How To Explore Your Partner's Kinks

Sometimes a couple's interest doesn't completely match up. One of you enjoy to play video games, and the other likes to paint; one enjoys to trek up Table Mountain and the other's idea of a good evening might consist of having a McDonald's Share Meal to themselves with a bottle of wine. This is all fine and relatively easy to negotiate on within in the bounds of a healthy long-term relationship, but when the different interests are of bedroom nature the negotiations can get complicated.

What you do when one of you prefers missionary and considers even relatively tame moves like 69 to be beyond the pale, and the other can't get off without involving sounding, figging or laying "alien eggs" inside the bodies?

Why Is It Important?

Partners will have different sexual interests and with kink, those desires and needs can be very strong. If you can't get those needs met in your long-term relationships, you won't be very happy. 

It's usually a good idea to stay open-minded about something you're not sure about. If anything, the longer you wait to test out your kinks, fetishes, and various sexual curiosities with your partner, the more difficult it can become to try together.

Of course, if your partner is interested in something that you are absolutely disgusted by, or offended by, your response still might be, Not for me, ever.  But communication, compared to secrecy or repression, is an obvious factor to the success of any relationship, especially when it comes to sex.

For example, one likes "consensual non-consensual scenes," such as "forced" anal. But the other, ironically, isn't into that stuff. Or at least he or she wasn't at first. Through a willingness to explore and communicate about the partner's sexual preferences, the two were able to figure out a way they could both satisfy their carnal itches.

Things "Vanillas" Can Do With "Kinks"

If a couple can't get down with the same kink, there are other ways to make relationships work. For Mallory and Eric - a couple on the website FetLife - when one partner wouldn't budge on his resistance to her interest in sadism, the two made their marriage work through polyamory. (With kink in particular, where one partner is vanilla and the other one is kinky, a [non-monogamy agreement] can work really well). 

Start experimenting. I love looking at it from a “science!” perspective: do the experiment, and collect the data. Didn’t go so well? Cool! On to the next experiment! Went awesome? Cool! Do it more! Went okay, but could be better? Great! Tweak the experiment and see what the new results are.

Make sure that you’re experimenting with things that YOU, too, want to do. It might be that you’re purely doing this for her, and that’s okay — but see if you can find the sweet spot where you’re into it AND she’s into it.

Here are a few ways to build some confidence and get some skills and start playing:

1. Look up sex toy stores, kink community centers, play parties or other resources for kinksters in your area, and attend some BDSM demos.

Live research is one of the most excellent ways to get more skills. Attend the demos together, then go home and practice! Talk about it — what was hot, what might work for you, what seemed to not work for you. You might not agree with everything the presenter said, and that’s okay. Just take what works for you and start building your own toolbox. Sign up for an account on and look around for friends that are in your area and groups that align with your interests. There are some challenges with Fetlife, but it can be an amazing resource.

2. Read some dirty books, watch some dirty porn.

You might already do this — but consider doing it together, sharing what you like and talking about it. The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book by Easton and Hardy are some of my highest recommended books for folks who are getting into power play and kink. Read some erotica aloud together! Say Please, the BDSM lesbian erotica collection I edited, has a wide range of fetishes and kinks in it that might give you some ideas (see the write-up on Autostraddle too!). 

It is totally okay for something to be pure fantasy, and for something to turn you on even if you don’t want to do it. You don’t have to want to do everything.

3. Service topping is a thing and might work for you.

Not all people are wired to want to dominate and top other people, but lots of us are wired to want to please our partners. So perhaps you won’t be extra turned on by actions that he/she gets excited by. That’s totally okay. It might still be very rewarding, interesting, supportive of your relationship, and hellava fun for you to “serve” her by doing dirty things to her that she is super excited about. So you might be a top — someone who is mainly doing the action — and providing the things that she needs. Experiment with that, and see if you can find things that you really love too, but it’s also okay for you to be in service to her desires.

4. Reframe “violence” and “humiliation.”

Some BDSM activities are absolutely about violence and humiliation. But a lot of what might seem like violence is actually about sensation — sometimes intense sensation!—and a lot of what seems like humiliation is actually about vulnerability. You might just not be into any kind of impact play, and it might seem violent to you every time, which is fine — or, you might find a lot of fun and pleasure in some light spanking. Regardless of whether re-framing appeals to you, go talk to some kink educators if you want to learn more about sensation and vulnerability play. Those things can go deep! There are dozens of things you can do before you play with those.

5. To be as safe as possible, negotiate before you play.

Set up the general parameters of the play you’re going to do before you get into it. It doesn’t have to be too specific — something like, Okay, I’m going to blindfold you and touch you all over, and then hold your wrists above your head while I finger you until you come. See if the two of you can anticipate the things that are the riskiest, and make sure to establish what would be okay and what would be too much — for both of you. You get to have limits, as a top, just as much as she does. Read on to find out what a "Yes, No, Maybe" List is.

Since you’re at the very beginning of this exploration, I trust that you WILL find lots of places of mutual interest. After all, there are thousands of ways to explore each other’s bodies and desires and cravings, and a lot of the sensations and vulnerabilities can still be fun and light and safe (or even silly — it is play). Finding out precisely where your kinks overlap? Well, that’s the fun part!

5 Things To Try If You Are New TO BDSM & Kink

But first, try the "Yes, No, Maybe List":

  • Create a Yes, No, Maybe list between the two of you. Write on this list all the things you are open to, for example biting, scratching, deep throat, anal etc. and list it under "Yes".
  • Then move on to the "No" List and write down all the things you are definitely NOT open to trying, ever. For example, some people do NOT think water sports or skats is something they would enjoy.
  • Lastly, consider the things you would be willing to try with your partner. These could include things like roleplaying, bondage, being blindfolded, get my drift.

Hair Pulling

Hair pulling as a good way to start getting into kinky play. It’s easy, doesn’t require any toys, and can be as gentle or as rough as you want it to be.

Light Spanking

Spanking is definitely a common fantasy and starting lightly is a good idea, with the option of ramping it up as you go, of course. Start with hands and then incorporate toys like the We-Vibe Bloom or the Malesation Vibro Rabbit as you and your partner(s) become more experienced.

Aggressive Language

Incorporate aggressive language into your play. Words like “slut,” “whore,” “jerk,” “wimp,” and “f*ck” are all good places to start. Name calling, however, should definitely be pre-negotiated, as one slut’s turn on may be another jerk’s major turn off. In addition to aggressive language, “sir” or “madam” can do wonders to set the stage. It’s a simple way to establish roles in a dom/sub scene and keep you both involved in the fantasy.


A lot of people fantasize about bondage and scarves a good place to start because they’re soft and it’s hard to do real damage with them — unlike, you know, rope and handcuffs. Make sure that two fingers can be slipped between the tie and the skin in order to avoid cutting off circulation, which definitely can do damage.


My personal favourite (Wink), biting is a great entry-level way to play, but talking about it beforehand is again essential — and part of that talk should be about marks. Some people are into them and some people really aren’t, so (Trust me on this one) make sure you know where your partner stands before you start chomping down.

Interested in BDSM? Read our blog 13 Things To Try If You Are New To BDSM but remember that with everything that is sexually intense, the aftercare of such a time together is of utmost importance! Read more here on The Importance Of Aftercare.

Be the first to comment