Do you or some special person in your life thrive on compliments, get off on overt praise, or feel a sweet, special, tingly sexual response when kind words are spoken to you, especially during sex play? Is romance enhanced for you when you get verbal affirmation or worship from your lover for things they think you do well (especially sexually)?
Well, if verbal approval gets you going, you’re gonna love hearing about praise kink (aka affirmation play).
What is a kink?
According to Healthline, “A kink is anything that both falls outside of the typical boundaries of what society has deemed ‘normal’ sexually and is arousing.” In other words, it’s gotta be a little strange and it’s gotta turn you on.
Now, the fact is that whether something is considered weird or not is highly dependent on what your social circle or culture deems appropriate. Thus, as Healthline continues, “someone who primarily listens to country music (which doesn’t include much talk about anal) might consider their enjoyment of anal sex an anal kink, for example. On the other hand, someone whose favorite song is ‘Truffle Butter’ might simply consider their love of anal a preference.”
It’s also helpful to point out that some sexperts assert that a sexual kink, whether it's praise or degradation kink, isn’t just a preference. According to many, a sexual kink is defined as such when it’s actually required for someone to enjoy the sexual play.
For example, if someone has a praise kink, they may actually need it in order for any sexual activity to feel good — some folks won’t even be able to have an orgasm without praise, kind words, or a compliment about a body part. That said, according to sex educator Searah Deysach “other folks may identify themselves as having a praise fetish or kink and still be able to climax without it. It depends on the person.”
This can also be true of erotic humiliation, or sexual humiliation. In BDSM dynamics, some submissives may want this. For example, some people can only get off if someone is putting them down in some way, i.e. by telling them they’re a dirty whore, or a disgusting cocksucker.
For these folks, dirty talk and humiliation go hand in hand, also known as a degradation kink. It’s critical to point out here that ethical degradation kink involves the consensual use of these kinds of terms — terms that are almost always worked out beforehand.
On the flipside, for some, verbal praise is just the ticket to the big O … and beyond.
What is praise kink?
According to Gabrielle Kassel of Well+Good, “It’s not uncommon to blush (or awkwardly deflect) when someone compliments you. But there’s a portion of pleasure-seekers who don’t just respond to praise with their cheeks, but all their erogenous zones. Indeed, some folks get really hot and bothered when applauded during play, receiving sexual gratification in response to reverence—known as having a praise kink.”
In other words, praise kink isn’t just about one of your love languages being “words of affirmation.” It’s actually about how some people derive sexual pleasure from certain praise kink phrases (like, “Good girl/good boy” or, “Your tight pussy makes me love you even more than I thought possible.”)
According to Deysach, when you’ve got a praise kink, you get sexual satisfaction from being acknowledged or appreciated. “It is more than just a nice feeling one gets when being complimented,” she specifies.
Praise kinks often occur within specific sexual dynamics, such as between doms and subs. According to Angie Rowntree, founder of woman-centered ethical porn site Sssh.com, “In a BDSM [relationship], the more submissive partner often receives praise from the more dominant.” Now, it may also be the case that the dominant partner also likes being told just how dommy they are, how powerful or sexually qualified they are to get the job done. ;)
Praise also doesn’t have to be verbal, though that’s a popular way to deliver it. But sometimes it can also be expressed with a shoulder squeeze, kiss on the forehead, or simple thumbs-up.
How do you know if you have a praise kink?
Experiment! If you or your partner isn’t quite sure, then test it out. The way you know you’ve got a praise kink is if you get sexually turned on by hearing or receiving praise, especially in a sexual context. For example, if you think you may have a “good girl kink”, have your partner tell you’re “such a good girl” if you do something they like in bed. Then see how turned on you get from it.
Or, during sexy time, try giving your potential praise kink partner some exaggerated compliments, like, “You’ve got the greatest ass in the entire universe, did you know that? I just want to touch you and squeeze you all the time.” Or, “I fucking love how you do that; you get me hotter than anyone ever has in the history of the world.”
If you find that this kind of sexual praise or recognition actually gets your sexual arousal up, you’ve got a praise kink!
Why do people have a praise kink?
There are a bunch of reasons why someone might love being praised during sexual play. According to sexologist and queer-informed sexpert Marla Renee Stewart, one reason is that when that person was young, they weren’t complimented very much.
We tend to think of our sexual health as bound up in some separate box, but as any good sex therapist will tell you, the truth is it’s intimately related to our mental and psychological health and background. The wonderful thing is that this means that sexuality can be an arena for intense healing, if we’re able to recognize that and be vulnerable with both ourselves and our partners. For example, if you came from a home where you were rarely praised or felt seen as worthy or valued, you may get turned on by that feeling. And that’s actually a beautiful thing.
There’s also just the physiological response human beings have to praise: “Compliments flood our brains with oxytocin, a feel-good bonding hormone,” Stewart offers.
It’s also important to note that often when people ask why someone has a praise kink, they’re assuming that there’s something weird, different, or not normal about it. “But being kinky—or, more specifically, having praise kink—does not at all mean you are 'broken' or damaged,” says Rowntree. In fact, “having and exploring any kind of kink requires an impressive level of openness and emotional vulnerability that suggest someone has advanced emotional process and communication skills.”
This is similar to the idea that someone may think they’re strange or off for actually preferring audio porn or written erotica to visual porn, when the truth is that’s totally normal. Sometimes men in particular can feel like there’s something odd about them for enjoying listening to or reading sexy stories. This is simply not true; everyone’s erotic wiring is different, and all of it is valid!
Tips and fun ideas when it comes to praise kink
Here are a few fun ways to experiment with praise kink:
Check out what other people are doing ;)
One easy way to do so is to go on social media and check out what others are posting about on the subject. Hint: Check out the hashtags #kinktok or #praisek1nk on TikTok. It’s a veritable treasure trove of praise fetishes! You don’t need to witness intense sexual activity to get a good sense of what’s possible here.
Try it out via text
Verbal affirmation works in both spoken as well as written contexts. Yep, we’re talkin’ about sexting … but with that praise kink kinda twist.
Not sure quite what to say? Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not about elaborate eloquence — it’s about love and verbal affection. A few example phrases to get you started:
- “Last night was hot. You’re so freakin’ good at ____.”
- “Can’t wait to see you later. You look so sexy when you ____.”
- “You’re doing an amazing job at _____.”
- “I’m so proud of you.”
- “Your [part of their body] is delectable.”
- “I just can’t get enough of you.”
- “You get me so hot. I can’t want to see you with that [sex toy] in your [naughty place] later.”
- “You're such a good [girl, boy, baby, sub, dom, term of endearment, etc.].”
Try it out in bed
One thing you can experiment with is simple phrases like, “Good girl!”, “You’re such a good boy”, “You know just how to make me feel good” or even just, “Fuck, you’re good at this!” when someone is performing any kind of sexual act.
And those sex acts can be partnered or solo. For example, you could have your lover use a sex toy or two on themself and watch. “You’re doing such a good job” while they’re getting themself close to the edge with a bullet vibe or rabbit dildo, for example, can be incredibly hot … and maybe you can even take over before they reach their climax.
Of course all of these will depend on the person. According to Deysach, “Phrases like ‘You feel so good when…,’ ‘You look so pretty when…’ and ‘I love the way you…’ may also be used to explore or satisfy a praise kink.”
Try it out with precision
You can also experiment with complimenting specific body parts — or even aspects of someone’s personality. Often places where we hold shame can be a potent source of delight when it comes to praise (if it’s genuine).
For example, if a woman has always felt insecure about the size of her breasts, praise kink complimenting her on her tantalizing tits could be just the thing. Maybe you could also experiment with nipple suckers or other adult sex toys that focus on that area of her body, and be sure to praise the sh*t out of them as you do.
Or if you know your guy has never quite felt confident about his sexual prowess, telling him he’s filling you up like no one ever has, or that his oral sex skills are out of this world could really rev his engine. Giving someone positive reinforcement for pleasuring you well is also a recipe for an even better next time, amirite?
You’ve done such a good job reading this article! You’re absorbing and learning and growing and we’re so proud of you.
Did that turn you on?
It was meant to. ;)