Ask someone what they think of when you say “kink” or “BDSM” and, even if they’re not into kink at all, it’ll be something about pain or rope or leather. You’ll also talk about sex and fetishes. A lot of people focus on what makes kink stand out from non-kink. That’s the fun part for a lot of us, but there’s another level to many kinky and fulfilling relationships that anyone can benefit from doing in their own relationship.
Kink and BDSM don’t work unless both parties are willing to communicate with each other. And you don’t have to be kinky for that to be good for your relationship. It’s both as simple as and as hard as doing very specific things:
It’s important not to be judgmental about what the other person is telling you. They may admit to a curious desire to something you find repulsive. Instead of judging them based on how you feel about it, let them know it’s safe to talk to you. We have a saying in BDSM: Your kink isn’t my kink, but your kink is okay. The same is true outside of kink. You don’t have to want something for yourself for it to be okay for your partner.
Undress the truth: fulfilling relationships are based around honesty
Communication isn’t only about sex, though. Sharing fears, concerns, and worries that you have at work, at school, in your relationship, and in life bring you closer to each other. You’ll develop a trust and a bond that comes with knowing each other intimately.
In a BDSM relationship, we discuss both hard and soft limits, as well as our desires. A hard limit is something you have no desire to try; it may even disgust you to imagine it. A soft limit is something that you’re unsure of, maybe even nervous about, but you would try it – at least once. This works when you’re not kinky, too.
“Communication isn’t only about sex, though. Sharing fears, concerns, and worries that you have at work, at school, in your relationship, and in life bring you closer to each other.”
Fulfilling relationships aren't always about sex. You may have a no-pet policy in your relationship, but you’d be willing to consider a goldfish. You may say you hate to travel, but if your partner was with you, you’d consider a road trip. The growth of a relationship is proportional to the growth of the people in that relationship. When you try new things, whether it’s a new sexual position or you ride a roller coaster for the first time, you learn something about yourself, and you grow.
Successful relationships, kinky or not, thrive on trying new things. It fosters communication, experimentation, new ideas, and new opinions. Every relationship can benefit from that.
The quickest way to break someone’s trust is to violate their consent. Most of the time, we’re talking about sex when we discuss consent. In a kinky relationship, not everything we do is sexual. Sometimes it’s about the kinky play – being tied up, being blindfolded, or anything not directly related to sexual intercourse. When you say no, whether it’s a clear, “No!” or a safeword like, “Purple banana!” or you don’t enthusiastically say yes to any activity, that lack of consent must be respected.
Behind the sheets: don't be afraid to talk about what you want in sex
It’s important to understand consent on a deeper level, for both parties. If you’re going to try something new, you’ll want to be able to give informed consent. This means that you have some idea of what to expect, what will happen, and what it will feel like. Your “new thing” could be a new restaurant, meeting someone new, or a new vibrator. We feel more at ease about our decisions when we have an idea of what to expect.
Saying yes to something blindly can lead to bad surprises. And having someone ignore you when you say no will too. It will also create a crack in your relationship that can be hard to repair, and may break your relationship. Consent should be informed, understood, clear, and, above all, respected.
In BDSM, there's always a top and a bottom or a dominant and a submissive. One controls, the other gives up control. One has the power, the other consents to that power.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that in the best BDSM relationships, each person takes care of the other. We fulfill each other’s needs as much as we can. We help each other. We build each other up, care for each other, and nurture our passions and goals. Every relationship can benefit from a bit of care.
Even if your relationship isn’t one you expect to last forever, while you’re together, genuinely try to make that person’s life a little better. It may only be better while you’re in each other’s presence, and it should never violate your own ethics and morals, but asking how their day went, giving them a hug, encouraging them in their goals – these are all ways to easily take care of someone.
Yes, compatibility is important in any relationship. If you didn’t have a single thing in common, things could get awkward and boring quickly. That being said, where you’re different there are opportunities to learn and grow as individuals.
“In the best BDSM relationships, each person takes care of the other. We fulfill each other’s needs as much as we can. We help each other.”
Don’t shame or allow yourself to be shamed for wanting or liking something different than your partner. Instead, use it as a place to begin a new journey for yourself, with your partner, or, if you’re interested in a more open relationship, with someone new. An open relationship won’t work without openness, honesty, integrity, trust, and constant communication in your relationship.
When people think about BDSM or kink, sex and fetish are usually the first things that come to mind. It’s what excites some people and turns others off. But there’s much more to kinky relationships than that. Look beneath the surface, and you’ll find bonds that run deep. Everyone can benefit and find satisfaction from the things that really make fulfilling relationships work.
Main image: Colourbox.com
Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. She hosts a weekly podcast, Loving BDSM, where she and her Dominant talk about loving BDSM in a loving D/s relationship and share what they've learned and experienced as a kinky couple.
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