It can be a grand disappointment for many folks whose sexual interests run to the vanilla to hear that a promising romantic prospect spends time in the BDSM world. They tend to fear that said person will only ever want kinky play and nothing else.
Now, for sure, there are people for whom that is true. Two people can be far enough apart on the vanilla to kink spectrum to just not be sexually compatible, and that’s best respected for everyone involved.
But not everyone who knows what to do in a dungeon is only happy if there’s BDSM involved in their sex play every single time.
That doesn’t mean that that experience doesn’t influence the rest of their sex lives, however. It’s just, generally, in my opinion, that it influences them for the better.
Here’s why kinksters make better vanilla lovers*:
- They are all about the communication. You don’t get very far negotiating scenes if you don’t know how to spell out explicitly what everyone is and isn’t agreeing to and how to ask for what you want yourself, or if you feel like asking how someone is doing is unsexy or breaks the mood.
- They understand, and celebrate, consent. This is, after all, the culture that brought us the idea of a safeword. They tend to be far less likely to assume consent, and not troubled at all about asking.
- They won’t think your desires are weird or gross. Face it, just because you’re not particularly “kinky” doesn’t mean you don’t have some unusual desires. Most likely your kinky lover has heard, and done, weirder. Even more importantly, they understand the distinction between a fantasy that turns you on and something you would actually want to happen outside of a role play.
- They know that the whole body can be a sex organ. Had trouble with people who want to just push on a couple particularly dense collections of nerve endings and be done? Much less likely with someone who has spent a few insanely sexy evenings in settings that don’t even assume your underwear is ever coming off.
- They don’t think sex is a race to orgasm. Plenty of kink scenes don’t end in orgasm, or even in anything usually described as “sex.” Others are all about the interminable tease. Some folks have play partners and lovers and never mix the two.
- They don’t assume sex has to include high-risk behavior. Wanting to take a super careful path about STDs or pregnancy, but not an abstinent type? Choosing a person who has intentionally embraced an expansive definition of sexual activity is good start.
- They understand power dynamics . . . and how to leave them behind in the bedroom. Sex is frequently full of power exchange. You don’t have to put on a collar or insist on being called Sir to enjoy letting someone steer and/or taking charge yourself for a while and crafting an experience for your lover. But it can make all the difference in the world whether the people doing the exchanging recognize what they are doing, can talk about it, negotiate changes if desired, and understand that these things don’t imply anything about roles out of bed.
- They aren’t afraid to learn how to be good lovers. Unlike with vanilla sex, no one assumes that you are born knowing how to safely wield a cat-o’-nine-tails or execute complex Japanese-style bondage. Therefore, serious kinksters tend to have done some research, found some mentors, gone to a workshop or two. Along the way they have often picked up a significant amount of basic knowledge about human anatomy, sexual response, and safer sex. These things are decidedly useful in a lover.
So don’t run away just because someone asks you what you think of handcuffs. You just might have a good time awaiting.
(* Yes, yes, yes. Of course these are generalizations. There are people in the kink community who completely fail to get any and all of these things, and there are purely vanilla lovers who are aces at every last one. So aspire to be latter, not the former.)
(This article originally appeared in the annual sex issue of Metroland, the Capital Region’s former newsweekly, on Feb 12, 2015.)