You gaze in awe at the gorgeous bondage models, their slender limbs stretched into unbelievable poses by artfully placed rope, their faces enrapt or etched beautifully with suffering. “Well, hell,” you might think. “I could never be as good a bondage bottom as they are.”

And you would be wrong.

What makes a great rope bottom? This question comes up often in the rope community. You’ll hear answers like flexibility, stamina, an ability to surrender…and yes, those things do help expand the range of bondage play possibilities. You may hear about good communication, which is essential, since rope play even with experienced partners can cause nerve damage and other injuries. You may hear about being a petite size, which is utter bullshit. What you might never hear is the one thing I consider to be the most important of all:

Be honest.

“That’s it?” you might be thinking, shaking your head in disbelief. “How is honesty going to help me touch my toes to my head in a full backbend 10 feet in the air while spinning around blindfolded? How is honesty going to make me 20 pounds thinner so the rope doesn’t squeeze my flesh like an overstuffed sausage?”

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It’s not. But those things aren’t what makes a great rope bottom. A great rope bottom—a super rope bottom—is simply one who is an active participant in creating a successful scene. And what exactly makes for a successful scene, the kind that lingers long after it’s over, causing those sweet little shivers of joy at random moments? It’s one where you meet each other in a place beyond everyday mundanities, where you feel raw or intimate or connected or like the whole world is in its place. You see and are seen like never before. And that has zero to do with physical feats of derring-do or supermodel looks.

How does being honest help make a scene successful?

  • You will choose partners you instinctively and honestly feel good about, as opposed to playing with people because you feel bad about turning them down or for whatever other reason. It’s hard to have a beautiful, memorable scene with someone you don’t really feel good about (duh, right?).
  • Being honest about both your desires and limits (physical and mental) will help set the intention, help you relax, and help keep you safe. If you haven’t been honest that you’d like a sensuous seduction and you’re playing with a hard-core sadist, what are your chances of success? (Hint: not good.) And if you haven’t been honest about, say, your troublesome shoulder, a scene featuring many common ties can tank pretty quickly.
  • When you let your honest self shine through in the rope, the one who is scared or shy or thrilled or passionate, you open the door to that otherworldly place and invite your partner to enter with you. When you drop into the moment with your partner, feeling whatever you’re feeling instead of trying to be that film-worthy bondage model, seeing your partner for who they are too, you are summoning the deepest magic you have as a bondage bottom.
  • When you are honest with yourself about what did and didn’t work in a scene, and the things you can do to make future scenes better, you put yourself on the path to improvement. And having the mindset of always looking to improve—while still understanding that you are perfect exactly as you are—you will continually grow and contribute new and wondrous things to your rope scenes and partners.

Without honesty, you may as well be a sack of potatoes. With it, you offer your partner the most precious gift of all: your true self. With it, you become an empowered, active contributor to a wonderful experience for you both. In my opinion, that makes you the very best kind of rope bottom. (And btw, the bondage models whose photos tend to be so compelling are the ones whose honest, real commitment to their partner and the scene just radiates off the image, don’t you think?)

If you’re new to rope, check out Remedial Ropes, the advice sheet on Crash Restraint, and YouTube’s Evie Vane channel for safety info and tips. Happy and safe tying!

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Evie Vane is the author of Better Bondage for Every Body and The Little Guide to Getting Tied Up; has presented at Bond Con, TES, and San Francisco State University; and is a regular guest on Kink.com’s The Upper Floor. Stay in touch at RopeBottoming.com.

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Top photo of the author tied consensually: Ropework by Peter Acworth. Photo by True Blue of Bondage Erotique