Sploshing, puppy play, bondage, discipline, sadomasochism: kink comes in a whirlwind of flavors. If a concept exists, there are people out there getting off to it. The inspiring news? Having a kink is totally normal. It’s an exhilarating, yet utterly natural part of many people’s sex lives. 

But, hold up. Let’s get back to basics first. What exactly is having a kink?

In easy terms, a kink is behaviour that deviates from conventional sex – which is usually described, pretty heternormatively, as vaginal penetration, oral sex or masturbation. 

Beyond that, however, people tend to think of BDSM first and foremost when ‘kink’ comes to mind, echoing the consensual power play that tends to be a necessary part of a lot of people’s desires. But there’s more to enjoying a kink than the stereotypical whips and chains of BDSM: it can heighten intimacy between partners, boost confidence, create communities and help you take ownership over your body to find what truly turns you on.

the world is your kink oyster

Having a kink is normal

According to sex therapist Dr Ian Kerner, normalcy, when it comes to sex, refers to, “having a range of desires and a degree of sexual fluidity.” This means that if what you like between the sheets involves more than the basic missionary, you are just like everybody else. 

So… how do kinks develop?

There is a not-entirely-correct narrative that sexual kinks always appear in early childhood, stemming from an embarrassing or extreme experience. However, psychological researcher Samuel Hughes has discovered five phases of kink identity development. Along with experiences that occur before the age of 10, he also highlights self-exploration, which can continue until the age of 14; kink evaluation and worry about feeling ‘normal’, which takes places in people aged 11-14; the ‘finding others’ stage, which encompasses seeking out communities in person or online, usually after the age of 18. The final stage is exploration with others, where kinky play and kinky sex happen between consenting adults, with no shame.

While coming to terms with a kink can often involve soul-searching, worrying and confusion, it is also entirely possible to have a healthy and happy kinky sex life. Having a kink can be a huge part of your sexual identity, and can lead to some of the most intoxicating moments in bed (or, much more likely, out of it). 

The benefits of exploring your kink

One huge draw to experimenting with your kink is that taking on new or different sexual ideals can help you understand both your mind and your body. Your kink persona might be in complete contrast to the one you present to the everyday world, letting you experience and react to situations in new ways. If you’re normally quite submissive in your home or work life, BDSM play might bring out your dominant side in your sex life. If you feel stuck in a rut, roleplay can help you enact your most delicious fantasies and help you own your sexiness and pleasure. If you are a headstrong and outgoing person, being objectified and taking on a passive role in sexual situations could work for you.

Of course, the best facet of participating in kink with a partner is simply the fact that it brings you closer together. Having a kink is a truly intimate and personal thing, and sharing that with another person is a sign of huge trust and vulnerability. There is so much for you to explore together: the creativity inherent in delving into your kink, the closeness that develops, and of course, the incredible sexual pleasure you’ll experience.

The importance of communication 

Kink is also an opportunity to really stretch and accept your sexual boundaries. All kink and fetish activity strongly depends on consent: without firm rules and clear expectations, confusion and instability reign. This is why communication is perhaps the most important aspect of kinky sex. Hard, soft and medium boundaries can be clearly drawn – in fact, lots of people use the traffic light system for safe words: ‘green’ meaning ‘keep going’, ‘yellow’ meaning ‘this is okay, but slow down/reign it in’ and ‘red’ meaning ‘stop immediately’. This translates into your daily life: by getting used to stating boundaries with partners in a sexual situation, you can exercise this control in all aspects of life.

Your kink can be a part of an incredibly satisfying and fun sex life. As well as leading you to all kinds of hot times between the sheets, looking deeper into your turn-ons helps you learn more about yourself and develop a deeper connection with your partner (or partners). And with about 75% of people admitting their unconventional sexual mores, we can confidently state once again that having a kink is normal as can be. So, shrug off any shame you might have been carrying and let your freak flag fly. We’re rooting for you!

About Kirstyn Smith

Kirstyn Smith, afterglow writer

Despite being a writer, Kirstyn Smith still isn’t very good at amusing bios. She works freelance as an editor + writer, and she’s also founder of Marbles – an independent magazine that explores mental illness with irreverence, rawness and humour. In her free time, she likes to nap, eat chips, run and consume all things spooky. But mainly the chips thing.

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