What is Bondage?

If you find yourself looking at the bondage section of Lovehoney as if it's written in an alien language, you're not alone...

There are so many tools and terms around BDSM to get to grips with that sometimes even understanding the purpose of some bondage toys can take considerable effort.

Here is an insight into the wonderful world of bondage & discipline, Dominance and submission, and sadomasochism.

What is Bondage?

The definition of bondage - in the sexy sense - is the consensual practice of tying up or restraining your partner for pleasure. There are many types of bondage and ways to restrain your partner using toys or equipment.

Why do people like bondage?

BDSM covers a huge range of activities that many people find erotic and sexually fulfilling. Although kinks come in all shapes and sizes, here are some of the most common reasons people like to partake:

  • To experiment with power play (submission and dominance)
  • To broaden sexual and sensual horizons
  • To explore fetish & role play
  • To increase sexual repertoire & techniques
  • To revolutionize and optimize sexual happiness

Different types of bondage equipment

Ball Gags

A ball gag is designed to muffle the voice of the wearer or prevent them from speaking. They do not usually impede breathing. Using a ball gag involves a strap going around or over the head, with a rubber ball sitting inside the wearer’s lips and teeth. A gag is used to instill a sense of submission.

Because they impede speech, the wearer has to become more creative with communication and their partner better at understanding their lover’s requirements during play. Other types of gag, including bits, hooks, rings, and ratchets, can also be found under this category. Learn more about ball gags here.

Bedroom bondage kits

All-in-one solutions for bondage scenarios. Often marketed for beginners, bedroom bondage kits generally include a pair of ankle cuffs, a pair of wrist cuffs, a blindfold, and some form of whip, flogger, or paddle.

Some other bondage kits include ball gags, ticklers, collars and leads, ropes, bondage tape, spreader bars, and more elaborate restraints.

Kits are a wonderful way of building up your collection of bondage gear, and tend to work out cheaper than buying all items separately. Learn more about bondage kits here.

Blindfolds

A blindfold prevents the wearer from seeing anything. Blindfolds can be styled in a classic sleep mask style or as a scarf that requires tying.

By restricting eyesight, the wearer's other senses are sharpened. This can increase sensitivity to touch, taste, smell, and sound. Learn more about blindfolds here.

Bondage hoods

Sometimes confused with blindfolds, a bondage hood covers either half of the head and face or all of it. They come in many different guises, some without mouth, nose, or eye holes, and some with completely open faces.

Bondage hoods are used to change your appearance and for sensory deprivation. There are some functional hoods which incorporate gags and restraints. Learn more about bondage hoods here.

Bondage rope & tape

Bondage rope is any length of rope sold with the express intention of being used to tie up a person. Bondage tape is a form of tape designed specifically to use on a person to bind them or to create clothing. It sticks only to itself, offering a skin-safe alternative to other tapes.

Bondage rope is specially designed for tying people up and should not be substituted with ropes found in DIY stores and similar, which is often harder on the skin and too inflexible to tie intricate knots. Learn more about bondage rope & tape here.

Chastity belts & devices

A Chastity Device refers to anything fitted to or over the genitalia to prohibit sexual function or access.

Some of these are worn for a visual effect (such as in a roleplaying scenario), but many found in this category will permit long term wear by the user, allowing other bodily functions but preventing sexual contact with others and themselves. Read our Guide to Chastity Devices for more information. Learn more about chastity devices here.

Clit clamps

Clit clamps are either a decorative charm that can be hung over the clitoris or clitoral hood or a device that clips directly onto the clitoris resulting in a mixture of pain from the clamp and pleasure from the movement of the device.

Clit clamps applied to cause pain can cause a numbing sensation to the clitoris to accentuate sexual frustration along with a slight pain that can be arousing. Using a clit clamp can also cause enlargement of the clitoris, which can be beneficial for assisting in clitoral contact during sex. Learn more about clit clamps here.

Cock straps

Cock straps are often decorative, but some of these function as cock rings – offering better stimulation to partners and a longer-lasting erection for the wearer.

Others are used to stretch or temporarily change the penis and scrotum’s appearance, sometimes with discomfort or mild pain, which is all part of the pleasure. Learn more about cock straps here.

Collars & leads

When used together, a collar and leash form a bondage device that can be used to control the wearer by moving them using the lead. The collar when worn alone is often a symbol of ownership, but can also correct posture or be worn for decorative purposes.

Some collars feature lockable buckles which prevent removal by the wearer to accentuate the feeling of helplessness or being owned. Many collars are fitted with a frontal O-ring to allow leads, harnesses, and bondage equipment to be connected to them. Learn more about collars and leads here.

Electrosex toys

Any form of toy that uses electricity as a stimulus for erotic sensations or pain-inflicting purposes. Electrosex toys have many attachments, with everything from dildos, butt plugs, and bullet vibrators to electrified gloves, penis bands, and nipple clamps.

The sensation of electro toys is akin to vibration with a deeper-penetrating feeling. The levels are variable, so you can start off very gently and work your way up to ensure you’re always comfortable with the levels you’re working with. Learn more about electro stimulation toys here.

Feather ticklers

A feather tickler is made either entirely or partially from feathers used to tickle and tease the skin. The feeling of a feather running over the skin excites the nerve endings and causes you to get goosebumps, making you more sensitive to touch temporarily.

Feather ticklers are often used during foreplay to enhance erotic sensation and cause a sense of anticipation for sexual contact, heightening mental arousal. Learn more about feather ticklers here.

Floggers

A flogger has several surfaces that all hit the skin at roughly the same time. As floggers spread the force of the hit over a larger surface area, the pain felt is often less than is caused by a whip.

Floggers are brilliant during foreplay - just tease your lover by running the fronds up and down their skin to set their heart pumping. Learn more about floggers here.

Handcuffs

Handcuffs are a form of wrist restraint that connects the two hands together. A single unit comprises of two wrists cuffs and a chain, and they are usually made from metal in the standard police-style.

Handcuffs are traditionally used to secure the hands behind the wearer's back, but you can also use handcuffs to secure the wrists around an object, fixture, or fitting to prevent the wearer from moving from the position they are placed in. Learn more about handcuffs here.

Masks

Masks are a decorative facial accessory that are designed to transform the appearance or conceal the true identity of the wearer. Commonly worn at fetish and swingers parties and events to avoid being recognized in person, in photos, or on film.

Masks are also used in roleplay between partners to create a new image. Learn more about masks here.

Medical fetish

A category that incorporates anything considered to be medical in nature. This can include adult incontinence, gynecological equipment, dental ratchets, douches, syringes (with and without needles), pinwheels, piercing clamps, latex gloves, proctoscopes, forceps, urethral sounds, and cupping sets. Learn more about medical fetishes here.

Nipple clamps & suckers

These are items that either clip onto, hang off of, or sucks onto a nipple to increase sensitivity or size, cause pain to the area, or to provide pleasurable sensations. They are usually adjustable to allow you to control the pressure exerted on the nipple.

Vibrating nipple clamps follow the same principle but are teamed with vibrating bullets to enhance sensations further. Once the clamps are removed, nipples appear swollen and feel more sensitive. Learn more about nipple clamps and suckers here.

Sex machines

A sex machine (usually electrical) is designed to simulate thrusting movements to allow the user to have penetrative sex as they would with a partner.

These often have faster-thrusting settings that can be more physically gratifying for the user than sex with a partner, and are popular for use in fantasies of ‘forced orgasm’ (often also involving bondage). Learn more about sex machines here.

Recommended Bondage Accessories

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