Photographer: Blair Hopkins
This one is for all the thrill seekers out there.
If you're the type that likes to push boundaries, gets bored of the same old routines, and wants something new, taboo, and exciting, then I have two words for you: Edge Play.
Keep in mind, this isn't for the faint-hearted. But, if a naughty, mischievous mood strikes you and your partner, edge play can add the perfect elements of spice and danger that will bring you and your partner closer and step up your level of sexual intensity. How so? Edge play brings you right to the brink of the deepest, darkest parts of the psyche, the places few people dare to tread.
Edge play is for those who want something more thrilling than the milder side of BDSM. Not to be confused with "edging" (which is bringing someone to the edge of orgasm and stopping just before they attain it in order to give them a more powerful orgasm in the end), "edge play" means taking a sexual encounter to the very edge of your psychological limits -- an intense and erotic walk to the dark side.
There are three main elements to edge play.
The first is a sexual role play with the implication of psychological or physical violence. This is also known as S&M play. The specific nature of this role play depends entirely on who is playing, since what feels threatening to one person may be be boring to another, but common elements include rough play, smacking, punching, breath play (erotic asphyxiation), fire play, gun play, blood play (drawing and drinking their blood) and more.
The second part of edge play is quite literal: It means actually playing with a sharp object that has an edge, such as knives, swords, or other cutting implements.
The third element is more figurative and has to do with challenging the limits of a partner or partners. Whatever you and your partner think is "edgy" is considered edge play. Remember: All of this has to take place between two or more consenting adults. Since edge play is supposed to include an element of danger, practitioners call this "consensual non-consent." Obviously, this means that good communication (including a prearranged safe word) is critical.
Many parts of edge play were once considered freakish, but thanks to the Sexual Revolution, the Internet, and the exposure of BDSM in mainstream media, people have become more educated on the subject, interested, and the stigma has lessened. Today, more people feel comfortable embracing their sexual freedom by exploring their darker fantasies than at any time in the past.
For couples who know each other very well, edge play has a lot of benefits. You can get to see a new side of your partner and of yourself, one where all the social layers have been stripped away. You may feel we know everything about your partner, but once you have a knife at their throat and they are begging for mercy, a new side of their personality emerges. This type of play can increase the level of trust and closeness you both feel since it can help each person discover, explore, and share the darkest corners within themselves. It also keeps things fresh.
Couples who have been together for years may miss that feeling of newness and adventure from the beginning of their relationship, and edge play can bring those feelings back in a powerful new way.
There are physical benefits too. The excitement and fear such play induces can release norepinephrine and adrenaline, and it can also release endorphins. These help relieve stress and fight depression. The fear and anticipation give way to heightened pleasure, releasing serotonin, dopamine, and vasopressin in large quantities, giving one a sense of happiness, fulfillment, and wellbeing.
If this piques your curiosity, it's time to do your research. The inexperienced should attend a workshop, read a how-to guide, view some videos, and read some articles online. Discuss every aspect of your intentions and fantasies at length beforehand with your partner. Plan it out. Go slow.
As I'm sure you've put together by now, edge play is where most of our cultural lore about BDSM comes from. When we think of BDSM, we see the whips, chains, knives, masks, and bruises that can (but don't necessarily have to be) part of an edge play experience, and while these images do have a certain dark, dangerous allure, always remember that BDSM and edge play are all about the illusion of danger in an environment of complete safety and control.
It's a delicate balance finding just the right combination of dark and light, safe and edgy for you and your partner. But, whether you choose total vanilla or total hardcore, all of your sexual experiences should be affirming and enjoyable because even though the chains might seem to suggest otherwise, BDSM is all about freedom.
Sandra LaMorgese Ph.D. is an expert in bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the author of Switch: Time for a Change, a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55-years-old, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook "5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit www.sandralamorgese.com.