For some of us, the words, ‘role play’ sends a shiver of excitement down our spines; for others, it’s more a chill of fear that reminds us of uncomfortable team-building exercises. But using role play in the bedroom is about much more than indulging your long-held and unspoken fantasy about that traffic warden who once fined you. By adopting a different persona, many people find it easier to open up and explore situations and practices that they would never normally broach, allowing them to experience greater fulfillment and also bringing them closer to their partner.
Role play is one of the most popular sexual activities. A recent survey by the online sex toy retailer Lovehoney found that 73% of couples had experimented with role play at some point in their lives.
But how do you get into it without feeling a little, well, ridiculous? Here, Lovehoney sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight offers six tips for beginners.
What Do You Want?
Ah, the age-old question. But if you're thinking about introducing a little bit of role play to your love life, it's important to think about what you want to get out of it. Perhaps you want to try a little bit of bondage for the first time, but are too shy to introduce it, 'as yourself'. In which case, a spot of police-themed play is an easy and non-threatening choice - after all, you'll need the handcuffs as part of the uniform, right?
Do you want shake up your routine, but aren't necessarily comfortable with donning a full costume? Something as simple as popping on a wig or a new item of clothing, going to a bar with your lover and pretending to be strangers exchanging lingering glances across the room will bring back that excitement without taking you too far out of your comfort zone. Consider as well the power dynamic that you're after. If you fancy the idea of your lover coming over all bossy and telling you what to do, role play situations that cast you as the submissive party are ideal (think secretary and boss, doctor/nurse and patient, or even master/mistress and slave). Fancy being in charge? Just flip the roles.
Talk it Through
Once you know what you want, it's time to discuss it. After all, if you hand them a skimpy firefighter outfit with no context, they may be a little reluctant to join in. Explain exactly what you want to happen in your fantasy. If they know exactly what you're after, it becomes easier to improvise around the 'plot' rather than just winging it, which could lead to both of you feeling uncomfortable as well as not fulfilling your desires.
If you're worried that they may feel a little slighted by your fantasy, and suddenly believe that you're lusting after every police officer you see, try framing it in the context of a dream that places them in the role you want. "I had a dream where you were a police officer who handcuffed my hands behind my back and then had your way with me" is a little easier for some to swallow than, "I want to have sex with a cop."
Plan Your Outfit
So now you know exactly what you want your role play to involve, it's time to pick out your costume. This could be a police officer, smart business suit, a nurse's outfit or just some fun fancy dress you have in your wardrobe.
If you're a little nervous about dressing up, there's no need for you to go all out first time around: just add some small accessories, such as a stethoscope, or a hat, to set the scene. As with choosing any clothing, it's important to pick styles that you'll be comfortable in. Take into consideration your body shape and look for styles that are similar to things you already wear, as this will help you feel most confident during your play.
Once you've got the scenario sorted and the perfect costume picked out, it's time to think about your set. Does your fantasy involve a desk? Make sure you've got one in easy reach, and clear it of anything that could easily be broken. Acting out a little interrogation? Dim all the lights except for one lamp to create the mood. By changing up the setting and adding a few extra touches, it makes it much easier to pretend that you're not, in fact, in your front room or bedroom, but are in fact in a classroom or prison cell, which will add authenticity to your play.
And if you get the giggles? Don't worry - it's meant to be fun, after all!
For the thrill of an affair without the moral ambiguity, why not try throwing on a wig to transform your look?
Arrange to meet your partner at a local hotel bar, where they'll play the part of an out-of-town business person and you a mysterious stranger. Make sure you've both got your back stories down beforehand so that you don't have to worry too much about improvisation.
Strike up a conversation, share a couple of drinks, and let the flirtation flow before the business person gets up to leave, and slides their room key to the stranger…
One of you is hitchhiker who gets more than just a lift with the added thrill of car sex.
Give your partner a location and they pick you up - perhaps demanding cash for some petrol which you don't have. How else can you reward them? Find somewhere secluded and explore your fantasies.
Annabelle Knight's new erotic novel, The Endless Autumn, is available from Lovehoney for £7.99.