Sadomasochism, or commonly S&M involves pain and pleasure and can be a huge turn-on for many.

If you are just finding your way around the BDSM world, or have no experience with it at all, we are here to get you started.

This is the ultimate guide to sadomasochism and S&M in 2023 that will hopefully answer many questions you might have.

What is Sadomasochism?

Sadomasochism, also S&M or sadism and masochism is a set of practices and kinks in which people get sexual pleasure and satisfaction from inflicting or receiving pain. This practice is very common in BDSM and can involve whipping, spankings, pinching, or other types of pain with or without tools.

Sadomasochism is a relatively widely spread kink that is also common in many people who don’t even practice BDSM (bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, sadism & masochism).

Pain and pleasure are emotions and sensations that lay close together and as such, it is no surprise that many people enjoy them.

S&M, as we commonly call it, has been practiced for as long as humans exist and the earliest depictions of it stem from thousands of years ago. Some also believe that sadomasochism is an “integral part” of our society.

Sadomasochistic practices may involve a large number of different practices such as spankings, whippings, using toys or tools to inflict pain, as well as verbal or physical humiliation.

If you need some inspiration, check out our FREE random BDSM punishment generator!

Hand holding whip
It’s not hard to get started with S&M.

Are you a sadist?

Sadists enjoy inflicting pain or humiliation on others and might even get sexual pleasure from it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are a sadist:

  • Do I get aroused by the thought of inflicting pain on others?
  • Would I like to hurt my partner during sex after they have given me consent to do so?
  • Have I ever fantasized about whips, chains, or similar accessories?
  • Do I have a certain fascination for torture scenes in movies or books?

Answering yes to just one of them doesn’t make you a sadist per se. However, if you notice that most or all of this excites you, there is a good chance you have sadistic tendencies.

Good vs Bad Sadism

Sadism in BDSM is consensual and respectful. It is not a way to injure others but to jointly find pleasure in these activities.

Of course, there is a fine line between being a sadist and situationally wanting to inflict pain on others.

For example, if you sometimes get the urge to punch someone because you are mad at them, this doesn’t make you a sadist. At the same time, you might have some sadistic tendencies, but do not connect them with sex or your partner.

Are you a masochist?

Masochists enjoy receivign pain or humiliation by others and often get sexual pleasure from it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are a masochist:

  • Do I get aroused by the thought of feeling pain?
  • Would I like my partner to hurt me during sex?
  • Have I ever fantasized about being whipped, in chains, or someone else hurting me?
  • Do I have a certain fascination for torture scenes in movies or books?
  • Have you ever inflicted light pain on yourself when masturbating?

Answering yes to just one of them doesn’t make you a masochist per se. However, if you notice that most or all of this excites you, there is a good chance you have masochistic tendencies.

Boundaries & Respect

Receiving pain in a consensual and respectful manner is great. However, if you notice the other person not respecting boundaries or safe practices, leave immediately!

Of course, there is a fine line between being a masochist and enjoying some light form of pain or harder sex.

For example, pinching your nipples or getting a few slaps on your butt during sex might be arousing to you, but that doesn’t mean you enjoy getting chained and whipped with a leather belt.

That’s okay! You do you and you decide, what you like!

S&M Equipment & Accessories

BDSM equipment
There are lots of fun tools for S&M play.

Here are some essential S&M tools, equipment, spanking implements, and accessories you can use to inflict sweet pain on each other:


Whips are pretty much synonymous with S&M and they range from super small to super large.

They need to be handled with care and can cause deep bruises, but also cuts if handled improperly.

They are often made of leather, rubber or plastic.


Belts have been used for spankings since their invention and unfortunately, often by parents on their children.

While this is absolutely not appropriate, they make for great tools in S&M! You usually don’t even need to buy anything extra because everyone usually owns one


Floggers are short whips with multiple lashes that are a common tool in BDSM.

They come in the same materials as whips and range from very light to intensely painful.

Paddles & Spoons

Paddles come in all sizes and shapes and are pretty much a replacement for good old kitchen spoons.

Mostly made of wood or plastic, they are used for intermediate pain and impact play.

In many cases, they are coated with leather or fabric and some even feature carved in shapes like hearts or even names that will leave nice marks on the skin.

Woman with paddle
Paddles can be a lot of fun!


Canes are another instrument that’s been used for centuries to discipline people and it is also still in use as corporal punishment in some countries.

Made of rattan or even plastic, they inflict sharp pain and are not for beginners.

Their thin shaft has the potential to cut the skin when it hasn’t been warmed up enough so be careful!

Despite their somewhat more elaborate nature, they are a fantastic tool for every sadist and many masochists love them!


Clamps can be used on nipples, the skin, as well as most other body parts.

You can use clothespins instead to get started, however, there are also models that feature additional weights or turnkeys to tighten them even more.

Needles & Piercings

Needles, piercing etc. belong in the “advanced” realm and should not be done by beginners.

Piercing the skin must be done with care but there are some S&M practitioners, as well as fetishists, who enjoy them.

Wax & Candles

Candles are a fun accessory you can use for wax play in which you pour wax on another person’s skin.

The pain is rather light, but the sensation great and it’s a great way to get started with sadomasochism in the bedroom!

How to introduce S&M into your sex life

Get started with sadomasochism play by openly talking with your partner and sharing your fantasies, desires, and wishes. Start out slow with light spankings or nipple clamps and move on to other activities once you are confident enough. It’s all about having fun together!

Getting started with sadism and masochism is not hard with a little preparation. Nevertheless, many people find it very difficult to open up about it to their partners.

Here are 7 steps to get started with sadism and masochism in your life:

  1. Think about whether you have sadistic or masochistic tendencies
  2. Make a list of your fantasies and desires
  3. Talk to your partner about it / Find a partner to try it out with
  4. Set clear boundaries
  5. Learn about safe S&M practices
  6. Start out super light
  7. Go and have fun!

1 Think about whether you have sadistic or masochistic tendencies

Ask the question of whether you have sadomasochistic tendencies and if you want to live them out in a sexual context.

It’s completely okay not to know beforehand and just to try it out.

2 Make a list of your phantasies and desires

Many people find it very helpful to write down what they want to try out or the desires they have.

Not only is it a great way to reflect on it, but also helps your partner if you share it with them.

In the BDSM community and on online dating platforms, it is common to exchange so-called “kink lists” or “BDSM lists” before meeting a potential play partner.

3 Talk to your partner about it / Find a partner to try it out with

Communication is key!

Tell you partner what has been on your mind and what you would like to do with them.

It can be a daunting task to talk about sex and BDSM but don’t worry. Your partner will be thankful that you trust them enough.

And who knows? There is a good chance they have been thinking about exactly the same! 😉

What to do if you do not have a partner yet?!

Tricky but not impossible and just as exciting!

If you don’t have a partner to try out SM, there are many ways to find potential BDSM play partners.

Check out the best BDSM dating sites in 2023 for inspiration!

4 Set clear boundaries

Setting boundaries is super important for anyone trying out Ds for the first time!

Boundaries are also called “limits” in BDSM jargon and there are different kinds:

Soft limits are those kinks you might not be super comfortable with all the time but on other occasions it’s okay.

Hard limits are practices you absolutely never want to do/try out and must not be attempted by your partner.

It can be a good idea to write down these limits so everyone is clear on them. This is especially important when dating new kinky people!

5 Learn about safe S&M practices

Safety is the #1 concern at all times and comes before playing.

Especially with sadomasochism, spanking, and other pain play, find out how to do it safely and without injuring your partner.

6 Start out super light

Even if you think you are the most masochistic person on the planet, start out slow if you have no experience with it.

There is a huge difference between auto-masochism (inflicting pain on yourself) and someone else doing it.

7 Go and have fun!

BDSM and SM are about fun. Once you talked about it long enough it’s time to go and have fun!

If you want some more inspiration for sadistic punishments, try our FREE random punishment generator!

S&M Safety

Safety is the number one concern in sadomasochism and S&M sessions. Therefore, the first rule is always:

Don’t engage in any sexual or BDSM practices without first asking for consent from everyone involved!

Consent is key and you need to actively get consent from your partner first.

Here are a few more safety tips for dominance & submission activities:

  • Learn how to spank & whip
  • Start out slow
  • Everyone is different
  • Have a safeword
  • Try out one new thing at a time
  • Don’t break the skin
  • Respect boundaries
  • Try out new toys on yourself first
  • Don’t neglect aftercare

Learn how to spank & whip

This one is right behind “consent comes first”: As a Top or Bottom, you absolutely must know where you can safely hit the other person and where you may never do so!

The butt, upper legs, and upper back are mostly safe.

Genital areas, as well as breasts, feet, hands, and belly, must be treated lightly, depending on the person.

Lower back, face, neck, and lower belly are taboo and must not be hit or you risk internal injuries!

Naked woman in white stockings
Learn how to practice safe S&M.

Start out slow

Whether you are playing with a new or old partner or trying out BDSM and S&M for the first time, you should start out slowly. Leave the extreme or challenging practices for when you are confident and more experienced.

Everyone is different

One person’s magic drink can be another one’s kryptonite. This means, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for anybody else and every time you meet someone new, you should not assume they enjoy the same kinks as you.

Have a safeword

A safeword is a phrase or word to be called by the Top or Bottom to immediately end the scene. It’s arguably the single most important safety measure in BDSM and you absolutely need to respect it.

Try out one new thing at a time

Some people can experience cognitive, emotional, or physical overload from certain S&M practices, especially during very intense impact play or spankings.

It is important to only try one new thing at a time, so as to not overdo it in one session.

Don’t break the skin

Instead of “just” bruising during spankings or whippings, the skin gets cut open and you might even draw some blood.

Breaking the skin is usually a sign that you did not warm up enough of hit too hard. This should be avoided if possible as it can lead to injuries, scaring of the tissues, and at the very least an end of the current scene.

Respect boundaries

Boundaries exist for a reason and limits are NOT there to be broken (unlike some rules…hehe).

Disrespecting boundaries is an immediate red flag and if you encounter someone who behaves like that…get far away from them!

Try out new toys on yourself first

If you are a Dom or Top, try out new whips, floggers, or other toys on yourself before unleashing them on others.

This will give you a feel for the “damage” it can do and how to handle it.

Don’t neglect aftercare

Aftercare should be done after every scene or whenever you carried out any SM practices. Sit or lay together, cuddle or talk about your experiences and bring each other back to reality.

This can also go hand in hand with treating any bruises and scratches which might have been inflicted during very intense sessions.

Couple during aftercare
Aftercare marks the end of a BDSM scene.

Read our guide to aftercare for more tips on how to do it right!

S&M Terminology

To recap, here is the most important terminology in sadism and masochism that you might come across:

S&M – Sadomasochism

Top – The person in charge of controlling a BDSM scene

Bottom – The person being controlled or on the receiving end during a BDSM scene

Safeword – Phrase or word to be called by either party to stop a scene or session instantly.

Impact Play – BDSM practice in which one person is struck by another to inflict or receive pain for sexual or emotional pleasure

Scene/session – Common term for the time spent on SM-activities.

Pain slut – Term given to submissives and bottoms who crave immense degrees of pain inflicted on them

Aftercare – The time immediately after a scene in which the dominant and submissive partner should comfort each other to calm down and bring each other “back to reality”.


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