Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of my own sexual experiences. If reading about my sex life might be TMI for you, then you’ll want to skip this post.
Can you hate feeling pain but still enjoy kinky, sadomasochistic play?
Edit (5/25): Based on some of the comments I received, before posting Part 2 of this story, I decided to go ahead and change the title to more accurately reflect my experience. The question I’m discussing is: Can you enjoy the types of kinky activities that sadomasochists do (i.e., “play like a sadomasochist”), even if you aren’t a sadomasochist yourself?
Over a number of years, I’ve come to think of myself as kinky, and to become involved in BDSM, despite the fact that I don’t like being hurt or hurting other people. If you’re not familiar with some of the activities associated with BDSM, you might want to go check out Wikipedia before continuing. I use the term “BDSM” throughout this story, but I’m really focusing most on its sadomasochistic aspects here.
A lot of my friends now have known since they were fairly young that they enjoy sadomasochistic play. This is definitely not something I always knew about myself, so I wanted to share what my journey has looked like:
When I first learned about the concept of BDSM (probably as part of some erotica I found in college), it made absolutely no sense to me. I could not possibly understand how people could enjoy being tied up, or whipping each other, or being humiliated, or any of the things that the label “BDSM” brought to mind. I was completely baffled, especially with respect to sadomasochistic sex: Why would you take a perfectly good experience and ruin it with a bunch of pain? All of these ideas ran completely counter to my own physical experience and to how I was raised.
My personal perspective on pain is that because I deal with enough pain in my life already, I have no desire to experience more. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome, which is characterized by chronic pain and fatigue. Sex is one of the few things that’s consistently effective at relieving my pain. There is no benefit to pain for me, and I find it to be particularly distracting during sex.
I was raised in a very conservative, Christian family, which taught (unsurprisingly) that it was morally wrong to hurt other people physically or emotionally. Growing up, I worked very hard to make sure that I never harmed anyone. Even after I left Christianity, I held tightly to that principle.
For a number of years, then, I had no particular interest in or connection to BDSM practices: I didn’t know anyone who was into BDSM, and when I did stumble across images of BDSM play, they made little sense to me. I couldn’t relate to the people who were receiving pain (“Why would I want to feel more pain?”) or to people who were giving it (“How can they do that to their partner?”).
Eventually, though, I started spending time on IRC with a group of people who self-identified as kinky and into BDSM. They would talk about how they liked being spanked, or being tied up, or being flogged, and I did my best to take them at their word. “YKINMK” (Your Kink Is Not My Kink) is a phrase that often came to mind. I couldn’t really understand their interests, but I could accept them. Around that time, I also started reading the web-lit Tales of MU, in which the protagonist starts discovering her sexuality and learns that she becomes physically aroused by things like being spanked. The writing was so clear and so descriptive that I started to wonder: was the author writing about sensations and experiences that real-life people could have?
My curiosity was piqued enough at that point that when I found out that Good Vibrations was having a class on spanking, I gathered my courage and signed up. I had never been to a sex education class and was pretty nervous, but the instructor, Midori, had a great sense of humor and was fascinating to listen to.1
Midori started out by explaining a number of reasons why people might like to be spanked. Spanking someone’s ass leads to increased blood flow to their nether regions, so it can be sexually arousing. This definitely got my attention — I’m always happy to learn new ways to turn my partner on, or to be turned on.
What she said next was what really convinced me to give spanking a try — being spanked causes vibrations to run through your ass and your genitals. You could almost have seen the light bulb going off over my head: Vibration. Ohhhhhhhh. That I knew something about! I had learned quite some time ago that a vibrator pressed against my clit made fingers, a toy, or a cock feel amazing (and much more likely to result in an orgasm). Spanking as a way to feel more delicious vibrations? Sign me up!
The next opportunity I had, I told my partner all about Midori’s awesome class, and we started doing a bit of experimenting. I was a little nervous as he raised his hand for the first strike. How much would this hurt? We had talked about the importance of starting out lightly, but still…
When that strike landed, I almost laughed with relief: It didn’t hurt at all! As Midori had promised, my fleshy ass was an excellent shock absorber. My partner gradually increased the amount of force he used, checking in with me after every stroke, until we found a level that brought out the wonderful vibrations but wasn’t particularly uncomfortable for me. It was awesome.
This was a major epiphany for me: even though a particular toy or activity might be associated with BDSM, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be used in a way that will cause intense pain. Starting out slowly or gently means that I have plenty of opportunity to get used to something new, and I’m not likely to experience a lot of pain if I don’t want it. There are certainly toys that are more likely to cause more pain right away (like the pain stick), but I’ve found a lot of things that initially seem scary can be fun and interesting without being particularly painful. I’ve realized that, while I don’t enjoy pain, I enjoy new sensations — including being spanked, being caned, and being flogged, to name a few. I don’t like pain any more now than I ever have, but when I have a partner who’s trustworthy and a good communicator, I can explore a huge range of new experiences.
Continued: In Part 2, I talk about how I learned to give pain to someone who wants to receive it.
- I had no idea at the time that she is one of the most well-known sex/BDSM educators, and I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak several times since then. ↩