Dear Dr. Faizal,
I met a guy and he’s so perfect! He’s nice, charming and thoughtful and I was sure it was too good to be true – I was right. So, turns out he’s into BDSM. I’m talking about whips, handcuffs, the whole thing. Honestly, it’s a bit much for me BUT he’s just SO nice. We’re perfect in every other way. I’m 30 years old and I can’t really be too choosy, right? Am I being a prude?
– My Christian Grey
Dear My Christian Grey,
Wow, a guy who’s “nice, charming and thoughtful” sounds wonderful! Don’t lose hope just because his sexual preferences are different from yours. I mean, if you were dating a person from a different culture who preferred to eat different types of food (perhaps spicier than you’re used to) from you, what would you do? I’m presuming you’d want to learn more about him by learning more about his eating habits and culture, right?
Why not learn your partner’s sexual lingo and habits? GQ has a very good introduction about BDSM to newcomers (gq.com/story/bdsm-a-to-z). This article, “A Very Sexy Beginner’s Guide to SDSM,” first defines this sexual genre as “bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism,” which are the “core pillars of kinky fun,” and then offers a glossary of terms (from A to Z) common to BDSM.
A strategy to begin conversations on this topic is using a chart I give to my couples to become aware of each other’s sexual desires and needs. Essentially, this chart has areas of sexual interests such as oral sex, anal sex, sex toys, sex on camera, sex in public places, threesomes, dominance, role-playing and same-sex experiences. Now beside each interest, you choose from gotta have it, want it, curious about it, not that important to me, willing to try if asked, or never going to happen. After you and your partner complete this chart, exchange your answers and begin sharing the reasons for your responses. Remember, this conversation must be done in an open, honest, non-judgmental and respectful manner.
After all your research and sharing, you could begin your ‘sexploration’ with your partner, considering your comfort level. Set boundaries as you explore. Negotiate what you want and are uncomfortable with. Agree to a ‘safety word’ to use when things don’t feel good for either of you. For example, if you wish to take a break, you could say something like, “Yabadabadoo,” “Scooby-dooby-doo,” etc. (remember, sex should be fun, right?).
Why not create your own sex repertoire – something that you’re both comfortable with? You both could have ‘vanilla sex’ one week and a bit of kink the following week. Or you could blend the two each time you are together. Understand that there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way when it comes to sex as long as you’re enjoying a consensual, nurturing encounter and are not hurting yourself or your partner.