This is a guest post by Rachel M.

For novice level masochists at play, who are curious about BDSM, make sure to get all your facts straight. So, before you go full-throttle, humiliating and whipping your partner, collect everything there’s to know first—and don’t rely on what you see in the media. Are you ready to learn? It’s time to debunk the most common myths surrounding BDSM, clearing up all the shades of gray once and for all! Here we go—no safety word needed!

Myth #1 – BDSM Aims to Inflict Pain

Unlike what you might see in the movies, BDSM is not exclusively dedicated to inflicting pain. Sexual sadism, on the other hand, is all about getting turned on by causing harm to others. Comparatively, BDSM focuses more on the role-playing of such acts, while maintaining a safe environment and preventing danger and injury, explains Sex Expert Debra Soh in her article, “Common BDSM Myths.” Basically, at its core, BDSM is about sexual freedom and exploration within the confines of safety.

Myth #2 – The Dominant Partner Controls Everything

When picturing the dominant partner, nearly everyone imagines a kinky control-freak punishing their partner doggy style. Is this necessarily the case? Of course not! In fact, the submissive partner can also take an authoritative role; guiding and instructing the dominant partner through each act. In many cases, it’s actually the submissive partner who calls the shots—“faster, softer” etc.

Myth #3 – There’s Always Leather and Chains

Does BDSM always require buck wild leather outfits and metal props? For some, yes, but this is certainly not a requirement. Your BDSM pleasures can involve any type of costume or toys, from an innocent tickling feather to a rock hard vibrating dildo—the options are completely up to you.

For couples who would like to test the erotic waters with bondage, a beginner level restraint system will add some fire between the sheets. “Usually these systems come with a total of four wrist and ankle cuffs so you can strap your partner’s arms and legs to the bed,” suggests Sex Expert Bobby Box in his article, “Best Sex Toys for Couples.”

Whether it’s heavy chains or just cutesy furry pink handcuffs, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to props.

Myth #4 – BDSM is Merciless

Despite what you’ve heard or seen, a victim on their knees wailing in erotic pain is not a must for BDSM. It doesn’t have to be violent and merciless in order to be effective.

Couples who are engaging in some rougher power struggles are not basing their interactions on cruelty and brutality. And if there is any humiliation or physical tension involved, it’s consensual and in the best interest of pleasuring the submissive partner—not harming them! Conversely, sexual abuse involves the “intentional intimidation for the purpose of dominating, coercing, or isolating another without her or his consent,” reveals Jan Hall in her article, “Domestic Violence in the S/M Community” for the Pandora Project, an online support group for survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

Myth #5 – Sex Must be Involved

Did you know that BDSM doesn’t actually require any physical contact at all? You can also entice arousal simply through your words. For some, there’s no hotter lasso than the lure of some tantalizing audio.

For example, some people have a fetish for feeling disgraced in the bedroom, while making themselves obedient to the dominant. But, this roleplay doesn’t need to become physical. Beyond sex, some explicit dirty talk will also do the trick. This form of stimulation can take on many forms, from fantasy dialogue to degrading demands — all relying on non-physical incitement to get off. Yes, words are a powerful sex tool.

Now that we’ve demystified all the rumors about BDSM, you can try putting your new knowledge to the test. And remember, safety first!

Rachel M. is an experimental sex deviant who loves all things both naughty and nice. Her fetishes include power struggles and restraints with a special interest in role playing. Her experiences have been shared in popular blogs, including Your Tango and Slutty Girl Problems.