Over the last couple weeks, I have talked about various styles of kink and how it relates to people. Degrees of it vary as much as does people themselves. It can range from being an integral part of your daily life or used to just heighten an experience. Some are more suited to solo play, whereas others are imperative that you have someone else along for the ride. Kink is about the person more than the act, to see how it relates to people I have asked questions of one couple that is in the kink lifestyle and two single people. They will discuss their limits and may even share what gets them going. This will be done in a judgement free zone and only related to you how it was given to me, with a few minor changes for ease of reading. All names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Meet Liz, a 39 year old cis-female from Cleveland’s east side. Liz identifies as a pansexual/bisexual sub who rarely occupies the switch role. Her kink styles range sensation play to light bondage. Liz has been into the scene for a while now and while still learning, knows a lot about where she fits in to it all. Being a self identified pansexual allows her the freedom to not be tied to one specific scene play and still allow for growth in what she already prefers.
When did you first know you were into your preferences? In my 20’s probably. I discovered things through trial and error, mostly. I would read or see something and think, “wow, that’s kinda’ hot,” but it took years for me to approach a someone about my thoughts. The first partner I experimented with, we just used ropes to restrain me during sex. I learned that did really good things to my headspace. Later on, a partner introduced me to flogging and I realized that was also something that resonated well with how I felt.
The first time I saw fire play I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. After trying it, now I’m the sort who loves fire massage. Same thing with impact play done with a hand to the face. My first thought was, “who does that?” Well turns out when I’m with a Sir I trust pretty thoroughly, I’m a person that does that. I’ve learned to some degree the more visceral my nope is to it the more I need to sit with the idea and see if it is genuinely a nope or if it’s nope that intrigues and scares me all at once. The second one is the one that tends to be interesting to explore.
What does kink mean to you? Kink is how I shorthand the dynamics between partners when we are playing with headspace or pain. For me it’s more about the headspace, I mostly do not get off on pain. But letting Them take over and make decisions for me is my way to let go. Though to be fair, it wasn’t until I encountered this question that I really gave any thought to what kink means to me. Most of the people I engage with, on any kinky dynamic, are more experienced than me, so it’s been more about letting them offer suggestions vs me having to think super hard about what I want. That may also be a part of my sub nature. That’s a lot of words, so let me sum it up; kink is where I can quit being the one in charge and let someone else do my thinking(making certain choices). It is a space where I have to trust them, and they has to trust me, and we can see how far we can push each other’s limits
Do many people know about your kink side? A fair amount know about it. I tend to be a resource for general dating and sexuality questions amongst my friends, so a fair number know a little bit. While going through some adult sexuality classes through my church, we covered BDSM slightly. Within that group I was comfortable sharing what I knew, and a few approached me outside of class to get resources or firsthand advice. A few friends have also seen me still coping with a drop, which for me means I’m a bit shaky and spacey, so I had to give them enough detail to reassure them it wasn’t anything bad going on. My immediate family also knows a fair amount. They are probably more aware of the polyamorous piece than the kink piece, but they know some.
Have you ever been a switch or the opposite of our current role? I have one partner that I occasionally get a little bit of a top/Dom with. He will get completely into taking direction and doing his best to make me happy. And for whatever reason he is the only one I can relax with while giving direction. Thanks to that particular dynamic, I’ve sort of learned to not get so hung up on titles and roles and just go with what feels right
What types of kink do you engage in? Note, all definitions are how my partners and I agree to various things. Impact play, meaning I get hit with floggers or various other implements and the occasional open hand. Sensation play, meaning we play with ice cubes, open flame, textures, basically see what gets a reaction. We’ve used restraints, to inhibit arm movement. Also, have very rarely tried some breathe play, but that is harder for me to trust a person with.
What are some common misconceptions you have received or heard about kink lifestyle? That’s a tough question because I’m sure, with the exception of the abuse part, everything that is a misconception for me rings 100% true for someone else. That said, neither of my kink partners live with me, so we don’t exist in a D/s (Dom/sub) dynamic 24/7. Even if they did live with me I think we wouldn’t go that far. I need space to be me without taking direction.
“Safewords must be used or you’re doing it wrong.” My partners and I don’t use any official safe words. If we are getting into anything that feels intense on my side I tend to lose the ability to make words. So, we go with a simple stop, easy, or no. If my hands are free and I can’t speak I’ll grab His wrist and that’s a sign I need a couple moments to regroup. I’ve seen various BDSM activities conflated with abuse more times than I can count. Yes, with one partner of mine there is impact play, meaning he hits me with an open hand. But, if I say stop or easy he shifts his approach. In an abusive dynamic the one being hit does not have that control. Similar opinions have been levelled my direction about the control I give Them over certain aspects, usually having to do with my appearance or behavior. Again, they get that control when I agree to give it. I have the power to stop the scene or not start it at all.
Do you identify as a dom or a sub? If neither, what is your word choice? I identify as a sub, almost 100% of the time. To date there is one partner I top with because he likes being told what to do and his demeanor is to soft for me to be able to give in to him. So, with him, I end up on the Dom and he willingly gives in to me. To one Sir, I occasionally will be a little bratty. And he has me follow his directions exactly to the letter. Being resistant and trying to find a way through his direction means he has to think harder on how he directs me and make me pay attention.
Do you have limits in the type of kink you would engage in? Why? Yes, I do. Right off the bat I want to avoid things that are going to leave marks above my collarbone or below my elbow. That just cuts down on the questions at work. I try to avoid things that are going to spill body fluids, cuts down on exposure risk for both parties. Beyond that I try to make sure I’m doing things that both my Dom and I know how to do safely. Wrist restraints done poorly can cut off circulation or impinge nerves leading to a decrease in function that can linger after a session. Even a smack to the face, which seems simple, needs to be done with care. Landing a finger into an eye or a hand over an ear can cause injury that might need medical attention. So, my limits are more about what we both know how to do safely and what risks are we willing to take.
Do you engage in group sex or multiple partners? If so, do your kink preferences come up? My kink is mostly one on one. I don’t have the brain space to sub for more than one person at a time nor can I sub to one and top another. One of my Sirs has zero interest in group sex or exhibitionist kink. The other very much has an exhibitionist streak, we just haven’t been able to play with that piece much. Within my vanilla dynamics, my tendency to give in and go with the flow in bedroom shows up a little bit. Helps that even with my partners where we don’t engage in overt kink they are mostly wired Dom. So, I guess it’s always a piece of my dynamic, it just varies on how big or overt of a piece it is.
Do you use safe words? If so, are there more than one? What do you use? My safe words are very simple if I need to change or end things I just use easy or stop. When I utterly let go and let Him take charge my ability to words gets weak., both of the ones I engage in overt kink with know this. So, watching for my reactions is a must for them. Hard flinching will bring about a check in, as will me being either more still or moving more than normal. That is something that was less specifically negotiated and more something that came about with time and practice.
Has anyone ever went over your limits? If so, how did you regain control? I don’t know if over is the word to use or if it’s more about finding my limits. My one Sir is allowed to smack me in the face, this is a thing that we can both handle even repeatedly. The first time he smacked me repeatedly while having a hand on my throat was when I found a limit. I managed to get out “stop, enough”, and he immediately switched to check in mode. I was more than a bit shaky at that point, so he basically just held onto me until I could talk and decide what, if anything, was going to continue that session.
That last bit is the important piece. When I realized I couldn’t handle what was going on and expressed that to Him, he immediately switched to caretaking. Because he makes sure I end up put back together is why he is allowed to push things with me. We tend to “wing it” in a lot of ways, meaning we don’t always discuss trying new things. Again, it didn’t start that way, we learned to talk about things and to read one another.
With Liz, we see some vast differences than Thomas’ take on how kink affects their life. Liz’s approach is about the disconnect, getting out of her head. It is a means of escapism from the day to day stressors that can build up on it, it is her means of blowing off the steam before it gets to a cracking point. There are schools of thought that say this pleasure/pain response releases dopamine to trigger the pleasure from pain response. Whether this is exactly what happens for Liz is not for me to speculate, however we can see in her answers that there is a fair amount of pleasure derived from her experiences. It falls back to the Power Dynamic I mentioned previously (insert link), to give in to someone completely, to let them be the controlling factor and get out of your head for a short time.
There are many variations of kink to consider, in the world. They may seem extreme to others, but a closer look at them opens up a dynamic that so many of us are already aware of in our lives. It is about a balance of power; the balance is achieved by one surrendering while the other accepts. Neither person, truly gives up or accepts full control. You may let others take control of the situations, but you still remain in full control over your experience. If you’re not in that balance of power, then you are probably in the wrong relationship. Each of you should sit down and outline your limits and your safe words and follow them to the letter. Be safe and be open, you may just have fun.