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Starting the Conversation: How to Talk to Your Partner About BDSM

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

The backbone of every successful relationship is communication and honest. When discussing personal desires and fantasies, such as exploring the realms of BDSM, communication, patience and honesty is absolutely required . BDSM, is a complex world encompasses various practices, erotic experiences and power dynamics. BDSM is also very misunderstood which can make it more daunting to discuss with a partner. I hope this serves as an empathetic guide on how to open up that conversation respectfully.

Set the Stage


The environment and timing you choose to discuss BDSM can significantly influence the outcome of your conversation. Ideally, find a private space, free from distractions where you both feel safe and where you won’t be interrupted. Ensure you both have time and energy, both physically and mentally, to handle this conversation. This isn’t a quick chat to have in passing, but a sensitive, open-ended, and potentially ongoing conversation that may require plenty of time. Also, consider having this conversation in a non-sexual setting. The idea is to focus on clear, open communication about desires, fears, and boundaries, rather than adding the pressure of immediate sexual exploration.

Once the right environment is established, be open about your interest in BDSM. Communicate your desires, discuss your fantasies, explain what aspects of BDSM intrigue you, and why you’d like to incorporate these elements into your relationship. Are you drawn to the power dynamic play, the sensual side of kink? Or is it the potential for deep trust and connection that BDSM can foster, that draws you in? It’s absolutely fine if you’re unsure of what you like; curiosity is a valid starting point.


Understanding Your Partner’s Perspective and Reassurance


It is essential to give your partner a chance to respond after sharing your thoughts. Give them a chance to voice any thoughts, fears, questions, or even share fantasies of their own. Engage in active listening, showing genuine interest and empathy towards their feelings. A tool such as a Yes, No, Maybe list can help facilitate this part of the conversation. It gives you both a comprehensive list of potential activities in BDSM, allowing both partners to express their interest level in each, sparking further discussion and aiding in boundary setting.

Discussing kink may bring up concerns or fears in your partner. Hearing that a partner wants to explore uncharted waters can be scary and bring up concerns or fears, especially if your partner is unfamiliar with the practice. Some of these fears may include feelings of inadequacy (Do they want to explore kink because I am not good enough?). Reiterate that BDSM is not about transgressing boundaries, but about exploring new dimensions of intimacy, connection, and pleasure within a safe and consensual environment. It is imperative to reassure them that boundaries, comfort, and consent are paramount. These are some of the tenets of BDSM. This is a step you take together with mutual consent and respect.

BDSM is governed by certain principles including SSC (Safe, Sane, and Consensual) and RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink). Kink101 provides a detailed discussion of these principles, which can be a helpful resource in this conversation. Remember, successful navigation of such a conversation is dependent on understanding, open communication, and mutual respect.

Kink ranges from light bondage and sensory play to more intense practices like dominance and submission. When you are both ready to begin your exploration, learn about different facets of BDSM, safety, essential elements of informed consent. Opt for educational resources, attend workshops if possible and join online communities such as FetLife.

Additional Links

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino

  2. BDSM 101 by Ms Morgan Thorne is a well respected BDSM educator

  3. Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Molly Devon and Philip Miller

  4. The New Bottoming Book by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

  5. The New Topping Book by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton

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