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Sensory Deprivation BDSM for Beginners

To me, all BDSM is sensory in nature. Done right, it’s a realm of sensation and closeness with few parallels. It works all the sensitivities I hate in daily life into sexual gratification.

Mainstream portrayals of BDSM favor impact play and bondage. It’s fair to portray those visual and visceral aspects of kink. It’s a lot easier to know what’s happening on-screen when it’s…impactful.

But that’s hardly the whole story. Adding sensory play to your repertoire opens a landscape of activities that combine seamlessly with everything already present. I’ll talk you through it.

Why Sensory Deprivation?

Sensory deprivation can sound paradoxical. We’re accustomed to sex being a vibrant, full-body experience that links and touches our senses. What benefit does removing some of these senses have for the experience? Here’s my short version:

  • Losing one sensory domain can make others more sensitive.
  • Power dynamics are reinforced by a partner’s ability to remove another’s senses.
  • The anticipation and resolution of coming back to your senses is marvelous.
  • Mild disorientation can be very relaxing.
  • It can protect against sensory overwhelm..

I want to highlight my last two points. Kink is rightly reputed to be emotionally and physically intense, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In the hands of trustworthy partners, sensory deprivation can be a thoroughly relaxing and protective experience. Relaxing because it’s easier to find stillness when you don’t have to see or hear. Protective because it can remove problematic feelings like light sensitivity or overwhelmed ears in a safe, contained environment.

As with any BDSM, the bar for trust is set very high. Much of the enjoyment we get from sensory deprivation involves losing command over our bodies or passing it to another person. Nothing here is ‘advanced’, but all of it should be enjoyed in an environment of mutual communication and respect.

Sight

This is the most mainstream one. A blindfold has wound up in every BDSM starter kit and toy list ever. Playing with sight is a staple because it works. It’s one of our favorite senses, and depriving someone of it is as simple as applying a blindfold or sternly telling them to close their eyes.

Removing sight comes with lots of basic perks:

  • It intensifies the sensations of touch and hearing.
  • It denies sightless partner the awareness of what’s going to happen next.
  • It allows top/dominant partners to work without fear of embarrassment (my fave).

Sensory deprivation doesn’t just mean making things mute. You can deprive someone of their senses by filling it with noise.

If you have a VR headset or its more affordable cousin, you can play any media you want. Your favorite porn playlist becomes a titillating distraction. A colorful visualizer can stimulate the vision in that hypnotic 90s screensaver way. Got the aforementioned Google Cardboard? Play a panoramic video of the night sky so wherever your partner looks, they see starlit beauty. But they feel something very different.

When it comes to accessibility, sight is the easiest form of sensory deprivation. A firm instruction to keep one’s eyes closed is enough for some. Others can indulge in textured blindfolds of all kinds or VR adventures. All in the knowledge that something else will happen shortly.

Hearing

This is my favorite domain. I’m intensely sensitive to sound. I immerse myself in music and soundscapes to relax. I work and fight headaches with earplugs. So of course it’s part of my sex life.

The first winner here are earplugs. Whichever type is most comfortable for extended wear and maybe being squished into the bed. These serve the same purpose as a blindfold but for the ears. They go great with visual deprivation and stimulation too.

Your options really open up when you get some electronics involved though. I always recommend wireless in-ear earphones for kink. I’ve had the uniquely unsexy experience of having to reset my partner’s headphones repeatedly because her squirming kept knocking them off.

What gets played through those earphones? Anything that fits. A chill-out playlist can relax you through a slow, solo session. Some people use white noise to keep the brain in gone-space. An erotic hypnosis track pairs well with structured play where a top partner follows along while listening to their own copy. Does your dominant have a sadistic streak? I hope they don’t switch your chill vibes to anime techno-remixes at random. I’d safeword out of that, but to each their own.

Touch

Touch is the most expansive sensory domain you can bring into the bedroom. Our sense of touch is not localized to any particular organs. It’s everywhere. So it’s a lot harder to ‘deprive’ someone of touch. Rather, see it as a balancing act of intensifying sensations in some areas and reducing them elsewhere. Play your partner like an instrument.

If you do want to deprive someone of touch, there are a few options.

  • Closed mittens tied to the hands deny touch (and touching!) while making the submissive partner feel impotent.
  • Thick socks do the same for feet. Add ankle bindings for extra helplessness.
  • Engage with the psychological side of touch with restraints or clothing that strategically leaves parts covered or exposed.

Touch deprivation is too large a topic to cover here, but I can close off with some of my favorite activities.

I’m a pressure-seeking neurodivergent. I feel great when someone just squashes me. Bonus points for roaming hands and breathing on my neck. Double bonus points if I can’t see.

When I experience the pleasurable kind of sensory overwhelm during sex, I close my eyes and slide my arms under pillows and covers. Call it a… protective sensory deprivation response. Trusted partners have gotten great mileage from extracting my arms and making me look at them to push me back into the moment.

Erotic hypnosis and guided masturbation played through my favorite earphones used to be a staple of my solo routine. And it could be yours too, if the classics ever lose their shine.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 38 articles for us.

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