Often, when kinky people come to me for counseling, our work is focused on helping them come to terms with their fetish/kink/desire for BDSM and to find ways to safely, consensually incorporate their desires into their sexual lives.
Human sexuality, with and without the element of kink/fetish/BDSM, impacts every part of our lives.
The two periods of time when many people tend to notice this impact the most, are when we are single and looking for a partner and kink compatibility is a concern, and in long term relationships in cases where needs aren’t being met.
Sexual distance within a relationship can arise due to: Poor communication—because it’s difficult to talk about sex, even with our partners, basic incompatibility, secrets held by one or both partners, differing expectations and sex drives, incompatible religious beliefs, life stresses which creep in and create tension and fatigue, and the list goes on and on.
We can suppress our sexuality, but we can’t suppress it forever.
In a relationship where sexual intimacy is diminishing, the partner who is more frequently pushed away is likely to feel unloved and confused. These feelings often lead to resentment and anger, which contaminate all areas of the relationship.
Sex and intimacy in long-term relationships are difficult enough issues to manage without adding the complexity of kink.
Some relationship therapists suggest that total honesty is the only path toward a happy, healthy partnership. But sometimes sexual desires held by one partner are known to be abhorrent to the other partner, as is often the case when one partner is drawn to BDSM/kink/fetish and the other is not.
While I believe that honesty in a primary relationship is critical to its health, there are some sexual issues that beg the question: How much honesty is healthy and how much is toxic?
The honesty question does not always have a black and white answer.
I’ll be using the term ‘straight’ throughout this blog to describe a person who is not kinky or has not expressed interest in kink– not to be confused with hetero/homosexuality.
Typically, when one partner is kinky and the other partner is not, the kinky partner will feel the straight partner out to see if s/he is open to playing. Over time, it becomes clear, with or often without the issue ever being directly addressed, that the straight partner is not interested, nor open to engaging in alternative activities.
Kinky, often closeted, partners in this situation are forced to make painful decisions around their sexuality that impact every other area of their lives. Some common struggles include:
Determining the difference between sexual needs and sexual desires
Weighing the cost versus the benefit of coming out of the kink closet
Knowing whether honesty is helpful or hurtful
Determining how much honesty is appropriate
Learning how to communicate with the straight partner
Understanding the point of view of the straight partner
Coming to terms with and accepting confusing, often painful sexual orientation
Managing sometimes persistent, disturbing sexual thoughts
Functioning sexually without the presence of kink (engaging in straight sex)
Feelings of humiliation around kinky orientation
Dealing with escalating feelings of frustration, and shame
Managing increasingly obsessive sexual thoughts—which is common when those needs are unmet.
These struggles do not have to be faced alone. Individual and couples therapy can offer clarity for people facing these painful issues. While it is sometimes preferable to seek counseling as a couple, even if your spouse has declined marriage counseling, you can work toward healing your relationship through individual therapy.
It is possible to find peace and happiness in your life, and in your marriage, even in the face of painful and complex issues. I hope you will reach out; I would be honored to help you on your path toward peace and sexual healing.