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4 Lessons ‘Vanilla’ Couples Can Learn from the BDSM Community

March 30, 2016
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Posted By: Counseling Center of Cherry Creek

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a workshop in Los Angeles with a world-renowned sex therapy educator and spend two days outside of the world of conventional (or "vanilla") sex and in the world of BDSM. The purpose of these kinds of training is to expose the clinician to different sexual material to assess feelings, biases, judgments and educate ourselves about varying perspectives on eroticism. 

During this training, we had a panel presentation with some dominates and submissives, and I was mesmerized by all that the "vanilla" community––those who do not engage in BDSM activities––can learn from the BDSM community. 

#1 Boundaries and consent are hot.

When one is in a dom/sub relationship, the boundaries need to be explicitly clear for safety — both physical and emotional security. Therefore, everything is negotiated in advance, discussed, and fine-tuned. Limits are set, and safewords are in place. 

This means that each person needs to have a clear idea of what they are and are unwilling to engage in. They must know themselves, know their limits, and express these to their partner so their intimate time together can be fulfilling for each party. 

The panel presenters spoke about the importance of fulfilling their roles with their partners and that consent was vital. 

The Takeaway: Practicing clear communication and setting mutually respectful and consensual boundaries with your partner can enrich your relationship. 

#2 Knowing your role is sexy.

How do we consider our roles as lovers, friends, partners, and spouses through our ever-changing lives? How often have you reassessed your role in a calm, conscious manner after a big move, having children, or significant financial changes? How clear are you with your partner about your role, and aren't you willing to uphold?

 Many couples don't have clear, agreed-upon roles with one another; instead, they have unspoken expectations by which they evaluate or criticize their partner. 

The Takeaway: Knowing your roles in your relationship encourages clarity, follow-through, and understanding.  

#3 Attunement will take your relationship to a new level.

Attunement is essential in BDSM, meaning the partners stay keenly aware of one another––their movements, breathing, everything. The doms and subs constantly check in with each other in different ways. They make sure each other feel safe, confident, and comfortable. 

Attunement requires focus and care for your partner, as well as yourself. Some couples fail to practice this attunement and aren't aware of what their partners are feeling or experiencing, especially when caught up in day-to-day matters. Staying engaged with your partner is essential to a healthy relationship, and it's a skill many of us can benefit from learning and practicing. 

The Takeaway: Stay engaged, check-in, receive feedback, and constructively use that feedback to grow your relationship.   

#4 After-care nurtures your relationship.

After-care in BDSM occurs following the play session; it's a time of connection and engagement when the partners share intimacy after their experience. How do you stay connected as a couple? Not just in the bedroom, but in other aspects of your life together? 

The Takeaway: Explore and practice healthy ways you and your partner can remain integrated and engaged as a couple.

Sex Therapy in Denver, CO 

There's no one right way to have a relationship. Every relationship is unique, and we must find our best ways to communicate, engage, and care for each other. Yes, this looks very different with each couple or partnership, and relationships aren't static––they're ever-evolving and growing––just like life. We each have to write our own "relationship manual," as it were, to learn who we are and how we connect with our partners.   

Are you ready to get started? Please call our Client Ambassador today at (720) 457-3342 Ext 0 and let Margie Kaems or one of her fellow licensed clinicians help you get to know your own "relationship manual!" We work with individuals and couples in Cherry Creek, Denver, and the surrounding areas. 

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