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Gone Neckin’: The Proper Way to Choke Someone in Bed

Choking can be incredibly hot and sensual when done correctly, but there are a few things you need to know before you get there

The phrase “choke me, daddy” has become a mainstay of meme culture over the last few years. From horny Biden-Obama fan-fiction to Argentinian subreddits about pastries, these three words are all over the internet as a light-hearted, stand-in term for kinky fantasies.

Memes aside, though, there’s plenty to consider when it comes to testing out choking in the flesh (in BDSM circles, it’s known as “breath play”). When done right, a little choking can amplify power dynamics and add a seriously sexy thrill to your regular routine. But if it goes wrong, you could be wheeled out of your bedroom butt-naked with a ruptured windpipe.

That said, there’s no need to panic — all it takes is a little research, some detailed dirty talk and a few key tips to truly nail breath play. Whether you’re “daddy” or not, here’s what you need to know.

Talk About It

It should be obvious, but you definitely shouldn’t be wrapping your hands around your partner’s neck unprompted or without prior discussion. Naturally, the first step is to communicate clearly and talk dirty about what you actually want. In the right hands, doing so can open up a world of possibilities. “I had my first breath play experience when I was maybe 17,” says New York-based dominatrix Victoria Silver. “I was seeing someone who asked me to choke them, and showed me how to do it properly. It blossomed into a whole world of kink — face-sitting, poppers, choking, rebreathers.”

Such communication is key. “We really encourage you to have a clear and respectful conversation with your partner,” says Isabelle Uren, resident sex educator at sex toy site BedBible. “Have a chat about what you both want to gain from choking, and understand each other’s limits and boundaries.” Is it the rush of danger you’re after, or is the choking more about amplifying the horniness of the “dominant/submissive” roles in the bedroom? Do you like the head rush it brings? Does it feel intimate to you? 

Likewise, how far do you want the choking to go? Is it just a little light pressure you’re after, or do you want to see stars? If you’re the top (i.e., the person doing the choking) how far are you comfortable going, and how do you want your bottom (i.e., the person being choked) to signal when to stop? Being explicit about what each of you want will make choking safer and more enjoyable for both of you. 

BDSM specialist classes — usually held at dungeons or sex clubs — can also be fun, intimate kick-starters, and some dominatrixes are happy to offer them privately, too. “Don’t be afraid to contact pro-dominants and tip us for advice or classes,” says Silver. “It’s always better to get your information from an expert.”

Learn How to Do It

When it comes to choking, the trick is to aim for the sides of the neck, not the windpipe — it’s made of tissue that can easily collapse under pressure. “You want to restrict blood flow from carotid arteries, where oxygen-rich blood flows to your head and brain,” explains Uren. To do so, “keep the focus on applying pressure to the sides of your partner’s neck, just below the jawline.” 

Because everyone likes different pressure levels, it can help to practice on yourself or with a partner so you know your limits. Uren advises starting with a “gentle grip” and “building up the pressure.” Once you’re settled into a rhythm, be sure to go at 5 to 10 second intervals, as “constant pressure can actually injure your partner.” It’s usually best to do this in a non-sexual setting first, both to break the ice and gauge each other’s limits in a safe environment. It can wind up being pretty intimate as well, and will only make the actual breath play even hotter once you get down to it.

Learn What Not to Do

Before you even try choking, you need to understand the potential dangers. “There’s always a risk when it comes to choking someone, but being clued in is the best way to stay safe,” Uren continues. “Your neck isn’t built to handle excessive weight, so never press down with both hands tightly around it. This can permanently damage the windpipe and lead to an emergency medical situation — probably not the kinky vibe you were going for!” 

Likewise, props such as cloth, belts and cord might seem like sexy extras, but they make it easy to lose track of how much pressure is being applied. “It can be kinkier,” Uren cautions, “but it can have fatal consequences.” In part, that’s because these items can put pressure on the windpipe, which is, again, not what you’re going for. 

If you’re absolutely desperate to try these extras, take things at an even slower pace and go even lighter than usual. The biggest issue is that it’s hard to know when you’re being too rough, so prioritize communication and take more caution than you would with your bare hands.

Figure Out a Safety System

“Safe words” — code words which mean “stop” — are common in kink, but they’re hardly ideal if you can barely breathe. Instead, Uren recommends a safe “tap,” so you can “tap out” if “daddy” gets carried away. If that doesn’t work for you, plan another physical safeword the person being choked can use to signal that they’ve had enough. 

“Body language is important, too,” says Silver. “Is your partner unable to speak? Pay attention to their actions. If they thrash around, they probably need to breathe.” In her eyes, the tap system is the best workaround. “My partner and I use a tap system: two for ease up, three for stop.”

Consider Toys and Other Extras 

If you’ve tried a little light, horny choking and enjoyed it, there are ways to make things even more interesting, although Silver cautions never to integrate toys you’re unfamiliar with. “Add a set of handcuffs to really level up the power dynamics, or incorporate a wearable sex toy such as an egg vibrator or prostate massager,” Uren recommends. “If you’re going for the full sensory experience, try a blindfold to make all those sensations stand out even more.”

As long as you’re both clued in and in full control, these sexy experiments could leave you breathless in the best way possible.