Ready to let your freak flag fly — or at least wave at predetermined, mutually consensual moments?
If you have a secret fantasy or kink that you want to share with your current partner, but don’t know exactly how to tell them about it, don’t despair – you are far from the only person with leather-clad skeletons in your closet.
Let’s be honest, there’s no easy way to tell your lover you want them to slap you around and call you Susan.
“Whether you are telling someone about a fantasy for the first time, or you’re sharing a fantasy with someone who you have an established relationship with, it’s always tricky,” confirms sexuality and relationship coach Charlie Glickman, PhD.
Trickiness notwithstanding, there are good ways to broach the subject and bad, leave-you-scarred-for-life ways. In the interest of achieving the former, I’ve compiled sage advice from some of the country’s leading sex and relationship experts.
So don’t be a “very naughty boy,” read on!
First things first: what qualifies as a kink?
Kink is a big ol’ umbrella term that encompasses anything from wanting a spanking to wanting to sit in a cake (nude, of course).
Some kinks you’ve probably heard of – do terms like dominant, submissive and foot fetish ring a bell? – and some of them are probably as foreign as Swahili – ahem: pony play, paraphilic infantilism, sploshing (AKA the sitting in the cake one).
In this article, when I refer to kink I’m referring to anything outside of normal, vanilla, missionary-in-the-bedroom sex. Are you afraid to tell your partner about it? Then it probably qualifies as a kink.
If you have doubts about what your kink is, if it has a name, if there are other kinksters out there with the same flavor, I recommend you turn the vast wilds of the internet and do some soul/literal searching. Chances are you’re not an army of one.
You’ve picked a great time to come out of the kinky closet.
The BDSM erotica franchise “Fifty Shades of Grey” has helped positively transform cultural attitudes towards kink. Regardless of what you think of the quality of E.L. James’ dramatic trilogy, the implications have been huge.
Because of it, “There are definitely more people who are trying kink,” Glickman says. “In much the same way that you wouldn’t necessarily think about cooking Italian food if you hadn’t read a cookbook on the topic, just being exposed to the topic definitely encourages some people to do it.”
Because kinks that have traditionally been shamed into silence are finally gaining acceptance, your partner may be more willing now than in previous generations to hear you out – or may have their own occluded fantasies to share…
Know thy kink. Accept it. Own it.
Before you come clean to your partner, it’s good to “get right with yourself,” says sex educator and relationship coach Marcia Baczynski. Take time to reflect on what your kink or fantasy actually is.
Once you have a lucid handle on your sexuality, ask yourself, “Am I comfortable with my kink? Am I ashamed of it?” If the answer is yes, you need to work on yourself and gain self-acceptance before confessing to your partner.
This may involve more self-reflection, research, or even professional advice. Baczynski notes that this is where a lot of people get into trouble:
“They have so much shame and so much fear that they’re going to lose the connection with their partner, they prime themselves for rejection. The more ok you are with whatever your thing is, the easier it’s going to be to communicate it to your partner.”
For gosh sakes, talk about it!
All experts queried for this column agreed: at some point, a conversation needs to happen. So if you were thinking about switching on Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs and surprising your partner with a gimp mask and ball gag, think again.
To avoid potentially serious mishaps, it’s best to discuss your fantasy in a non-sexual setting before bringing it between the sheets.
“It’s really easy to say something in the middle of having sex because you think it’s really hot,” Glickman says,
“But if your partner has any kind of concern or misunderstanding, if they’re not interested in it or if they freak out a little bit about it because they’re making assumptions about what you’re talking about – whatever it is – it can really easily turn into a train wreck.”
Of course, having the conversation is easier said than done. Many people have a difficult time discussing regular ol’ vanilla sex outside the bedroom; the idea of confessing a-normative, edgy fantasies over breakfast can seem beyond daunting.
However, there are practical steps to ensure a productive conversation.
Practical ways to approach “the talk.”
Set context and intention.
According to sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko, the best way to approach a difficult conversation is to set the context and intention.
The first step is to share what you’re afraid of, which has kept you from coming clean, and then share what you want to get out of the conversation. Mihalko offers a sample convo:
“I have something to tell you. I haven’t told you yet because I’m afraid of X, Y, and Z. What I’d like happen by revealing what I’m about to reveal is A, B, and C. He also suggests that you share whatever you need to share in two sentences or less – tops.
Uses pop culture or objective references when possible.
Have you seen your kink portrayed in a movie, book, TV show, or news article in a way that appeals to you? “That might be one way to introduce the kink,” adult performer Jiz Lee says,
“Talking about it objectively first, and then reeling it closer to home by mentioning how it made you feel to hear about it, and that maybe you might like to learn more about how to try it together.”
Seeing a fantasy represented in pop culture can also make it seem de facto more acceptable and relatable.
Woah, Nelly! Go Slow.
Even if your partner is willing or excited to explore your kink with you, it’s still a good idea to go slow. “Ease into the exploration together, slowly testing the waters,” Lee suggests.
The reason for this can be psychological – pushing for too much too fast might be too intense for your partner (or even you), and stymie further exploration. Sometimes fantasies involve significant planning or discussion.
“Depending on the ‘out-there-ness’ of the idea, the time from discussion to attempting it can be weeks to months,” adult film legend Nina Hartley shares. “If it’s simple role playing and costumes, we can do it this weekend. If it’s anything anal, that’s often months down the road, once both people are on board.”
Shocked today, on board tomorrow: an initial freak out can still end well.
If your partner initially reacts with surprise, shock, even disgust, that doesn’t mean they won’t come around.
“Let them have their reaction,” Mihalko says, explaining that attitudes tend to soften after initial shock. Most human beings just don’t handle new information well, especially information that surprises them.”
That goes doubly so when the surprise is of a sexual nature.
In the case of a negative or “freaked out” reaction, more dialogue is needed.
According to Marcia Baczynski, if the freaked out partner expresses a modicum of curiosity in the fantasy, it can be a teachable moment, and “there’s totally hope for the couple.”
Can’t win ‘em all
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be accepting of/interested in/turned on by your kink.
If after significant discussion and/or in-the-bedroom experimentation, your partner expresses a desire to put the brakes on the kinky train, respect their wishes; there’s a fine line between inviting dialogue and pushing someone until they’re irritated or uncomfortable. As Baczynski puts it,
“There’s no guarantee that just because you tell your partner, that they’re going to be able to meet you there. Or that they’re going to understand it or get it or value it.”
The truth will set you free
Whether your partner jumps on the kinky bandwagon or gives you a what the heck you talkin’ about? look, coming clean is almost always the best practice.
“When human beings are left to their own mental devices, they will always create a scenario in their mind that emotionally ends up being worse over time than probably anything that could actually happen,” Mihalko explains.
After all, good relationships are built on honesty, openness, and trust. Right? Right. Even if your significant other doesn’t find your fantasy habanero hot, just having the conversation can bring you guys closer together and open up dialogue on how you can improve your sex life – to incorporate both your fantasies.
Got a kinky confession story? Ever told your partner about deep, dark secret fantasy? Tell us how it went in the comment section below!