One of my ex-boyfriends used to love sucking on my toes. He’d stick his tongue between every crevice with such passion as if his love story only involved me because my feet were not autonomous beings. I’d usually let him, sometimes negotiating a foot rub in return, but I was neither turned on nor repulsed by it.
His foot fetish never brought me pleasure, but it wasn’t one of the (many) reasons I broke up with him. In other words, it was just part of our relationship. Ironically, my ex rejected any notion that he was “into feet” or that it was his “kink.” The isolation of my feet as the sole object of his sexual desire embarrassed him, and quite frankly, his denial made my feet feel cheap, like having a lover who doesn’t want to claim you.
Perhaps, I should’ve acted less amused by it. I always wondered if I could’ve appreciated having my feet worshiped if I had tried and taken it seriously. Instead, I’d just lay on the couch like an unimpressed Cleopatra and put on a movie. It never led to sex, and the fact I couldn’t indulge the idea should’ve signaled we weren’t right for each other.
I’ve only been able to experience my full kinky self with certain men; it was usually how I knew they were partners I would want to walk down the aisle to, proverbially speaking. I liked everything about them, which made me lose inhibitions that might otherwise give me pause if someone were to firmly grab my neck and spit in my mouth. And I know from experience that there are interests I never thought I liked until I let myself experience them, like wine, country music, bottoming, or sex swings. But can you develop a kink, or at least find pleasure in it, if you try?
Kink and Fetish Are Deeply Personal
Honolulu-based Shibari instructor Mimi has practiced the Japanese style of BDSM for over 12 years. She says the performative aspects of rope bondage turn her on. She loves the feeling of the rope as it hugs and slides across her body. The threat exhilarates her, the risks involved when submitting herself to this kind of artful edgeplay. And intimately, she loves the bond it builds with her partners.
“I’m drawn to non-sexual aspects of rope bondage as well,” says Mimi. “I oftentimes engage in rope play without any intention of becoming sexually intimate with my partner. There’s a certain kind of somatic experience in bondage; it can be quite powerful.”
Mimi avoids dating “vanilla people,” so her partners are typically open to experimentation. But if it’s not their usual cup of tea, it doesn’t progress beyond what she calls “bedroom bondage,” which is very simple yet restrictive ties geared toward sex. Contrarily, when she meets others who share her kink and experience, usually, sex is not involved. In this case, she says rope is not a means to an end; it is the end goal.
Blush, a rope bottom in Seattle, describes the high of getting tied up as rooted in adrenaline, endorphins, and sweat – not dissimilar from competitive exercise. “I love the tight binding of ropes: the compression, the creaking of jute with each movement, the challenge of each pose, the stress created by specific placement.”
Pace yourself and assess risks
For newcomers to kink, Mimi says that although it can be a fun way to explore your desires and passions, going too fast could open the door to unwanted physical and mental trauma. So learn your boundaries and “risk profile,” and don’t expect your first kinky experience to be perfect.
A risk profile is an assessment of your risk tolerance and risk capacity. It identifies your willingness and ability to take on specific risks and to determine the types of BDSM play that may be suitable. Mimi uses a hemophiliac as an example, who may wish to disclose that needle play or sharp play is a hard limit because drawing blood would be too risky for their health. Their condition and low factor levels are a part of their risk profile.
In anything kink, it’s crucial to be thoroughly informed when deciding from mild to wild and take ownership of your health and sexual experiences. (Remember, reading about something will never be the same as doing it.) Like my ex, Mimi can be stimulated by the act alone; however, it doesn’t mean she can’t indulge in sex without it. Preference is another story.
Kink Is Part of Pleasure
NYC-based psychotherapist and sex therapist Dr. Dulcinea Alex Pitagora tells Cashmere, “For people who are kinky, pleasure is synonymous with kink.” As you can expect with much of what constitutes identity and pleasure, there’s a spectrum.
“Kinky folks have a combination of physiological and psychosexual predispositions that non-kinky folks don’t,” says Dr. Pitagora. “What’s pleasurable for someone kinky might not be for someone who doesn’t identify as kinky, though that’s not an absolute difference because sometimes non-kinky people and kinky people find pleasure in the same things.”
If you and your partner are trying to pinpoint where your kinkiness (or lack thereof) collide, you can approach it like a sexual Venn diagram of what you like, what your partner likes, and most excitedly, what you both want – or are at least willing to try. Communication is key. Be candid and open about your innermost desires.
Remember that you and your partner may have similar kinks, but how they play with them may surprise you. Dr. Pitagora says kinks are individualistic and manifest as unique as those who have them. The notion of being “kinky” is socially, culturally, geographically, and chronologically relative. Still, the common thread is that it’s tied to “fringe behavior or preference,” i.e., something that occurs among the statistical minority.
Playing With Kink With Your Partner Can Lead To Wonderful, New Experiences
A kink isn’t “odd” or “gross,” as consensual sex between adults is morally neutral. What’s considered sexually taboo is something many people haven’t tried yet. Sex editor Stella* tells Cashmere that cunnilingus was considered taboo in our parent’s generation. Now, it’s become the norm.
Lying on the cusp of Millennial and Gen Z, the 25-year-old believes being caught in the middle of generations has liberated her from the divide on views of sex altogether, enabling the sex writer to cement her individuality. For example, the self-described “Daughter of Tinder” identifies with the Millennial celebration of casual sex while finding power in Gen Z’s rejection of labels, whether it be for sexuality or the dynamics of a relationship.
Stella was caught off guard when her “long-distance friends with benefits” texted her about wanting to try water sports…hold the ocean and the jet ski.
“I remember feeling so stupid because I didn’t know what that was! I knew piss play was a thing, but I’d never heard it called ‘water sports’ before. ‘…You mean like shower sex?’ And he was like, ‘…Lol, no.’”
There’s no shame in taking your time to explore a kink
She says she had no idea when she would see this person again. It helped Stella feel like she had as much time and space as she needed to think about it. And, if you ask her, that’s how everyone should feel when considering a new sexual experience.
“A very specific fantasy he would talk about was cumming on my face, taking me into the shower, and pissing the cum off. That specific fantasy was hot to me, and more than anything, just hearing how turned on he got talking about it made me more into the idea.”
He and Stella messaged about it for a year before they tried it, although she says that was more due to their long-distance nature. But she became comfortable with the idea because they had so much time to talk and safely fantasize about it in a low-pressure environment.
“I don’t know that it felt like a super pivotal sexual experience,” says Stella. “I liked it! But I wasn’t like, ‘Holy shit, I just did this super kinky thing.’ I wasn’t necessarily dying to do it again, but I knew I would do it again if the situation presented itself.”
Her comfort with kinks depends less on the context of the hookup and more on the person and their connection. In other words, she needs to feel safe to be herself and try something new.
Know Your Limits, Do Your Research
Zachary Zane, a sex expert for gay cruising app Sniffies, tells Cashmere there are certain sexual acts people are indifferent towards or mildly dislike. In these situations, Zane suggests following what sex columnist Dan Savage coined as “good, giving, and game” — or GGG: “Think good in bed, giving based on a partner’s sexual interests, and game for anything — within reason.”
But don’t forget that you can look over the cliff before jumping. You can, and should, do your research, especially with riskier kinks. There’s literally no type of porn you can’t find and try masturbating to on the internet (again, within reason, people). Also, not to sound like your mother’s shrink, but have you tried talking about it?
Communication is everything
“Let’s say your partner has a cuckolding fetish,” says Zane. “Instead of inviting a bull (third) into the bedroom to fuck you while you both humiliate your husband, you can start by first talking about a time a more dominant, well-hung man had sex with you (and humiliate your partner while you talk about it).”
The sex expert also uses himself as an example; Zane has a “play partner” who absolutely loves it when he pisses in his mouth. Although Zane says it does nothing for him sexually, it drives his partner wild.
“After sex, I pee in his mouth. He’s ecstatic, and I don’t get a UTI. Everyone wins. Would I be doing this if he wasn’t super into it? Absolutely not! But it costs me nothing and gives him immense sexual joy, so I do it to keep him happy and satisfied.”
Long orgasm short, people will like what they like – whether receiving, giving, watching, or all of the above. However, Stella and Zane stress the importance of distinguishing between whether you desire to please your partner and genuinely being willing to try it and feeling forced to engage, physically or emotionally. If a particular kink makes you uncomfortable, inspires disgust, or causes any negative emotion, engaging in that type of play may harm your relationship. And, most of all, you’re betraying your pleasure and mental health.
Every Kinkster Is Different
Dr. Pitagora says we all bring histories and preferences to new partnerships that influence our desires. The sex therapist never recommends participating in anything you strongly dislike unless you know where that aversion comes from and believe you can overcome it through exposure to the source.
“Some people might require anonymity to engage in kink,” says Dr. Pitagora, “Whereas others might require more of a foundation of trust to be vulnerable enough to engage in kink. There’s no right or wrong here, just differences and personal preferences. It depends on the person and always comes down to transparent communication, negotiation, and consent.”
Not being into your partner’s kink doesn’t mean you can’t have great sex with them, and it’s only a problem in the structures of monogamy and the pressure it places on one person to fulfill all your sexual fantasies forever.
Kinkiness is part of a person’s personality – the fiber of their sexual being – and believing you can mold your pleasure at will is like trying to cum on command. So naturally, open-mindedness is the key to discovering sexual delights and fulfillments you weren’t aware of, but do it on your terms.
Like anything, trying something new isn’t always easy, especially when it’s unencumbered, perverted sex, but it’s worth it with the right kinky person, well, depending on who you ask. If I’m unabashedly into someone, I’ll vote yes more often than not.
But then again, what kink ally wouldn’t? Yes, we’re making that a thing.