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The Beginner's Guide to Rough Sex

The Beginner's Guide to Rough Sex

Written for GFH by Luna Matatas

Do you like it rough? You might enjoy hair pulling, spanking, slapping, choking, biting, wrestling, hard and fast penetration, or other types of intense activities during sex. It’s a myth that rough sex is about being ‘mean’ or ‘punishing’; while this can be a mood that turns people on, rough sex can also be about vibes that are sensual, playful, or primal. And it’s great to be excited for the vigors of rough sex, but it’s also about being safe while you and your partner are pleasuring one another.

What’s in your rough sex fantasy?

Rough sex can not only vary in intensity from person to person, but in feeling too. Discuss what you’d both like to feel along with what you both want to do. 

For example, do you want to play with fantasies of humiliation? Do you want sensual rough sex? Do you want to feel helpless, naughty, slutty, or possessed? Do you want to feel powerful, mean, sadistic, or adoring? Think about the flavour of your fantasy, and communicate clearly with your partner. Pinning someone onto the bed could mean “I have to have you” or “You need to be punished.” Ask each other to describe your rough sex fantasies (sexting about it is fun too!) and don’t be afraid to go into vivid detail—that can be part of the foreplay, and fun! It’s important to be on the same page about what rough sex means to both of you, what you’d like to experience, and what your limits are.

For example, rough sex can be about pain—like using a Wartenberg Pinwheel or a paddle. Or it can be about intense sensations and emotions without pain or leaving marks, like ‘forced’ orgasms with the Magic Wand or blindfolding someone and fingering them fast, deep, and hard. 

What do I need to feel emotionally and physically safe?

Being safe during rough sex requires communication before, during, and after. 

After you’re on the same page, it’s important to set boundaries—hard limits, with safe words.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Establishing boundaries—what do you or your partner need to feel physically and emotionally safe? Physical safety can include things like parts of the body or sexual activities that are off-limits and emotional boundaries can include things like name-calling, or occasional check-ins. 
  • Have they had any experience with rough sex before? Some people have had great consensual rough sex experiences, others may have not enjoyed their previous experiences, but want to try again. If someone doesn’t have experience with rough sex, it’s best to take things slow and don’t be afraid to do a little bit of research.
  • What sexy things are on the table and which ones are off the table? It might be exciting to go all-in, but things could get a little overwhelming, so start out slow, with a handful of things to experiment with.
  • What do you need after rough sex? The emotional and physical toll can be intense, so aftercare is a huge part of rough sex. Figure out what you and/or your partner needs: massages to sensitive areas, spooning, gentle kisses, etc.
  • How will a partner know you’re enjoying it? Sometimes rough sex might play with fantasies of ‘force’ or with words, emotions, and expressions that normally would be associated with discomfort. Develop communication tools, like a safe word. Words like ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘it hurts’ might be part of your rough sex roleplay, so you want to assign a word that has nothing to do with your fantasy. For activities where you can increase or decrease in intensity like spanking, rough penetration or biting, you can use a traffic light system or a number system to help manage the intensity. It’s important for the person giving the rough activity to invite communication from their receiver, and ensure they still have agency; for example, “Do you want more? Want me to go harder or softer? Are you ready for faster or slower?”
  • Communicate with one another a little while after the session and communicate what you really liked, and what maybe wasn’t working for you.

A great way to practice communication before diving into rough sex is to play with a sex toy like a feather, nipple clamps, or vibrator. If your partner is comfortable being tied up or having their hands tied, you can use a sex toy on their body and invite them to give you feedback about where, and how they wanted to be touched.

How do I know what level of rough sex is good for me and my partner?

Communicate clearly to find out what “rough” means to you and your partner, and be open to those definitions being different. Going from one to ten immediately can not only be a lot emotionally, but it can lead to serious injuries, so be patient, and take things slowly. Plus, half of the fun can be in the build and anticipation.

For example, if your partner is into biting, start with nibbles in fleshy areas and increase your intensity slowly while also giving them familiar pleasure you already know they like (e.g. kisses, dirty talk, oral). If you’re the person receiving rough sex, enjoy the build of sensation from your partner and you can communicate with them that you want more intensity as you get comfortable. If you’re new to your partner or to rough sex, let the receiver be the one driving the intensity.

If you’re interested in rough activities that could result in serious injuries, like choking, it’s important you are aware of the risks ahead of time. Research anatomy and technique, and, again, take things slowly. In mainstream porn, it often looks effortless and like the partners are so in sync they don't need to communicate. But mainstream porn is artificial: it’s made to look effortless through a lot of effort—careful editing, scripting, and countless takes. In real life, with real bodies, more communication means sexier and safer sex. 

What if I like rough sex but my partner is reluctant?

Sometimes a partner can be interested in rough sex but worried about hurting their partner or being hurt themselves. They might also hear “rough sex” and think about an extreme fantasy that scares them more than it turns them on. They might want to participate in your fantasy, but not feel confident in their ability. And all of these are completely valid concerns.

 If you want rougher sex, try talking to your partner during a non-sexy time and expressing your excitement, as well as your insecurities about rough sex. Invite them to be authentic and open about any concerns and desires they have too. Try setting a date where you focus on slowly increasing the intensity of one activity and keep the focus on communication and checking in. Enthusiasm and showing off your pleasure is a great way to reassure your partner that you like what they’re doing. It’s also totally okay to not participate in someone’s fantasy or to keep rough sex as a fantasy you masturbate to, but don’t have any intention of bringing into real life. Sometimes fantasies are best left as fantasies!