How To Talk About Kink With Your Vanilla Partner

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How To Talk About Kink With Your Vanilla Partner

Couples of all kinds grow together sexually.

Most people who start a relationship expect — or at least hope — to align on important life elements. That’s why so many of us make sure to go over the basic, foundational bits like "Do you want kids?" "Do you want to get married?" and "Are you as career focused as I am?" during the dating stage. But often we forget to check on sexual compatibility before taking the plunge into a committed relationship, and by that, I don’t just mean having sex and thinking "Yep, that’s good sex." Sexual compatibility goes much further than that. 


Sexual compatibility also includes whether the two of you prioritise sex on the same level, have similar desires to have sex (in terms of frequency), are both good at sexual communication, enjoy similar sexual behaviours, and whether you’re both into (or not into) trying new things. 


If you know you’re kinky from the get-go, this should also be laid on the table early on, when you first start discussing or having sex, with a conversation like "Hey, I’m into rough sex. Are you? Do you think you’d be into it if you tried?" Equally, if there’s something you’ve not tried but that has been on your mind to try for a while, you should bring that up, too. 


This isn’t to say that all couples should have mind-blowing sex with equal pleasure that ticks everyone’s boxes on the first go or they should call it quits. In fact, that’s pretty unlikely, though possible. Couples of all kinds grow together sexually, and if any of your partner’s answers to your sexual compatibility questions are an awkward "ermmm no, no really," it doesn’t mean the two of you are doomed. Humans are flexible and we change our minds. But we all have our deal breakers, our absolute "no-nos," and that’s where things can get complicated. 


This is why it’s so important not to gloss over this chat (no matter how awkward it is) and avoid ending up with mismatched levels of kinkiness. 


How do I talk to my vanilla partner about kink?

If you did skip that first sexual compatibility course, don’t fret. It’s better late than never. 


First, don’t assume your partner is "vanilla" — meaning, they like regular, non-kinky sex — because, so far, you’ve mostly done missionary. If you haven’t had a chat about kink before, there’s no way to tell they aren’t into it. Try not to make assumptions as you lead into this conversation or try to guess ahead of time what their reaction will be.


Schedule some time with your partner specifically to talk about sex and have the conversation somewhere where you’re comfortable. Often, it works well to have this conversation outside of the bedroom to remove any pressure. If you hang out together in your living room quite often, this could be a settling place to talk.


When we talk to our partners about introducing kink into the relationship, we shouldn’t lead by focusing on specific activities, like using handcuffs or trying spanking, for instance. Just leading with specific activities is limiting. There’s not a lot of room for compromise or discussion if we jump in with a super-specific situation.


Instead, talk about the goals or feelings you’re after. For instance, maybe I want to be spanked so I can feel punished, but my partner doesn't want the idea of hitting me. So we can discuss and find another way where I can feel punished. Words like "explore" and "figure things out" can help you communicate. You're doing this together. It’s not just a case of ticking off a ‘yes or no’ list of kinks.


What if my partner is firm in their vanilla stance?

It happens! Vanilla people exist, and it’s not right to shame or try to change them. It might be that their vanilla nature comes from outdated ideas about sex, or it might be that they are just super into the simpler side of sex. Whatever the case, their style of sex is their own choice, just like everyone else’s. 


The most important part of all of this is that you understand your desires don’t overrule your partner’s comfort. Whether your desire is kink, or polyamory, etc, that is still your own desire, and your partner, no matter how much they love you, want to have sex with you, or think you're the best thing since sliced bread, doesn’t have to do it with you.


They are just desires, not rights. Your partner’s take on them just informs you of how or when you can act on them in the relationship. 


If a kink is integral to you (perhaps it’s more of a fetish, meaning you struggle to get sexual pleasure without it?), see if your partner is open to giving it a go or trying something similar. But don’t pressure them. If they’re just not into it at all, or if they try it and don’t like it, but you find you still really need it from your relationship, then maybe that relationship isn't for you. 


Sexual compatibility is important, but it's not something that is innate. It’s not about chemistry or attraction, it's the ability to listen, understand, respond, and find different middle ground.


Once the initial conversation or conversations have been had, the next moves are really up to the vanilla person to explain what they’re comfortable exploring. Just recognise it might take patience.  If you’ve figured out you’re kinky, there was probably a period of time where you didn’t know and it took you time, trial and error to figure things out. Your partner should be afforded the same flexibility. 


Should we open our relationship to solve this?

You can open your relationship if that’s something the two of you are genuinely interested in. But if someone isn't getting what they want out of a relationship, that's not a reason to have more relationships. You should be non monogamous because you want to be non monogamous, not because your partner is failing to meet your needs.


A lot of people see opening the relationship as the only choice when you want to stay together but aren’t interested in the same kinks, but that isn’t the case. There are plenty of ways that you can also be monogamous and explore kink in a different way. 

Kinks can actually be explored solo. From wax play to shibari to dominance, restraint, and nipple play, whatever you’re into or you’d like to give a go, a sexual partner isn’t necessary for exploration. You can restrict yourself, you can deny yourself, you can impose a reward system or a punishment system, you can even do sensation play on yourself. And this is a great way to explore kink without your partner.


What about hiring a helping hand? 

There’s also the option of hiring a sex worker, like a professional kink instructor, to help you explore. Hiring a professional is great if you want to stay monogamous but involve another person so you can experience kink. There’s a professional boundary there which can make participants more comfortable, and you can work with the expert separately or as a couple. It also means that you can explore with someone who knows what they’re doing and how to practise safely.


It might be that your partner doesn’t want to be directly involved in the kink but gets a thrill out of watching you engage in it, which is another way a professional can come in. Compromising in this sphere is all about trying different things, and working out what’s comfortable, fun, and pleasurable for both of you. 


If you and your partner have different ideas about what sex should look like, whether you’re vanilla, a little kinky, or into hardcore BDSM, you don’t have to split up. But you cannot compromise beyond your boundaries, nor should you expect that of someone else. Have an open, honest conversation and be considerate of each other’s desires, needs, and no-go areas. Whatever the outcome ends up being for you both, it’s important to remember that no one has failed. Whether a relationship ends, opens, changes dynamic, or remains exactly the same, these are choices you’ve bravely made to protect each other’s happiness. And that’s exactly what partners should do. 


Written by: Beth Ashley on Mashable