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Meet A n' L

Please tell us a little bit about yourself – How would you describe your everyday vanilla life?

A: (M) In vanilla life I'm a technician and machinist for a small company. Due to the loud environment, I spend a lot of time in hearing protection, which gives me lots of time to listen to audio books (a mix of fantasy novels and erotic fiction *shh...that part is my secret*). Away from work, I'm still a creative type and experiment in all manner of mix and match hobbies.

L: (F) I'm a student, so I spend a lot of my time in classes or doing homework. I also cook and try to keep the house clean and the cats happy. In my leisure time I like to read and write.

When did you first realize you were into bondage?

A: Honestly, its hard to say. Long before I was old enough to have a sexual interests, I was tying people (including myself) up with jump ropes and bits of string. Years later, when puberty came along and I learned that bondage was a thing (from the internet) I just knew it was something I would want to do with a partner someday.

L: I had a vague sort of interest for a long time, but was not a very active person in regards to romantic relationships, so it went largely unexplored until I met A. Though I did talk about bondage with one other partner, it never became a thing for us. I was probably in my teens when I found words to use for my interests, even if they weren't very specific ones.

How you best describe yourself and why? Your choices are: Dominant, Submissive, Switch or Fuzzy Rainbow Unicorn.

A: Switch, with a lean towards the dominant role (though I'm pretty fuzzy, too). As a dominant, I enjoy the feeling of control that bondage offers. Sometimes doing things for her enjoyment, and sometimes doing things purely for my own selfish enjoyment. Relinquishing that control is harder for me to manage, and often feels very vulnerable, but that vulnerability also makes the emotional rush that much more gratifying, and satisfies a very different kind of craving.

L: I'm a switch, with heavy leanings toward submissiveness. The vulnerability inherent to submission is something I crave and that satisfies me in many different ways, though I will take the lead with glee. Giving my partner their own share of those vulnerable feelings is always gratifying.

Do you feel that your desire for bondage is more physical or emotional? (please elaborate)

A: Very much emotional. It takes trust to get into a position where you can't move/talk/see, and top or bottom, your whole focus becomes your partner. Its a connection like none other.

L: Definitely emotional. Being able to let go and indulge in giving up mobility and senses, giving the reigns over to another person entirely, or conversely, being trusted to lead a partner through a vulnerable state... both are expressions of trust so deep that it's magical.

What does BDSM mean to you: is it a lifestyle, a diversion, or something else?

A: I am more connected to the Bondage/Domination elements, than I am to the Sadism/Masochism, so to me BDSM is less than a lifestyle, but more than a diversion. While there are elements of pain that I enjoy giving and receiving, I could generally take or leave them. Bondage and the power exchange elements are more important to me, and let me express feelings and desires that can't be expressed in other ways. Not every moment of every day, and not every sexual encounter needs to include it, but I don't think I could be completely fulfilled in a relationship that it wasn't a semi-regular part of.

L: It can be hard to quantify. To say that BDSM is a diversion doesn't do it justice, given the emotional connection that I have to the practice, but it is still far from being a lifestyle for me. It's another avenue of expression between myself and my partner that I value highly, so I couldn't imagine a fulfilling relationship without it available to us, but it doesn't need to permeate every interaction.

Were lovers accepting of your interest in bondage?

A: Yes. Often the limiting factors were more about privacy and opportunity than interest or willingness.

L: Yes, though I've only acted on that interest with one partner.

Please briefly describe your first bondage experience.

A: My first sexual bondage experience was definitely some manner of self-bondage, but I don't remember any more details, as I did it a lot around the time I learned to masturbate. The first time I did it with a partner wouldn't be until years later. I was with my second girlfriend (both virgins when we met) and had slowly moved through all the bases. Kissing, touching, oral, and eventually, sex. In taking our time, we shared a lot of fantasies before ever doing anything, and knew we had a common interest in bondage. I don't remember a lot about the first time, I know I tied her up with rope (personal preference) and I know we both got there before I untied her. My strongest memory is the rush of exhilaration that it was/is/had happened. We continued to experiment together for over a year before parting ways, so its safe to assume the first time was a good one.

L: My first experience was with my current partner many years ago now, and I don't remember many details. It was rope play and was preceded by a lot of discussion - fantasies, limits, etc. That first time I was in the submissive role, and though I don't remember a lot I know that it was very exciting.

What was your best bondage experience?

A n' L: We both agree that the best experiences we've ever had were together, but beyond that, choosing just one is almost impossible. Being together for most of a decade, and indulging our interests on a regular basis, even a short list would be a challenge. Comparing a night of dominating to a night of helpless submission is like comparing coffee and alcohol, they both satisfy a craving, but one can't be substituted for the other.

What is the most creative safe word you have ever used?

A n' L: We are pretty boring in that respect. Red, Yellow, Green works just fine when we need them. We don't play with other people or in groups, so there hasn't been much call to get creative.

What do you feel is most important about the experience of bondage?

A: I'd say connection is the most important part, both metaphorically and literally. It is (can be) an intense experience, and the best building blocks are trust, respect, and communication, which all play a role in how connected I feel to my partner, which in turn makes the experience that much better. In the literal sense, well, I think the best experiences are ones where escape isn't an option on my own, so strong connections are important.

L: For me it would be communication and respect - before, during, and after any BDSM experience. To be acting in safe, sane, and consensual ways we have to be communicating our desires, fantasies, fears, and limits, and then we have to be respecting those limits, respecting those fears, respecting the courage it takes to share what might be embarrassing or closely held desires. When we can express, without fear of rebuke or shame, when we enjoyed something, or when something was too much, was not enough, was greater than expected, trust grows and we can continue exploring BDSM together.

What is the best advice you would give to someone just starting out with BDSM?

A: First, do a little reading about how to be safe. Its the least fun thing to talk about, but nothing ruins a good time like a trip to the hospital. Even at the beginner level, things like knots pulling tighter and cutting off circulation can cause lasting damage. Knowing ahead of time what to be careful of will help you both relax and have a good time. Second, set and respect limits. Short and sweet, but also important, especially if you want a repeat performance. Third, take your time. Look at all the different options here on sub shop, nobody has that many limbs/orifices so don't feel like you have to do everything all at once. If there are lots of things you want to try, start with the ones you're most excited about, and continue to explore from there. Fourth, there is a good chance that at some point, you won't like something (at all or as much as you expected to) and that's totally okay. TELL YOUR PARTNER, they'll understand. Last, remember that the goal is to enjoy yourself and have fun together, so when the unexpected happens, don't be afraid to laugh. It doesn't all have to be staged photo serious, it rarely looks so picture perfect, and real life has demands that are taken care of "off camera" so just relax and remember to have fun with it. As long as you're safe, and you're both having fun, there isn't a wrong way to play.

L: Always, safety first! This is a potentially dangerous activity if done wrong, and there are tons of great resources out there for how to do it well and safely. Aside from that, talk to your partner. About your interests, your concerns, your fantasies, anything! If you have a shapeless desire for BDSM, but don't know enough to have specific fantasies (I've been there) then look at some toys. See what sparks an interest, or makes your heart pump. Look at some porn. Find something you'd like to emulate and share it with your partner. Write letters if you are shy about sharing (once again, you are not alone). And, best of all, ask your partner what they might be curious about.

What is your favorite gear, toy or lingerie item from sub-shop.com and why?

A: Hmm, that one is tough because we actually have a pretty decent collection from sub shop, and I have really liked a lot of our purchases. I think my favorite so far might be The Secretary Steel Yoke. That was one of those bucket list restraints that I always wanted to try, and it totally delivered on what I was hoping for. Its well made, and once you're locked in, there is no way out without the "key".

L: It's a very tough choice, but probably the Locking Sensory Deprivation Hood. Even without many other restraints in play it leads a sense of helplessness to the wearer, and putting it on takes a small amount of time which really lets the mood set in...

What is the one sensual fantasy you haven’t lived out yet that you are excited to try?

A n' L: Its not necessarily the most sensual of fantasies, but we've seen mentions around the internet of places for rent with more extensive bondage furniture that we'd both be interested in trying out. A lot of those things take up space, and are not exactly discrete, so the idea of owning them is a bit too much for us, but if we could have a private space to experiment for a weekend, that would be awesome. From the pictures we've seen, most of them are not the harsh dungeon sort of setting (not really our cup of tea) but are more like specially equipped hotel rooms or cabins for couples to have fun together in. You know, comfy couch, St. Andrews cross in the corner, spacious four post bed, spanking bench across the room, glamorous mood lighting, hooks in the ceiling if suspension is your jam, spacious showers with glass walls... The kind of place where you go, expecting to spend the vast majority of your time in your room.

Can crop circles be square?

A: That all depends on how semantic we want to get. Circles can't be squares, so in that sense, no. In the realm of "what people might believe is made by aliens", then maybe, but there would have to be more to the pattern to really sell it to the believers. And lastly in the "what kind of art people can make in corn or other crop fields by bending over the stalks" then the answer is a resounding yes. The only limit there is ingenuity and creativity.

L: Semantics aside, yes.

If you had to be trapped in a tv show for a month, which would you choose and why?

A: Probably Star Trek Next Generation. The idea of exploring space is pretty amazing, and the holodeck would allow for all manner of fantasy rendezvous, both naughty and nice. As long as I'm not a red-shirt, that is. I do want to come back at the end of the month.

L: I'd go for a month in Warehouse 13. I would expect some harrowing adventures and wacky high-jinks, but very little chance of death. Could be fun.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us such as advice, thoughts or a silly knock-knock jokes? We are all ears and ball gags.

A: I think everybody, from beginner to expert, can benefit from a simple bit of advice. Be open to try (almost) anything, once. If you see something, or read something, and think to yourself "I think I'd like that", then its worth talking to your partner about, and you should listen to your partner when they come to you in turn. If the thing holding you back is just admitting that you're interested, then you'll only ever wonder "what would that be like?" and you could be missing out on the hottest night of your life. Just respect that "(almost)" everyone has boundaries they don't want to cross, maybe they're painful or unpleasant, maybe they already tried it, and just don't like it. Just don't let your preconceptions stop you from exploring the things that get your heart pounding.

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