A Very Complete Beginner's Guide To Erotic Spanking

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Spanking is one of the most common kinks out there, and if the thought of someone bending you over the knee (or bending someone over your knee) turns you on, you’re in good company. A LELO survey of 1,100 people found that almost 75% of respondents had tried some form of BDSM, and of those people, over 80% had tried spanking. This isn't surprising, not only can spanking be fun, but for the spankee, it can also release endorphins, causing a natural high. It's also a low maintenance activity. Though all you need for erotic spanking is a partner — no ropes, costumes, or sex toys necessary (though they can be added, if you’d like) — there are still a few important things to keep in mind before you get started.
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Know What Turns You On Before You Start

“Spanking is a really fun way to dip a toe into BDSM,” says sex and intimacy coach Shelby Devlin. BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (yes, the D and S are doing double duty), and spanking has all aspects of the above. This means that what turns on one person about spanking could be different from what turns another person on. One spankee might love the feeling of powerlessness, while another might be all about the physical sensation. So when you first decide you want to explore spanking, Devlin suggests taking a little time for self-reflection. Think about what it is about spanking that appeals to you, and what you want to feel during the experience — both physically and emotionally.
Knowing what turns you on about spanking will help you figure out how you want to go about it. For example, if you’re into the feeling of powerlessness, you and your partner would want to focus on setting up a "scene" (a pre-planned BDSM encounter) or role-playing, and the actual spanking “could be really light, and you’d get your needs met,” Devlin says. It’s okay if you don’t have a super clear explanation for what turns you on about spanking at this point. “‘I want to try this because it seems naughty and it really turns me on is a good place to start,” Devlin says.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

As with all types of sex, consent is absolutely mandatory, and you should discuss spanking with your partner before you begin. Talk about what you both want (and don’t want out) of the experience, and discuss your boundaries. “If a couple is interested in doing spanking, and the spanker really gets turned on by creating pain, but the spankee doesn’t get turned on by receiving pain, then we have a problem, and this should be figured out before any spanking [begins],” Devlin says.
Devlin also encourages partners to “establish a safe word or an agreement about communication” before starting. She points out that usually during spanking, you can’t see your partner’s face, so verbal communication is extra important. A common safe word is the “red, yellow, green” system: green means go, red means stop, and yellow means “it’s getting a little intense, but I want to keep playing.”

There’s A Right Way To Spank

Emily Morse, Doctor of Human Sexuality and host of the Sirius XM radio show and podcast Sex With Emily, says that when it comes to spanking — and for that matter, trying anything else new in the bedroom — you should start lightly and gradually and work your way up to more intensity, checking in with your partner as you do so. Make sure the spankee is turned on before the spanking begins — begin with some foreplay, and then the spanker should “start rubbing and caressing and massaging" the spankee's butt, "so their partner is all warmed up, before even going in with the spank," Dr. Morse says.
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There is also a technique to keep in mind — or as Dr. Morse calls it, an art. “You want to keep your fingers together, and you don’t want to separate them, because that can hurt,” she explains. “And remember, as you’re slapping your partner’s behind, you should be hitting the fleshy part of the butt with an upwards motion. You’re not hitting on the bones or the side, but you’re slapping up.”
Devlin says that the spanker should vary the place they’re spanking, and rub the spankee’s butt in between spanks. “When we hit someone in the same spot over and over again, we create a bruise, and if we continue hitting someone while a bruise is already forming, it can cause harm,” she explains. Instead, the spanker should make sure they're “covering a wide surface area, so the whole patch of skin is getting the bloodflow, rather than just focusing on one spot over and over again.” And, she adds, “if someone is getting turned on and they’re really enjoying the experience, but one part of their body’s getting really sore, you can move to another part of the body and then come back to it.”
If a couple is new to spanking, the spanker should begin with their hand, but after some practice, they may want to use something else for spanking, such as a belt or a strap — at which point, Devlin would change the label from spanking to flogging. Flogging is different from spanking because you don’t get the same level of feedback with an object as you do with your hand: with your hand, you can tell how hard you’re hitting someone, you can feel their skin getting hot, and you’ll notice if your hand starts to get red. “If you don’t have that kind of feedback, then you don’t have a good idea of the impact you’re having on another person,” Devlin explains. This means that communication and starting slow are extra important. The flogger can also test the device on their own hand first, so they can get a sense of how the impact feels, Dr. Morse suggests.
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After the spanking, you can move to another sexual activity, or spanking can be done on its own — it all depends on what you and your partner are into.

Find A Partner You Can Trust

If you’re in a relationship, you can tell your partner you’re interested in trying spanking and ask how they feel about it — similar to how you'd begin any discussion about changing up your sex life. If you’re dating someone casually, you can ask them if they’ve ever tried spanking, and if the’d be interested in trying it. But if you’re single and want to find a partner specifically for spanking, Devlin suggests you approach with caution. You can use a BDSM-specific service such as FetLife, or you can simply tell your Tinder matches you’d like to try spanking and ask how they feel about it. But keep in mind that there are people out there who approach BDSM unsafely.
Devlin says that she’s seen men connect with BDSM-curious women on dating sites and then “send her a checklist or a contract, where she’s reading all these options and checking these boxes and signing a consent form.” This is not how consent works. Consent means that someone who wants to stop a sexual encounter can do so at any moment, including changing their mind about something they'd initially wanted to do. “If you can’t have a face-to-face conversation and gauge vulnerability and use communication skills, then you shouldn’t be playing with someone,” Devlin says. So if you meet a new partner specifically for spanking, Devlin suggests “going on a couple of dates and getting a feel for someone, and giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they're good with boundaries, before you do any BDSM.”

Do Some Aftercare

Dr. Morse says that after spanking, it’s important that the couple take some time for aftercare. What aftercare means varies from person to person, and encompasses everything from cuddling to a post-spank convo to getting your partner a glass of water. Essentially, it means taking some time to check in and take care of each other — it’s especially important after BDSM, but it’s a good idea after any other kind of sex, too.
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