Whether you’re a woman or a guy, by now you’ve probably read - or at least heard of - the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon. The fastest-selling trilogy of all time depicts the S&M relationship between virginal Anastasia Steele and young business mogul Christian Grey.

What exactly made these books so appealing to women of all ages? The idea of allowing a man to tie you up and make you submit to all of his sexual desires seems to go against everything feminism and Gloria Steinem ever taught us. But
despite the scary descriptions you've heard about bondage in the bedroom, a little kink can bring you and your partner endless pleasure and joy between the sheets. Whether you just want to tie each other up, smack one another around, or go all out with nipple clamps and anal beads, bondage can be your new BFF in bed. (Read any dirty books lately? Find out why you should in Beyond "Fifty Shades:" How Erotica Can Improve Your Sex Life.)

Why S&M?

Just looking at those two words - sadism and masochism- put side by side is enough to turn anybody off of S&M. You’re probably conjuring up mental images of a fat guy called The Gimp tugging on his leash as he eye-fucks Bruce Willis in "Pulp Fiction".

But S&M can work for normal, run-of-the-mill folks as well ... unless you’ve been living in a crate underneath a pawnshop. That was probably The Gimp’s problem.

S&M can bring out a playful side of you and your partner that you’ve never witnessed. Plus, S&M and bondage is founded on mutual trust and communication, which can bring you and your partner closer together than ever before.

Bondage & S&M for Beginners - What You Need to Know

An estimated one in five couples dabbles in S&M and one in 20 engages in extremely serious role play. In other words, bondage is more common than you might think. Before you go bending your partner over a couch, let us give you a brief Bondage 101.

The most important thing to discuss before you invite S&M and bondage into the bedroom is boundaries. You both need to be on the same page when it comes to how far you’re willing to explore the darker side of sex. If you want to tie your partner up but he or she only wants to experiment with a tickler, it’s not going to work. As we said before, S&M is all about communication. It’s absolutely necessary for both of you to trust and respect one another’s boundaries. Before you get it on, sit down and have a serious discussion about what you want to get out of S&M and how far you both want to go with it.

It’s also important to have a safety word in the bedroom. This ensures that if things get too hot and heavy for one of you to handle, you can just say the safety word and take a breather. This word should have nothing to do with sex. "Turnip" should do it.

Toys, Tips and Tricks

So now that you’re ready to explore a bit of S&M and bondage in the bedroom, you need to load up on fun and kinky toys. If you’re new to all of this, start light and skip the face masks, bull whips and vaginal balls.

Start off with furry handcuffs or rope, a blindfold and a tickler or small crop. You can usually get a set with all of these included. Beginning with lighter, playful toys enables you and your partner to accustom yourselves to them in the bedroom and then move on to more serious gadgets if you so choose.

On the first couple of nights, just experiment with tying each other up and finding your individual comfort levels. Pay attention to if you like being tied up or doing the dominating. And be sure to communicate everything you are feeling and thinking.

Bondage Moves Not for the Faint of Heart

The more you and your partner explore S&M and bondage, the more you’ll be willing to test your boundaries. For those of you who want to push the limits, there are plenty of bold moves that S&M and bondage offers.

Ball gags are a fun way of keeping your partner silent. If you use one, be sure to come up with a hand gesture or signal that implies you want out - you won't be able to utter your safeword after all.

You can also get clothes pins to lightly clamp onto different body parts. Mixing pain and pleasure is definitely erotic and will make for an intense and explosive orgasm. Adding a bit of role play to the antics is also a great idea. Try having a dominant and submissive character, such as a teacher and student or doctor and patient.

Bondage Bringing You Closer

Not a lot of people would think that spanking and hog tying your hubby would strengthen your relationship, but it really can.

Women especially are afraid that allowing a partner to tie them up and dominate them in the bedroom will play out in the rest of their relationship, but this is not true at all. S&M is strictly reserved for the bedroom, and men who want to have control over their girlfriends in real life have power issues that should be addressed by a counselor.

If done right, S&M and bondage will increase the trust and faith you have in one another and open doors you never thought existed, including one to greater sexual pleasure. (Did the sex play in "Fifty Shades" pique your interest - and your curiosity? Read 9 "Fifty Shades" Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask.)