how to introduce power play into your sex life.

How To Introduce Power Play Into Your Sex Life

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by Jessica Estrada
Originally Published: 
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Whether you want to reignite a spark in the bedroom or are just down to try something new with your partner, power play (with continued consent, of course) may be the thing to spice up your sex life. Carol Queen, Ph.D., a staff sexologist for Good Vibrations, defines power play as play that involves differential roles, usually a submissive partner and a dominant partner. This type of power play, she says, applies to most BDSM as well as other forms of kink (think role-playing) and some forms of rough sex.

With that in mind, while people participating in power play tend to find this type of play erotic, Queen says it doesn't always involve sexual activity. "Some go on to have sex with this heightened arousal and power-infused role-play to add passion and excitement," she says. "Others do not choose this.” Either way, she says the benefits of power play are many, including pleasure, excitement, increased partner intimacy, and an enhanced way you see yourself and the world. Into it? Keep reading to learn how to introduce power play into your sex life.

How To Introduce Power Play Into Your Sex Life

1. Get On The Same Page

First and foremost, it's important to talk to your partner about incorporating power play. "Find out if your partner is interested, if they have any concerns, if either of you feels the need for more information," Queen says. If so, she encourages doing more research about power play, taking a class, or talking to an experienced friend or expert about it until you both feel comfortable taking the next steps.

2. Create A Yes/Maybe/No List

The next step is to get clear on what you're most excited to try and your limits and boundaries. To do so, Queen suggests creating a yes, maybe, and no list, which details what you're willing to do, things you may be into trying, and what things you’re not interested in trying. Then compare lists and find what is compatible for you to explore together. "If you're interested in different things, figure out if either of you is happy to facilitate the other's fantasy, or look at your maybe lists and see if there's a way to address the elements that prevent those items from being yesses," Queen says.

3. Choose Your Safe Word

Next, decide on a safe word other than the word no. Queen says it should be a word that would not likely come up when you're in character during role-play. The word "red," as in red light means stop, is a common safe word. If there's a chance you may not be able to be heard — for instance, if it's noisy or you are gagged — Queen recommends using a safe gesture, such as holding an item and dropping it.

And most importantly, when the safe word (or gesture) is used, respect it and give the other person what they need, whether that’s taking a break or stopping altogether. If your partner doesn't respect safe words, Queen doesn't recommend playing with them again as it is a breach of trust.

4. Decide Your Roles

"Even if you are not doing role-play per se, power play implies a top and a bottom (dominant and submissive)," Queen says. But these don’t have to be set in stone. “People switch all the time, but you need to know who is the 'do-er' and the 'do-ee.' Unless, you know, your fantasy is to [wrestle] and see who can overpower the other," she says. Whatever your role, Queen adds that both of you can use the safe word at any point.

5. Check In With Each Other

Once you've experimented with power play (more on how to do that below), Queen emphasizes the importance of checking in with each other afterward, whether it's right after or after you've had some time to process the experience. Ask each other how you're feeling and figure out what you loved or would change if you did it again.

Power Play Game Examples


If you're just dipping your toes into power play, incorporating a blindfold is a beginner-friendly way to try it out. "Blindfold one of you, and the other person touches and teases them, maybe uses toys or a massage candle, does light BDSM play like slapping or pinching," Queen says. "The blindfold is a power toy because it removes one of your senses and it also intensifies the others."

Role-Play & Sex

Another way to experiment with power play is to choose personas or characters to play. "Pretend to be strangers and seduce each other, or pick matching roles that include power differential to explore," Queen says. Think mistress and butler or coach and athlete. "Remember, this is fantasy, and you can use your safe word if it goes in a direction you're not feeling."


Lastly, if you want to take things up a notch, Queen suggests trying bondage with fuzzy cuffs. She says metal handcuffs can cause discomfort when you thrash around. Don't have handcuffs on hand (no pun intended)? The submissive can put their hands somewhere and not move. "This is exciting with sex play but also a way to explore spanking and other impact play," she says. "The butt cheeks are good, safe places to explore impact. Start mild, and escalate if desired."

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