I get asked for advice fairly often, and the question that I get more than almost any other is this one – how do I tell my partner about the kinks and fetishes that I’m into? How do I get them to take an interest in BDSM and accompany me on this journey? How do I tell them that I’m kinky?

This is a difficult question to answer, and I’m afraid that there’s no particularly easy way. If you’re in an existing relationship when you discover your interest in BDSM there is always the risk that your partner will not be interested in the slightest in the same things that you are.

To put to bed a myth right now – there’s no way that you can turn someone kinky or make them interested in something that they simply have no engagement with. If your partner is flat out vanilla and doesn’t even want to hear about the side of you that you’re discovering, then that is a decision that you must both accept and respect. You cannot – not should you try to – force them to become kinky.

With that in mind, however, I do have a few words of advice for anyone who finds themselves in this position. The first is the most obvious, and you’ve probably guessed it already. It is this: you have to tell them.

A lot of misery results from people trying to keep secret things that they really should share with their partner – and your sexual proclivities are one of the things that you ABSOLUTELY need to be sharing with your partner. It’s no good pretending that you’re not interested in the things you’re interested in – this will only result in your becoming miserable and isolated over time, and will eventually damage your relationship. And it’s no good keeping things secret from them – if they mean anything at all to you, then you have to be honest with them.

There are plenty of ways of approaching honesty though, and a little tact never hurts. Try to approach the issue obliquely. Perhaps you could read a book together, or discuss some erotica that you found online. Perhaps you could raise the idea of kink a few times to ensure that it’s part of their consciousness before coming out and divulging your interest in it. Take it slowly and move in steps, and you’ll be surprised by how often you can achieve a positive result.

The most positive and productive course of action, of course, is to ensure that you discover things at the same time. An interest in BDSM is likely to bring new pressures and tensions to what might previously have been a stable relationship. Your partner will feel a lot more happy and secure if they are exploring them alongside you. Be honest to your partner as soon as possible, and tell them of the extent of your interest. Make sure to include them in any research or exploration you do.

On top of that, it’s also important to talk. Of course, you almost certainly talk extensively to your partner already, but BDSM can be entirely new ground that needs a lot of negotiation. You need to be ready to discuss things in intense detail, and work over parts of your relationship that you might always have thought were solid and set before.

On that note, it can also be immensely helpful to let go of your notion of what constitutes a normal relationship. We’ve already seen that the world of BDSM is one of great variety, and

that people conduct themselves in all sorts of different ways – the same is true for their relationship. Within the vanilla world things are more or less set in stone. You have one boyfriend or girlfriend and faithful to them, and them alone. You grow closer over time, before eventually marrying, settling down and having children together.

There is no such certainty in the world of BDSM. Relationships can take many and varied forms, and it’s pointless to make assumptions about the shape that yours will take. You may find that your partner has no interest in BDSM, but that they are quite happy for you to play with other people so long as it doesn’t involve sex. Alternatively you may find that they are actually kinkier than you are, and their interests outstrip you own.

Negotiation is the name of the game. You need to find a situation which both of you are comfortable with. At the same time you have to bear in mind that this new shape for your relationship might not look anything like the old one – indeed it might not even resemble what most people tell you a relationship would be. The important thing to remember is this: that doesn’t make it any less valid.

It may also be that, although you’re not in a settled or long term relationship, you are dating. At what point should you reveal to your dates that you’re interested in kink? Again, the answer varies from situation to situation. I’m always in favour of divulging your interest as quickly as possible – after all, if you’re interested in each other in a sexual way, it’s only fair that they know what that terrain involves for you. Mention it casually early on, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. It’s all about creating realistic expectations for people. Nobody is going to be surprised if you’ve made it clear early on that you’re kinky. And even if they do turn out to be absolutely disgusted by whatever it is you’re into… well, maybe that’s for the best. Your needs would have had to surface at some point, and holding back and hiding them simply wouldn’t have done any good.

It’s worth saying that very few people in the world are completely turned off by kink. Many people do profess to find it a little weird, but if you’re willing to ask a few probing questions and dig a little deeper you’ll find that they have a mental image of BDSM that’s quite a long way away from being the truth. Once they know what your sexuality actually entails, and why you enjoy it so much, you’ll often find that people really warm up to you.

One thing that I haven’t mentioned so far: what if you’re the one who is being surprised by your partner’s kinks? What if you’re the one who’s being introduced to this intriguing new world? Well – all the above still applies. Although you may not be the one who is leading the exploration, you have just as much responsibility for it. It’s up to you to communicate well with your partner, make sure your voice is heard, and make sure that the two of you arrive at a mutually agreeable situation.

You may have read elsewhere advice urging you to simply try things out in the bedroom, and see if your partner enjoys them. This may work for a lot of people, but its guaranteed bad news for a small number. It’s far safer to explore with words first of all, and at the very least take a little survey of your partner’s interests before attempting to introduce anything new. More often than not people who are kinky will have some idea that they are long before ever actually trying anything – so honest discussion is the best way to uncover this part of them.

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