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How To Talk About Kinks With Your Partner, According To A Her Campus Editor

Today, we’re talking about how to talk to a partner about a new kink. In Ask An Editor, Her Campus Editors answer readers’ questions about how to be a human. This month, Her Campus’s Deputy Editor, Iman Hariri-Kia, hosts office hours. 

Dear Editor,​

How do I approach talking about my kinks with my partner?

Sincerely, 

Feeling Restrained

Dear Feeling Restrained,

Alright, I’ll say it: Raise your hand if you joined BookTok in 2020 with the innocent goal of adding to your TBR, but ended up discovering, like, five new kinks. Defined as an unconventional sexual taste or behavior, kinks, like all facets of sexuality, are ever evolving and fluid. As human beings, we grow in and out kinks, exploring our sexual pleasure consenually with our different partner(s). What you like in bed might change day to day or partner to partner, and that’s 100% OK. 

Communicating a new kink to a partner, however, can feel trickier than exploring said kink by yourself through spicy literature, audio erotica, or pornography. The key to establishing a safe space to experiment with kink is starting an open and honest dialogue with your partner, which can allow them to ask questions and communicate their own boundaries. It’s vital that everyone involved take a curious approach to the discussion, which leaves no room for kink-shaming, or the process of evoking shame in others for their sexual desires.  

Additionally, no kink play is complete without a sexy conversation about active consent, or an ongoing, affirmative, voluntary, sober agreement to engage in any sexual act. Even if you and your partner(s) took time to discuss your intentions and boundaries before getting intimate, take time to check-in throughout the experience, gauging your partner’s comfort level. There’s nothing hotter than being with someone who both prioritizes your pleasure and is honest about their sexual parameters, so don’t hesitate to speak up. 

Use I-statements to describe turn-ons.

So, after reading a few too many mafia romances, you’ve come to the conclusion that you have a praise kink, but you’re not sure how to tell your partner(s)? The next time you and your SO are approaching foreplay or checking in about your sex life, use I-statements to explain to your partner(s) how the kink makes you feel. Experimenting with sentences like “I think it’s hot how” or “It really pushes me over the edge when” highlights your excitement and the pleasure-based reward system of the kinks rather than focusing on your partner(s)’ performance. Avoid using sentiments like “You should do” or “You need to,” which could come across as critiquing your partner(s) sexual preferences. In order for you to have an open conversation, you both need to feel safe to express yourselves.

Consume kink content together.

Next, if you’re interested in trying out, say, degradation kink or intrigued by age-gap role play, but you and your partner(s) or unsure how to get started, consider slowing down before jumping in full-steam ahead. Instead, explore the kinks that turn you on together. Try listening to an instructional audio errotica that explores the kink remotely, while taking part in mutual masturbation together. Indulge in ethical and feminist porn that appropriately and consensually conveys couples or groups participating in that specific kink play. You can even attend a seminar or join a pleasure group that focuses on breaking down the process, so that you feel a little less alone in your experimentation. 

Start small when incorporating kink. 

Finally, once you’ve had an open conversation about kink with your partner(s), and you’ve both comfortably indulged in said kink, it’s time to smart small when incorporating your fantasies into your sexual routine. For example, experimenting with physical kinks, like bondage, can feel intimidating at a distance. But incorporating mild restrictions, such as tying up your partner using a soft material, can feel a bit more manageable. The same goes with verbal kinks, like dirty talk — establish what specific words make you feel safe and aroused, and incorporate one or two into your bedroom behavior. And, of course, make sure to establish a safe word beforehand, so you can both stop the second one or more of you feel overwhelmed. 

Finally, I just want to say it one more time for the girls in the back: There is absolutely no kink-shaming welcome in this house. Take it from a former sex & relationships editor, exploring your sexual impulses and pleasure centers, by yourself or with your partner(s), is a perfectly healthy part of intimacy. And while not everyone will find what turns you on to be erogenous, anyone who makes you feel self-conscious about it doesn’t deserve a spot in your bed — or in your heart. 

Bestie, you have never, ever been sexier. 

Love,

Iman

Iman Hariri-Kia is a New York-based writer, author, and was the Her Campus Deputy Editor. A 2017 recipient of the Annabelle Bonner Medal and a nationally acclaimed journalist, she covered sex, relationships, identity, adolescence, and more. Her debut novel, A HUNDRED OTHER GIRLS, will be published in spring 2022.
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