I got a post from one of my favorite bloggers today, Charlie Glickman. It explores the reasons people have some of the more extreme physical interactions within their relationships that they do, certainly that we do in BDSM relationships. He mentions many of the most common reasons, but there are some important ones that I wished to emphasize.
Certainly there are differences in personal taste and physiology. Different people react to stimulation in different ways. Things feel different to different people. Particularly significant is that physical stimulation will feel different to the same people at different times and when they are in different states. As Charlie says, sensation can feel vastly different when you are highly arroused than when you are just returning from the office. Also many women go through vast changes in their reactions at different periods of their cycle.
Fear is another major factor. People can get far more enjoyment from a fearful situation within a context of a negotiated and trusting relationship than an unwanted sexual encounter with a stranger. As Charlie says, there can be a large “difference between riding on a roller coaster and being in car going downhill without brakes.”
Within a trusted BDSM relationship it also can be emotionally releasing to work through previously traumatic events in a context of loving care, support and competent guidance. (Though I must add the caveat that while therapeutic moments can happen within a BDSM relationship, it is a risky endeavor and should be done only with kink friendly professional assistance.)
I definitely agree with Charlie that it can add to ones enjoyment when one feels they are “breaking the rules.” I might say that “breaking rules” is a large attractor in the BDSM lifestyle. We often pride ourselves in the thought that we structure our relationship outside of the norm. It is also true, that attempting extreme behaviors just because it breaks the rules may be a way of discovering new enjoyments, but also may trigger a partner in ways you do not expect.
Charlie posted, “some people seek extreme experiences because they need a lot of sensation to overcome a tendency to check out or dissociate.” While editorially that paragraph may have parts missing, I did want to comment. In my time in the BDSM lifestyle, I have met people who receive pain in unique but personally helpful ways. Two examples are using pain to stop the internal dialog. We all tend to talk to ourselves in a dialog that confirms our view of the world and ourselves, sometimes quite negatively. SadoMasochistic interactions can assist in slowing or quieting that dialog down, giving rest to the mind and allowing it to accept different viewpoints.
The other example is the use of pain to quiet pain. I have met and interacted with two people who suffer strongly from fibromyalgia. In our interactions we spoke at length about how the careful and negotiated pain from a Sadist would move their sensations away from and relieve their fibromyalgic pain for sometimes days at a time. That was the reason they came to the BDSM world.
Lastly, I want to confirm Charlie’s final comments. On the need for aftercare, it is often thought, particularly by people unfamiliar with SadoMasochistic play, that aftercare is primarily for the benefit of the person receiving the extreme sensation and that they are the ones most likely to fall into an emotional downturn or depression after extreme sensation. That is often not the case. Personally it is important to me, as the sadist, to received confirmation from my play partner that what I have done to them was understood as also for them, that they enjoyed it, that they wanted it. Otherwise I am just a violent old man, hurting those I care about. That is my aftercare.
Lastly, on “people who think that not wanting to do all that ‘wild, crazy stuff’ makes them or their partners boring in bed”. Particularly in a BDSM relationship, it is vastly important to understand that the only people who should be concerned with the kind of behavior in which you engage in your relationship, are the people in that relationship. Certainly it is important to check in with your partner as to whether or not they are satisfied or want to experiment, but if you are happy, and they are happy, why change what isn’t broken? The only judgement you should accept are you and your partners’s.
Sex and sensation is an overwhelmingly powerful element in our lives. An element that should be far more openly discussed within our relationships and within our society than it commonly is. I am continually pleased by blogs such as Charlie’s, and recommend his to all.