Psychology of Bondage: Why do people do it?

Posted on Tue, 26 November 2013


Here's something I wrote back in 2004. I need to review it and probably amend and add to it but the Festival looms and I have no time. That said, I think most of it still stands in spite of having learned a lot since. I will try to explain why people do bondage and what they get from it. There are various aspects that are enjoyable. Not all of us will get the same things from bondage. We are all individuals and react as such, thus the degree to which they apply, if at all, will vary.

Redress of physical power Bondage alters the balance of power. A stronger partner can be rendered helpless, which in itself can be an unusual and charged experience. A naturally active individual rendered passive or vice versa. This also opens up new horizons of tactile, emotional, sensual and imaginative possibilities. If I were to select one reason for introducing bondage into an otherwise ‘vanilla’ relationship, this would probably be it. Don’t underestimate how unique and powerful this experience can be first time round.

Expiation of guilt Many of us, especially women, are brought up with the idea of guilt in relation to sex or, at the very least, in relation to certain acts or behaviour: The "nice girls don’t do that" mentality. Bondage can be used to expiate this guilt by providing the convenient excuse of being tied up and thus ‘unable’ to resist, safe word not withstanding. Thus, the social restraints are removed: Freedom through bondage! [private] Security The ropes can hug the body like a lover's embrace creating a feeling that is secure and comforting. Often, once the more constraining bondage has been removed, the sub will be reluctant to relinquish the body harness.

Erotic effects The ropes can be used to caress, during tying or untying, when they are drawn across the body and, in particular, the more sensitive areas. It can be used to cover the whole spectrum from pleasure to pain. Frayed ends of ropes can be used to stroke and tickle. One or more strands of rope can provide quite an effective makeshift whip. Breast and genital bondage increases sensitivity, to pleasure and pain, by pulling the skin tight. It also tends to present the target of your attentions quite prominently and conveniently. The placement of knots can cause direct stimulation of the clitoris, perineum, anus etc. This occurs either through simple pressure or through movement. Gently twisting, pulling or tapping on strategic ropes allows you to provide your own input. You'll soon notice which particular knots are favourites to struggle against. Applying a vibrator to the ropes or knots can really boost the effect. The surprise is that using a vibrator on seemingly innocuous places can have dramatic results, since rope transmits vibration extremely well.

Meditation & relaxation The experience can be very meditative. This can be deepened if the sub and Dom take time to connect by quietly embracing, relaxing and synchronising breathing. Meditative techniques can be used. A good scene will engender a close connection between Dom and sub. We are accustomed to being able to gesticulate or scratch our own itches. Not being able to move is an unusual experience for most of us. It concentrates the mind in a unique manner. It is not uncommon for a sub to be in a very dreamy and relaxed state after a session, termed as 'rope stoned' or sub-spaced. I have often been told that a bondage session is very relaxing and de-stressing.

Beauty Rope bondage, especially the Japanese form, Shibari, can be considered an art form. It can accentuate the beauty of the human body. The results can be stunning, a fact appreciated not only by the Dom and sub, but also by any spectators.

Submission Bondage and submission are naturally complimentary. Being tied and helpless at the hands of the Dom adds edge to the play and is highly symbolic of submission. The sense of being made to feel exposed and available is particularly acute in positions such as open leg ties. Like most areas of BDSM, the exercise requires a sufficient level of trust. In fact, since you are allowing yourself to be rendered powerless to resist, more trust than is required for most activities. One of the benefits of BDSM games is that they help develop deeper levels of trust with your partner. The bondage itself can be used as a tool of control. The rope, particularly junctions or knots on the back and chest, can make great 'handles' that allow a sub to be controlled in a very dominant manner. It can also be used as a lead. When a pole is used to tie wrists and ankles open leg style, it can be used to (carefully) flip a person from seated to a very vulnerable bottom in the air position. The effect of being tied in an unbalanced position, whilst still being supported securely from above by a safety rope, can be quite psychologically dramatic, especially if blindfolded.

Fetishism & role-playing For many, the kick is in the fetishistic appeal of their chosen method of restraint. For example, body bags, straight-jackets or chastity devices. It is also key to much role-play. After all, without some form of restraint many games, e.g. prisoner or kidnap scenarios, would be missing the major element and what fun would that be? Of course, appropriate restraints can themselves be important in creating the fantasy.

SM Bondage can be a prelude to or as a facilitator of SM play, rather than an end in it’s own right. However, it can also be used to inflict discomfort, both physically and mentally, e.g. uncomfortable or humiliating positions. Challenge and escape There is also something that appeals to the Houdini in many people, the challenge and struggle in attempting to escape. Jim Stewart, author and founder of Fetters, is a great proponent of this aspect of restraint games. In his book ‘I like to get tied up – so what?’, he explores a wide range of scenarios and ingenious restraints, including modified motorcycle clothing and diving equipment. Many of his games involve endurance and are psychologically challenging, e.g. kidnap, military interrogation, some are even competitive. Many aficionados find the struggle against their restraints highly erotic, but for others it is simply a game for grown-ups.

Summary To sum up, there are many things that can be got from bondage. Not all of them will rock your boat. However, I hope that you will see that there are many possibilities and even the simplest bondage can change the sexual and psychological dynamics. [/private]