When it comes to sex, what arouses people and gets them off really runs the gamut. What works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for another. And one person's idea of kinky can be another person's idea of vanilla. But
how you bring kinks into the bedroom is a very individual conversation, or series of conversations to have.
“Kinks ... are created through a complex interplay that research doesn't fully understand of genetics, environment, and our experiences paired with sexually relevant contexts,”
Rena McDaniel, a clinical sexologist, tells Bustle. " Sometimes kinks come from our brains pairing an otherwise non-sexual, neutral object, body part, or situation with a sexually relevant context. These pairings can happen at any point in our life." For example, McDaniel explains, if you have a fantastic masturbation session on a blue couch, you could develop a kink for blue couches.
"Kink refers to something that turns you on, sexually, that also exists outside of our cultural norm of ‘traditional’ cis-heteronormative ‘vanilla’ sex,”
Jamie J. LeClaire, sexuality educator, tells Bustle. “It can look like anything from activities under the BDSM umbrella, to fetishes, to roleplaying. Because, culturally, we have such a limited scope of what sex looks like missionary, kink really encompasses a wide range of activities, fantasies, and desires.”
Although a 2017 survey of 2,000 people by EdenFantasys found that almost
half of Americans consider themselves kinky, bringing up that kink and introducing it to a partner — new or current — isn't always easy. Bustle spoke to women and non-binary folks about how they introduce their kinks into the bedroom. Here's what they had to say. 1 Morgan, 26
"I usually wind up talking to my partners for a decent amount of time before we hookup, so we already know what the other person is into by the point we finally get there. That buildup is 1) foreplay by itself, and 2) gives us time to hint at or actually talk about what we like, either in person or via text. If I’m not comfortable enough to have the conversation with someone about what I enjoy in bed, what kinks I’m into, and vice versa, then I won’t be having kinky sex or
any type of sex with that person at all. But I will say it’s much easier to drop a casual 'I’m into BDSM, using toys, and getting tied up. Hbu?' via text." 2 Anonymous, 24
"I remember that my biggest experience introducing kinks into the bedroom was when me and my most serious partner (first sexual partner) had broken up but we’re still sleeping together. That experience was already heightened because it was somewhat taboo and then, as a result, we kind of got to rewrite the rules of our sexual relationship and things felt way more intense and fraught. I suggested names we could call each other. Like I could call him "Daddy," and it was certainly a hit. It was a really gratifying experience of treading into new territory of what we were into. We haven’t slept together for years, but it was formative in understanding what I like."
3 Sarah, 35
"When I first realized I was into more kinky type stuff, introducing it to my partners wasn't easy. Especially because of the negative feedback I got back then. But now I won't go to bed with someone unless we're sort of on the same page. If I meet someone on a dating app and we seem to have a connection, I make sure we cover what we're into, in great detail, because I feel it's best to get that out on the table right away. If I meet someone at a bar and am bringing them home for a one-night stand, I make sure during that walk home we talk about it. I don't have to have kinky sex all the time, but because it is my preference and because I see it as a huge part of my sexuality, I really need to know that my partner, although maybe not kinky themselves, is open to experimenting."
4 Melissa, 26
"I bought these gorgeous gold hooks on Amazon a few years ago and have been using them in my room to hang my riding crop, floggers, and fur tickler so when my new partners walk in [they see it]. I don't need to awkwardly say, 'So, do you want to spank me?' The option is right there on the wall. Of course there always,
always, needs to be a conversation of boundaries, intensity, and general experience to gauge [how] and if I need to coach them how to use it. If they're not even excited by it, I'd rather focus on other things that excite us together. Some get nervous by it and opt not to play with them but that's the beauty of them being right there: if they do want to explore that with me, then they can, and if it's not their comfort zone, they can just look at it from afar. I tend to run in kinkier crowds and don't use Tinder or Bumble so I've never had someone so scared it killed a boner or anything." 5 Tawny, 33
"My partner and I are both in recovery, so we speak the same open, honest language. We’ve both learned how important communication is — especially in the bedroom. We began our exploration into kink in a pretty straightforward way, just like most of our conversations. I got us some handcuffs and a blindfold for a holiday gift. We immediately tried them out and were both very turned on — so turned on that we broke the handcuffs during that first use. This opened our eyes to trying new things out. We’ll see something in porn that looks fun, show it to one another, then we will most likely give it a shot. If there’s something that the other person isn’t comfortable trying, we respect that and don’t push it."
6 Eve, 25
"What I do is talk about what kind of kinks I have. I try to feel what kind of vibe my partner has and [if] they would be OK and compatible with my kinks. I also always try to find out what my partner likes so we can do things we both like and feel good about. The most important thing is that we both agree on things. Especially since we are into
con-noncon [consensual-nonconsensual sex, a BDSM scenario]. Usually I try to have the talk before our first time having sex, but otherwise I try to have it during sex by asking what they like and telling what I like. I always have a convo after sex to kind of 'evaluate' what we did and talk about what we both really liked about the sex." 7 Jamie, 27
"What has worked best for me is being pretty upfront. I mostly meet potential sex partners through dating apps, which makes this relatively easy. I don’t necessarily list out all my specific kinks, but I do mention that I’m kinky and identify as a bottom/sub/switch in my profile. The responses I get have, luckily, yet to become inappropriate. Usually, interested folks ask me some sort of question about my kinks or let me know that they are kinky also and that they think our kinks would be a match. With folks I’ve met naturally, I usually drop hints around them while flirting, and maybe discuss it a bit deeper if we rev up our flirting to a more raunchy conversation. There have been kinks I’ve discovered after already previously establishing a relationship with a sexual partner. In this case, if I feel safe and confident enough to talk about it in person, I’ll do that, usually by saying something like, 'you know what might be fun?' or 'you know, I saw this thing in a porn the other day and I think it might be fun to try if you’re into it.' Sometimes a text feels more comfortable. Something like, 'so, there’s something I’d really like to try with you (in the bedroom) if you’re up for it.'"
8 Devyn, 36
"Because being kinky is such a huge part of who I am, I stick to
apps that are kink-minded. I feel that staying within the kink community and among those who aren’t going to judge me is a safer space for me. When I was younger, I had too many partners who questioned me about my kinkiness, as if they were trying to get to the bottom of it. Although no one ever judged me outright, at least not to my face, that level of discomfort took away from what could have been great sexual experiences. I can avoid that and enjoy myself with people who are on the same wavelength as me. It’s in the community that ‘why?’ is never asked, so we can just talk about what arouses us instead of trying to unpack it." 9 Andie, 21
"I always introduce my kinks via text because it’s easier. I may not be able to see their facial reaction, but that’s OK. Since I meet most people on dating apps (does anyone meet anyone IRL anymore?), it’s when we start chatting that I let on to what I’m into. Sometimes I find that people aren’t a match for me when it comes to being kinky, but most of the time, even if they’re not where I am in ‘kinkdom’ they still want to explore it. Which is great! I like feeling as though I’m introducing a new lover to something that’s been relatively unknown to them."
There's no one way to have sex. So whether
you are kinky or you're not, the most important thing you can do is embrace it. Muting yourself and your sexual desires isn't going to get you anywhere.