What is S&M

What Does S&M Mean?

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What S&M Means And Everything Kinky About It.

Have you ever heard of “Sir” or “Daddy” being used in the bedroom? Did watching Fifty Shades of Grey ignite a desire within you? When you heard Rihanna singing in“S&M,” “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me,” did you like the idea of it? Well, you might just be into S&M.

While BDSM is more than whips, chains, and taboo fantasies, S&M certainly fits the typical idea of kink. But what does S&M mean, and should you bring it into your bedroom? Read on to find out.

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What is BDSM?

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S&M Meaning

S&M is only one part of the abbreviation BDSM that means “sadism and masochism” or “sadomasochism” for short. The rest of the BDSM acronym stands for:

  • B/D: Bondage and discipline
  • D/S: Dominance and submission
  • S/M: Sadism and masochism (sadomasochism)


Sadism (named after Marquis de Sade, author of the infamous 120 Days of Sodom) pertains to the tendency to derive sexual pleasure from inflicting pain or humiliation on others. This pain can be physical or psychological; for example:

  • Impact play (e.g., slapping, flogging, whipping)
  • Extreme rope bondage (e.g., predicament bondage)
  • Pleasure denial (e.g., edging, orgasm control)
  • Degradation and humiliation

There are many reasons why someone might be interested in sadism. One possibility is that it is a learned behavior – if you’ve seen someone else in pain experience high levels of pleasure, it might become psychologically rewarding to you. Sadists might also be sensation-seeking (a preference for thrilling activities) or have a very active imagination.

While sadists are often dominants and tops, sadists can also take a more passive role in the bedroom. For example, some sadistic service tops experience pleasure from hurting their Master or Mistress upon their request.


Masochism refers to deriving pleasure or sexual gratification from feeling physical or psychological pain. The term originates from Austrian nobleman and journalist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who famously wrote about his pleasurable experiences with pain and humiliation.

People who enjoy masochism typically derive pleasure from power exchanges. This power exchange allows them to enter an alternative state of consciousness. They become more relaxed due to the release of chemicals in the brain, such as adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin.

Masochists are the opposite of sadists because they gain pleasure from being put through pain. Typically, masochists are submissives and bottoms, but some dominants may also enjoy experiencing pain.

What is BDSM?

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Myths About Sadomasochists

Because of the stigma surrounding sadomasochism, it isn’t always accurately portrayed in the media and is prone to misconception. Some myths surrounding sadomasochism include:

It’s Abuse

Most people perceive pain as abuse because it is often inflicted as a form of punishment. However, incorporating consent into the process removes the notion of abuse. For some, sadomasochism can be a meditative, cathartic, or therapeutic experience.

Those Who Practice It Are Victims Of Childhood Trauma

Many assume that sadomasochism practitioners are victims of childhood trauma. While it’s a possibility, most who practice sadomasochism practice the kink due to their personalities and preferences. That said, in some cases, sadomasochists who have trauma may be able to work through it by practicing BDSM.

What is BDSM?

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Safe S&M Practices And Tips

Want to get into the S&M fantasy? Here are some tips on how to practice S&M safely.

Get Consent

Consent is everything, regardless of what the sexual arrangement may be, but it’s essential when it comes to risky activities like BDSM. You and your partner need to communicate if you’re okay with inflicting or experiencing pain, and, if so, what kind of pain and in what context.

S&M doesn’t give you blanket permission to do whatever you want. Know what words and scenarios could negatively trigger you and your partner. For example, some people may be into using racial slurs in the bedroom, while others recoil at the thought of it.

Do Your Research

If you are new to sadomasochism, in-depth research can help you set comfortable boundaries. For instance, when engaging in a risky sexual act like choking, you’ll want to know the safest way to perform the act and where specifically to apply pressure so as not to inflict grievous harm on yourself or your partner.

Also, make sure to talk about safe words – these can be anything, so long as they are easy to remember and say. Pick something that resonates with you, and you wouldn’t typically say during sex. Most kinksters have multiple safe words – one for “go” or “OK” (e.g., green), one for “slow down” (e.g., yellow), and one for “stop” (e.g., red).

Always Provide Aftercare

Aftercare is an excellent way to bring your partner back to a neutral or positive state and reassure them that they are in a safe space. This process is beneficial if one partner experiences a sub-drop or sadness/irritability after an intense sexual experience.

There are many forms of aftercare. These acts might include dressing injuries, offering food or water, hugging or cuddling, and providing reassurance. Always discuss what type of aftercare works best for you and your partner, based on your activities.

What is BDSM?

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What Differentiates BDSM From Abuse

The primary difference between BDSM and abuse is that the former involves explicit consent. In addition, BDSM typically involves aftercare, during which partners attend to each other’s mental and emotional needs.

However, there are instances in which BDSM makes an ideal cover for abuse. Abusers can use BDSM to facilitate trauma bonding, making it challenging for victims to identify signs.

Ultimately, responsible BDSM should never lead to death. The best way to ensure that your experiences are safe and enjoyable is to remain vigilant and communicate with your partner.


Sadomasochists find pleasure in pain. This kink isn’t for everyone, and understandably so – after all, it’s totally natural to feel bad when you are hurt or get hurt by a partner. Regardless, doing your research on S&M means you are in a better place to explore how rewarding it can be!

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