What do we mean by kink?
Kink is largely defined by the relationship between what couples are into in bed as contrasted with what society considers “normal.” In other words, stuff that much of the world finds weird. We typically think of fetishes when we think of kink–foot fetishes or slapping–but also BDSM, role-playing or sex toys. However, kink can be much broader and is only limited by the people involved in the sexual encounter. Kink can be endlessly creative and fun.
What is the difference between kinky sex and unsafe sex?
For us, this is about two key questions: Is everyone affirmatively opting in? And is everyone having fun?
Affirmative consent means that choosing the particular sort of sexual activity (or agreeing to engage sexually at all) is something both partners have to explicitly agree to. Consent isn’t a formula. Couples need to define consent for themselves: does it need to be verbal or can it be a look or a gesture? Introducing some new forms of play into a sexual relationship may, at times, best be done outside of the bedroom.
Fun, Creativity and Kink In Your Sexual Relationship
We understand sex to be a form of play that grown-ups (and mature, consenting teenagers) engage in together. They can be strangers, friends or married couples. Because fun is baked into our understanding of sex, we believe it’s a helpful touchstone for sexual partners when looking at the question of whether a given sort of encounter or fetish is right for them.
Most couples–whether they think of themselves as particularly into kink or not–could benefit from more creativity in their sexual relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean theatrical creativity, but perhaps the sort of thoughtful, playful co-exploration that happens in the producing of a piece of theater. There’s a script and yet, there are also endless iterations of how that script may be staged (including with script rewrites). Relatively square couples can learn a lot from kink even if some of its more risqué traditions aren’t their cup of tea.
In putting aside the norms of how sex plays out–relative to society or the habits of those in the relationship, all sorts of new things need to be negotiated. How can you be sure everyone is having a good time? How do we understand consent and agreement in ways that works with you? What if you go too far or hurt one another? What do you do with the fear that parts of your sexuality may be revealed to your partner (or to yourself, even) that may cause embarrassment?
Introducing kink (or expanding your sexual repertoire) necessitates that couples up their game around communication and work through their challenges in talking about sex. Everyone will need to be more assertive with their needs and limits, as well as more tuned in to what your partner is saying in this regard–all not so bad for the relationship writ large.
In couples therapy, we work hard not to make assumptions about the sort of kink one or both partners are into. We work to break down stigma and to support a couple’s right to decide for themselves what’s enjoyable. Often concern about stigma–a belief that a preference is weird–is an obstacle to enjoying kink.
But, What Goes On Around Sex Is Often Related To Other Issues
We believe that creating an environment in the therapy room to talk about sex requires as much care as creating the sexual relationship itself. By choosing to share your sex life with a therapist, couples reveal what is most often otherwise kept silent. Does sex or a particular kink feel safe? What’s needed to make it so? How can we be sure that both partners are okay talking about a given aspect of their sex life?
What goes on around sex (or what one partner would like to see go on around sex) is often related to issues other than sex. Looking at these connections can help couples have more fun together in bed while also providing insight into other aspects of the relationship where the couple may be stuck.