Ah, the blindfold: A popular but still often underrated sex hero. If you want to get a little bit more experimental on short notice, you simply take a long, soft article of clothing—or a sleep mask that doubles as a blindfold—and tie it over your partner’s eyes (or your own). Instantly, you’ve elevated your entire experience.
Why? Well, a lot of folks believe that depriving one of your senses heightens others, but there’s another reason using a blindfold during sex endures. “Anticipation is like a different sense,” Cecelia Villero, M.S.W., sex and pleasure educator, tells SELF. “It’s not necessarily a physical one.”
When someone covers your eyes, you don’t know what will happen, and that excitement can make sex better. That said, there’s a lot more to do with an eye mask during sex than simply, you know, covering your eyes (although that works too). So we tapped sex experts to help you figure out 10 creative ways to use your blindfold. But before you tie a scarf around your partner’s eyes or your own, there are consent- and safety-related things to consider. Talk to your partner about hard limits, likes, and dislikes, Villero says. You can even come up with a safe word, if you don’t have one already, that will act as a clear sign to stop any sexual activity the moment someone utters it. And make sure your room is safe (i.e., there’s nothing to trip over and no unexpected sharp edges lurking around).
If you and your partner aren’t sure how to get started with this kind of play, Villero suggests saying, “Don't open your eyes during this little piece,” then introducing a blindfold from there. Once you’re on board with that, read on for a few more ways to step up your blindfold game below.
1. Blindfold your partner in a different room.
“Take it out of the bedroom,” Villero says. Listen, blindfolded sex can be exciting in your usual sexual surroundings. But if you or your partner is blindfolded somewhere unexpected (or blindfolded and carefully led into a different room), it can up the ante, Villero explains. “It can create a totally different sense of excitement because now you're like, ‘Oh, I don't know where I'm going to sit. I don't know where I'm going to stand.’” Doing this involves a fair amount of communication and trust, so make sure you’ve scouted the area beforehand so no one gets hurt.
2. Feed your blindfolded partner.
You might opt for the sweetness of a strawberry, the bitterness of dark chocolate, or the umami of a perfectly prepared sushi roll (no judgment). But, beyond the obviously different tastes to explore, bringing food into your sex life opens you up to other sensory experiences. “Different foods have different textures,” Villero says. Some good ideas? She suggests you play a game where the blindfolded party has to guess the food, but you can also simply feed one another. “Just try not to stick anything inside the body unless it's the mouth.”
3. Blindfold each other and masturbate together (or alone).
Sometimes, covering your eyes can help you release inhibitions, Villero says. So if one (or both of you) is a little shy, you might blindfold each other and touch yourselves. Or maybe one of you can wear a blindfold while the other watches. The idea is to explore your own bodies together without feeling self-conscious—which can help you enjoy the moment. Plus, focusing on just hearing each other can be a turn-on (kind of like phone sex).
You can also “try using a blindfold during solo sex and see if it’s pleasurable to you,” Amanda Pasciucco, AASECT-certified sex therapist, tells SELF. Knowing what feels good for you will only help you ask for what you need.
4. Blindfold your partner and go down on them.
This idea has likely already crossed your mind, and for good reason. It allows the blindfolded party to simply lie back and enjoy. Villero suggests starting slowly and working your way down—letting the anticipation build. (And if you happen to need a few oral sex tips that people with vaginas love, we’ve got you covered.)
5. Blindfold your partner and introduce a bit of heat.
“Some people are very much into wax play, but there's also limits to that,” Villero explains. “And that's part of the communication and negotiation ahead of time to talk about how much is too much.”
If wax play is a little ambitious for you, but you want some added heat, consider using a massage candle. Typically, these candles are oil-based so that the temperature is lower than hot wax. You can use the oil to give your blindfolded partner a massage.
6. Or blindfold them and play with something cold.
Sensation play, in general, is a solid way to expand your blindfold experience, right? And the opposite of heat play would involve something cold. Be forewarned: Not everyone wants an ice cube on their skin. So talk ice play over with your partner before doing something like going down on them with an ice cube. And if ice might be too jarring, try cold fruit on the skin or slightly chilled lube. Remember not to put food inside of anything other than your partner’s mouth.
7. Use your blindfold as a restraint.
“Depending on the style—if it's like Velcro or if it's connected all the way around–[blindfolds] can also double as cuffs for your wrists or your ankles,” Villero says, adding that it’s a fun way to introduce an element of restraint if everyone involved is okay with that. “Then you can switch it up and put it on your eyes.”
8. Use the blindfold as a “feather” on your partner’s body.
Your blindfold likely isn’t substantial enough to be a whip, but if it’s silky, you can still rub it along your partner’s body, Villero notes. (Or your own.) “So now you're utilizing this one tool in a variety of ways,” she says. You might find that this works best if you’re using a longer piece of fabric. Either way, think of it as a feather that you’re using to tickle your partner gently.
9. Break out your earplugs.
If sensory deprivation builds excitement and anticipation, using both a blindfold and earplugs will “kick things up a notch,” Villero says. So you might want to grab earplugs to heighten the experience even more. Here, however, communication is even more critical. In addition to having a word the blindfolded partner uses to express that they want to stop, Villero suggests coming up with a hand gesture as well. “A hand signal or tapping on a specific location can be other ways to communicate as well,” she says.
10. Involve a little aromatherapy.
You can absolutely use fragrant massage oils to enhance your blindfold experience, but you can also bring scented candles into the mix. Candles in the room can definitely create a nice mood, Villero says, adding that massage candles provide the best of both worlds. “You'll have scents, but you'll also be able to use these massage candles tactically as well.” You can also try a scented body mist that you spray on your partner’s skin to elicit different sensations and scents.
This originally appeared on SELF US | Patia Braithwaite