Handcuffs are one of the easiest — and hottest — ways to start exploring BDSM. This realm of sex, shorthand for groups of sex practices that include bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism, is all about the sexy dynamics of power and even degrees of pain.
One element of BDSM play is bondage. Handcuffs may be one of the most widely recognized toys to incorporate into your sex life and are a great place to start if you're new to exploring bondage or restraints. Many couples enjoy using handcuffs to create a situation in which one partner is held in a particular position or connected to one spot (think: the bed, a chair, or another sexy locale).
Though these handy toys seem relatively self-explanatory, there are some essential things to know about how to use handcuffs during sex. Not only will learning the basics of using handcuffs during sex keep you from suffering scraped or bruised wrists (unless you're into that!), it will set you up to maximize the spice that some bondage or restraints can add to your repertoire.
Why Use Handcuffs During Sex?
Bondage and restraint during sex can be super hot. There's a reason this theme tends to surface among many people's fantasies. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine explored the frequency of different kinds of sexual fantasies. Results indicated that over a third of respondents enjoyed stories surrounding being tied up or tying someone up during sex. Over half of the women who responded (52%) said that being tied up was on their fantasy list.
The sense of being in control — or being controlled — during a bedroom sesh can be incredibly sexy. However, it's critical that before you embark on any new sexual journey with a partner, you have an apparent conversation about what's about to go down. Consent is vital, especially if you're planning on playing with restraints or any level of domination. It's always a good idea to establish a safe word — that way, any party can call an immediate stop if they're no longer comfortable with what's unfolding.
Creative Ways to Use Handcuffs During Sex
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of sex positions to try with handcuffs. But it's a place to start. Here's some inspiration for getting started using handcuffs during sex:
Behind the back. With your partner's hands behind their back, you've got unrestricted access to everything that's upfront. Standing, sitting on a chair, leaning over just the right way... it's up to you.
Over the head. If your partner is lying down, cuffing their hands above their head might be more comfortable than behind their back for an extended period. And you've still got a front-row seat to everything.
To the bed. Feel free to utilize a second pair of cuffs if necessary to attach each of your partner's wrists to the top or the bottom of the bed frame.
Leapfrog style. Spoiler alert: handcuffs don't just work on hands. They also work on ankles. Get creative with connecting your partner's wrists to their ankles to place them in all kinds of compelling twists.
Add in other sensations—no need to use handcuffs in isolation. Crank up the heat by adding a blindfold, temperature-based play (like ice cubes or refrigerated lube), or toys that create unique feelings and pleasure.
Spice it up with role-play. Cops and robbers? Kidnapped by pirates and probed by sexy extraterrestrial beings? You'd be surprised how much fun it is not to be yourself.
How to Choose the Right Handcuffs?
Not all handcuffs are created equal. There are multiple kinds of handcuffs or wrist restraints that you can use—generally speaking. However, experts recommend staying clear of the Halloween costume kind. They can easily pinch or cause injury. It's best to choose a pair of cuffs that were designed for the type of restraint you and your partner have in mind.
- Silicone and neoprene cuffs are soft, stretchy, and a forgiving place for beginners to start—bonus: no keys to lose.
Rope restraints or rope cuffs are flexible yet sturdy, mostly with sliding knots instead of buckles or other metal clips.
- Buckle cuffs use leather and fabric on their straps and are very adjustable.
- Metal cuffs with keys have a classic, old-fashioned style.
If you're starting, silicone cuffs are the easiest to use and are easy to slip out of or remove — should you decide that you're not comfortable or need a break.
How to Safely Put On & Use Handcuffs During Sex?
Handcuffs have the potential to cause injury if they're not put on or used correctly. It's essential to keep a few things in mind:
- Communicate with your partner about the plan and boundaries.
- Establish a safe word.
- Pick your position before putting on any handcuffs or bondage.
- Ensure they're not too tight. Handcuffs can cause severe damage to your bones, nerves, or muscles.
- Make sure they're not rubbing, burning due to friction, or cutting into your skin.
- Know how to remove them quickly if you need to — if you or your partner become uncomfortable, want to stop, or have an emergency, a quick-release method is essential.
- Never leave the room when someone is in bondage.
It's also not a bad idea to periodically check in with your partner to ensure that they're still comfortable and want to keep going.
No matter what kind of restraint you're using, it's essential to ensure that it's not so tight as to cut off circulation. If you feel tingling, pain, cold, or numbness in the extremity that is restrained, call a time-out and make sure everyone is safe.
Sex Toy Handcuffs
Handcuffs can absolutely be used to spice things up in the bedroom, especially if you're curious about BDSM but not quite sure where to start. Bondage and restraint can be a great starting point for exploring new power dynamics, sensations, and role-playing with your partner.
Communication and safety are paramount when you start exploring the BDSM realm. Be open and transparent with your partner about your interests, boundaries, and concerns, and be sure to pick a safe word. When all parties are confident that they're safe, then they're free to focus on the exciting and tempting dynamics at hand with handcuff play. Consent is critical every step of the way.
If you're ready to start exploring how some light — or more intense — bondage can add an exciting new twist to your sex life, we recommend that you take a look at these:
The classic metal cuffs — a sexy throwback to playing cops and robbers.
Sleek black metal cuffs — they match leather accessories very, very well. Then again, so do these silver ones.
There is no need to keep cuffs to wrists alone — get extensive control with the Position Master.
- Ready to mix in some other BDSM toys? This kit will get you started right.
What is BDSM? An expert guide to BDSM sex for beginners. (February 2021). Cosmopolitan.
How to use handcuffs during sex in the best (and safest) way. (March 2018). Cosmopolitan.
8 Mind-Blowing Facts About Sexual Fantasies. (November 2014). Women's Health.
BDSM and consent: How to stop rough sex crossing the line into abuse. (May 2018). BBC News.
Spice Up Your Sex Life With These Tied Up Sex Positions. (April 2020). Refinery29.
Blindfold Sex: 6 Reasons to Try It Tonight. (May 2017). Glamour.
Intro To Temperature Play. (July 2019). O.School.
How to Introduce Role Play and Fantasy into Your Relationship. (June 2020). Esther Perel.
Kink Guides: Handcuffs and Wrist Restraints. (April 2017). Feisty Fox Films.