BDSM & Kink

How To Talk About Sex & Pleasure: Lessons From The Kink Community

Communication is key to great sex. Here’s how kinksters lead the way when it comes to discussing getting dirty!
by KK
23 Mar 2020

UPDATED: 3 Nov 2022


Lessons from the kink community

Despite popular myths, kink isn’t all about whips and chains, but rather how openly you’re willing to talk about the sex you’re having, says the sexpert of the dating industry and founder of Tailor Matched, Asa Baav.

The fear of not being ‘normal’ (whatever that is) keeps many of us from exploring what really brings us pleasure, and keeps many of us from communicating what that might be to our partners.

In this kink blog, Asa shares three things we can all learn about sex, pleasure, and communication from the kink community.

We often assume we know what’s on the standard/mainstream sex script, yet we rarely take the time to discover whether we actually like it.

But this isn’t the case in the kink community, where exploration is just another day at the dungeon (joking! There may or may not be a sex dungeon involved).

So what exactly is kink?

Merriam-Webster’s definition of kink is ‘unconventional sexual taste or behaviour’ and includes a wide variety of behaviours and preferences.

That includes BDSM (a subset of kink), which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. So, for example, being tied up or handcuffed (bondage), spanked (discipline), and power-playing (dominance/submission) all fall under the broad umbrella of BDSM.

Jay Wiseman, author of SM 101, hints at the depths of kink in his definition of BDSM as “the knowing use of psychological dominance and submission, and/or physical bondage, and/or pain, and/or related practices in a safe, legal, consensual manner in order for the participants to experience erotic arousal and/or personal growth.”

Did you notice the crucial words there? Safe. Legal. Consensual. Each of these elements aims to up erotic arousal. So, are you intrigued now?

What is the kink community?

The term kink community is used in various ways; typically, it describes clubs, groups, and cliques that meet to discuss, experiment, and play within their chosen kinks or expand into those they are yet to explore.

However, it can also be used to describe anyone with a passion for kink and the kink population as a whole. Globally, the term can describe anyone who fits Merriam-Webster’s definition, shown above.

Ultimately, however we perceive the term ‘kink communities’ and what we might consider to be an unconventional sexual taste or pleasure, most of us have a little kink in us. Whether we want to wear the label or not is another question, but what really matters is how we behave and the respect we give to our partners.

Here are three things everyone can learn about sex, pleasure, and communication from the kink community.

Learn to negotiate for the best sex of your life

In the kink world, before starting a ‘scene’ (a BDSM interaction), everyone involved sits down, fully clothed, and engages in a negotiation. This is an opportunity for people to express and determine:

  • What to expect
  • What they like
  • What they don’t like
  • How they want to feel
  • What might be triggering for them (words, body parts, etc.)
  • How to indicate that they are not okay with what’s happening
  • How to check in about whether they are still fully present enough to consent (see more on that below)

These questions require self-reflection, which is sometimes the edgiest and most difficult part of this process. It can be challenging to articulate your fears and desires, especially if you are not used to doing so.

Negotiation means understanding what qualifies as good sex for you. For example, maybe you get off on feeling powerful or powerless, and will therefore need to have conversations about that with your partner/s to understand if your sexual preferences are compatible.

One of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve heard is not just negotiating what’s going on but negotiating what things mean. For example, you can say to a lover, “I want you to tie me up,” but what does that look like? Do you like silk ribbons or chains? Are we talking feet and hands, or the whole body? Go deeper to understand who, where, how and why you want what you want so you can communicate your desires with greater precision and clarity.

Let’s talk fantasies

Talking about fantasies is another way that kinksters (as people who enjoy things on the kinky side sometimes call themselves) discover what a partner might want to do.

Sometimes discussing specific acts can feel awkward or difficult to explain. But when you start with fantasies, you can get a much better picture of how you or your partner wants to feel. Then it becomes a question of whether you want to turn your fantasy into reality and potentially make that feeling happen.

Here’s the vital lesson when it comes to communicating about fantasies. For kinksters, it’s not simply about ensuring everyone involved is comfortable and consenting. It’s about feeling empowered in asking for what you want out of sex, without being shamed for it, so you can have the sex you want.

Engaged Consent

We’ve all heard of ‘no means no’, but because kink can be risky, covers a broad spectrum of activities, and can push comfort limits, those who practise it don’t just assume someone will be okay with a particular act just because they haven’t said ‘no’.

Therefore the gold standard when it comes to consent is something called ‘engaged consent’. Engaged consent is about having understanding and awareness not only of the acts and the environment but also of why you are consenting. It may or may not be enthusiastic – it is possible to consent to something unenthusiastically, for instance if you know your partner would really love something that you yourself are indifferent to. Engaged consent creates space for this nuance.

The kink community takes this a step further by creating systems so people can indicate that they’re no longer having a great time, such as:

These are words determined in the negotiation phase that indicate that a person no longer consents. This is great in any sexual encounter but crucial in a scene where saying ‘no’ or ‘stop’ is part of what both partners agree will happen as part of the interaction.

The stoplight system
If a partner is doing something that doesn’t feel right and you want them to slow down but don’t want to bring the sexual encounter to a complete halt, a lot of people will use the words ‘yellow’  to indicate ‘slow down’ and ‘red’ to indicate ‘stop’.

Checking in
People have different kinds of baggage around sex, and sometimes people check out or dissociate in the middle. In SM 101, Jay Wiseman suggests predetermining a system where one person squeezes the other’s hand twice to ask, “Are you still present? Are you okay?” Two squeezes in return mean, “Yes, I’m still here, I’m good to go.”

Here’s the really important lesson when it comes to consent: it’s an ongoing process.

  • It’s okay for you to arrange a hot liaison on a Tuesday, yet have no interest in it by Wednesday.
  • It’s okay to be getting hot and heavy in the bar, but by the time you get to the bedroom have lost your turn-on and want to hold hands instead.
  • It’s okay to be naked and in the middle of a sex act and decide you’d rather not continue.

None of these scenarios obligates you (or your partner) to do something sexual that you (or they) don’t want to do.

Whatever the case, it’s essential to have a space carved out for consent. You’re allowed to say you’re not in the mood without being shamed or punished for it.

For more turn-ons and pleasure, my advice is to learn from the kink community and talk about sex before sex, talk about sex during sex, and talk about sex after sex.

Asa Baav is the founder of Tailor Matched, offline dating for the wild at heart. She’s on a mission to take our dating and sex lives off the screen and back out into the world where they belong. Find out more at