While it might seem counterintuitive to an outsider, kink isn’t all pain and punishment – it can actually encourage deep emotional connectiveness, respect, and love between partners. It can be like doing a “trust fall” in a high school drama class, or like lifting weights at the gym while a spotter watches over you: physically demanding, scary, but ultimately exhilarating and heartwarming.
Here are 3 key ways that kink can help foster greater intimacy in your relationship(s)...
It requires openness and vulnerability.
There are plenty of social scripts and media models of how vanilla sex is “supposed” to look, so that type of sex doesn’t tend to require as much communication between partners as something more complex and “off the beaten path” like kink.
For some people, the communication that kink necessitates is terrifying. What could be more vulnerable, after all, than admitting your deepest, most taboo sexual fantasies to a partner, and asking them if they’d be willing to make those fantasies into reality with you? But like most “leaps of faith” in relationships, opening up about your desires can be a catalyst for profound intimacy if you’re able to push through your initial resistance.
The intoxicating rush of infatuation toward the beginning of a relationship is often partly predicated on learning more and more about your new partner, and discovering that you love what you learn. A similar type of rush can be experienced when you decide to start talking about your kinks and fantasies. It’s almost like falling in love all over again!
It can help you access deep emotions.
Not every kinkster experiences their kink as cathartic or emotional, but many do. The endorphins released during pain play, for example, can induce an altered state where your emotions may feel closer to the surface than usual. Likewise, kinky practices such as roleplay and power exchange can help give voice to parts of yourself that rarely or never see the light of day elsewhere in your life, which can be deeply cathartic in and of itself.
Sharing emotional moments with a partner can be wonderfully intimate and connective, almost regardless of what those emotions are or what prompted them. The more you tear down your emotional walls – by, say, crying at the end of a long flogging scene, or holding each other tight when flooded by intense love feelings during a bondage scene – the closer you and your partner may feel to one another.
It forces you to practice saying, and hearing, “yes” and “no.”
Many people have picked up the bad habit of hiding their actual opinions and feelings in order to make those around them feel more comfortable and at ease. While this is a noble thing to do in some settings, it’s not a very useful impulse in close personal relationships. It is imperative for intimacy that both partners be able to express, and accept, a “no” when that is what’s called for – and being good at giving and receiving a “no” also makes you more able to freely express, or fully believe, a “yes.”
Think, for example, of times when your partner has said or done something that pissed you off, and when asked if you were mad, you said something like, “No, it’s okay.” While you likely hoped to avoid harming your partner by twisting the truth, in reality a lie usually just makes you feel more emotionally distanced from each other and less able to trust one another. It’s hard to communicate concerns and reservations to someone you adore, but it’s frequently necessary in order to keep a relationship running smoothly and healthily – and kink is a great arena in which to practice those skills.
It would obviously be terrible if, for instance, one partner wanted to do needle play and the other partner agreed even though they had an intense needle phobia. But on the other hand, it could bring those two partners much closer together emotionally if the needlephobic partner felt able to simply say, “I don’t think I can do that, but how about if we experiment with scratching and biting during sex instead?” The more that each partner shares their honest opinions with the other (albeit kindly and tactfully), the more that each person can relax into the knowledge that their partner is comfortable and happy doing whatever they’re doing.