The human sexual imagination is endless, boundless. If you can think of an object, body part, or activity, it’s near-certain that someone out there has fetishized it. But despite all that wild creativity, a lot of kinks are just subgenres of some big, basic themes. Here are 3 of the most popular kinks, all of which are really umbrella terms for the hundreds, if not thousands, of potential kinky activities they encompass.
1. Dominance and submission, known as D/s for short, are two sides of the same coin – and that coin is consensual power exchange. People who like being dominant (sometimes known as doms) enjoy being in charge and directing the action of a play session; this may include inflicting sensations on their partner, and taking care of them both during and after play. People who prefer to be submissive (i.e. subs), on the other hand, are more into being bossed around and/or taken care of by their partner; some love to be consensually denigrated and put down, while others are more into being treated and doted upon. While these are some common archetypes of what dominance and submission can look like, in reality, many many people identify as doms or subs and practice power exchange in ways uniquely tailored to their preferences and relationship(s). People who like both dominating and being dominated are known as switches; their role of choice may vary in different relationships or at different times.
Some D/s kinksters only do power exchange in the bedroom, on some occasions and with some partners. For others, D/s may be more akin to a sexual orientation – an unchanging component of how they experience attraction and love – and may even be a dynamic they want to live out more-or-less 24/7 with a partner.
It might seem from the outside like the dominant is the one with all the power – because, indeed, that’s the fantasy that they and their submissive find hot – but, in truth, healthy and consensual D/s relationships are always thoroughly negotiated and based on the express desires of both partners. Communication tools, such as safewords and regular check-in conversations, can be helpful in maintaining and verifying ongoing consent.
2. Sadomasochism is, broadly speaking, eroticizing and taking pleasure in pain. Sadists get off on inflicting pain (hopefully consensually), while masochists enjoy receiving pain; some S&M kinksters lean strongly in one direction, while others are happy to play either role depending on the day, the mood, or the partner.
There are countless ways sadomasochism can manifest, from the mild (scratching, nibbling, hair-pulling) to the wild (electrostimulation, knife play, trampling). One of the most common subtypes of sadomasochism is impact play, the practice of inflicting pain by hitting someone with something, whether it be your hand, a paddle, a whip, a flogger, or a wooden spoon from the local kitchen supply store. Impact play, and especially spanking, can be a good entry point for beginner kinksters, because the action of it is fairly straightforward and you can clearly see and hear what you’re doing to your partner, unlike some more complex or psychologically-based kink acts.
Theories abound about why pain play is as popular as it is. Though there are some people – known as algolagniacs – who are neurologically hardwired to literally experience pain as pleasure, the rest of us typically feel pain aspain but find it arousing and enjoyable nonetheless. The endorphins released could be a major reason why, as could the sense of accomplishment afterward, the thrill of disciplinary fantasies, and the emotional catharsis that pain can prompt.
3. Roleplay is basically sexy improv. It’s play-acting a scenario that you and your partner(s) find sexy, for the purposes of pleasure, excitement, and connection. One of the great things about roleplay is that it’s extremely flexible: you can play a character who’s close to yourself – like a version of you from an alternate universe – or you can play any wild, out-there character it turns you on to embody, from a schoolgirl to a drill sergeant to an extraterrestrial.
Some people go all out with their roleplays, crafting intricate backstories, assembling costumes, and sourcing pertinent locations. But that’s not a requirement, and you should only go that far if it feels fun for you. If you have an open-minded partner who you trust, all you really need to do is say, “Hey, I think it would be hot if we roleplayed as [a starship captain and his underling / a mean girl and the loser she bullies / a horny doctor and a nervous patient / etc.]!” and then see where the scene takes you.
Deciding in advance on a safeword is important for all kinks, but may be especially important for roleplay because, depending on the scenario, yourcharacter might want to shout “No!” or “Stop!” even ifyou actually want the action to continue. Pick a word that’s memorable, and easy to say and to hear (even over, um, other sounds), like pineapple or cinnamon.
Have you tried any of these kinks? What did you think?
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