One piece of research found one in three couples enjoy light kink and BDSM in the bedroom. Another recent study found 2/3 of women surveyed enjoy spanking. Kink and BDSM are not nearly as rare as you might think. Even so, many people find it almost impossible to talk with their partner(s) about these desires and even harder to ask for what they want.
What is a kink?
A kink is anything outside of normative sexual activity. Usually, that means anything other than oral sex, anal sex, and Penis in Vagina (PIV) sex. Kink and BDSM are often used synonymously but they are not necessarily the same. For example, transvestism (which is when a person of one gender gets sexual pleasure out of wearing the clothing of a different gender) is a kink but not part of BDSM. BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism.
People who enjoy bondage enjoy being restrained in some way—sometimes during sex and sometimes as part of a scene. Light bondage can include using silk scarves, or padded leather restraints. Intricate bondage can include Japanese rope bondage (Shibari), bondage including suspension (when someone is bound and suspended above the ground).
Discipline can include role play where someone is being disciplined for some imagined infraction. Many people enjoy role-playing headmaster/student, for example. Barehanded spanking can be part of a discipline scene though often implements like paddles, canes and floggers are used too.
People who enjoy dominance and submission enjoy playing with the power dynamic in the relationship. One person takes the dominant role and is in charge and the other takes the submissive role and is the one who follows the dominant’s lead. This can be something enjoyed in the bedroom only or in other areas of life too.
Danielle loves being in charge in the bedroom. She finds telling Marie what to do so exciting. She isn’t aggressive and doesn’t find physical punishment of interests. She prefers to direct Marie’s every move during their sexual interactions. Sometimes she likes to tell Marie to be perfectly still while she teases her mercilessly. The penalty for moving is that Danielle will stop what she is doing. Marie loves this arrangement as well. She spends her days as the CEO of a large company and adores being able to simply give up control to Danielle when she is home and it is playtime.
Most of us are not taught how to talk about sex when we are growing up. It is still such a taboo that sex education is almost non-existent in some places, and in others remains focused on procreation, avoiding procreation and avoiding disease. It’s no wonder we find it hard to talk about desires that are different from the ones we were told about in school or by our parents.
So how do you introduce a little kink?
Given these limitations, how can you introduce kinky sex to a partner without pressing too many buttons and with as little risk of rejection as possible? Step one is to be clear about what you desire. Movies, audio erotica and written erotica are all places to explore what might interest you. If you like movies, explore films on Frolicme, or films that are not x-rated or adult but that are hot. For example, the original version of Swept Away—a film directed by Lina Wertmuller, starring Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangelo Melato. This film explores relationships between men and women, dominance and submission. (It also explores political themes). It is extremely hot but not graphic. Frolicme has a wide variety of BDSM porn that deal with various aspects of kink.
If you prefer adult erotica, there are collections of short stories exploring every possible aspect of kink and most fetishes. This can make sharing the things that interest you much easier as you are sharing bite-size content instead of asking the person to read a whole book.
The story was that after the monarch Shahryar’s wife betrayed him by being unfaithful, he took a virgin bride every day and then killed her the next morning before she could betray him. Scheherazade was the daughter of the Vizier and she volunteered to be his bride. She had so many interesting stories, that he would let her survive to hear the rest. It was 1001 nights and 1000 stories. The king fell in love with her and so he made her his queen. I have clients play Scheherazade—find a kinky story to tell their partner. Make sure that they tell the story as though their life depended upon it. To be a true Scheherazade, you need at least 1000 stories so there is lots of research to do!
Once you have figured out what works for you, by noticing what turns you on when you read or watch or listen or simply fantasise, the next step is to introduce your desires into the relationship. This can feel overwhelming for some people for a number of reasons. The most common reason is fear of rejection by their partner.
Jamie has always been turned on by vampire stories. She watched True Blood religiously when it was on and it fuelled her masturbation fantasies for years. She has been married to Jasper for 20 years. Jasper never enjoyed watching True Blood with her because he said ‘The blood makes me nauseous’. Jamie was convinced that if she told Jasper about her vampire fantasy, her husband would be disgusted by her. She came to therapy to figure out how to revive her sex life with her husband. I suggested that she read some vampire erotica and consider reading her favourite story to her husband. The lack of graphic imagery meant that Jasper could get into the fantasy and he enjoyed the idea of biting her neck. Instead of rejecting her, Jasper became an avid fan of vampire role play.
Starting a conversation about fantasies can be a useful next step.
Many people find talking about sex with their partners extremely difficult even when they aren’t concerned about their partners rejecting them. Starting a conversation about sex should follow the same pattern as starting any conversation with a partner about something that is important to you. The first step is to choose a time where you won’t be interrupted. Set the scene so you can be both comfortable. In this first conversation, talk about the fantasies that you would most like to explore.
JJ and Kelly came in because every time they had a conversation about sex it turned into an argument. I had them talk about sex in front of me and sure enough, within 5 minutes they were arguing about who initiates sex more often. I set some ground rules for talking about sex. I had them set aside Friday night at 9 pm (after the children were in bed and asleep) until 10:30 pm to talk. I asked them to turn off technology. I asked them to create a romantic or pleasant space. Consider using candles, scent of some type, comfortable seating. I suggested they have some snacks and something nice to drink but to avoid too much alcohol. I asked them to start the conversation by each telling the other something that they really like that their partner does. JJ told Kelly he loves when she nibbles on his neck. Kelly told JJ she loves when he runs his fingers over her nipples. From there, I asked them to share one sexual fantasy each. I asked that they end the conversation on a positive note and set up another conversation for the following Friday. This became a habit. Friday night became ‘let’s talk about sex’ night and after a few weeks, Saturday night turned into ‘let’s try the things we talked about on Friday night…’.
Safewords are an integral part of BDSM play.
They make it possible for both the giver (often called the dominant or the top) and the receiver (often called the submissive or the bottom) to be safe and enjoy the play. Safewords are there because often people enjoy saying ‘no no no’ during a scene but they don’t really want someone to stop. Safewords allow players to make it really clear when a limit has been reached. The most popular safe word is the traffic light system. Red is stop now. Yellow is slow down or give me a break or back off a bit. Green is go. Safewords make it possible to push your own limits a little further.
If you want to explore kink and BDSM, you start by discussing what you would like to do and clearly agreeing how a scene will look.
For example, Mary wants to spank Roger. Once both agree that the idea excites them, they talk about what how the spanking will go including whether Roger will be naked, whether he will be lying on the bed or over Mary’s knee, whether she will use her bare hand to spank him or be wearing a leather glove. They agree that Roger will is going to be naked, lying over Mary’s knee and that Mary will spank him with her bare hand. They agree that Mary can touch him wherever she likes while spanking him. They decide to use the traffic light system for safe words. Red means stop right now. Yellow means back off a bit and give me a break. Green means go. They agree that after the scene they may have intercourse or they may not. They also agree that there will be cuddling as part of aftercare and that they will set aside an hour the following day to talk about the scene. During this detailed negotiation, Roger explicitly consents to being spanked by Mary while lying naked over her knee.
Both acknowledge that this consent can be withdrawn at any time and that the safe word is a clear way to end the consent.
Once you decide what the scene will look like and are clear about safe words, preparation will make it more likely that the scene will turn out well. I always suggest a decent night’s sleep before the scene. Having a lot of energy means having a lot of fun. I suggest a light meal because playing on a full stomach is like having sex on a full stomach, not a lot of fun. Eating nothing is not good either. You need energy in order to play. I suggest limiting alcohol or drugs. With BDSM, you need good judgement. When you are intoxicated, you do not have good judgement. I prefer nothing intoxicating when negotiating for a BDSM scene and when having the scene and this is what I recommend when people are engaging in scenes.
Not sure about pain, what about sensual play?
For people who are not sure if pain is something that will bring then pleasure, more sensual play can be the place to start. Some types of wax play are enjoyable and a bit spicy. There are special candles to use for wax play. Body-safe candles are essential. Soy is the safest and the easiest to start with because they don’t burn as hot as other candles. Paraffin also works but burns a bit hotter. Avoid beeswax as these are likely to burn. Unless you are using specific candles marketed for wax play, don’t use coloured candles as the colouring can change the burning temperature of the candle and lead to unanticipated burns.
Where you drip the wax, how close to the body you drip the wax and how much wax you drip will all have an effect on the intensity of the sensation. This is why it is important to be careful and to have a safe word. Make sure to have burn salve and/or warm water handy for unintended burns. I would avoid candles in glass jars as the flame tends to heat the glass while you are pouring and can cause the glass to burn your hand or even break. One person I know uses pouring teacups with handles to avoid the burning possibility. Tapers are the easiest to a user.
Jade was interested in wax play but afraid to start. Barry reminded her of when she had a paraffin wax treatment on her hands or feet—how nice the wax felt and the heat as it sank into her. He reminded her of sticking a finger in a candle as a kid and then peeling the wax off. Jade remembered the sensation as being yummy when the wax went on and enjoying peeling the wax off.
Barry spread out a plastic sheet on the floor because cleaning wax out of carpeting is a bitch. Jade tied her long hair up and put it in a cap to minimise wax in her hair. Barry started with the taper high, slowly dripping wax over Jade’s upper chest, avoiding her breasts, then down her stomach and the top of her thighs. He moved the taper a little closer to her skin and dripped the wax on her arms. Jade sighed and moaned as the wax landed and then cooled. After a while, Barry felt confident enough to drip some wax over Jade’s breasts. He created a pattern on her mons and her tummy, over her breasts. When he finally stopped, Jade was breathless with desire.
Other tips to using wax: Either get rid of any hair in the area you want to play with wax on or oil up the area first. Hardened wax hurts when removed from areas with hair (as anyone who has ever gone for beauty waxing can tell you). Oil makes it easier to remove the wax without pain.
If you are using a candle in a jar, let it burn for 20 to 30 minutes so there is a puddle of wax to drip. Always go slowly to avoid a piece of wax that is still on fire falling on to the skin and causing a burn.
Remove the wax creatively as part of the scene: Use a flogger to knock it off. Use a knife and scrape it off. (That can be incredibly sexy if the person using the knife knows how to use it so no cuts occur.) Use a comb to take off the wax. Peel it off if it is in a thin layer. Enjoy the wide range of sensations and possibilities.
Another light entry into kink is sensory deprivation
You can combine this with a spanking, wax play and other activities. The most common sensory deprivation play is using a blindfold. Different types of blindfolds provide differing experiences. A thick padded leather blindfold that lets in no light can be slightly frightening but the feel and smell of the leather adds a delicious element. A silk blindfold feels sensual and less threatening for most. Sensory play is lots of fun to engage in when you have someone blindfolded.
Martin blindfolded Jerry with a luscious silk scarf. He led her to a chair and sat her down. Martin had music playing to dampen the rest of the sound in the room, particularly his footsteps. He surprised Jerry by coming very close and holding one of her favourite colognes under her nose. He put on a leather glove and ran his hand over her cheek and chin. She loved the smell of the leather and the feel of it over her face. He rubbed a juicy strawberry over her lips and whispered ‘Open’. He fed the ripe fruit to Jerry slowly, juice running over her lips. Martin leaned in and licked the extra juice from her lips and chin. He ran his thumb over her lips then slid it into her mouth. Jerry slowly sucked his thumb and was treated to Martin’s moans.
Martin approached Jerry quietly and ran a Wartenburg Wheel over her shoulder, then her neck. Jerry jumped, shivered and moaned, surprised at how good that felt.
A Wartenburg Wheel is a medical device designed to test nerve reactions as it is rolled across the skin. It is frequently used for BDSM sensory play as it can be used gently so it only tingles or lightly pricks—or with more force so it hurts a bit. I find using a variety of textured objects can also be a lot of fun when someone is blindfolded. Fine sandpaper, for example, can be fun to play with. Temperature can be exciting. There are many sex toys that can be used ice-cold, normal temperature and heated. Glass and stainless steel toys work the best for temperature play.
Finally, it can be fun to introduce play with power dynamics into a relationship
The lightest way to do this is to agree that one person will be in charge and the other will follow all orders for the duration of time agreed. Before doing this, it is essential to talk about hard limits (things you absolutely won’t do), desired activities and things you would prefer to avoid. As earlier, establish a safe word. Agree how much time you will engage in this power exchange. Then be prepared. The person who is dominant needs to have a good idea of what they might do in the session. The person who is submissive needs to be prepared to let go of the control and do what they are told. This can take some practice.
Terry and Sarah negotiate an evening where Terry will be in control and Sarah will follow Terry’s rules and instructions. They choose the Red, Yellow, Green (traffic light) safe word system. The negotiated hard limits. Sarah said that she didn’t want to do anything that might leave marks on her body, nothing involving needles, knives, floggers or paddles.
Terry greeted Sarah at the door and told her to take off all her clothing. He buckled a leather collar around her throat, padded wrist restraints onto her wrists and padded ankle restraints onto her ankles. He had Sarah cook and serve a light meal naked except for the collar and restraints. After dinner, Terry took Sarah into the bedroom and restrained her. He spent the next hour teasing her and enjoying her mounting frustration until he finally pushed her over the edge into an intense orgasm.
After removing the restraints, Terry wrapped Sarah in a large soft robe, brought her water and fruit. While she drank and ate, and cuddled. Sarah talked about how much she enjoyed the tension. After a discussion of the parts they enjoyed, they drifted off to sleep together.
There are so many ways to begin to introduce kink and BDSM into your relationship without lots of anxiety and without lots of pressure. Variety is the spice of long term relationships so it is well worth trying new things. If you find it too difficult to talk, it might be time to get help from a sex & intimacy coach to work on getting rid of shame and increasing your communication skills.