How to connect to your kinky side

Do you have some secret desires you want to explore? Right this way!

Do you feel like exploring BDSM but don’t know where to begin? Have you always wanted to try something kinky but never had the right partner? Though it may sound daunting, I encourage you to claim this part of your identity and own it.

For more than a decade, I have been exploring the many wonderful aspects of kink, from embodied inquires in dark dungeons to theory and rhetoric in the hallowed halls of academia. Along the way, I have collected a few pieces of wisdom I’d like to share with you. I hope these pointers help you feel more confident as you begin your journey into the world of BDSM.

Read the article on Giddy.

Tell your partner

The BDSM acronym is a blend of three different terms: bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (D/s), and sadism and masochism (SM). BDSM encompasses a wide range of kinks.

For many people, opening up to their partner about their less-than-traditional desires can be the tallest hurdle to overcome. Whether you’ve been married to your partner for decades or you’re just starting something new, this conversation has the potential to end a relationship. That fear is real, even for the bravest among us.

I believe partnership means you are both on the same path together in life. Consider this: If you do not bring 100 percent of yourself—including the authentic, kinky version of you—to the relationship, then are you truly together on that path? You have to ask yourself if kink is something you are willing to sacrifice for the foreseeable future. Will forgoing kink fill you with regret?

If you do take this step, you may be surprised to learn your significant other might have kinks of their own. Whatever you decide, don’t wait until the action gets hot and heavy in the bedroom to bring it up. This conversation shouldn’t take place when your critical thinking is compromised by endorphins and sex hormones.

Focus on feelings over actions

Kink is an ongoing conversation with our desires, not a concrete list of scenarios we find hot. If you find the idea of broaching the topic of BDSM with your partner awkward, try focusing on the emotional aspects that attract you to it. Try not to think in terms of what you want to be done to you, but rather how you want to feel in a kinky sexual encounter.

When talking about your kinks, try to use “I” statements. “I want to feel vulnerable.” “I would like to use this toy.” This puts the ball in your partner’s court, without pressuring them to do a laundry list of actions to you. Together, you can come up with unique ways to bring these kinky desires to fruition. Who knows? They could take your idea, run with it and create an even better scenario than any that had crossed your mind.

Find your people

Many people feel more confident in their kinks when they have a community to support them. Social media has made communities like these larger and easier than ever to find. Entire platforms have been engineered for this specific purpose. On these sites, you can create a profile, list the areas you are into and easily search for like-minded individuals. And such platforms are not just for finding romantic partners; they’re for meeting new friends, organizing events, sharing anecdotes and tips, and much more.

Kinksters have it much easier in the digital age of information. Some people choose to lead a totally vanilla public life while carrying out their kink in secrecy. Others are proud of their love of BDSM and want to share it with the world. Leaning one way or the other does not make you more or less kinky. The decision to come out to the public is entirely up to you.

Educate yourself

Many activities under the umbrella of BDSM can be considered edgeplay, or actions that take sexual encounters to the limit of what can be considered safe. In order for you and your partner to consent to edgeplay of any kind, you have to be aware of the risks involved and how they could affect you personally. Understand your own ability and willingness to take on these risks, and accommodate accordingly. Have a RACK (risk-aware consensual kink) mindset when approaching edgeplay. RACK is one of several approaches to safety, and all participants in BDSM must determine the limits and safety measures that are best for them.

You may want to use BDSM pornography as a jumping-off point, but please do so with caution. Pornography is typically made by professional actors who have plenty of experience with their onscreen pursuits. You should not expect your scenes to look exactly like theirs. Porn often fails to depict negotiations and aftercare; plus, they edit out the boring stuff that you can’t skip over in real life. Pornography does not illustrate an accurate model for approaching BDSM scenes.

Make it your goal to be the most informed, ethical kink participant you can be. Learn the kinds of rhetoric other people use in the spaces where you play. Be mindful of people’s preferred pronouns, titles, protocols and customs. By educating yourself as much as you can on BDSM, you are showing a sign of respect to those who foster and protect the safe spaces in which you are able to express your kinky identity.

Once you’ve opened up and explored your kinks, it will become difficult to remember a time when you were restricted to “vanilla sex.” Life is too short to not live as your authentic self. Own this part of yourself, and I promise you won’t regret it.

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Experienced writer with a background in performing arts and creative collaboration.