Roleplay has been used in many different ways throughout the world for centuries. Ways such as reenacting an altercation for a police officer, taking on the role of another student in class as an experiment to see how another is perceived, taking on a fantasy person for your dungeons and dragons game. There are so many areas in which roleplay is used in many different forms and intensity. Roleplay is commonly used in BDSM to set the tone and direction of a power exchange scene.
What is roleplay?
Roleplay is taking on the actions, mannerisms, behaviours and appearance of another person, animal or character. You invoke the character you are trying to portray by acting out a common scenario or storyline. People use typical behaviours and mannerisms or even attempt the voice and/or sounds of their character. The use of clothing, costumes, toys and accessories help people get into character(s) and set the scene of your roleplay scenario or storyline.
Roleplay has a very large online community through groups, chats and events. It also gets used a lot in the world of sexual exploration. It tends to be encouraged to spice up a sexual relationship and to fulfil sexual fantasies that one or another may have.
What are some of the psychological aspects of roleplay?
You might start wondering, why is roleplay so popular in almost all scenes and relationships. There has been research done, albeit not extensively, on the psychological impacts that roleplay has. One of the most common results was the relief of mental stress and anxiety. So, it is not surprising to find that people enjoy it and want to practice it in both vanilla and BDSM relationships. It provides a positive mental relief and allows indulgence in some of your wildest fantasies in a safe and non-judgemental space and a reason to explore what may be considered ‘taboo’ in their relationship. This allows your mind to fully relax and enjoy yourself which is needed every now and then.
One other interesting note on one study that involved strictly BDSM relationships was that the person in the ‘Top’ position had a more positive experience than the one in the ‘bottom’. Both positions still had positive experiences, however, the trend was that the ‘Top’ enjoyed themselves more.
More than anything though being able to put aside the day-to-day existence, letting our imagination run wild, allows us to explore a different state of being.
What are some examples of roleplay?
Roleplay commonly has a sexual component to it, a lot of which gets used in the porn industry as a loose storyline or for setting the scene for some of the more common/popular fantasies.
There are many common scenarios but this in no way means that you should only keep to the ‘normal’ or ‘common’ scenarios. There isn’t one that is better than the other, you should always be doing one that interests you and your partner the most. Whether that is a vanilla relationship or a D/s dynamic, both parties should be happy with what is going to be acted out, otherwise there will be less effort put in and the experience will not be as enjoyable as one where both of you were very excited about what was going to play out.
Common examples that include a power dynamic are:
- Doctor or nurse and patient
- Professor/Principal/Teacher and student.
- Chairman/CEO/Boss and employee
- Homeowner, man/lady of the house and maid/servant/butler
- Police officer and criminal
- Owner/Master and pet
- The client and the call girl or gigolo.
- Royalty and servant/slave
An alternative dynamic is that of anonymous, taboo or exciting seduction:
- The masseuse and client.
- Fireman/EMT and damsel in distress.
- Handyman and housewife
- Porn casting couch
What is the inherent nature of roleplay?
As you can see from the list above there are more, if not the majority, roleplay scenarios have a natural deficit of power. One person is usually in a position of power whereas the other is not. This almost always results in one person displaying dominance over the other. Most of these scenarios that get acted out are derived from everyday vanilla relationships that have a power deficit. Hence why the most common ones are professions and positions almost everyone knows about or has even experienced already through their vanilla life. When this gets applied into the world of BDSM you can see why there is an easy pick up with an exchange of power being such a prominent aspect to BDSM.
The other dynamic can have a focus on forbidden or anonymous eroticism. As with the previous power-based roles, many of these have their foundation in the vanilla world of romance novels or movies.
How to engage in a roleplay scene safely?
In well-established relationships, a lot of what will be mentioned here is already commonplace and not all aspects are needed to go over. However, assuming this is with someone new or a first time delving into the world of roleplay, here are some steps that can help make the play more fun and safer.
Firstly, make sure you are both comfortable with what either of you had in mind, discuss it, do not just dive straight in. Sure, it can be fun to get caught up in the heat of the moment however it might not be what one side wants which could be less fun overall or it could happen to be a trigger. So have a little chat about what kind of scene you’d like to try, what characters will be portrayed, the general theme, plot, scene, what is/will/could be involved (sex, impact, service, clothing, toys, accessories) in it, and definitely make sure to have a safe word, gestures and check-ins in place so if things are going south for someone, someone is triggered its an easy way to slow down, change direction or stop immediately.
Now that you have the scene established and what roles you will be taking on it’s time to have a discussion about what you want each other to do, where it’s ok to touch, how, with what. Will sex be included (oral/penetrative) and will/what protection be used. These aspects don’t need to be so specific as ‘i want you to pin me against a wall and do this, this and that’ allow for the creativity of one another so the scene is still exciting, you have the safe word if you are not having an enjoyable time to call it at any moment so no need to detail everything. Things that are good are to say impact play, light choking, humiliation some headers so the ‘Top’ knows where they can have some fun.
Overall roleplay can be a very powerful tool in the bedroom both in the sense of spicing things up without having to feel like you are going head first into some crazy unknown. It also allows you freedom from yourself and to enjoy playing the role of another. It is the perfect theme/scenario to engage in, enhance or experience a power exchange scene for the first time.
If roleplay is not something you have tried before it is definitely worth a try, or at the very least a discussion with your partner to see where it goes.
Contributors: This article was researched and written by Umlindi, edited by Mistress Michelle and published by Umlindi.
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