So you're interested in some kinky sex, hmmm? You're not alone in that. Sexual arousal is one of those thrilling mysteries in life, but there are also some tried-and-true ways many people get turned on.
When it comes to sexual kinks, the sky's the limit. And your sex life is part of how you express yourself. It doesn't matter what your sexual orientation is -- sexual pleasure is here for all, and we're all a little weird in our own ways!
What is a kink?
According to certified sex educator Javay Frye-Nekrasova, "A kink is a sexual interest that is outside of the ordinary."
What's ordinary, you want to know? "It's entirely subjective," says Javay Frye-Nekrasova (and countless sex therapists). So basically, a kink is any sexual preference or sexual practice that you really like -- that gets you off, perhaps. ;) With that broad base, it's probably not surprising that, according to sex research, close to 50% of people are interested in one or more non-traditional sexual acts, aka kinks.
Since we're on the subject, it's worth noting that a kink differs from a fetish. In Frye-Nekrasova's words, a fetish is "a fixation on an object or body part for sexual gratification," So, for example, if you need to have sex with someone wearing hosiery or who has a certain kind of body part to be genuinely turned on, that's a sexual fetish (and not a kink). One of the most common fetishes for men is feet, FYI.
How to talk about kinks with your partner
Real talk: Sexual kinks are super personal, and it can be difficult to share them. For example, it takes trust to tell someone you have a foot fetish. What if they laugh at you? What if they judge you as weird or crazy? Our sexual behaviors (or the things we want to do but never have) are often things we keep close to our vests because we're not sure how others will respond.
So when you want to talk about kinks, keeping an open mind is critical. You may hear things from a partner that you weren't expecting! And, of course, you both need to remember that consent is vital and can be revoked at any time.
For example, if you've always wanted to have a partner go down on you in a certain way, but then it's happening, and you feel strangely scared for some reason, you get to say no. At any time. For any reason. And within sexual contexts, you always want to track your partner to see how they're doing, especially if you're playing with edgier things like BDSM dynamics or a new sexual act. This is partly because when someone is triggered, they can freeze and/or disassociate, and they may not be able to say "Stop" verbally. As a partner, you need to pay close attention to their signals.
How do you get into the conversation? According to the Center for Shared Insight, "Like any conversation that might challenge you and your partners, finding the right time to talk is essential to successful communication. Plan for the ideal time when neither of you is tired, has been drinking, or is pressed for time. Perhaps a weekend morning when there aren't commitments, and you both are well-rested. Avoid having this conversation during intimacy, when you are both likely already feeling more emotionally charged, making it possible that one partner may be swayed by passion without fully considering their feelings about trying something new."
Then you can share that this is a vulnerable topic for you, and you imagine for them as well, so it's good to go slowly and be gentle. Then you can share some of your desires and preferences -- things you might like to explore -- and hear from them about how they feel about that and what some of their desires are.
Remember that you can listen and be enthusiastic about supporting someone's preference without necessarily being available for them to live it out with you. In other words, it's OK that they want something, and you can support their desire; it doesn't mean you HAVE to fulfill that with them. Going in, it's also good to know that this will likely be a series of conversations and that opening the door is just that -- opening the door to a whole new room of things to explore.
Here are five different types of kinks to explore with your partner:
1. Sensory deprivation
In a sexual context, sensory deprivation is often used to enhance intimacy, pleasure, and exploration between partners. Common ways people use sensory deprivation include:
Blindfolding: Using a blindfold to cover the eyes is one of the simplest and most common forms. By limiting sight, the other senses become more heightened, intensifying the experience of touch, sound, and taste. You'd be surprised by how much this does!
Earplugs or Headphones: Blocking out sounds with earplugs or headphones playing calming music or erotic sounds can create a sense of isolation and focus, allowing individuals to immerse themselves in their sensations and fantasies. This can be super pleasurable when combined with things like wax play.
Gags or Muffling Devices: The use of gags or muffling devices can limit speech and decrease the ability to communicate, fostering a deeper connection between partners as they rely on non-verbal cues and touch. If you explore this, choose a safe gesture or a safe sign since a safe word won't be available to the person gagged.
Sensory Deprivation Hoods or Masks: Specialized hoods or masks that cover the entire head can completely block out sight and sound, leaving only tactile and olfactory sensations to explore. Using hoods is often considered a more "advanced" practice within the kink community since it can leave a sub feeling quite vulnerable, so be careful here.
Sensation Play: Introducing various sensory stimuli, such as feathers, ice cubes, hot wax, or massage oils, can heighten the overall sensory experience and create a diverse range of pleasurable sensations.
Any form of sensory play in a sexual context should be done with consent, communication, and respect for boundaries. Trust is crucial for a positive experience for all involved.
2. Role Play
You might be familiar with roleplay concepts like one person pretending to be a massage therapist who the other seduces (this is fun).
You may be less familiar with age play when one of you plays someone of a different age. For example, one of you could pretend to be a student in the other's class in high school. Roleplaying with dynamics around "we're not supposed to be doing this" (it's taboo!) can enhance sexual arousal!
Sex educator Searah Deysach adds: "It's important to note that an age gap kink involves consenting adults (not children) pretending to be younger than they really are."
3. Group sex
Another common kink is group sex, also known as orgies, baby! Yes, for many, a sexual encounter only increases in its appeal as more sexual partners are added.
You don't have to "go all the way" to explore this kink. For example, you could attend a sex party with your partner and go for exhibitionism (doing it in front of others) or voyeurism (watching the sexual activity of others). Being around others who are more uninhibited can also inspire more of a sense of sexual adventure in you or your partner.
4. Dom/Sub dynamics
Things that live here include impact play (spanking, for example), but BDSM is about more than floggers and bondage.
While some people like a bit of pain with their pleasure, a lot of BDSM play is about the intense sexual attraction that happens when one person truly embodies the role of a dom. For submissive partners, sexual excitement goes through the roof when they feel they're being handled. A good dom is paying close attention to how a sub is responding, but they're definitively in charge.
They're directing (for example, telling someone to take a particular item of clothes off or do something with a body part -- like "take your breasts out of your bra and display them to me. Now pinch your nipples. Harder.").
Not everyone is into sadism (hurting someone else), but sexual desire is often piqued when power dynamics come into play. Another fun way of playing with dom/sub dynamics is to get a sex toy for couples, like a wearable vibrator. The partner wearing the toy is at the whim of when the other partner wants to give them a little boost of vibration. Some couples play with this on date night, others at any time of day (or night). It can be extra fun if you're not even in the same room when you press "play" on vibration.
5. Getting all tied up
Bondage play is at the top of many folks' sexual fantasy lists. Why? In part because, like the BDSM dynamics, it's exciting to consider ceding control to someone else … or being in total control.
One fun game can be to get sex toys involved. If you have a partner who has a vulva, for example, you could say, "I have an idea. I want to buy a new sex toy for you, but not tell you what it is. Then I'd like to tie you up tonight and test it out. How does that feel?"
If you get a yes, it's time to shop for a sex toy for women! There are lots to choose from, and of course, you can use what you already know about your partner and their turn-ons to get the right one. (Clit stimulators, anyone?)
You could even, for example, tie up both of your partner's legs, only one arm, put the toy in their un-cuffed hand, and direct them to use it on themselves while you focus on other areas. ;) It can be erotic to watch them (if they're comfortable) and get involved only when you feel called to. Maybe they have their first big O solo, and then more play happens afterward!
Sex toys for men and folks with penises are also on the table here, and there are many ways to go about it. If you've had that kink convo and heard a bit about what your partner might be into, it could be a fun risk to get a toy and then reveal it during date night.
As you can see, there's a lot to explore and no wrong way to go about it. It's also worth noting that if you're in a long-term relationship, you will likely shift your turn-ons, fantasies, and desires. According to author and sexpert Justin Lehmiller, PhD, who wrote Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life:
"Our sexual fantasies are in many ways therapeutic. They don't just help us to experience sexual pleasure, but also to cope with the psychological needs that we have at a given moment. And because our psychological needs change over the course of our lives, our fantasies, it seems, often adjust to correspond with those needs—and that may help to explain why the things that turn you on now may be very different from the things that turned you on in the past."
The biggest thing to remember is that healthy sexploration can be a fun and revitalizing part of your relationship and that sharing about what lights you up and turns you on can be bonding in and of itself.
Remember: Exploring kinks together doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to look like the movies. You and your partner will get closer if you're honest, take emotional risks, and hold space for the other's deepest truth. And, of course, have fun!
Gabrielle Kassel "20 common sexual kinks, according to sex educators, and why it's totally normal to have a kink", Insider. Published Feb 24, 2023. Accessed Aug 7, 2023. https://www.insider.com/guides/health/sex-relationships/list-of-kinks
Christian C Joyal & Julie Carpentier, "The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey", The Journal of Sex Research, Published Feb 2017. Accessed Aug 7, 2023. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289368254_The_Prevalence_of_Paraphilic_Interests_and_Behaviors_in_the_General_Population_A_Provincial_Survey
Sisi Wendy, "10 common sexual fetishes", The Cable. Published November 30, 2015. Accessed Aug 7, 2023. https://www.thecable.ng/10-common-sexual-fetishes