Kink can be exhilarating, yet intimidating for the curious newbie. Pop culture often paints it in terms of chain slings and gimp suits, which is a legitimate but quite niche part of the culture.
Technically, kink is any sexual play outside ‘vanilla’ sex (for the purposes of this article, we’re putting popular guy-on-guy moves like oral, rimming and anal into the ‘vanilla’ category). If there’s a part of you that’s turned on by more adventurous sexual play, or you’ve got a fantasy that you’ve never had the confidence to share with a partner, kink might just be for you.
So, what is kink and how do you get some? It’s a very mixed bag with a lot of overlap, but in general terms, ‘kink’ refers to BDSM, which splits three ways:
B&D: bondage and discipline
- For example, restraints, handcuffs, blindfolds, ball gags, chastity and similar
D&S: dominance and submission
- For example, role-play, humiliation, dom/sub scenes of all kinds
S&M: sadism and masochism (inflicting or experiencing pain)
- For example, impact play (like spanking/whipping), sounding, clamping, ‘torture’ scenes
Kink scenarios are generally called ‘scenes’, and there are too many — way too many — different flavours to list them all here. Chances are, you probably already have an idea of what sort of scene(s) will excite you, and the possibilities are endless.
Long story short — kink can be for anyone, and it isn’t necessarily about whips, chains and latex (unless that’s what curls your toes). It’s about exploring every part of your sexuality — your body, your mind, your imagination and your emotions — for fun and pleasure. It’s not necessarily about fucking or blowing your load. But if you’re into it and you do it right, it can be one of the most satisfying and life-changing sexual experiences you’ll have.
Let’s get started.
Find a partner you trust absolutely
At its core, kink is about vulnerability; you’re exploring the most intimate parts of your sexuality. You and your partner are exposing yourselves to some very raw emotional states and giving each other permission to do things you wouldn’t allow under other circumstances. It’s about getting your nastiest, freakiest freak on and having fun with sex however you like, with no fear of judgement or shame.
Find a partner you trust to go with you on that journey — and be that partner for them, too. Enthusiastic, informed, ongoing consent is the baseline of that trust and should always be established before you get into any sexual activity with someone. Communicate your ground rules before you get started, and check in with each other regularly to make sure you’re both on board with what’s happening.
Safety comes first
Safety should always be the first thing you talk about. This includes physical, emotional and psychological safety. Make sure that whatever you’re doing is not going to cause harm or put anyone in danger. This is especially important if you’re experimenting with bondage — never leave anyone alone while they’re restrained, and never restrain anyone around the neck. If you’re using ropes, make sure you’re using the correct knots to avoid cutting off circulation and check regularly for any signs that things are getting too tight (e.g. body parts going noticeably darker or paler, difficulty breathing or loss of sensation).
Check any toys, tools or equipment to make sure they’re hygienic, undamaged and fit for purpose. Always keep your release options somewhere close and easily accessible — this includes things like safety shears (with a blunt side to avoid cutting the skin) for ropes you can’t untie, and keys and/or bolt cutters for sturdier restraints.
Safety also includes your sexual health. If you’re not a monogamous couple, talk about when you both last got tested, how you’re both managing your HIV and STI risk, and how you plan to follow up with each other later if anything changes. Sharing contact details will come in handy if you need to tell each other about having an STI.
Establish a safe word
Yes, this is a real thing! This is a word either partner can say that immediately calls an end to the scene — no discussion, no negotiation.
Given that kink often flirts with power and pain, you need a very clear signal that can’t be misinterpreted as part of your play. Choose a word that’s deeply unsexy and/or ridiculous (GUACAMOLE! WOMBAT!) so it immediately takes you both out of the play space.
If you can’t talk during a scene (for whatever reason) then there are other things you can do instead. A squeaky toy or dog-training clicker can be easily held in one hand and used to signal to your partner. You can also hold an object that will make noise or light up if you drop it, like a bell or a pet toy or even your phone (if it’s got a robust cover).
Work out your boundaries
Part of what makes kink fun is that it includes things which would normally be out of bounds, like domination, fear, humiliation and pain. While these can all be very sexy in the right circumstances with the right person, they also have the potential to cause real physical and psychological harm. What’s erotic for one person can be traumatic for another.
So, make sure you draw clear boundaries around things you find thrilling and want to explore, and those which are going to be unpleasant or triggering. These are no-go zones. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they’re not the right sexual partner for you.
If you’re fresh to kink and want to try new things, ease yourself into it. ‘Anything goes’ is not a good place to start, especially if you’re the submissive partner and/or your partner is also a newbie.
For example, if you’re curious about impact play, getting flogged on a rack might be much too intense for your first outing — it’s like benching 200 kg on your first time at the gym. Starting smaller with spanking or paddling lets you and your partner learn about your body and what balance of pain/pleasure works for you, before you graduate to more advanced play.
Build confidence and experiment
Kink is a sexual wonderland for you to explore. Once you’ve got the hang of the ‘how’ (trust, boundaries, safety), the ‘what’ (gags? clamps? alien enslavement apocalypse fantasy?) is entirely up to you. Don’t be afraid to try new things or mix up your kinks.
Aftercare is a vital part of kink and it’s something you should think about and plan with your partner beforehand.
You may find that you’re processing a lot of feelings once your session is over, but it’s important not to withdraw from your partner. If you’re a couple, this can be a time of deeper intimacy, with lots of affection and kissing, or just holding each other. Talk about what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy, and whether there are things you might want to do differently or take a bit further next time. Check in with each other over the next couple of days as well — sometimes you won’t be able to really describe what you’re feeling until you’ve had some time to think it over.
Aftercare can also involve physical needs as well, like making sure you bring your partner plenty of water, a blanket, a change of clothes, a soothing touch — anything that will make them feel safe and secure after they’ve experienced something that can be incredibly intense. Talk to your partner beforehand to see what they (and you) might need after your play is over.
There are a lot of fantastic resources for newbies to the kink scene, and they’ve got all the information you need to dive in safely.
Kink communities are very welcoming and full of friendly advice. Be brave and be curious! You’re taking the first steps on a mind-blowing adventure.