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Dear Dr. Jane,

My partner has some ideas about sex that just aren’t a fit for me. He recently shared that his kink is being a sexual dominant. He wants me to be his submissive. I guess he’s experienced this in the past with a former lover and really liked it.  I get it that it’s hot for him, but spanking, ropes, choking and other types of BDSM play just aren’t arousing for me. I can participate, but it feels like a distraction from what I really want — deep, pleasure-filled intimacy. Even though I want to please him, that kind of sex doesn’t turn me on at all. I love my partner, but I don’t love his kink. What should I do?

– From Not So Kinky

Dear Not So,

I hear about this kind of thing all of the time in my practice. It’s hard to know what to do when your partner’s turn-on turns you off.

Dr. Jane

The Oxford Dictionary defines “kink” as “a person’s unusual sexual preference.” Our sexual desires are highly personal and very intimate. For many people, the word “kink” brings up ideas of leather, ball gags and floggers. Of course, many couples experiment with frisky spanking or other Fifty Shades of Grey kinds of activities. 

But, it doesn’t matter how common this type of sexual activity is for other people. You wrote to me because, in your relationship with your partner, the idea of being his submissive isn’t hot for you. You want another type of sexual connection which is just as valid and just as sexy as what he wants. 

So, what can you do? Believe it or not, this kind of conflict doesn’t have to drive you apart, it can actually bring you closer together as a couple. 

Here’s what to do:

  1. Discuss sexual desire as a whole. When one of you brings a new desire to the conversation, it’s a good idea to talk about what EACH of you finds exciting in the bedroom. Many of us go along day-to-day without thinking about what we want sexually. It’s only when a partner brings a request for something new that we recognize our own desires. This is a good time to talk about it all. 
  2. Negotiate your interests. As you discuss what turns you both on, think about what you’d like from your partner. Is there something you’d like him to offer you as well? Would you like more kissing? More foreplay in general? Are there things in the bedroom that you’d like to experience more frequently that you haven’t mentioned? This is the time to discuss your desires. 
  3. Find a compromise if possible. How can you create a compromise that will let both of you feel alive, loved and celebrated? This could look like scheduling different types of sexual activities together – some that are more oriented toward what he’s interested in and others that are more focused on you. It could include exploring classes or other resources that would help you both understand the others’ sexual interests. Compromise takes hard work but it can be worth it.
  4. Decide if you’d like to change your relationship (or end it) to accommodate his kink. Some couples decide that their kinks are important enough that they decide to end their relationship. Others explore ethical non-monogamy (ENM) so that they can maintain their relationship. This means your partner would find another kinky partner. ENM is a challenging relationship style which isn’t for everyone. It can work but only when all parties communicate very openly.
  5. Realize that sexual desires may evolve over time. It may worry you to think that you’ll never be sexually compatible because you have different sexual desires. This isn’t necessarily true. He may want you to be sexually submissive part of the time. You might decide that you enjoy his dominance. Being open to changing.

I hope this helps. If you need support with any of this, reach out to me or to another sex positive professional. This stuff matters.

You got this.

– Dr. Jane

Dr. Jane Guyn is a nationally recognized relationship coach based in Oregon.  Her new monthly “Understanding Intimacy” commentary is made possible through the generous support of Guilty Pleasures, 2992 Ashley Phosphate Road, North Charleston.

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