Do you have any tips for talking to partners or potential partners about kink/fetishes? There are things I’m interested in trying that I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about because I’m nervous about accidentally freaking someone out or losing out on a relationship because of what I’m into. How and when should I start the conversation?
You’re not alone in feeling that talking about kink, fetishes, and sexual fantasies with other people can be super hard. Getting what we want in bed — whether it’s trying something new or asking a partner to scooch a little to the left and slow it down — requires us to make ourselves vulnerable about our pleasure and desire in ways that most of us aren’t used to doing. And when desires or fantasies that have been stigmatized, made taboo, or even ridiculed by the culture we live in enter the mix, the emotional stakes of putting yourself out there can be even higher.
As with most things in the world of sex and relationships, there’s no right time or approach to having these conversations. It depends on a variety of factors, and you’re the only person who can decide when and whether you feel safe and comfortable enough to broach the topic with a partner.
Some folks prefer to get ahead of the conversation by seeking partners in places like FetLife.com, a Facebook-esque social network specifically for the “BDSM, Fetish, and Kinky Community.” For some, FetLife and other networks like it provide a safer space for people to explore their sexual desires and curiosities, connect with others who share them, and even meet up in the real world for anything from friendship and support to casual sex and/or dating to long-term relationships.
But what happens when you meet someone outside of a context where interest in similar sexual adventures is already on the table?
Of course, there’s always the option of just talking to your partner(s) directly. It can take a lot of courage and unfortunately leaves open the possibility that they may react in a way that is disappointing or even hurtful, but opening up and starting the conversation can also deepen your connection and give your partner(s) permission to talk about their own hidden desires as well.
Should a partner of yours have a negative reaction, remember: Your partner(s) always have the right to say no, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to disrespect, shame, or belittle you because of your sexual preferences. If a partner chooses to use your honesty and openness against you, it may be a flag that the relationship is treading into unhealthy territory.
While clear, direct communication is typically the gold standard for sex and relationships, sometimes coming right out and admitting what you’re into might not feel safe or comfortable. If you want to test the waters a bit before jumping into a candid conversation, here are a few suggestions:
Pose a hypothetical question or situation. “How would you feel about…” or “Have you ever wondered what X would be like?” can be helpful ways of asking about an act in a neutral way that puts your partner’s comfort or interest at the center of the conversation.
Use MojoUpgrade.com to fill out a free, anonymous questionnaire about various fantasies. You and your partner each complete the survey separately, and then the website will generate a report that only shows the items you’re both into. It’s like Tinder for fantasies.
If you and your partner are into it, you can suggest watching porn or reading erotica together that includes your particular desire, fantasy, kink, or fetish and use it as an entry point to a conversation about incorporating it into your own relationship.
However you decide to go about these conversations, know that as long as you’re engaging in sex that’s safe and consensual you deserve to be heard and respected by your partner(s). If they can’t accept your cool, kinky self, you deserve to be with someone else who will. Good luck!