The simple answer to that question is easy: Yes; getting kinky with your lover can indeed help improve your relationship! That answer, though, does come with a huge, sexy ‘but’, as in “Kink cannot exist without consent.” So says Elyssa Helfer LMFT in her very serious article “Working with Kink: Shifting the Clinical Perspective” in the February 2022 issue of Psychology Today, which was intended for her fellow psychiatry professionals.
“The moment that kink play pulls out of a consensual space,” she continues, “it is no longer a kink space. From the most mild to the most extreme expressions of kink, consent must always exist.”
So, if both partners consent, enthusiastically and completely, then couples should absolutely consider exploring their erotic fetishes and kinky fantasies. They can lead to some great adventures in the bedroom – or wherever those fantasies may take place.
In a 2018 sex therapy post on their website, Vantage Point Counseling Services of Dallas, Texas, points out that, in the wake of the 50 Shades of Gray films, “kinky sex has become popularized in a way that brings it out of the closet and into the light.” Just the fact that the trilogy of kinky cinema received the attention that it did when it whipped up more than a billion dollars in combined box office revenues worldwide indicates that its erotic romance message resonated with a significantly diverse audience.
“Couples are becoming increasingly interested and comfortable exploring the possible benefits of implementing kink in the bedroom,” the Vantage Point counselors state. “Yet, for many of us, knowing how to approach our partner about our fantasies is less than clear. We might fear a negative reaction, or don’t know where to start when it comes to actually bringing these desires into the bedroom. More importantly, we want to ensure that we are not sacrificing the trust we’ve built with our partner.”
The counselors recommend taking several steps to ensure that both lovers are traveling along the same passionate path:
1) Communication: Timing is a key component of successfully introducing kink into your relationship. Start by developing your “safe words” so either partner can easily signal it’s time to stop should they become uncomfortable.
“When talking about adding kink, pick a time and place with both of you aren’t pressed for time or in a poor mood,” Vantage’s sexperts advise. “Eliminate the distractions. This way you can both feel that you have the opportunity to speak and express your desires.”
2) Research: And when they say “research” they don’t mean surfing through a bunch of porn on the internet. “When looking into bondage, fetishes, or other kinky forms of play, it is important to research the topic in detail,” they recommend. “Many of those forms of kink have proper techniques that make them safe to practice. Doing research prior to approaching your partners might also help give them confidence in the adventure.”
2) Start with low-intensity and go slow: There is no need to rush, no need to spend six months building your state-of-the-art dungeon in the basement, or fully stocking up on all the latest and greatest BDSM gear (though, fantasizing about what you want can be a great jumping-off point for your discussions) before even attempting your first bondage in the boudoir. Start with a little light spanking before moving up to flogging, for instance.
“There should be no pressure placed on performing perfectly on the first go,” the Vantage article instructs. “Embrace the imperfections and laughter that might come from the first few attempts. With kink, like all forms of sex, it takes time to learn the right rhythm.”
4) Boundaries and Trust: You always want to know how to stop any encounter when it “crosses your boundaries threshold.” You also always need to have trust, so you want to ensure that both of you are working together to develop the kink you want to share.
If you’re looking for some psychological research that indicates whether or not kinky couples are happier, believe it or not, such studies exist. For example, researchers in The Netherlands have shown that “those who practice BDSM may not only be better communicators than couples who don’t, but also have a higher sense of wellbeing”. It was found that men involved with BDSM are ‘significantly less likely to report psychological distress’ than their non-kinky counterparts.
Additionally, researchers from the Department of Clinical Psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands “revealed that BDSM participants are less neurotic, more open to new experiences, and less sensitive to rejection than their vanilla counterparts. Women particularly were more confident in their relationships, expressed less need for approval, and were less anxiously attached.”
The point is that, if you do it correctly and wisely, you and your partner can get kinky, enjoy a stimulating and satisfying sexual experience in bed (or the most fitting location), and grow and evolve as lovers who have put a new “twist” or “bend” – the literal definition of the word “kink” – into their love lives by sharing a little kink time together.
It’s 2022, not 1852 or 1932. We as mature adults all understand that there’s nothing wrong with trying or doing new types of sexual activities, as long as both partners agree. In his 2010 article in Psychology Today “Is There Such a Thing as Kinky Sex?” Marty Klein, Ph.D., discusses how kinky and non-kinky sex are NOT opposites: “I suggest that kinky and vanilla sex are parts of a continuum, the wide range of human eroticism. We all slide side to side along that continuum during our lives, sometimes in a single week. We don’t need to fear our fantasies, curiosity, or (consensual) sexual preferences. They don’t make us bad or different, just human.”
One last sexy ‘but’ for you: But let’s not keep you in suspense – unless you’re really into that – here are “35 Kinky Sex Ideas for a Thriving Sex Life” that Rachel Pace wrote for marriage.com in December 2021 to help you get started. Circling back to our Vantage Point advisers, when considering layering a little kink into your relationships, remember: “Kink can be an exciting addition to any sex life. When you respect your partner’s boundaries and safety, you may find that kink is a new, fun way to rekindle passion, build trust, and improve intimacy in your relationships.”