The Happy Trail

Kinks are Totally Normal! Here’s How to Safely Explore Them

Overview of multiple sex toys including ropes, collars, and vibrators. Credit: freepik from

By Amelia Pooser 

  College can be an exciting time to explore your sexual desires but it can also be overwhelming with the current flood of sexually related media. There is a lot of content and information that is readily available for people to learn, explore, and interact with, but it is important to do it in safe ways. In some kinks, things can get pretty intense and heavy fast, and it is important to not just jump in the deep end. 

  Let’s begin with the definition and taboo nature of kinks. Kinks refer to a range of sexual interests and activities that are deemed unconventional, like roleplay, power dynamics, or praise and degradation. It is important to note that kinks are completely normal and a natural part of some peoples experience with sex. The “unconventional”  nature of kinks is a societal fallacy that tries to shame sexual acts and interests that do not fit the hegemonic heteronormative ideal. 

  In our heteronormative society there is a narrative that “sex” refers to very specific kinds of intercourse, namely penis-vagina sex that involves penetration. This devalues and disregards many kinds of sex or sexual activities that exist outside of the heteronormative view. Thus, the concept of kinks was developed in the backdrop of this exclusionary and discriminatory view, and I would like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with desiring or performing kinks.  

  The kink most commonly known is BDSM, which is a catch-all umbrella term. BDSM means bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Like all kinks there are a variety of levels that correspond to certain desires and the extent of them. There are different types of unique relationships and unique sexual acts that partners engage in. This is all to say that there is no uniform group of kinks and everyone has different desires and goals. However for a beginner, the wide range of kinks and their unique subsets can be confusing and hard to navigate, so here are some general rules to follow while exploring kinks! 

#1 Have a proper conversation about consent & plan out limits.

  It is ESSENTIAL to have a clear and detailed conversation with your partner(s) about how you  want to approach exploring kinks together. Giving consent to explore kinks in general does not mean it is a free-for-all with any and all kinks or advanced play. In this conversation there should be a discussion about limits for each partner. Especially at this beginner phase, limits can help inform your choices of exploration and also establish comfortability levels. Fear of the unknown is completely normal and this can easily apply to kinks; certain activities might begin at a hard no and evolve to maybe or yes, or stay at no. Having consistent and periodic check-ins with your partner(s) will help facilitate the exploration in a healthy way. 

#2 Do your research 

  While it can be really fun to explore kinks and different kinds of sex, it is important to be informed about the types of sex you are about to engage in. Just like in any field, there are experts that can provide important advice about safety considerations and how to navigate specific kinks without violating boundaries.

#3 Use safe words 

   Especially with sex and kinks, things can get hot and heavy very fast and when arousal is high things can spiral out of control. A safe word is a term that partners can use to signal to each other that they are uncomfortable and want to stop what is currently happening. It is also important to know what the safe word means: does the word just stop that action and move on or to stop the scene completely? Some people recommend using a traffic color system (green = go, yellow = slow down, and red = hard stop) to signal their intentions. 

#4 Take things slowly and remember kinks are about mutual pleasure

  As we discussed above, within kinks there are different levels and jumping in the deep end could be dangerous. It is better to ease into kinks by integrating them into regular sex and seeing how your bodies react. From there you can incrementally “move up” in your actions and play, if you so desire. Just remember that kink is about mutual pleasure, and not everyone likes the same things sexually. There is potential that you and your partner(s) desires might not align and that is okay, but it is not okay to prioritize your pleasure over your partner(s). 

#5 Keep things clean and prioritize safety & respect

  Lots of kinks involve toys and instruments and it is important to keep them clean and sanitized. While it might not be the most sexy thing to get up after sex to clean toys, it is much better than thrush or bacterial infections! Along with cleanliness, make sure respect and safety are high priorities. In general, kinks can be a vulnerable place and they require lots of mutual trust and respect, and that includes trusting another with your safety and experience/inexperience. 

#6 Remember aftercare 

  Lastly, just remember that kinks can sometimes be intense and overwhelming. Check in on your partner(s) after sex and debrief. Talk about what you liked and what you didn’t; post-sex can be a vulnerable moment so take this time to provide support and comfort for your partner(s). 

  And with that have a great rest of the year and (maybe kinky) summer Loggers! ;)