I want more kink, but I don't know how to ask a partner for it.

I am a sexual deviant. I am willing to try anything, yet I have not had partners that have taken things to the next level. Just basics: spanking, hair-pulling, dirty talk, choking. I want to express these desires to be bound up, dominated, and exploring my physical boundaries with my partner yet what is inside my head never comes out as erotic as I imagine. What are some examples or ways to approach my partner to get positive results to explore this inner hidden freak?
Mo Ranyart replies:

The good news is that there's no secret to bringing up unconventional sex acts with a partner; the same basic communication skills that are needed to talk about any other kinds of sex are what's needed here. The bad news is...well, that there's no secret to it!

The simple answer to your question is "talk to a partner about your sexual desires, ask what theirs are, see where they overlap, and go from there" but the catch is that "simple" doesn't necessarily mean "easy." I have a few thoughts on how to approach this with a partner and how to maybe reframe how you think about some of this, so that it'll be easier to talk about and maybe realize some of your sexual fantasies and desires.

I do want to note that while some people really enjoy the idea of being sexually "deviant," it's a word that's been used in some really oppressive and unpleasant ways to demonize people's sexualities so not everyone who shares these desires is going to be thrilled to be referred to that way. Call your desires whatever you like, but I think that's something that's good to keep in mind when you're talking with other people about them.

First off, what do you want, specifically, when it comes to sexual exploration? You mention some "basics" in your question, but it's important to remember that when it comes to any kind of sexual activity - and perhaps especially when you're talking about things someone might consider "deviant" or kink-related - sex acts you consider basic might be really intense for someone else, and if a partner is interested in one of those basic-to-you activities, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be up for others. For example: someone who's very comfortable with more extreme sexual dynamics may be completely tongue-tied during sex and not up for dirty talk at all, but plenty of people whose tastes may be more conventional love to get into really explicit talk during sex.

Because of this wide range in preferences, including among people who identify themselves or their sexual lives as kinky, I think it'll be helpful for you to keep in mind that different people may have different opinions on what they'd consider "basic" or "entry-level" vs. more extreme or intense kinds of play or sex. Telling someone you want something "more extreme" might not get you what you want, if you aren't more specific. It's also possible that you might be hoping for pain while your partner goes for humiliation, or vice-versa, and you wind up not having the fun you were hoping for.

Any time you're exploring more intense or high-risk sexual scenarios, it's going to be vital that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of what you're both looking for and how you're going to address ongoing safety and consent issues once things get started. For example, choking during sex in particular is exceptionally high-risk; a lot of people who are comfortable with the other things you mention may not be comfortable with that, and it's never something you can assume someone would be interested in without a lot of discussion beforehand. (I do want to mention, too, that choking is so difficult to do safely and carries enough risks for serious injury that as a sexual health organization, we really just can't recommend it at all. There's a good video that goes over some of the risks and ways to lower the risks of breathplay, but it is something that's always going to carry a much higher level of risk than most other sexual activities.)

After you've come up with some concrete ideas about what you'd like to try or experience, the next step is approaching your partner and opening a conversation about incorporating some of them into your sex life.

It sounds like you haven't had a lot of luck in the past talking about these desires with partners, or that you're reluctant to communicate them directly. It also sounds like you have a desire for a partner to know what you want and sweep you away to a sexual adventure without having much of a discussion beforehand, and while I understand that this fantasy is powerful, the reality is that clear communication really does need to happen first.

Having a partner just know what you want without any discussion beforehand is a common component of sexual fantasy, especially in fantasies that involve submission or power exchange. In fantasy-land, you can indulge in your desires for new or intense sexual experiences without awkwardness, communication mishaps, or worries about your own safety. It's possible to imagine taking part in things that are unlikely or impossible during partnered sex, and that's part of what makes fantasy so appealing!

Any time you move from the realm of fantasy to real-life partnered sex, though, some of those things just aren't possible. The partner who mysteriously knows our most hidden and secret desires without being told can only ever be a fantasy, and someone who claims to know these things is misguided at best and manipulative or abusive at worst.

Sex of any kind (that goes at all well for everyone involved, anyway) requires clear communication around consent, desires, and boundaries, but when you're wanting to explore sex that involves deliberate pain or roughness, strong dominant/submissive dynamics, or activities like bondage that can cause injury if not done correctly, everyone needs to be even more practiced at that sort of communication. I suspect there is something sexual you wouldn't be comfortable doing, and even if you were willing to give a partner carte blanche to try anything, you'd still want to talk first about what words and signals you'd use if you needed to stop the action.

You mention that your fantasies never feel as erotic when you try them with partners as they do in your head, and sometimes that's going to be the case. In fantasy, everyone can want the exact same thing, awkward moments are conveniently avoided, and something that might be genuinely frightening in reality can feel thrilling in a fun way. Any time another person becomes involved in your sex life in reality, you introduce new possibilities for connection and intimacy, but you also introduce the possibility of conflict or awkwardness. It's an unavoidable aspect of partnered sex in real life. While it may feel awkward to talk about your desires with a partner, it's something that usually gets easier with practice, and it can help sexual exploration feel more erotic when you get down to it, because mutual interest and ground rules have already been established.

It's fine to talk about fantasies during sex, of course; that can be a fun sexual activity in itself. But if you're wanting to act on fantasies that require some preparation or negotiation beforehand, it's best to take care of that when you aren't in the middle of sex so you can make sure you're both giving the discussion the attention it needs and not trying to rush through any important details in your excitement to get to the good parts.

While we can certainly recommend ways to talk to your partner about new experiences you'd like to explore during sex, there's no secret we can give that will make your partner want to do all of these things with you or reveal some hidden desire for rougher or more intense sex if it doesn't exist already. Your partner may or may not have a "hidden freak" inside, and if so there's no guarantee they'll choose to share that with you. However, if you focus on creating a sexual relationship where you and your partner both feel free and supported to talk about your sexual desires, then it may be more likely that they're willing to share more of their sexual self with you. I encourage you to look at healthy sexual communication not as a means to unlock a partner's hidden desires, though, but as a tool you can use to improve your sexual relationship.

What I'd suggest is to find a time when you and your partner can have a talk about sex and lay out some of what you'd like to explore, how you're interested in pushing your own boundaries during sex, and what that might look like to you. If you have specific ideas, that might be helpful; telling your partner "I'd like to experience oral sex while my arms are restrained" could give them a better sense of what you're looking for than "I'm interested in bondage," although of course if you just have a general idea of something that interests you and aren't clear on the details yet, that's fine as well.

If you're interested in a partner taking control of what you're experiencing sexually, that's still something that is important to discuss beforehand, so you can establish what you are and aren't interested in, or at the very least what your hard limits are, and set up a safeword and other signals you can use to make sure the experience stays as positive and safe for you as possible.

A sample script might look like this:

Partner, I really enjoy our sex life, and I get excited thinking about new things I'd love to try together. Lately I've been thinking a lot about bondage and restraint during sex and that's something I'd like to explore a bit deeper with you. [Here's where you'd give some examples of specifics, if you have any.] Does any of that sound good to you?

You can tailor this to whatever you have in mind, of course, but I think the general formula of positive thing about your current sex life + specifics of what you're looking for + a clear indication that you value your partner's input is a good framework to build on.

Your partner's response might be as easy as hearing your question, nodding, and saying "sure, let's talk about this some more and then try it out," and if that's the case, wonderful! Make sure you're doing research into exploring safely, and have a great time. But if your partner needs some more time to think, or feels comfortable trying some things or not others, make sure you're giving them the time and space to sort that out, and that you're respecting their answer even if it isn't what you want to hear. Just like with any kind of sex, not everyone will be into sex that involves pain, high physical or emotional risk, or intense power exchange.

If they do say no to something, even if you're really hoping they'll say yes, you can tell them they're welcome to let you know if they change their mind; beyond that, though, it's best to leave the ball in their court so they're in control of if and when they bring it up again. It can also be affirming for a partner to check in with them during these conversations, to see if there's anything sexual they've been wanting to try, whether it's related to what you're asking them or not, so you can both take turns listening to each other's desires and wants.

With any partnership, it's unlikely that everyone's sexual desires and preferences will overlap 100 percent, but generally there's going to be some overlap between them, and the only way to figure out where your desires align is to take that step and open the conversation. It can be intimidating to open up so much, but even the process of talking about these sexual desires with a partner can increase the emotional intimacy in your relationship. I hope you can find some new things to try that are exciting to both you and your partner.

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