A Guide To Erotic Choking: Part One

Lola Jean is back with another two-part article series, this time taking a look at choking. Choking is an increasingly popular kink but one that can cause some real harm if enacted without the proper education. So buckle up kitty-kats – you’re about to do some serious learning. 

I remember the first time someone choked me. I wasn’t remotely ‘into’ BDSM at the time, nor did I have much awareness of the topic. ⁠⁠I’d call myself sexually adventurous, sure, but I didn’t know what that really meant. I’m lucky, I thought. I’m lucky that I enjoyed choking. We should be so lucky to roll the dice and find our one true fetish or kink.

Turns out, I wasn’t lucky. I don’t like the sensation of choking and was more drawn to the mental aspects of control being exerted physically. In that scenario, I was attracted to the novelty of something new and salacious. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn different types of choking, or what the draws to each might be before deciding which one (if any) was for me. ⁠⁠

What is “Light BDSM”? 

Choking falls into this grey area many dub ‘light BDSM.’ Spanking, hair pulling, even bondage wind up here, with the assumption being that if you don’t go “too extreme” it can be practised with fewer safety precautions and less experience than the others. That or there’s too much shame to declare yourself a full-fat, never diet BDSM kinkster. I end up changing my tune on a lot of these “entry-level” kinks I was initially enthralled by. I thought I liked spanking but it turns out I just like attention – and there are plenty of ways to do that which don’t involve pain. I learned I like fantasy choking, where there is the presence of a hand but no restriction to my air pathways or blood flow. I like a nice flogging when there is no pain involved. Where were all these options when my lover decided to extend a hand to my throat?

This isn’t a place to point fingers and assign blame. The language and specificity around choking are confusing and non-specific. When LT Hawk and I set out to teach safer methods and strategies around choking in BDSM we had to invent new terminology to delineate between different types of chokes based on how they affect the other person. Most people think they’re administering a breath choke when in reality it is more of a blood choke, and the person receiving it usually only wanted a fantasy choke to begin with! Andre Shakti, sex educator and BDSM practitioner, experiences this in her personal life, too. “I find that most people feel as though they have a decent handle on breath play because they’ve been in other relationships where they’ve practised breath play and felt like that was good enough. So few people have sought out formal instruction or education on the topic.” While this article is a good start when it comes to what Shakti is calling “formal instruction”, definitely don’t make this your last stop if choking is truly something you want to add to your sexual or kinky repertoire. 

“Light BDSM” & Risks

Choking has become ubiquitous with any level of kinky or rough sex. No matter what type you engage in or how light you think it is, there are risks. There are always risks. Even if you are not intending to reach someone passing out, you still need to make sure you and your partner are both informed of what to do if this happens, how it happens, and what signs to look out for. There are too many injuries that can easily be avoided with proper education. Though passing out can be perfectly safe if the choke is released and proper aftercare follows, other outcomes like a crushed trachea and carotid dissection are not so easy to remedy, not to mention the potential psychological issues that can arise.

If all this freaks you out, or you want a kink that requires less investment and education, then choose a less risky kink. 

Understanding Different Types Of Choking

Part of consent is both parties being informed, and that information is specific. “There is more to negotiating choking than saying ‘okay we’re both going to choke each other.’” LT reminds us, especially when dealing with something that has such a wide range of options and effects, from a light fantasy choke to someone passing out!

No matter what type of choke you are doing you should never apply pressure to the front of the throat where the trachea and windpipe lie.

You may not know what type of choking you or your partner is into and that’s okay! No matter how far you’re venturing down the choking path, all parties should at minimum start with a fantasy choke regardless of their later intentions. The neck is a very sensitive and delicate area. Even so much as resting your hand on your own neck can feel invasive, let alone someone else’s! A fantasy choke still gets that feeling of dominance and control without any of the physical restriction of one’s blood or airflow. 

Safety & Safewords

The traditional safeword doesn’t work quite the same as usual when engaging with choking. For one, your verbal communication may be limited. A non-verbal safe word is also going to be something you use heavily and regularly.

You’re likely not going to be using one continuous choke for an entire experience, so the person being choked will need to exercise their safeword early and often. The easiest way to do this is with a tapping system, tapping multiple times on the body of the person doing the choking or even with a foot on the ground if this is not possible.

When engaging in choking – or any kink really – the goal shouldn’t be what you can withstand but what is enjoyable. Perhaps withstanding is what is enjoyable for you: you’ll have to make that decision. Regardless of what you enjoy, you should never engage in any activity that restricts air flow or blood while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Time On, Time Off

With any type of choking that involves restriction, there should be a significant easing in process. This is so that both parties can assess what range they enjoy playing within as well as establishing a comfortability for both partners.

You’ll want to have a timer or clock as well as a mirror or phone in selfie-mode on hand. The mirror/phone will enable you to see your person’s face if you happen to be in a position where this is not visible to you. Note any changes in their complexion, eyes, and breathing patterns. Always err on the side of caution and release any choke when these changes occur until you have awareness of your partner’s visible cues and what they mean.

The clock or timer will be used to quite literally time how long you are in a choke. Sometimes 20 seconds can feel like 5 minutes, so having a timer can alert you to how much felt just right and what was way too much. Practice a balance of 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off, etc… There’s no rush to build up to a certain number so take as many breaks and for as long as you both need! 

Find out about different types of choking in part two of Lola’s Guide To Erotic Choking!

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