From viral home decor transformations, hilariously relatable skits about working in the corporate world, and fashion inspiration videos, you can find it all on TikTok — including kink content. On KinkTok you’ll find plenty of creators and stories you may find relatable if you’re kinky, tips from helpful sex therapists, and a whole lot of videos about praise kinks, aka the satisfaction that stems from hearing words of affirmation or encouragement during sex.
With 568.9 million views on the hashtag #praisek1nk, it’s clear this particular turn-on has caught TikTok’s eye for a good reason. “Many social media users may have not realized they have praise kink tendencies until they saw it defined by others via social media, which left them feeling really seen,” licensed clinical psychologist and certified intimacy coach Dr. Jacqueline Sherman tells Bustle.
If you’re wondering whether it may apply to you and your sexuality, experts weigh in on the viral TikTok trend below.
What Is A Praise Kink?
Whether words of affirmation is your love language or being praised feels like healing for your inner child, everyone can appreciate some encouraging words now and then. For those who have a praise kink, however, the appreciation goes a little further. “Someone with a praise kink experiences an intense level of sexual excitement from being praised, complimented, or verbally affirmed by their partner, especially during sex,” Sherman says.
While phrases like “good girl/boy” or “you do _ so well” certainly qualify as reactions that can feed into a praise kink, Balestrieri explains that other sexual behaviors can also satisfy someone with a praise kink. “Praise does not necessarily have to be verbal,” Balestrieri says. “Praise can come in the form of positive groans or moans, where you feel as if you are responsible for making your partner satisfied through your actions.”
Praise kinks can come in many forms, and can also be tied to specific sexual dynamics, according to certified sexologist and sex therapist Dr. Gloria Brame. “If there's a power dynamic, it could extend to obedience or a kink-specific act (for example, holding a position, taking a spanking, etc).” Sherman adds that someone with a praise kink could be either submissive or dominant, so it’s not tied to only a certain sexual demographic. If you or your partner are already kinky in your sexual relationship, exploring a praise kink together might enhance your activities.
Where Does A Praise Kink Come From?
While some kinks might be discovered through sexual exploration or porn consumption, it’s possible that others may be rooted in psychological or biological factors. “The satisfaction of acting through praise gives people the feeling of being needed or wanted during a sexual act, rather than feeling used,” Balestrieri says. “For some, earning praise and recognition can help to satisfy emotional cravings that they may be missing in their life outside of the bedroom.”
Similarly, Brame says that those with praise kinks are fulfilled by sexual praise in more ways than just their self-esteem; being praised during sex can be more meaningful to people who haven’t experienced enough praise in the bedroom before. It could also come down to your personal or emotional needs. “Some people have a personality style that is more prone to approval seeking,” Sherman says. “Partner approval can make someone feel more loveable, attractive, submissive, and/or appreciated.”
Why Are Praise Kinks Trending?
According to the comments on a video from user @okshesbr0ken_, outlining things to say to women with a praise kink, many TikTok viewers can relate to the experience. Comments like, “I didn’t even know I had a praise kink until today” and “But why [do] I get butterflies watching this” speaks to the ubiquity of the phrase.
Sherman shares that the trending topic might be making some people feel less alone in their sexual experience. “Perhaps more people enjoy praise in the bedroom than we may have thought,” she says. “When we feel seen, we are excited to share about that experience!”
For those who have a praise kink as a consequence of having missed verbal affirmation or encouragement in their lives, Balestrieri believes that its rise in popularity can help them fulfill that need. “Society and social media often create a landscape where people define their worth through external praise or achievement. Praise kinks can become one more vehicle for people to feel worthy and good enough,” she says. “This may be amplified for people who have been told they would be used for sex, or who have felt objectified or used. A praise kink can offer a course correction in that narrative, and feel very empowering.”
If this resonates with you, it’s worth browsing through KinkTok and gathering ideas about how to implement praise kinks into the bedroom. With consent and thorough communication, you and your partner can enjoy exploring new ways to bring the heat. As Brame says, “Figuring out exactly what turns you on means you have a way better chance of asking for and getting it.”
Dr. Kate Balestrieri, licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist
Dr. Jacqueline Sherman, licensed clinical psychologist and intimacy & relationship coach
Dr. Gloria Brame, certified sexologist and sex therapist