Please note that this essay is about R.T’s personal experience only, and nothing here should be taken as “advice.” What works for one person won’t work for another. If you’re experiencing pain during sex, please seek the support of a qualified medical professional.

And remember – you can help me commission more awesome guest writers by sending a tip or joining me on Patreon.

Amy x

When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It)

(Or: How I learned to live with a retroverted uterus and accept pain as a normal (and fun) part of sex.)

Earlier this year Netflix’s excellent series Sex Education featured a storyline about a teenage girl – Lily – discovering and dealing with vaginismus. Vaginismus is a painful condition where a pelvic floor muscles spasm when anything is inserted, making it near impossible to have penetrative sex (even if it’s just a finger).

Lily’s frustrations and sadness struck a familiar chord. I don’t have vaginismus, but I do have a retroverted uterus (also known as a tilted uterus). My vagina itself is unaffected, but my womb is titled backwards, and my cervix is in a different place, causing pain every time anything phallic goes up there.

Like Lily, I found this out the hard way. My first penetrative sexual experience was hugely painful, but I’d been told that was going to be the case, so I assumed it was normal. However, as every consequent experience delivered the same amount of pain, I started to wonder if something was just wrong with me. Unfortunately, this was the early 2000s, and I was too scared to look it up on the one school computer that had internet. I just assumed sex was either particularly painful for me, or was that way for everyone and nobody else was complaining. 

Also, the pain didn’t put me off. I was still a horny teenager with raging hormones and an intense sexual obsession with Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I still enjoyed clitoral stimulation (despite my equally inexperienced partners not quite grasping the concept) and wasn’t yet really aware that sex without penetration was a totally valid option. The general excitement of sex was enough to make me grit my teeth through the painful bit. I could always imagine it was Aragorn. 

And then in my late teens I had sex with a much older man in a respectful, caring and oh-so-hot tryst in a hotel room on a tropical island. He gave me my first full-blown clitoral orgasm (we’re talking pink fluffy clouds) followed by athletic sex in positions I’d never imagined possible. The sex was as painful as ever, but everything else was just so good. It was my first encounter with a person who actually knew what they were doing, and boy did it make all the difference. I found myself asking for more, harder, pushing my own limits, until finally and unbelievably, I came from penetration alone. 

I left that hotel room a changed person – pain, it turns out, could be its own source of pleasure. It was relief, as I’d all but accepted that sex was going to be a trying experience for the rest of my life. I also knew that this was most likely a fairly unique reaction. Very few people enjoy pain, especially as part of sex, I was lucky to have found a way to make it work for me. 

A few years later I moved to the big city, made new – equally horny – friends, and started investigating the BDSM scene. I figured, if, for me, pain could be pleasure, then BDSM could probably teach me a thing or two, and I was right. My first submissive experience consisted of me on all fours in front of a crowd being introduced to a variety of impact toys by an experienced Dungeon Master and his hilariously evil wife. Each toy created a different sensation. Some irritating, some titillating, and some downright orgasmic. It was exhilarating to be welcomed into a world that understood that pain could be a source of pleasure. At 21, I was a young person on the scene and I was lucky to find people who helped me explore this dynamic in a safe and supported way. I found the space to accept and experiment with pain in all forms, both in and on my body. 

Penetrative sex, with penises or dildos, continues to be painful and pleasurable in equal measure. Most partners I end up with have fairly large penises (or impressive strap-ons). I like to think that’s just by accident, but there’s probably an aspect of challenge as well – I’m always pushing thresholds to see how I’ll respond. Occasionally the pain aspect becomes apparent, and it leads to awkward conversations – “no, I promise I like it.. you don’t have to go slowly… I promise I’ll say if it’s too much” etc. It’s a fair response to question why someone wants to continue with something that hurts, so I don’t mind explaining. I just wish there was more knowledge about conditions like this, so it wasn’t so awkward each time. 

1 in 5 people who have a uterus have a retroverted one, to varying degrees. I have no idea what percentage of those people experience pain, but I’ll wager it’s a lot higher than anyone realises. I’m fortunate that, unlike Lily and her vaginismus, the pain is something I can accept and enjoy. It’s a particular reaction that I doubt many people have. By the time I was diagnosed at 22 by a very caring sexual health doctor, who got very angry about the incompetence of all my previous doctors, I was happy to know what was going on… but mostly angry on behalf of those who may never realise, and possibly continue to think something is wrong with them or never find a way around it that works for them (like taking penetration out of the equation altogether). 

Luckily, series like Sex Education are bringing conditions that cause discomfort during sex out into the open. Shops like Sh! Women’s Store in London now stock vaginismus therapy kits. My hope is that more young people become aware of the wide variety of bodies and ways of experiencing pleasure, and come to understand themselves and find help much earlier than I did.   

Everyone should be able to enjoy sex, in a way that works with their body and desires. I’m so glad I can. 

R.T. Collins is a kink, porn and sexual wellness enthusiast based in London. Follow them @DiscoWrites or get in touch at rtcollinswrites@gmail.com

The Kinky Love Languages: Acts of Service

(This week’s “midweek” post is late, sorry about that.) This is the last post in my “five love languages for kink” series. Today we’re talking acts of service! I deliberately left this one until last because it is, arguably, the one that most obviously lends itself to a BDSM context.

The acts of service love language can best be summed up as “actions speak louder than words.” The key for people who subscribe to this love language is doing things for each other in order to show love, caring, consideration and commitment.

How to love a submissive whose love language is acts of service

“Hold on a minute, Amy!” you’re saying. “The submissive performs service for the Dominant, not the other way around!”

Which, yes, that’s certainly the way it looks – and in many dynamics, that’s how it plays out. But “service” doesn’t have to mean subservience. Acts of service, in a love language sense, means doing things for the other person that make them feel loved.

The Five Love Languages site suggests things like doing the dishes, collecting their mail, and getting up in the middle of the night for childcare duties. But how do you perform acts of service for your partner as a Dominant without it undermining your dynamic?

Acts of service are, fundamentally, about taking care of each other. And I believe that as a Dominant, one of your primary and most important roles is to take care of your submissive. Exactly what “care” means in this context is, of course, open to interpretation and will depend upon your dynamic. A Daddy Dom will care for their submissive in a different way to a sadist, a pet player, or an Owner in an Owner/property dynamic.

So, yes, making your submissive dinner might be considered an act of service. You can do this out of love and to show care… and even Dominance. Making a meal might mean you’re making sure that they get proper nourishment, because they’re your most cherished possession and you like to take care of your things. Similarly, taking a chore off their hands when they’re exhausted, running an errand to save them time on a busy day, or picking up medication for them can all be acts of service that show them they’re loved… and also that you’re taking good care of your favourite toy.

Acts of service from a Dominant can also facilitate the possibility for kinky fuckery. An exhausted submissive who doesn’t have the energy to play because they’re busy running both your lives is no fun at all. Offering acts of service, as well as making your submissive feel loved, can also free up time, physical energy and mental space… which can be used to do all your favourite filthy things together.

And don’t forget that a relationship is a partnership! You might have negotiated an unequal power imbalance but you both still exist in the real world, and in that world you need to be equal human beings with responsibilities that you take on together. And shouldering your share of the load – and sometimes extra in order to support your partner – is sexy (and Dominant) as hell.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is acts of service

I mean, this is the easiest one of the entire series to write! Service is very often a part of a D/s relationship, in the sense of the submissive performing acts of service to the Dominant.

Of course, exactly what this looks like for you will depend on your dynamic. In one of my past relationships, one of the ways I showed service was by cooking for my partner (who hated cooking but loved good food.) At other times, making someone’s tea or coffee has been an act of service. Right now I’m not in a 24/7 D/s relationship but I perform small acts of service for my partners when I can, whether it’s making them food or going to the store for something they need.

Ask your Dominant, if they haven’t already told you, what specific shows of service work best for them. Perhaps you always make their drink in the morning, iron their favourite shirt or polish their boots before you go out, or have dinner on the table when they get back from work. The keys here are routine and flexibility. Routine can help build a dynamic and a submissive headspace, as well as showing consistency and reliability. But flexibility is essential when circumstances, people and needs inevitably change – which they will.

Acts of service can also relate directly to your kinky play. Cleaning the sex toys after a session, coiling your Dominant’s rope in the way they like, or making the effort to have their favourite brand of lube before they come over all totally count as acts of service. Not to mention that sexual service – performing a sex act for the Dom’s pleasure – can be hot as fuck.

Years ago, a (*tongue firmly in cheek*) Terribly Twue Subby Sub I knew lectured me: “submission isn’t cups of tea and blowjobs, you know!” And I was like… maybe not to you? And that’s fine? But I’m a service-oriented sexual submissive and actually those things ARE a big part of it to me.

Service, like submission and Dominance and kink and sex and relationships, is what you want it to be.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

The two big keys to successfully pulling off acts of service are:

  1. Doing it without being asked, at least sometimes.
  2. Going above and beyond the usual call of duty.

Of course, no-one expects you to be a mindreader and know exactly what your partner wants without them asking. But presumably you know them at least reasonably well, yes? So use that knowledge to find little ways to perform service for them without being prompted. Run to the store when you’ve run out of milk before they get up and make their morning coffee, put a hot water bottle in bed for them on a cold night, or make them lunch before a long work day. The significance here isn’t in grand gestures, but in finding little everyday ways to show consideration and love.

“Above and beyond” just means that doing the expected roughly-50% of general life duties (household chores, childcare, life admin) isn’t enough by itself (though it is important!) You need to go a step beyond that, at least sometimes. The quickest way to make your partner feel unloved and resentful, if their love language is acts of service, is to do the bare minimum you can get away with.

How can your partner show they love you via acts of service?

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Masturbation Monday: Discovering My Denial Kink

Eventually, my Masturbation Monday pieces will probably move back into the realm of erotic fiction. But for now I’m not really feeling it so much. While thinking what to write this morning, I realised – I can’t believe I’ve never written the origin story of my main, ultimate, One Kink To Rule Them All fetish! So let’s talk about how I learned I have an orgasm denial kink.

Content warning: this one talks about mental health and makes brief mention of abuse in a relationship

An unfortunate side effect…

SSRIs can be brilliant. They can also be the fucking devil. For me, they were both. I was 21 and in my final year of University when my mental health took an extreme downturn, almost entirely – I realise now – as a result of being with a seriously abusive partner. You can read the story about how I ended up taking SSRIs here, but please heed the content warnings and look after yourself.

After a couple of weeks on citalopram, it actually did help. Somewhat. It mellowed out my extreme anxiety and took the edge off the worst of my depression. But it also had another effect: it made it impossible for me to orgasm.

I didn’t own any sex toys at that point, and always masturbated with my fingers. I first realised that something was wrong during a solo session where, whatever I did, I simply could not get myself over the edge. The same thing happened when I had sex with my then-partner. Things that usually worked just… didn’t. It was like there was a thick blanket between my cunt and anything that touched it, dulling sensation and making things that had previously been reliable orgasm triggers just feel… sort of nice.

Discovering denial…

I eventually broke through this orgasm block with a high-powered vibrator, and things got better after that. (Temporary anorgasmia is, it turns out, a known side effect. And I’m sure that part of the problem was psychological – worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to come is hardly conducive to great orgasms.)

But the weird thing was that, on some level, I kind of enjoyed it.

I didn’t enjoy not having the choice. I didn’t enjoy the fact that my body seemed to be betraying me. But the lack of orgasms itself? Yeah, I realised a few times that I was definitely getting a kick out of that. The frustration was, in and of itself, powerfully erotic. Finding myself constantly horny, almost always thinking about sex on some level, my cunt getting soaking wet so damn easily. The way that I’d still be aroused and unsatisfied after a sex session, and have to stop myself from squirming too much as my Dom slept peacefully next to me. Feeling my clit twitching, demanding attention that I knew wouldn’t be satisfying.

I vividly remember the first time I reached a hard edge. I was rubbing my clit harder and harder, feeling the wave of orgasm rising, sure that this was the time I’d be able to get myself over the edge. But it just… hit a certain level and then stopped. There was no peak, no satisfying spasms or clenching, no relief or release. I did it again and then again, trying in vain to push myself over the edge. I had to stop eventually because the overstimulation was starting to hurt. But that awakened something in me right then. Something that has played, to a greater or lesser extent, into the overwhelming majority of the sexual fantasies I’ve had in the years since then.

After breaking through the SSRI-induced orgasm issue, I mentioned this to my then-partner and asked if we could play with it. We did. I’m not ready to write about sex things I did with him in a positive way – honestly I’m not sure I ever will be – but suffice to say that getting to explore this kink was one of the few good things that came out of that time.

How did you discover your favourite kink?

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