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BDSM WEEK – GUEST POST: Joey W. Hill

We asked some authors who write BDSM about BDSM.  Here’s what Joey W. Hill had to say:

How Do You Explore BDSM with a Loved One?

One of the questions I get asked most frequently by my primarily hetero female readership goes something like this: “Hi! I’ve started reading BDSM romances and I’m intrigued at the idea of exploring BDSM for myself, but I’m in a relationship and I’m not sure how to bring my husband, boyfriend, etc. along for the ride without completely freaking him out.”

It’s a great question to ask. When a person is introduced to their inner Dominant/submissive feelings through reading erotic romance, sometimes it’s like being a teenager again, with lots of bouncy hormones that interfere with intelligent brain function.  It’s titillating, exciting and taps into taboos and secret longings. I believe the psychology of BDSM in erotic romance is what appeals to so many women. It came to us cloaked in the 80s bodice rippers and has had a full coming-out party in the widespread appeal of erotic romance over the past decade.

But it’s important to remember BDSM romance is no different from romance of any genre. In great romance, we empathize with the emotions and trials of the hero/heroines, but we’re also aware of areas where we suspend disbelief to enjoy the fantasy aspects of the romance. Lots of wonderful things that connect to real life BDSM are included in a great BDSM romance, but expectations of our real-life partners in exploring Dom/sub cravings need to be realistic. For example, my Dom heroes are often amazingly intuitive. In reality, we know men are often quite clueless about reading our emotions. But let’s face it; we can’t blame the poor guys – we women often have trouble reading our own emotions as well!

Women, while communicators, can be all over the map when emotions are strong. I had this experience in my early days as a submissive. The first time my husband restrained me, I burst into tears and he thought he’d done something wrong. Quite the contrary – I was just overwhelmed by how it made me feel.

I have seen marriages end over this voyage of discovery. In some cases, the marriage may have already been headed that way, but the biggest problem with exploring BDSM when you already have a head start on your partner (he’s been watching football while you’ve been devouring ten erotic romances a week) is misinterpreting his misgivings as intolerance.

So here are some of the suggestions I’ve offered in the past (I’m assuming the Male Dom/female sub perspective, since that’s what I’m asked about most often, but the advice can apply to the flipside as well):

1)    BABY STEPS – Telling your spouse you’ve been reading these books and now you want him to treat you as his 24/7 sex slave can be overwhelming and intimidating. Coming on so strong can drive him away from it forever. Imagine if he came to you, wanting something entirely new in the bedroom department, something you’ve never considered before. Don’t race ahead – invest the time and patience to take the journey together. Also remember that being the Dom can be just as scary at first. In some ways more so. My husband is very protective, so figuring out the line between the pleasurable endorphin-stimulus kind of pain and the bad-ouch-stop-now pain, when his wife craved spankings, floggings, restraint, etc., was something he approached very cautiously.

2)    RESEARCH THE BASICS – Look at reputable lifestyle sources together and discuss what you each like. Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller and Molly Devon is an excellent introduction to BDSM, with pictures and an informal, conversational style by a couple experienced in the lifestyle. And it has a great bibliography for other sources.

3)    LOOK AT OTHER PEOPLE – Forums like Fetlife.com have “real people” practicing BDSM and D/s lifestyles, and lots of discussion threads to expand your knowledge. (That said, keep in mind even the best forum can have crazies, and exercise your best judgment.)

4)    NO JUDGMENT ZONE – When you discuss BDSM together, agree to put defensiveness aside, and be courteous, kind and attentive. There are no wrong questions or comments. You love each other, and you’re discussing what you might want to explore together. If one person has a hard limit, then that’s that. Find the common ground. Plus, take heart – as you learn to trust one another even more, those “hard limit” areas might become less scary for both of you.

5)    DON’T BE A SUB WHEN NOT IN SESSION – When you are discussing your desires, you MUST assert and voice clearly what it is you want. You can’t expect your lover to be like an erotic romance hero who just “knows” what you want and fulfills all your fantasies. You wouldn’t want him to expect that from you, right? This was (and continues to be) the MOST difficult step for me. As a natural sub, it’s very hard for me to assert my desires. However, my husband pointed out that I should think of it as my Dom ordering me to be clear about what I want, so he can make the best decisions about those things for both of us.

6)    DRESS REHEARSAL – Before you enter into a session, whether at home, in a club, etc, explore all aspects of it in conversation. Boundaries, limits, safe words, etc. How it’s going to play out. The first few times you go through that process, it may feel clunky and “unromantic”, but like anything else, as you get to know one another better this way, this part will be easier. Nothing destroys the pleasure of the first forays into the D/s world like lack of planning that can result in injury, fear or frustration – loss of trust. And speaking from experience, be sure and test a new toy during “non-play” time. Trying to figure it out in the heat of passion can make for a very funny story later, but be very frustrating at the time!

7)    DON’T BANKRUPT YOURSELF ON THE TOYS – Yes, there are a lot of beautiful BDSM toys and furniture out there, and the craftspeople who make them earn the price tag. However, when you’re starting out, the hardware store will become your best friend. Metal clips, soft nylon ropes… And don’t overlook what’s already in the house. A footstool can become a spanking bench, and the kitchen has a wealth of tempting items. One of the best sessions my husband and I ever had involved a rubber spatula (laughter). Just be sure you do your research (see #2) to ensure everything is used in a safe manner.

8)    DON’T LET THE PAIN THING SCARE YOU – A lot of folks get freaked out by the pain issue in BDSM. It’s not scary at all, I promise. Do you get mesmerized by the spanking scenes in old movies? There’s a reason for that. The discipline/punishment thing is closely connected to sexual surrender/release in our heads. But there is no “bad” scariness, because you set the limits on it. You and your Dom will negotiate that, and incorporate only as much of it as you’d like. If you find you enjoy it, you’ll discover that threshold will rise as you explore it more deeply. Spanking might lead to soft flogging, then to a spatula, then to a cane…

9)    IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING – Some people occasionally enjoy being tied up with soft ropes on their beds and having their spouse blindfold and caress them in unexpected ways. Others want to be taken to a club, put on a suspension frame, and be zapped with a hot stick. This is about exploring your desires, not conforming to an erotic romance image of BDSM practices. There’s no rush to the finish line. It’s a meandering path, and you may find your Garden of Eden anywhere along the way. The important thing is whether or not it feels right to the two of you. Maybe you want to explore BDSM practices to spice things up with a lover. Or maybe you feel a genuine pull toward a Dom/sub orientation and you want to investigate that further. It’s a very wide spectrum.

10) CONSENTING ADULTS – At the end of the day, nothing should be done that feels forced to the other. A good Dom does not want you to do anything that genuinely frightens you or doesn’t feel good, and he will want you to choose safe words – code words that tell him when to slow down or immediately stop. On the flip side, a good sub is not going to shove her Dom into something that he genuinely doesn’t feel good about. That’s not just topping from the bottom – that’s disrespecting the person you love.

So take it slow and easy, and keep it all in perspective. The mantra of BDSM practice is safe, sane and always consensual. The treasure of healthy BDSM practice is trust, and that’s a tricky area in a vanilla relationship, let alone one where you’re introducing elements that may be entirely new to one or both of you.  From writing erotic romance for over 10 years, and from going on my own personal journey of discovery as a female submissive, I’ve found that discovering the middle ground makes it all the more rewarding. I love reading romance, but I wouldn’t trade my real life 25-year love story for anything, because it’s the mundane struggles and day-to-day that have made it the rich journey it is.

Joey W. Hill is the author of over 30 paranormal and contemporary BDSM romances, including four series. She is the recipient of the RTBookReviews Career Achievement Award for Erotic Romance and has been a practicing submissive…forever (lol). Her newest erotic romance, Unrestrained, comes out December 3 and features a retired Navy SEAL Dom (yea!) and a Southern steel magnolia widow exploring her submissive side. Read the first chapter and blurb here…

37 comments on “BDSM WEEK – GUEST POST: Joey W. Hill

  1. Moira
    November 22, 2013

    Joey as always your post are informative and insightful. I always enjoy reading them.

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 22, 2013

      Moira, I appreciate that! This has a been a great week for informative posts. Kudos to BIOB for hosting so many great resources about the lifestyle (who also happen to write lovely BDSM stories for us to enjoy as well – grin – I know my TBR list is now longer!)

      Like

  2. John
    November 22, 2013

    I hope Joey will write MM Romance again.
    Rough Canvas is still my favorite book after all these years.

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 22, 2013

      John, I love writing MM, so you can count on it. In fact, two of my vampire series ménage stories, Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity, had such a strong m/m element between the two men of the trio (Daegan and Gideon) that I’ve written two free novellas featuring them. They’re available on the fan forum, access info at http://www.storywitch.com/community. Taken by a Vampire is another ménage with a male/male component.

      For Christmas, I’m contemplating writing another free vignette for the forum revisiting Marcus and Thomas. They deserve a nice first Christmas together story, I think (wink).

      Oh, and in case you also haven’t read it, I have a 20k m/m short story published in the Riptide anthology, O Come All Ye Kinky (it’s called Submissive Angel), and you get a lot of other great m/m stories in that anthology as well (plus the timely Christmas/holiday theme!). Hope that gives you some other reading options.

      However, beyond all that, I do have a couple other mm full length stories percolating that I hope to get to in the future. Thanks for the Rough Canvas love!

      Like

      • John
        November 24, 2013

        BEST. DAY. EVER. Best surprise before Christmas! *Inserted Tangled .gif

        It’s really great that we will have a chance to revisiting Marcus and Thomas again.
        *That’s mean I have to re-read Rough Canvas again. Love it so much.

        I heard about vampire series ménage stories too but because it’s ménage stories that I have to skip it.
        I try to read some of it because my fav. authors always have some ménage in their collection but I really can’t get to it.
        One day maybe I will try again.
        (For the life of me only Open Relationship story that I will never try it again. After accidental read one day, It’s made me feels terribly uneasy for days)

        I read O Come All Ye Kinky. I like it. A little bit to short for my liking but I’m happy with it too. I usually read only full length stories except for my favorite authors.
        Short story always make me feel unfulfilled. (I just want more.)

        And that last paragraph.
        mm full length stories… I’m so happy right now. Thank you Joey. I can’t wait to pre-order it *Warp to the future.

        Like

        • Joey W Hill
          November 24, 2013

          John, if it helps, I have had a couple readers who prefer the m/m over ménage who’ve read the two free novellas without reading VM/VT, since the novellas are pretty much focused on the relationship between Daegan and Gideon. They’ve told me they enjoyed them without having to read the books, so you’re welcome to give that a try if you like.

          I’m with you on open relationship books. By the end of the book, there always has to be a strong commitment (whether it’s two people or three) for me to feel like I’ve received my Happily-Ever-After. And while a Dom/sub dynamic may sometimes involve some play with another party, it’s never intended to subvert the emotional monogamy between the main characters. I prefer relationships where people are in it for the long haul!

          Glad you’ve had the chance to read O Come All Ye Kinky. While I tend to go the same way, preferring full length stories, I thought these did a much better job than most at providing a more fulfilling story feeling.

          Thanks so much for your further thoughts and I’m glad you’re excited about the Christmas vignette for Marcus and Thomas. I can’t wait to plunge into it – nothing more fun than writing a Christmas story around the holidays to get into the mood. :>

          Like

  3. s0ph1ar0s3s
    November 22, 2013

    I found this post very instructive. Thank you, Joey!

    Like

  4. syleegurl
    November 22, 2013

    “For Christmas, I’m contemplating writing another free vignette for the forum revisiting Marcus and Thomas. They deserve a nice first Christmas together story, I think (wink).”

    CAN THE WORLD HEAR MY SCREAM RIGHT NOW!!!?????!!!! GAHHHHHH!!!! YES!!!!!

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 22, 2013

      So I’m assuming you like the idea, Syleegurl? I wasn’t sure. You seemed kind of conflicted about it (laughter). Seriously, so happy you like the idea of revisiting Marcus and Thomas with me?

      Like

      • Joey W Hill
        November 22, 2013

        That of course was not supposed to be a question mark at the end!

        Like

  5. Pyper541
    November 22, 2013

    Excellent blog as always Joey, I can’t wait for Unrestrained it’s almost here!!! I really enjoyed the advice and looking forward to your idea for Marcus and Thomas I really hope we get that!

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 22, 2013

      The muse definitely seems to be moving that way. I think we’ve wanted to have that “first Christmas” experience with these two for awhile. And I think Julie’s going to come join them, which will be nice. I can see her and Thomas’s sister hitting it off right away. Thanks for coming by to hang out, Pyper!

      Like

  6. Sheri
    November 22, 2013

    Oh Joey! I love your top ten suggestions & tips. Very helpful for newbies wanting to dip their toes into BDSM.
    Rough Canvas was an amazing read for me.
    So powerful and I’m thrilled we might get a sneak peek into their lives again…and first Christmas?
    *sigh*
    I can feel the love already.
    Thanks ever so much for stopping by.

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 22, 2013

      Sheri, thank you! Yes, I figured they would make a perfect Christmas short story, especially with Thomas being so representative of the kind of home Marcus always needed. And at the beginning of Rough Canvas, during one of Thomas’s flashbacks, he had nursed wistful thoughts of bringing Marcus home to spend the holidays with his family. It’s going to be a treat to write. Thank you again!

      Like

  7. Optimist ♰King's Wench♰
    November 22, 2013

    Yay! More Marcus & Thomas! So looking forward to that along with the Daegan/Lucifer vignette then again, I love everything you do. Wonderful list by the way. Very thoughtful but practical.

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 23, 2013

      Thank you OKW! I can’t wait to revisit M&T again. It’s been way too long – I’ve mentioned them in passing in recent books, but that’s far different from a face to face (grin).

      Like

  8. Sue
    November 23, 2013

    Joey, thank you so much for your insightful and informative post. You’ve done such a great service and we’ve loved it.

    Soooo, I’m the cooky nut that did the blog’s review for Rough Canvas…. I’ve been living in an Alternate Rough Canvas Universe for the past week since finishing the story. I’m still so blown away. And now! You’ve announced a Christmas treat with Marcus and Thomas. I AM SO BLOODY DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY!!!

    I can’t wait to read more of your work. <3

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 23, 2013

      Sue, love your avatar. And thank you! I’m happy to have plenty of cooky nuts just like you (grin). The world needs more of us nuts. I have to admit, when I finished writing Rough Canvas, I had a little of that issue myself. I became so wrapped up in these two, I didn’t want to move on to the next project. But fortunately, the muse is an ass-kicker and she pushed me on to the next story. I still occasionally re-read it, however, because it was a writer’s dream from beginning to end – characters who were generous and forthcoming, whose stories captured my heart (I’m so glad so many of you felt the same way!).

      The only problem I had with the two of them was getting them OUT of bed to tell the story. It sort of went like, “Yeah, Marcus, that’s great, but now we have to get into Thomas’s conflict with his mother. Yeah, I know, he looks great in those jeans, and he has that pensive look that tells you that you need to get him out of his head and…no, no, no! Come back here! We have to write the story. You two JUST did that!” But such is the major stumbling block of having two main characters who are MEN.

      Thank you so much again – look forward to bringing you more of the same!

      Like

  9. loederkoninginkatinka
    November 23, 2013

    I adore this post! And had to snort-laugh with recognition at this: “He biggest problem with exploring BDSM when you already have a head start on your partner (he’s been watching football while you’ve been devouring ten erotic romances a week)”. :D

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      November 23, 2013

      Yep, after being married nearly 25 years, my husband and I have learned that timing is everything…and the thing most likely to be “off” when it comes to coordinating “those special moments”. Lol…all part of the wonderful, loving journey. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Like

  10. Thanks for this!

    Like

  11. Tracey Horton
    December 3, 2013

    That was an awesome article. Gonna have the hubby read it. Thank you!!

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      December 3, 2013

      Love hearing that! Hope you both enjoy the results (grin).

      Like

  12. Cathy
    December 3, 2013

    I feel there are many women out there who want to explore this. I am 52 and just now am ‘coming out’ sort of speak, as a slave to a wonderful Master. It took me 30 years to figure it out but I am peeking around the corner now and saying to myself that it’s okay, it’s okay to start to speak about my experiences and hopefully help others.

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      December 3, 2013

      Cathy, I think there’s no better time for so many women to explore this. Love it or hate it, 50 Shades really made it more “acceptable” for women to investigate D/s inclinations. But I think it’s the crest of the wave that’s been building from the spread of BDSM romance in the past decade. In each of my past several newsletters, I’ve been listing workshops and conferences dedicated to introducing people to BDSM in a good environment. Initially, I was just going to do that in one issue, but then people started sending me recommendations for events across the country where women could explore this in an informative and safe way. It’s a great trend! I’m so glad you’re on a positive journey yourself and willing to share that with others to give validity to their own explorations.

      Like

  13. fangswandsfairy
    December 3, 2013

    Your new book, UNRESTRAINED, is high up on the TBR! Through your writing I have learned that one has to be strong to assert one’s needs whether submissive, Dominant or Vanilla. Also, Jon in KotB is pretty handy with that hardware!

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      December 3, 2013

      You’re right about that. Though most humans are dysfunctional, there has to be a core confidence in our own self-worth to manage a healthy D/s OR vanilla relationship. Chuckle – yes, Jon is VERY inventive. Wouldn’t mind hanging out in his workshop at all!

      Like

  14. Mai
    December 3, 2013

    As always Joey, your insight is wonderful!

    Like

  15. Riva Callahan
    December 3, 2013

    Interested in learning more…I love reading all the erotica books

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      December 4, 2013

      Riva, there are so many great and safe ways to learn about this these days (see my response above to Cathy). And one of the things I’ve talked about with readers is you can pursue those avenues without wanting to be “active”. It’s okay simply to be curious and want to know more about the lifestyle without having any interest in practicing. D/s is an intense, diverse practice and I think it pricks the sociologist in all of us to learn more (wink). As long as respect is exercised for those who ARE practicing it, most are typically amenable to answering questions.

      Like

  16. ROSEWA
    December 3, 2013

    I CANT WAIT TO READ YOUR NEW BOOK. Your comments are right on. Thank You

    Like

    • Joey W Hill
      December 4, 2013

      Rosewa, thank you! Hope you like Dale and Athena. Fortunately, they don’t have to employ any of the above methods, since they’re both already involved in D/s, but Dale still has to proceed cautiously, since Athena is new to being a sub, in a sense (grin).

      Like

  17. August McLaughlin
    December 11, 2013

    Great tips! My blog readers are very interested in this topic, yet there aren’t many non-intimidating resources for newbies. I’ll have to pass the link along. Cheers! :)

    Like

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    August 30, 2014

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