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Edging: A complete how-to guide

Charlotte Bayes

December 22nd, 2022

Whether solo or with a partner, edging is a versatile activity that can help you reach new levels of pleasure. Sex and relationships writer Charlotte Bayes explains how it's done.

Travis Barker recently went viral over claims that he and his wife, Kourtney Kardashian, invented edging. I can understand why, as the first time I discovered it I also thought I had, like some fifteenth-century sex explorer, invented it myself.

It was completely by accident – I was milliseconds from orgasm and my sister walked into my room, so I rapidly had to turn my vibrator off and pretend I was asleep (fooling absolutely nobody). When I started up again, that little build-up beforehand and the denial of release meant that, when I did come, it was the best orgasm I had ever experienced in my entire life. I then became addicted to it, thinking I had invented a secret new way to climax myself to death every night, stopping only when the batteries died in my vibrator, and I had to sneakily steal them from different appliances around the house. 

Simply put, this is what edging is: getting as close to orgasm as possible, and stopping. Then repeating for as long as you can stand to do so. Building up to the point of climax and denying it until you can hold it no longer and then – release.

But it’s much more than a fun solo affair; edging is actually a very versatile activity. It can also be a truly intimate act to try with a partner, and you can incorporate it into everything from more vanilla sex to intense BDSM play. It also doesn’t discriminate; however you can orgasm, edging doesn’t care about your gender or sexual preferences. Let’s explore how to add edging to your repertoire.

Solo play

“If you can’t (self) love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” This twee Ru Paul quote is overused for a reason. To be able to learn how to edge a play partner to within an inch of their lives, you must first master the art of edging for yourself. Luckily, it’s enjoyable research.

If you prefer to play with toys, then get out your favourite vibrator or dildo or sleeve – there is no set way to orgasm. Whichever way you prefer to masturbate, and whichever toys you prefer to use, just prepare to get tired; but remember the payoff is worth it. And no matter what genitals you have or the self-pleasure technique you choose, remember to use the appropriate lube (trust me here.)

This isn’t a quick “sort yourself out and go”. No: this is a luxury experience. Grab extra pillows, put on the diffuser, music, and get really comfy, because you are going to push yourself to your limits. If you haven’t edged yourself before, then you are conditioned to build yourself up to the point of orgasm and climax. But we are devoting ourselves to the cause of discovering edging now, and you’ll probably find a few things are likely to happen. 

One thing is that you might get spooked and stop too soon. That’s okay. It’s very hard to stop right before the point of orgasm, and, in fact, it is a pretty odd thing to go against your natural instinct in this way. So give yourself a bit of a breather and start again. You might find yourself starting from where you left off, or maybe you’ve fallen a little behind and need to work up again. Either way, relax into it and try to be in tune with your body, working out exactly when you are ready to orgasm, those crucial seconds right between you and ecstasy, and trying to stop promptly before you get there. If you can’t get it down exactly, this is still edging, as you’re still building up your orgasm – it all contributes. But practice until you get to the exact point just before climax if you want to get to the ultimate edging experience.

If you really can’t hold on any longer, then let go and enjoy that orgasm – you earned it. If you want to push yourself further, you could always try one more build up, or even time yourself and increase the amount of time by a few minutes each session, if you really want to go the extra mile. Remember to give yourself breathers in between build-ups if you are getting overwhelmed or over-excited, and want to prolong the experience. 

However, don’t stress about the process or get too tied up in doing it “perfectly”; rather, focus on your body and being present in the sensations of the build-up, in what works, and what feels good.

Playing with an intimate partner 

If kink/BDSM isn’t necessarily your thing, but you still want to try something new, edging is something that can be introduced and enjoyed in the context of a wide range of scenarios. It can be a deeply intimate act: there are few things sexier than knowing each other's bodies so perfectly to the point that you know when the other is literally on the brink of orgasm. It can also be the perfect way to submit to, or dominate, an enthusiastic partner.

If you are planning on having penetrative sex, foreplay is pretty much fundamental to take it from a one to a ten. Try edging each other through mutual masturbation so that during the penetrative sex you can release all the extra tension and build-up from the enhanced foreplay. Make sure to communicate with each other throughout, letting your partner know when you are close, when you need to stop, and when you need a break – not only is this integral to learning about each other’s pleasure, but it’s also very hot in its own right. In fact, when it’s time to come, why not try asking permission from your partner to orgasm?

Sex can be many things and doesn’t have to involve penetration. Manually bringing your partner to orgasm can be one of the most intimate things you can do together sexually. You don’t even have to edge your partner into a sweaty frenzy here – teasing and learning can be the goal. Build them up, listen, and react to how their body is reacting, or slow down when you feel them even start to climax, rather than cruelly deny them at the point of orgasm. 

Edging in BDSM

Whether you enjoy having the power or relinquishing it, controlling orgasms has been an intrinsic part of BDSM since people started getting kinky. If you want to try edging at its peak, then orgasm control could be for you. 

The idea of orgasm control is essentially someone in a dominant role physically controlling when someone in a submissive role orgasms by edging them, but they are not allowed to reach climax without express permission from the dominant partner. The submissive person can also be in some kind of bondage, which means that no matter how much they want to orgasm, they are physically unable to, even by their own hands. 

Orgasm control is typically performed with powerful toys like wands, as the idea is to get the submissive party so desperate for release that they are begging and pleading for it. This kind of play can go on for hours, as you get them so close that even a second of touching them can bring them close to climax, but unless they get permission they may not come. If you are the recipient when your dominant finally gives in to your begging, the release of orgasm can feel like nothing that you’ve ever felt before.

A versatile and – let’s be honest – fairly easy activity, edging is something for pretty much everyone to enjoy, an interesting move to pull out of your sexual arsenal, and one that can also be a way to learn more about how a partner experiences pleasure; and how you do too.

  • BDSM