(Note: Occasionally, I get a question from a reader that is compelling enough to become its own article. This is one of those questions.)
I have been quietly reading your blog while also coming to terms with my need for erotic play in my sex life. The thing is I don’t know where to start. I enjoy the submissive role and my partner is interested in being in the dominant role. Neither one of us really know how best to play our roles to fulfill each other that way and need some ideas/guidance. Can you steer me in the right direction?
Good on you, Talia, for wanting to get to know and express your kinky side! As for where you should start. . .
First, start with. . . Self-Exploration
The word kink means a lot of different things for many people. So begin by uncovering what kinky means to you via self-exploration (and maybe even a little masturbation).
Ask yourself. . .
- What words and images come up when I think of kink?
- What things do I associate with kink? (i.e., colors, sensations, images, objects)
- Who’s someone that embodies these kinky characteristics? (a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)
- What does it mean to me to be a submissive? What does it mean to be a dom?
If you’re having trouble coming up with images or words, think about your fantasies. What erotic imagery gets you off? Are there any kinds of kinky porn that you gravitate toward watching? What about sensations that you’re aching to feel at the height of your arousal? I bet you’ll see some themes arising. Feed off of that as you continue to unearth and play with what kink means to you.
Next, try envisioning who you would be as you act out these expressions of kink. How do you see yourself embodying kink? How are you behaving? What are you wearing? How are you talking? As a submissive, what would you like to be done to you? Journal it out; use lavish words. Make it into a story of some sort.
This is meant to be a playful and curious kind of exploration—no right or wrong answers, no rules, just whatever comes up naturally as you think about it.
And remember: this is your unique expression of kink, no one else’s. Feel free to pull inspiration from others’ expressions of kink, but know that you can make yours look and feel however you want it to.
Next. . . Open, Honest Communication with Your Partner
Whenever you’re ready, bring the pieces you’ve collected during your kink exploration to your partner. Share with them whatever you want them to know: your definition of kink, what it looks like to you, what you’d like to explore. You might also ask them some of the questions you asked yourself as you were exploring to get a clearer idea of what their kink looks and feels like. Be sure to create a safe space for the two of you to speak your desires, your concerns, and curiosities.
One thing you two should definitely do together: Start thinking about what kinky acts you’re interested in exploring. Babeland has this awesome list that they hand out to people when they go to their workshops. It’s called the Yes/No/Maybe list*, and you can recreate this for yourself and your partner.
Start by sectioning off three columns on a piece of paper, and in each column write one of these words: YES, NO, and MAYBE. Then, from a list of sexual acts, write down in a respective column where those acts land for you: as a Yes, a Maybe, or a definite No.
So, maybe spanking is something you’d like to try; you’d put that in the Maybe column. Golden showers. . . not your schtick; you’d put that in the No column. And so on. Have your partner do their own list, too. Then, compare each other’s lists. Is one of their No’s one of your Yes’s (or vice versa)? Are you both into some of the same stuff?
It’s so important to have these kinds of open dialogues, as they help to form strong boundaries around what you two are creating for each other as your kinky expressions are explored.
And of course:
Consent is of the utmost importance as you explore your kink. Make sure you and your partner are prepared to honor each other by renewing that consent with check-ins and heart-to-hearts about how you’re feeling—before, during, and after.
Then. . . Playful and Curious Experimentation
By now, you and your partner should have a good, solid list of some things you’d like to try with each other—likely to be found in the Yes and Maybe column of your lists. The only thing left to do is try it on for size.
Feeling a bit daunted by where to start with your lists? Start with some light pain-play, like spanking and biting (start off slow and light, and work your way up to test your pain thresholds). Dirty talk and commands can also help the two of you dip a toe into your dominant/submissive roles. Start there, and see what happens. Just make sure that you and your partner are both fully aroused before you begin experimentation.
Another thing you two could do is watch porn together that portrays the kind(s) of kink you’re into (and that’s where that Yes/No/Maybe list will come in handy).
Whatever you start with, go forth and get your kinky on.
And finally. . . Heart-to-Heart Evaluation
So, how was it? What was it like to play as a submissive? What was it like for your partner to play as a dom? Was there anything you especially loved? Anything you tried that wasn’t your cup of tea?
Be honest about your experience—with yourself and with your partner. Whatever didn’t work, toss aside. And what did work for you, keep playing with. The most important thing is that you’re both vocal about how you feel, and that you feel comfortable asking for what you want. Establishing trust and maintaining safety (which are must-haves for kinky sex!) is created through honest feedback and continued checkins outside of playtime.
Know, too, that it’s not uncommon for sexual acts that were once a total Yes! to somehow turn into a No with time (and vice versa). That’s totally OK. These expressions can be quite fluid (as can your own arousal), and if/when it happens, just shelve it and move onto something else (or, pick it up and give it a go).
Again, this is your kink, your expression. You can make it look and feel however you want it to.
But above all. . . keep exploring it, and try to maintain a state of innocence and curiosity about it. Exploring your kink should never feel like an obligation.
This is just the tip of the kinky iceberg.
The ideas written here are far from exhaustive. There are hundreds of books and articles out there that will help you continue to explore your kinky side, as well as cover more extensive topics, like consent with kink, safe words, and the like.
Here are just a few resources that’ll inspire you as you continue to explore erotic play:
- Fetlife.com [NSFW]
- Exhibitionism for the Shy, Carol Queen
- Radical Ecstasy, Easton & Hardy (also check out: The New Bottoming Book)
- PrettyKinkyThings.tumblr.com [NSFW]
- The Art of the Blowjob (the last page is a great resource for tips on communication)
- 150 Shades of Play, Em & Lo
*I took the liberty of scanning a page in Babeland’s book, Moregasm, which gives a pretty stellar list of sexual acts that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Be safe, be consensual, and have fun!