Kinky sex has been, ahem, thrust into the spotlight in recent years thanks to Mr Grey and his Red Room. We’d bet our bottom dollar that if you haven’t tried a bit of bondage yet, you’ve at least whiled away that mid-afternoon lull with a hint of curiosity.

So if you’ve been considering taking up the reins (or whip, or whatever) but don’t know where to begin, listen to the experts to ensure you’re tied up, not tongue-tied, this Valentine’s.

What Is Bondage?

When we say ‘bondage’, what we actually usually mean is B&D. When coupled with the ‘D’ (insert joke here), Bondage & Discipline make up the beginners entry point to BDSM (the more potent mix of bondage, discipline, dominance & submission and sadomasochism.)

Technically, bondage is the idea of achieving sexual gratification through the act of being restrained, which, according to Yougov, nearly 13m Brits have tried.

However, the world of B&D is more than just handcuffs and whips – although, yes, they do feature. It’s about both the physical restraint and the mental control of one partner by the other.

As sex columnist and author Dr Pam Spurr says, it can be whatever you want it to be: “It’s about exploring new roles with each other and pushing the boundaries as far as you want, it’s a release from the routine.”

So if you fancy swapping your Vanilla for something more Neopolitan, bondage might be just the flavour.

Trust is key

Bringing Up Baby

“How about we use a ball gag tonight?” – not exactly a line you want to just throw out there. Unless you’ve spoken about it before, Lovehoney’s bondage expert, Jess Wilde, suggests testing the water with your partner by getting some erotic fiction or a film to watch.

“Plant the seed in your partner’s mind that it might be something you want to try,” says Wilde. “Getting them used to the idea might change their perspective a little bit.”

You never know, they might have been considering it too.

Long Term Love

If you’ve both decided you fancy giving it a go, bear in mind you’re essentially going to be handing over the keys to your body and mind. In order to get the most out of the experience, a level of trust has to be established.

“They need to trust that you won’t hurt them or [choke them out] with their hands tied behind their back,” explains Playgirl writer and sex educator Jamye Waxman. “They will want to know you won’t hurt them, as in physically or verbally. They will want to know that they’re safe.”

So if it’s a new relationship, maybe go on a couple more dates before you crack the whip.

Who’s The Boss?

You might rule the boardroom, but that doesn’t mean this carries on in the bedroom. As Chris & Katie, the BDSM-loving couple behind relationship blog Lovetripping, explain – some people who are dominant in public like to experience submission in private, and vice versa.

“Never assume your roles are obvious. If you are both unsure of which role you might like more, then take the opportunity to experiment with both,” they explain. “Some couples stick to their roles while others like to role play or change it up throughout the night.”

All The Gear

Not sure what you’re into yet? The experts at Sex toy retailer Carvaka recommend this simple set of tools to bolster your bondage kit:

Rope – make sure you buy bondage rope and not normal rope, or you will end up with nasty (and long-lasting) burns. Try explaining that one to your boss.

Handcuffs – for beginners, padded cuffs (with an extra key to save calling the fire brigade out) are the ones to go for as they’re comfortable, and can also be used on ankles.

Flogger – a satin strip flogger is a beginners toy that will make you feel like a pro. It makes the noises of a whip but will only leave a quick sting. Ideal if you’re still working out where your boundaries lie.

Massage Candle – don’t bring out the Jo Malone for this, you need the real deal. A massage candle will drip oil that’s not hot enough to burn the skin, but will feel amazing.

Blindfold – you don’t need to buy a proper one if you’re just dabbling, a scarf will work just as well. Make sure it’s comfortable as you may have it on for a while.

Blindfolded woman

Don’t Try This At Home

Chris & Katie from Lovetripping have one cardinal rule for beginners – do not use porn as a teaching guide for your first experiences with bondage.

“Remember that porn is not real and the actors are often doing just that, acting. Use it for inspiration not imitation.”

No, No Limits

Keeping an open mind is key, but there will be things that you just won’t be open to. Partakers of B&D should have strict rules that are adhered to: soft and hard limits.

Soft limits are amber lights – things you’re hesitant about but might give a go should the mood take you.

Hard limits are the big no-nos and violating these is a betrayal of trust that could see you consigned back to your vanilla box.

Nice & Slow

Although B&D is on the lighter side of risqué, if you’re a newbie then enjoy the pleasures that come with trying it for the first time.

Sex writer Katy Thorn says there’s plenty of time for wheels, chains and dungeons once you’ve got the basics down: “Taking your time and moving through the gears not only reassures the restrained partner, it’s also a wonderfully tantalizing way to tease them to even greater excitement.”

Safe word

Safe Word

Seasoned pros might use a different system, but for beginners, a safeword should be chosen before you begin.

According to experts at lingerie retailer Ann Summers, your safe word should be something completely random, the crazier the better: “The idea is to break the mood and bring your limits immediately to your partner’s attention.” Just maybe don’t make it your mum’s name.

Drunk In Love

Although a bit of Dutch courage can’t hurt, overstepping the line could. The wet stuff can dampen pain signals, meaning you don’t know when you’re hurting your body (until the morning after).

“It’s best not to try bondage when under the influence of alcohol, as you might misjudge how tightly to tie the knots,” explains the pros at Ann Summers.

So unless you fancy cutting off the blood supply or being stuck with your wrists tied to your ankles until you sober up, lay off the pre-coital drinks.