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Primal Play

By CAGE Staff​(staff)     March 3, 2022

What is "Primal"?

At our roots, all of us humans are animals; we don our clothes, pay our rent, head to work, and act like (mostly) civilized people because that's what our society has dictated in order for us all to live comfortable lives that aren't focused on hunting our next meals. But before this was the way we lived, humans were just as "animal" as many animals - and at our biological core, we still are.

So What Is Primal "Play"?

So now that we know that this primal side exists inside of us, primal "play" lets us tap into that energy, consensually, to drop the civilized side of ourselves - and return to the hunter/gatherer/animalistic instincts inside of us. Think of it similarly as being interested in sadism. That part of you that likes to inflict pain might be inside of you all of the time - but you negotiate with a partner to consensually explore that "not civilized" side of yourself with a trusted partner during kink. It's similar to primal play.

"Primal" Seems Like a Broad Category

That's because it is - and it's intended to be! Primal play is whatever brings up those feelings of acting on instinct, and the activities that invoke that can be unique to each person. Not only does it depend on what the participant's bodies can comfortably do, but it also just depends on what feels like "instinct" to the two participants.

You could even make the argument that "fucking like animals" - acting fully on instinct and the sexual "high" - is a form of primal play. Instead of worrying about acting civilized, both partners are entirely absorbed in the sensations, doing what feels good to them, and getting the most pleasure possible. (Mating is "primal" too!)

In case it has to be said, though, primal scenes don't need to be sexual in order to be valid. In fact, a lot of primal scenes don't necessarily have sexual components to them. They can, but they don't have to.

If you're watching a primal play scene, you're likely to see a lot of these activities:

  • Play wrestling
  • Chasing
  • Biting
  • Scratching
  • Growling
  • Loud verbal sounds (screams, laughs, barks, roars)
  • Circling (this is a common "induction" into primal headspace at the start of a scene - like two animals getting to know one another)
  • Impromptu bondage (usually holding down someone's limbs or something super-quick)
  • Rough sex (again, not required, but some primal players like their scene to end this way)

You might see toys and BDSM gear pop into the scene on occasion, but for the most part, primal play scenes are focused on skin-to-skin, person-to-person contact – and taking time for elaborate bondage may take someone out of the here-and-now instinctual mindset.

So Does Primal Play Have to Be Super Active?

No....and a little bit of yes! The "stereotypical" primal play scene might include two people wrestling - or even a chase-and-ravish type of scene. Needless to say, both of those types of scenes can be physically exhausting - especially when you consider that a lot of other types of kink might take place while nearly-stationary (like impact play) or with focus on body-on-body movement (like strap-on sex or rope bondage). Most kink play isn't straight-up the types of movements you'd find in a cardio class.

However, primal does tend to be really active - partially because part of the fun of being the "prey" is being "caught" - and partially because some of the headspace we tap into with primal play tends to be some of the super-aggressive, "rawr!" sensation that you can get into.

That being said, primal play doesn't have to involve lots of running or sprinting - especially if your body isn't all that interested in that. Primal Play just involves tapping into those feelings - which can turn into being "active" in the way that your body is comfortable doing. Maybe that's really intense biting and scratching. Maybe you tap into unexpected growling. No matter what it is, with a primal headspace, you'll likely get into your role - and you'll go hard. Even if that "go hard" doesn't include running or wrestling, most people who engage in primal play scenes end up catching their breath after the scene.

Be Aware: Aftercare

While all scenes require aftercare in some manner (even if that aftercare is "I need to be left alone"!), primal scenes tend to require a whole heck of a lot of it. Partially because everyone is usually exhausted - and partially because the altered headspace of primal play requires some time to come back to the "civilized" world. Some snacks, some peace, and even some snuggles might be a good way to end a primal scene.

If you've watched a primal scene and really want to talk to the participants, make sure they're up and about, moving around, and having conversations with others before you approach. It can really take a bit to slide back into the mental requirements for normal person-to-person interactions.

What Do I Need for Primal Play Safety?

Before you engage in primal play, the biggest safety accessory is free: talking. You need open communication about what you're about to play with. Primal sensations can get, well, really primal. Realistically, this means that people might have a bit harder time talking to the logical side of their brain - and might be running on their brain's auto-pilot more than usual.

This means you both need to negotiate heavily, have verbal safewords AND non-verbal safewords (the two-tap tap-out popular in wrestling can work really well here - or a very loud and enunciated "STOP!"). If the scene will be a chase/far-apart scene, you can always consider whistles that are kept on bracelets on the wrists.

The point is, you both need to discuss what's going to happen, what you're okay with happening, what happens when you go into primal space (for you!) so the other person knows and most importantly: discuss any body injuries, pain points, or things you know will be instantly-problematic or triggering for you. In fact, if you can do this negotiation a few times before the actual scene - maybe even writing it up for reference a few times beforehand - your subconscious brain will be a little more likely to remember it.

Due to the risk of injury, the altered headspace primal play includes, and the rough nature of it, most people do not engage in primal play as a casual or pick-up play. It's pretty hard to negotiate all of these things on the fly - and the risks for problems or misunderstanding is high when you don't know someone – and you’re only communicating in growls.

Beyond that, safety all depends on what type of primal play you'll be engaging in. If you're biting and scratching, you'll want to ensure that you understand the risks of saliva and blood exchange - in addition to knowing wound care to take care of any wounds after the fact (saliva in wounds can be a good catalyst for infections, so make sure you know how to care for them!)

If you're going to get more physical and try wrestling, having good-quality wrestling mats will prevent skinned knees and rough impacts from joints. I'd also recommend really clearing the area you're playing with - I mean, really. Remove any furniture with pointy edges and try to pick the emptiest room possible.

The same can be said with any sort of "hunting" scene. Try to do it in as empty a space as possible, and essentially toddler-proof your area - block off all sharp edges, remove anything that can tip, etc. Humans are capable of a lot more speed (which means harder impacts) while on two feet, so if you want to instantly reduce some of the likelihood of injury, do your "hunt" with a requirement that both hands and knees need to be on the ground. Crawling speed will definitely hinder the potential speed you can run into obstacles - and will likely turn more into wrestling than anything else.

How Can I Get Started?

If you've never tried to tap into primal play energy before, I have a few exercises you can try out to see if they help you tap into that animalistic energy:

  1. Try going out to a park and playing chase if your bodies allow you. This is entirely non-sexual (and keep it so!), but when's the last time you played chase as an adult? Probably a long, long time. Choose one partner to be the "prey" and the other to be the "hunter". Allow the "prey" to set a reward for you if you catch them (maybe best out of 3 matches?) As this is a silly and fun activity out in public, you might not feel the sensations directly translate into arousal, but as you're chasing your partner, you might start to find yourself solely focused on the act of chasing them down and catching them. You might feel the endorphin hits that get you outside of your head and into the sensations. This type of single-minded, hunting focus is part of that animalistic instinct we were talking about.
  2. This one is a lot calmer. In bed, let the "top" be the big spoon while the bottom/prey is the little spoon. The bottom/prey should toss their head to the side to leave their neck open - and then allow the "top" to touch, snuggle, and get rough as the top enjoys. Have a discussion about what makes each partner drop into "primal" headspace beforehand - and try to incorporate that into the play.
  3. Alternatively, if you want to add more resistance, the "prey" can attempt to "get away" while the top holds them down for their snuggles, bites, touches, and scritches. It's entirely up to what works well for you and your body's capabilities.
  4. Clean off the bed ahead of time, and start your scene with the Top pushing the bottom/"prey" onto the bed after an intense make-out (cuddle/pinching/whatever-gets-you-going) session. Quickly climb on top of them - and make them "stay" underneath you while you both enjoy what helps you get into the headspace.
  5. Push the "prey" against the wall - and keep them there - for the start of a scene. (Watch their head when you push them!) The act of being so forcefully handled can really start a primal headspace for a lot of people.

Mistress Kay lives in the world of sexuality and kink. With a house that's quickly running out of space for things that aren't sex books and sex toys, she spends what free time she has writing femdom help articles (, trying the latest and greatest in sex toys, and exploring the sexual universe with her partners. She can be reached at Kinky World (

Wolfbait​(sub female)
My partner and I are naturally giving. We like to please each other and we do it well. For us, Primal Play gives us a chance to take instead of give. My Dom gets to play as rough as he wants and I get to let my naturally Bratty natural run away with me. He attempts to catch and keep. I attempt to evade and frustrate. Just some food for thought: We started slow and agreed to use safety words sparingly. Both of us agree that safety words gave us an out that took us out of our desired primal (fight or flight) headspace. We learned each other's limits in our post-play conversations. This was heavily discussed and thought through ahead of time. I know every relationship is different, but it really worked for us.
Jun 23, 2021, 5:27 PM
Tail Spin{working on}
Believe I would like to try this
Nov 9, 2021, 3:47 PM
primalsubmission​(sub female)
This is my lifesource!
Aug 18, 2022, 3:08 AM
Awesome.. Nice to know that I am far from alone-- or too freaky-- in thinking this or liking this. My preferences may be sexual in the idea of "mating" it is great to read that it is and can be not-sexual for many and that Primal is a natural mindset.
Aug 12, 2023, 12:58 PM