Maybe paddles and spankings have always caught your attention or maybe the latest fad of kinky movies has awakened a longing that you never knew you had. Either way, spanking can be a very intimate and arousing act. Whether you enjoy the visual of a person prone and waiting over your lap or enjoy the idea of a playful "punishment" for not loading the dishwasher properly, spanking can be a very enjoyable way to experiment with in the bedroom (or any other room).

However, doling out a strong spanking with a hand can start to hurt your hand too - and that's no fun. For that reason, a lot of spankers prefer to add a helping strike from a paddle. Long, flat, and designed for spankings, a paddle can be another tool to help you both enjoy a more fulfilling experience.

Safety Is Important

Just like any other aspect of BDSM, don't forget about the importance of safety. Before you and your partner begin any kinky activity, make sure that the two of you have negotiated and agreed upon a safeword. A word that doesn't belong in sexual activity (such as "celery" or "vegetable" or "red") makes it simple for both of you to know exactly when someone isn't OK with what's going on. After all, your partner might get off on the idea of getting to squirm on your lap as they beg you to stop, even when stopping is actually the last thing they want.

Once you've figured out a safeword, spend some time learning basic anatomy and spanking safety. As long as you stick to the fleshiest part of the butt, you shouldn't have too many concerns. Start off slowly and work your way up in intensity. Make sure to regularly take breaks to connect with your partner as you continue with your kinky fun. Be careful not to push too far. It's much better to not go far enough than to go too far and cause an issue.

Memorized your safety info and ready for the fun? Good. Now it's time to actually pick up a new paddle to enjoy your new spanking interest. Whether you're the spanker or the spankee, finding a paddle that seems like a good choice can seem overwhelming. There are hundreds of thousands of available options, and you probably only want to buy one or two at a time.

To give you a helping hand, I want you to consider these eight things before making your paddle purchase. (Get more tips in Safe, Sexy Spanking Tips for Two .)

Know Your Sensation Preferences

The sensation a paddle can make varies quite a bit. Some paddles are going to leave more stingy sensations that most people consider painful. Other paddles will sound hollow and will only feel akin to being hit with a thick cereal box with virtually no pain. It's up to you and your partner to talk about what type of sensation you both would like to experience. It can be hard to tell from a retailer's description, but try to read through reviews to see what other people have mentioned. As a general rule of thumb, paddles with less flexibility can cause more pain with moderate, even strikes.

Consider the Intensity and Marks

Some people have a hard limit that stops short of leaving any sort of marks on their skin. If you or your partner don't want to deal with bruises or any cuts, make sure your paddle won't leave any. It's pretty clear that a paddle equipped with spikes can leave marks, but you might want to read into the reviews to see if your full leather paddle might leave marks. Reviews tend to mention these things.

Think About Materials

Materials need to be something you think about as well. Does the idea of a slick, smooth leather paddle sound sexy to you? Would you rather have something more modern-looking and made from plastic? Paddles are available in a wide variety of materials including leather, plastic, wood, ceramic, faux leather, suede, and other materials. Don't forget to look for vegan paddles if that's part of your lifestyle beliefs. (Material can also have an effect on how the paddle feels. Learn more in What's the difference between a wood, leather or silicone spanking paddle?)

Analyze Your Partner Situation

How many people do you plan on playing with? If you're hoping to do spankings with multiple people with this single paddle, you want to a paddle that can be sterilized. In this case, leather and other soft materials may not be your best choice. Consider silicone or non-porous plastics for the highest degree of safety if you'll be sharing a paddle with multiple people.

Look at Designs

The style and color of your paddle can matter too. Are you looking for something that has a hardcore, BDSM-leather look? Would you prefer something soft and covered with faux fur ? Whatever it is, make sure to take your favorite colors and appearances to find a paddle that fits your needs - and your tastes.

Compare the Handles

If you're going to be delivering the spanking, you're going to want to think about the paddle's handle. The handle can make or break a paddle for both you and your partner. If the spanker has non-average hands, you're going to want a choose a paddle that is comfortable to hold. Some paddles may have especially large or especially small handles. Some paddles may also have very flat handles that make it hard to get a good grip on the paddle itself. Make sure to read the reviews of your potential paddle to find one that has a comfortable handle. Also, take a second to check the measurements of the paddle to make sure the handle will fit well in your hands. You won't look very enticing if you accidentally throw the paddle across the room!

Remember Discretion

Do you have other people in the house? Are you going to have to be concerned about hiding the paddle when people aren't around? If so, add discretion to your list of things to think about. You'll want a paddle that's small enough in both width and length to be easily hidden in a drawer or box when you're not playing with it. If you want to be extremely discreet, consider a paddle that doesn't actually "look" like a paddle - like a kink-friendly, reinforced ruler.

Pursue Cute Designs

Do you like the idea of having a paddle that no one else has or just something that really captures your attention? If so, you might want to look at some of the adorable and unique designs that are out there. Basic black doesn't have to be your only option! Paddles come in a variety of non-standard designs including animal-shaped paddles, fandom paddles, and even paddles with gorgeous needlework.

These suggestions are only designed to act as a spring-board to get you really thinking about what's important to you in a new paddle. With all of the options out there, I hope this helps you narrow it down to a few of your favorites. Now find a partner, negotiate, get consent, and enjoy your next spanking session together!