Choking Etiquette 101

man choking on bouquet of red flowers

So you wanna learn all about choking? You’ve come to the right place. There are so many different ways to explore choking, but it’s important to do it safely. Very important. (I mean, we are talking about constricting someone’s airways here…) Consider today your crash course in choking etiquette 101. Let’s go!

*Safety Disclaimer: Choking can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. When and if you are in doubt, do not try this. This site and author are not responsible for any accidents if they happen. Be smart and know your limits.

Surprise Free Zone

Number one rule: Do not ever surprise someone by choking them. Perhaps you’re thinking it will be a fun and sexy surprise. Do you know what else it could be? Traumatizing. Even if you’re playing with a long-term partner whom you’re really familiar with, they may have past trauma which could be triggered by being choked. 

On a less dramatic, but equally unsexy note, your sex partner might just not enjoy being choked. Once your hand is already around their throat, it becomes pretty hard for them to tell you so. As with any sexual act, enthusiastic consent is of number one importance, and choking is no exception. So, repeat after me, “I will only ever choke someone who has given their enthusiastic consent for me to do so.”

Cool? Great—now we can move on to the sexy stuff. The key to a good choking going smoothly is for everything to have clear expectations, good communication, safety precautions in place, and of course, aftercare! Let me break it down for you: 

1. Expectations

Before playing, first, establish clear expectations with your sex partner. Ask how they would like to be choked (intense breath play or gentle), how long for, during penetration/orgasm/etc, multiple times during the session or just a one-off moment. 

2. Communication

Experiment with the agreed-upon choking, then stop and check in with your boo after trying it out the first time. You can keep it simple with a How was that for you? Could I adjust anything to make it even more pleasurable for you?”

3. Safety Precautions

In the next section, we will dive into how to choke safely, but first, let’s make sure you have established some safety basics with your boo. Any BDSM Play should involve safe words, however, with choking it can be harder for the recipient to vocalize than during other sex acts.

This is where hands come into play. One option is to come up with a “safe word gesture” such as snapping your fingers or holding up a fist. Another option I like is giving the person an item to hold, and if they drop it you pause the play and check-in with them.

Note: Health conditions should be discussed in advance. People with breathing or heart conditions, asthma, a history of anxiety issues, or past trauma around choking should all proceed with caution. Don’t be shy to ask your doctor if choking is something you could safely explore, and never explore any type of breath play while anyone involved is under any influences.

4. Aftercare

Aftercare is key to every healthy sexual experience. It’s the simple step of gently supporting the physical come-down after sex, and checking in verbally. You may want to snuggle under soft blankets, stroke each other’s bodies, eat some chocolate, whatever tickles your fancy. 

Be sure to discuss the sex itself, all of your sexy highlights, as well as anything that could be adjusted next time for even more pleasure.

Not All Chokes Are Created Equal

I cringe so hard when I see folks in porn or at play parties choking their partners by squeezing their windpipe. There is a right way to choke, and many wrong ways. If you’re serious about exploring breath play, I highly encourage you to check out workshops and classes in your local area. Knowing how to do it first hand is the safest option. Here is a basic overview

  • Gently press on either side of your partner’s esophagus and figure out the pressure that works best for them through communication.
  • Do not squeeze the front of the neck! This causes some seriously unsexy coughing and can damage their windpipe.
  • Check in with your lover and get feedback on the pressure and location of your fingers. They should always be able to vocally respond. If they can’t, stop choking them for now, check-in verbally, and dial down the pressure next time.
  • Do not choke your partner unconscious, even if you think you can do it safely. It’s much too high a risk, and truly cannot be done safely. Ever. 

Alright, kinksters. Now that you know the rules, get out there and get choking.

Isabella Frappier is an Australian ex-pat living in LA, who swapped gumtrees for palm trees. She’s a writer and a holistic Sexuality Doula, who specializes in body literacy, sexual sovereignty, and BDSM.

She is also a host on the popular new Sex Magic Podcast. When she’s not busy championing her sex-positive agenda, she—oh wait—she’s always busy doing that. Follow her adventures on Instagram.