When “D” in BDSM Stands for Dissimilar

Hot take: A majority of folks you date will have dissimilar sexual needs and tastes than you do.

Most couples I have met over my 40+ years have mismatched sexual needs. This can come in the form of frequency of sexual desire, needs around who initiates sex and how, what activities are desired, or a combination of all of the above. Being part of a sexually mismatched couple can range from mildly annoying to a massive issue in the relationship. My mother, a therapists, is fond of saying, “Sex may be only ten percent of the relationship. However, if that ten percent is not working, it can take over the entire relationship.” True dat.

What are you to do if you happen to be in one of these mismatched relationships? It depends on how you are mismatched. This post will focus on dissimilar kinky desires.

One Partner is Vanilla-ish, One is Kinky-ish

This pairing is more common than one might initially guess. You may have formed an idea that everyone is kinky – especially if you live in a major U.S. city. This is due, in part, to media representation of sexuality. Headlines like, “Almost half of Americans Consider Themselves Kinky,” “Kink Survey Says You Are Not As Deviant As You Think,” and ” ‘Unconventional’ Sex is Actually Pretty Common,” could lead you to believe almost everyone you run into enjoys some type of BDSM.

The problem with these headlines is that they are misleading. Reading through the stories, mostly reports about various sexual activity studies, you find that “kinky” or “unconventional” sex includes using sex toys, fantasizing about kinky activities (but not actually engaging in them), and sometimess things like “watching porn” make the list of “BDSM behaviors.” Depending on your definition of “kink” and “BDSM” these activities may or may not be included in your definition of BDSM or kink.

Read a little further and you discover reports of 30 percent of people enjoying spanking while only 13 percent enjoy whipping and flogging. It also includes information such as, by age 50, about 40 percent of all Americans have engaged in oral or anal sex. Turns out, the more specific you get with your desires, the less common they really are in the overall population.

Depending on the study you look at (of those conducted in the last ten years) between 20 and 30 percent of people have tried BDSM. That does not mean they have enjoyed the activities or wish to continue the practice. This is just the percentage of people who try kinky play.

The other reason people think so many folks are kinky is that we want to believe we are kinky. This stems from two competing psychological desires: the drive to be distinctive and the drive to be included. Kink and BDSM can meet both these needs. Thinking we are kinky in some form makes us feel unique or distinctive because we don’t believe many other people are into our kink the way we are into our kink. The BDSM community provides exactly that- community. We can feel included in a larger social group bound around a fundamental human need (sex).

So- we like to represent ourselves as kinky and we may be into a specific type of kink play. By most definitions in studies, most of us are kinky at some level. The chances of meeting a partner who is also into the same type of kink play we are is not very likely. However, enjoyment of the same kink isn’t a prerequisite for a long term relationship. Additionally, what drives desire and bonding goes beyond our specific kinky needs.

Discovering a Difference in Desire

We are all more “experimental” and willing to try certain things at the beginning of a relationship with someone we believe could make a great long term partner. Most of us don’t perceive trying a few new sexual activities as potentially threatening to our long term relationship. In fact, experimentation might open us up to new desires. Many of us have a higher sex drive at the beginning of a relationship. The newness of someone, getting to know them, getting to know their desires, wanting to be with them 24/7 drives sexual behaviors and is not really representative of how we will be two or five or fifteen year into a relationship (or two weeks of Shelter in Place).

At some point most couples find out that one of them is not so into a specific activity as the other. This may be a sexual activity. This can be power exchange or protocols.

We express dislike of activities in many ways:

  1. “Forget” or put off doing specific activities or protocols.
  2. Complain about sex in general.
  3. Appear to lose sexual desire in order to avoid specific activities.
  4. Develop “headaches” or other physical ailments in order to avoid undesirable activities.
  5. Act out (lash out, pout, become “bratty”) to avoid specific activities.

None of these approaches are helpful for addressing the underlying issues. We may be engaging in these activities unaware of the underlying cause (or your partner may be doing these things unaware of what is driving them). A partner who seems no longer interested in sex in general may actually just be reticent to engage in your current sexual activities. Their desires may be changing. There are many reasons other than, “You are just not into sex with me.”

If you are lucky or particularly self-aware you (or your partner) may be able to clarify they no longer enjoy a specific type of activity.

What is a couple to do when this arises?

Communicate

I know, it seems obvious. But communicating about changing sexual desires can be difficult. Very difficult.

To be able to talk to your partner about what is really going on, you need to be able to express it yourself (“Use your words” as some parent say). This means, you (or you and your partner) need to explore what you actually want out of sex and kink.

Most (if not all) of us enjoy certain sexual activities for reasons beyond the specific physical activity itself. We may enjoy receiving anal sex because it feels more submissive than vaginal sex. We may enjoy pegging because it feels like we are “putting a man in his place” or feels more dominant than other activities. We may enjoy protocols not for the protocols themselves, but because having rules allows us to feel more secure in our relationships.

Figuring out what drives our desires (and our partner’s desires) for specific activities can be very useful in rectifying a mismatch in a kinky relationship.

Spend some time separately working on expressing what you need/desire from a sexual relationship. Journaling is particularly useful in helping you figure out what you want from a relationship (journaling prompts for this are here). I also recommend both my Big Workbook for Submissives and Princess Kali’s Authentic Kink. Sharing the journal entries or work you do in these workbooks with your partner can help you communicate your needs.

Dealing with Stigmas and Social Pressure

When people talk about “social pressure” and sexual stigma, it is generally in terms of pressure not to have sex, not to be “a slut,” and not to “put out too much.” This pressure is present in a lot of American subcultures. However, there are also stigmas and pressures which come from our peers around what type of sex and how much sex we “should” be having.

In the kink world, switches are still crapped on in our online forums and in online dating apps. For some (stupid) reasons, kink people tend to elevate “true” dominants and submissives and treat switches like they are not “real kinksters” or “can’t make up their minds.” This is similar to the reputations bisexual folks have. The reality is, switch is just as legitimate of a kink identity as Dominant or submissive.

We also tend to like public play show-offs. People with the sexy new toys (read: expensive)and people who do more “extreme” scenes are seen as more “legitimate” kinksters than folks who enjoy a bit of spanking or cross dressing. Again, everyone belongs in the kink scene. If you get off on cross dressing and being paraded about in public you are as much of a kinkster as the person who enjoys being suspended and whipped with a bullwhip until bloody. We need to address our internal stigmas about our role as a kinkster before we can be really honest about our kinky needs.

Recognizing Our Needs Change

One of the brilliant things about the kinky world is our sex life is a journey! What you enjoyed at 22 will (most likely) differ from what you like at 42 and will differ than what you like at 62. Our body and minds change. Our experiences shape us. Our partner may change. It is completely necessary that we also change as a response to this.

I have a growing circle of female friends who were very much part of the kink world (some were title holders) who were very much into non-monogamy and heavy kink play. Over time they changed partners and changed desires. Several are now decidedly monogamous and kinky sex has changed both in the activities and frequency of play.

As our desires change we have to communicate those to our partners. Some of us will want to open a relationship and explore non-monogamy or polyamory. Some of us will go through periods where we want to explore monogamy. We all will change what turns us on and what gets us off in terms of sexual activity. This is the joy of being a human in the kink world.

Now What?

Once you have identified your needs and your partner has done the same, how do you rectify a sexual disconnect?

Find out where you align. Most couples will have activities or practices they both enjoy. Make a list of things you enjoy. Have your partner make a list. Compare and see where the overlaps occur [Bad Girls Bible offers a great list already formatted, here]

Identify non-concurrent activities and their importance. Activities and practices which do not overlap will have varying levels of importance. Rank each activity in terms of “very important, somewhat important, neither important or unimportant, not very important, unimportant.” This will give you an idea of what areas which you need to negotiate.

Important and somewhat important activities and practices should be areas for negotiation for both of you. Here is where understanding why you enjoy activities becomes important. For example, if you enjoy service acts as a form of submission but your partner is uncomfortable requesting specific activities from you, talk about the option to instill some household roles which encompass service. Would your partner who is uncomfortable giving service commands be open to creating a ritual where you bring her coffee every morning before she gets out of bed? Would this fulfill your need for service?

If is it a specific activity your partner enjoys- anal sex- for example and you do not enjoy anal sex is there a compromise? What is it about topping for anal sex that your partner enjoys? What is it about anal sex you do not enjoy? Would a slow process of anal training address issues of discomfort and pain? Would the topping partner be satisfied with aggressive face fucking (for example) instead of anal sex? Would inserting a butt plug into your ass before engaging in other sexual activities meet the top’s desire and address your dislike of receptive anal sex? There are lots of creative ways to address the needs of both partners.

When You Can’t Reach a Compromise

Sometimes one partner will deeply desire to engage in specific activities and the same activities are distasteful to the other partner. What are you to do?

If the activities under discussion are incredibly important for one partner to feel fulfilled, you may want to discuss options for opening up a relationship. Some people go for very narrow parameters of opening a relationship. For example, if one partner has severe endometriosis and vaginal sex is too painful to want to engage in with a partner but vaginal sex is incredibly important to the other partner, a couple may choose to open the relationship to a third person they both play with together.

Other times, someone may really need to engage in intense impact play. If your partner is absolutely opposed to impact play, you may reach an agreement for pick up play in the dungeon for one partner under specific parameters (e.g., no receptive sex, only with someone you both approve, only when your partner goes to the dungeon alone).

Finally, if opening the relationship is not an option under any circumstances, would one partner be willing to take classes or learn about a specific kink or desire? Sometimes learning the ins and outs of a given kink or protocols can help someone understand why they are appealing. There are a ton of resources for learning. I suggest starting with Kink Academy tutorials online and classes offered online by Wicked Grounds. Taking online tutorials is a lower risk way to find out about activities and and keep your partner (or you) anonymous.

#bdsm #kink #sexuallymismatched #howdoIgetmypartnerintokink #dominant #submissive #BadGirlsBible #WickedGrounds #kinkacademy #analsex #oralsex #dungeon #nonmonogamy #monogamy #tipsandtools #relationshipresources

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