With kink becoming more normalized & mainstream, people are starting to broaden their view of sex & sex play. Things like “BDSM,” “submissive,” and “dominant” are a common part of the conversation now, and people are able to experiment more freely in their sex lives without shame.. While kink becoming mainstream isn’t 100% perfect (no, your dom should not treat you like Christian Grey) kinky people are now able to be more open about their identity, if they want to be!
But even if kink isn’t your thing, the kinky community has a lot to offer that we can all learn from. Whether or not you have handcuffs in your dresser drawers, here are a few of the things anyone in a sexual relationship can learn from kink:
Consent is sexy.
Compared to vanilla sex, with kink comes added risk. Without making consent & communication a top priority in kinky activities, partners risk unwanted pain, bruising, boundary crossing & negative experiences.
Let’s use spanking as an example. Consider the risk for both bodily harm and emotional hurt ( a partner accidentally crosses your boundaries, etc.) all parties involved must talk before they play. Even better, take the time to do a little research on impact play–learn where is safe to hit (fleshy areas such as the butt and thighs) and where is not (anywhere near organs such as the kidneys, or the spine). Take time to talk about how the play will help your pleasure, what your boundaries are, your pain threshold, your safe words, and anything else you want included in the experience. Consent isn’t just a straight “yes” or “no”– it’s about making sure anyone involved in play knows what the limits are, knows what will increase their partner’s pleasure, and it always involves checking in during play.
Talking with your partner(s) about what they want in your sex life can be totally sexy, and not exclusive to kinky people. You’re making sure that their needs are met, that their pleasure is the best it can be, and you’re letting them know that you won’t try anything without making sure they’re cool with it first. Enjoy the communication! Take your time. Visualize it. Let the talk turn you on. When it’s go time, not only will you be excited, but having gained consent, you will be free from worries that you’ll mess up. Now, even in situations where slightly less discussion is likely involved, like how your partner enjoys their nipples touched, or if they want your fingers inside of them, open communication can become an incredibly erotic part of your sex life with your partner.
Preparation can be pretty hot, too.
Let’s imagine that you’re preparing for a scene involving spanking, but in this scene you’re also dressing up and role-playing as a teacher and a student. This sort of play might require you to go shopping, pick out special outfits, talk about how you’re going to do your hair, figure out where you want to play out the scene, and of course, get into character. All of this is prep that takes time, consideration and open communication.
In movies, sex happens in an instant. A couple passionately kisses, and within a moment, they are naked & climaxing. This is a quickie. And it can be hot, but that’s not always the mood you’re going for–and spontaneous sex isn’t the only way to keep your sex life exciting! Rather than focusing on whether or not your sex life is planned or in the moment, take time to make sure it’s fulfilling both you & your partner(s), and giving you the satisfaction & pleasure you crave.
Sometimes you want to take your time, set up a scene, and build anticipation. And anticipation can lead to some of the best orgasms. Maybe you’re not role-playing–that doesn’t mean you can’t build anticipation in your sex life! Getting ready for a night of romance, lighting candles, laying out rose petals, picking out sexy underwear, all of this is foreplay. And you can never have too much foreplay.
Rough sex doesn’t equal a lack of intimacy.
Kink isn’t always about pain play. But if we’re talking BDSM, or any relationship or play with an element of dominance and submission, there can be consensual discomfort that pushes us. Kink can include anything from name-calling, rope bondage, to just really rough consensual sex. With a partner that you trust, care about, and love, these sorts of play don’t degrade or weaken that bond, but strengthen it. In kink (and sex in general) we allow ourselves to be very vulnerable. If rougher activities aren’t for you, consider expanding your view of intimacy. Intimacy doesn’t always need to be soft and fluffy–it can be whatever fills the needs of you and your partner(s), and makes you feel closer together.
Aftercare is crucial.
Within the kink community, aftercare is a fancy name for checking in with one another after playing to make sure everyone feels good. It can range anywhere from placing ice on your partner’s bruises, to just cuddling and saying I love you. Use methods like verbal communication or consensual touch to check in with your partner(s) after sex to make sure they’re still feeling good. Give them the opportunity to let you know if anything was a little bit off, what they liked, what they didn’t & how they’re feeling now. And if everyone is happy, you can hold one another, relax, and doze off into a beautiful post-orgasmic slumber!
The pillars of communication, consent, & aftercare that exist in any sort of kink play are lessons that can be applied to any sort of sexual relationship to help increase pleasure, trust and comfort of all parties involved! Keeping the conversation open & fluid isn’t just for the kinky folks out there–making sure your partners are feeling good during sex & having all their needs met is important in all kinds of sexual relationships.
Blog authors all hold positions at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Collective (G&STC). For more information about our therapists and services please contact us.