Thinking About Kids

Parents, kids, and the way we live together

Lessons From a Kinky Sex Blog

Can you learn about how to have a good relationship from a blog on kinky sex?

I was reading a blog called The Pervocracy this morning, and found in it a great piece on fostering good relationships.  Not just good kinky sex relationships.  Not just good sexual or even romantic relationships.  Just good relationships.  Period.

(How did I find this blog?  Let's just say that Facebook links us to weird places and sometimes our friends should monitor their privacy settings.)

The author, Cliff Pervoacy, (I somehow suspect this is not her real name) sums up what she learned from years enjoying sex on the kinky side.  Her points are basic and I'm just going to outline them.  As a relationship researcher, this fits well into the literature on what makes people happy.  But read it yourself.  

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Pervocacy's points:

  • Focus on what you want.  Many people start off having relationships and having sex by doing what they think they are supposed to do, not necessarily what they want to do.  This can be fun, but often doesn't get you want you really want or need.  It also makes you self-conscious, because you spend too much time judging yourself against arbitrary and possibly unrealistic standards.  All good sex doesn't look like pornography.  All good relationships don't play out like romance novels.
  •  Planfulness can be sexy.  In our culture, we have this idea that romance has to be natural and spontaneous and superb sex should 'just happen'.  Planning ahead ruins it.  Baloney!  One way you can show someone you care about them and can develop intimacy is by communicating what you want.  And THINKING about what you want and need so you can communicate it.  Setting up a romantic evening together requires planfulness.  And we know from the literature on social relationships for the elderly (of all places, because we've never studied in it younger folks) that anticipating being with someone makes us less lonely while we're waiting, makes us enjoy the time more, and makes us feel better about it afterwards.  I suspect it works the same way for the rest of us too.
  • Don't assume.  When you're into kinky sex - and kinky casts a very wide net - you can't assume that you know what the other person wants or that they know what you want.  Just because you know their gender, doesn't mean you know their script.  To some extent that's probably true for all of us.  
  • What would violate your trust?  Are you comfortable with your partner enjoying themself with other people as long as they tell you?  But you'd feel cheated on and hurt if you found that they had friends you didn't know about?  Tell them.  Is hugging okay and kissing not?  How would they know?  
  • What makes you feel cared about? When you go to a party together, do you expect them to spend a lot of time with you so you can have fun together and be seen as a couple?  Or are you comfortable spinning off on your own and just getting together for the ride home?  Maybe you should both know before you go out.  Do you need them to tell you they are enjoying your time together?  You can phrase that as "I love it when you tell me how much you like looking at me." instead of pouting or complaining that they don't.
  • What do you like to do?  In bed or out, it may never have occured to your partner that you have always wanted to try sushi, or that you like roller derby, or that you find vibrators a real turn on.  They may too, they not may not, or they may be willing to try.  They may be too embarrassed or shy or non-communicative to tell you.  Don't assume they're not interested just because they haven't brought it up.  You haven't brought it up either.
  • What DON'T you like to do?  It they're into it and you're not, TELL THEM.  You're going to have to work it out.  It won't get better with time.  If you don't say you don't like, they'll assume you do.
  • "We need to talk."  Often.  Many people dread it when their partner says 'We have to talk."  But you do need to talk.  What would happen if you just made a habit of checking in with each other every month about what is going well and what isn't?  This works well in all kinds of relationships - not just romantic or sexual ones.  Working on group projects can be stressful.  I have my students fill out rubrics on how each partner is working together, what's working well and what could be going better.  Students start out nervous, but it usually winds up as a mutual appreciation fest.  Talking about things early, often, and regularly makes it easy to bring up little things before they fester and become bitter or nasty.
  • Consent.  If you're into bondage or kinky sex, consent is everything.  This isn't just about sex, it's about all levels of a relationship.  In Sharing Privacy and Secrecy BetrayedI talk about Sandra Petronio's Communication Privacy Management Theory.  She talks about "boundary turbulence" when people's understanding of privacy rules differ and one partner shares information the other partner understands as private.  Boundary turbulence makes us unhappy.  Consent isn't just about sex - it's about understanding that everyone is on the same page.

When we communicate, we learn interesting things.  And in places and from sources we didn't expect.

 

Nancy Darling, Ph.D., is a Professor at Oberlin College.

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