Ah yes, the words every girl wants to hear on a third date.
Choking, or “breath play,” as it’s called in kink circles, is about the thrill of deprivation. When the flow of oxygen is reduced, the sex endorphins combined with the return of oxygen gives the chokee a physiological and psychological rush. Of course, part of that rush is the danger that you might die, and it’s a very real danger, according to the internet’s foremost choking expert, Jay Wiseman, who advises against breath play unless you know CPR: “The primary danger of suffocation play is that it is not a condition that gets worse over time; what happens is that the more the play is prolonged, the greater the odds that a cardiac arrest will occur.”
Breath play seems to fall into an unusual taboo camp--articles mainly advise people not to mess around with it, at the same time as they describe its allure in great detail. The consensus I’ve gotten from several Chicago-area dominatrixes is that in order to safely practice breath play, one should avoid the neck, and anything that puts pressure on the carotid body or the windpipe. One Mistress told me, “I'll play with hands and nose pinching and masks, but I do not use nooses or garrots.” That’s good to hear because all those trips to Home Depot are starting to make people talk. There’s so few excuses one can offer when buying bungee cord.
As with any newish sexual partner, consent, trust, and communication are non-negotiable. If your partner expresses interest, you’ll want to start slow, check in frequently, and make sure that the one whose breath is being restricted has a way to, you know, ask you to stop. “Blink three times if I’m killing you,” etc.
It’s difficult to say where “lovingly choking” falls on the fun to death spectrum, but it is dangerous if you're getting into actually cutting off breath, so don’t do that. Acceptable forms of breath play, according to my lawyer, are yoga, Lamaze classes, and breathalyzer role playing.
Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Email your quandary to email@example.com. Need to give your dating life a boost? Sign up for RedEye Dating.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.