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I'm going to attempt to talk about what makes a spanking work and why they so often seem to fail. While this page primarily focuses on spanking, it generally holds true for most similar forms of CP, such as flogging, cropping, paddling and so on.
The Generic Bad Experience
When going through the usual likes and dislikes conversation with a submissive, I often get told that they've tried spanking and didn't really enjoy it. I describe the following and they usually ask how I know what happened with them. The simple answer is that it's a catalogue of common mistakes. Of course it's much more fun, not to mention impressive, to seem as if you can read their mind, than it is to tell them that. *grin*
The sub curious and the obliging vanilla partner: "Let me guess... You were kind of curious about it. Though you weren't entirely sure why, it seemed like it could be great fun. Your partner agreed to give it a go and so you bent over something, maybe their lap, or lay down on your front. Your partner didn't want to hurt you, so started really gently, desperate not to hurt you, and, if anything, you just got bored. Eventually, you managed to persuade them to hit harder and then it just hurt."
There's also a variation with a wannabe Dom/me partner that misses the gentle boring bit and just hurts.
The basic problem lies in the fine control. There's spanking but it's either too hard or too gentle, no in between. There is also only spanking, no touching, no stroking, no building up of other sensations.
As the example above shows, one of the most common complaints is that it is either too hard or too gentle, but never quite right. Start your spanking nice and gently. You have time, a good spanking shouldn't be rushed and can last for several hours (don't feel bad if the thought of hours of this daunts you, half an hour can be fine too).
At first, you don't want to really be spanking at all. Fear, while fun to play with when everything else is well controlled can push a spanking in to the realms of entirely too intense. Have them lie face down on a bed, for comfort, and just stroke. Talk reassuringly in a gentle voice, let them know they're safe, that things will only go so far as they can handle. Stroke their bottom, their thighs, down between them. Make it feel almost more like a massage. When they're relaxed, tell them you're going to give them the first smack. They'll probably tense up. Really gently, playfully, pat their bottom. Nothing harder. This will have the effect of once again dispelling their nerves, making them feel like they don't need them. Once you've landed the pat, keep your hand in contact with their bottom and start stroking again. Do the next few without warning, but keep them gentle and always stroke after each pat. Once you have them relaxed, the fear gone, harder blows won't feel so bad.
Stroking really can't be underestimated as part of a spanking. As mentioned above, it is reassuring, it keeps things safe, reminds the submissive that this is playful and loving, not abuse. It also keeps things arousing. It makes skin tingle to begin with, and then, after each blow, plays with the heightened senses of newly smacked skin. You really should be aiming to spend at least three quarters of your time stroking, at most one quarter smacking.
Slowly Build Up The Intensity
In the example, things were too gentle and then they got too hard. So far, you'll have covered the too gentle. The important point being that you've also relaxed them. That is why you can now get harder without it just being too hard.
To keep things manageable, explain that you'll be using consistent sets. Knowing that they are on the fourth of six and there are only two more to go before a rest can help a submissive relax and keep going. Having no idea how many more are due can make continuing seem an impossible task. Don't forget to keep stroking between each individual smack, with a lot of stroking between sets.
Keep varying the target. Mentally divide each buttock up in to a two-by-two or a three-by-three grid. Alternate from buttock to buttock, area to area. Apart from giving a much more uniform color when you're finished - which always seems so much more impressive - repeated blows to the same area hurt vastly more, in a less fun way, than many more blows, evenly spread. By varying the target, it'll give a much greater overall sensation and allow your submissive to continue for much longer.
You can start to build the pressure up. Ultimately, more pressure means more intensity and this is what you're going for. Just remember that too fast a build up in intensity can be too much. That's why we've gone to so much trouble to lose the nerves that make things less predictable and why we're varying the target. The finer our control of intensity, the better we can make the whole experience.
You will want to build pressure up very slowly. This is where you really need to pay a lot of attention. You'll reach plateaus where any more is too much and you'll need to keep things at the same intensity for a while. You'll, quite likely, reach some points that, though reached, are too intense for any length of time and you need to drop back from. Finally, you'll also reach a point which is as intense as they are capable of going for today. Accept that, if you're really in to pushing things, wait - after a good experience, they'll probably be able to go further the next time.
Watching For Limits
During a spanking, it is not always possible for a submissive to call limits, or even realize they need to be called. Tears, sobbing, subspace, they all contribute to making it difficult for a submissive to get the words out. Beyond that, particularly with heavier forms of CP than spanking, you have the potential to do physical harm. Your submissive may well be enjoying every moment of it but, come the morning, or a week later, a black and blue bottom can simply be too much. You need to watch for when it has gone far enough and slow things to a halt, even if they would like more. Terrible isn't it, you have to be the responsible one - but you'll get to enjoy so much more in the long run if you are.
Finishing The Spanking
Once you have taken things as far as they're going, take them down slowly. If your submissive has called a safeword, let them know that that's OK. You can stop the spanking if needs be, but keep reassuring, keep stroking, make them feel that the whole experience is wonderful, that you're not just getting what you want from them.
]Getting a submissive to count, or speak in some way, is a common way of keeping them involved, feeling like you're getting some interaction from them and keeping things more intense for them. Common variations include getting them to count each smack out loud, starting a set from one if they miss a number, getting them to tell you when they're ready for the next (which can be very useful).
While talking can intensify things and provide feedback, kitten has complained that being expected to talk stops her from disconnecting enough to float off towards subspace. You may want to consider this and occasionally give you submissive a chance to be with their own feelings and see how they respond.
Stroking down between the legs, to labia, testicles, and all the other fun bits down there can add a sexy dimension to things. It adds another level of intimacy. This can be wonderful if you are an intimate couple but can be too much if you are not and the submissive was just expecting a straight spanking.
Marking, by adding the occasional much harder blow, can add a reminder of the event for the submissive, over the next few days. For kitten, this can be a mark of pride, something she delights in. For other subs, this can be way too intense. As a rule of thumb, never assume marking is OK unless your submissive has explicitly told you it is. You have the potential to scare them off completely with this.
The Golden Rule
"Too intense and they'll never come back, not enough and they'll beg for more."
Just keep things relaxed and you'll be able to fine tune things, then slowly build up to what is right for them, watching their every reaction.