What Are Kinks? A Guide To Edgy Bedroom Play

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Bend. Fold. Twist. Curl. Impact. Group. Sense. Bond. Watch. Harder. Harder. Softer. Exhale. 

Have you ever wondered what are kinks? And how to tell if someone is kinky – or if you are?

Kink – with its consensual, ethical framework and edgy culture – has become an incredible way for couples to connect. However, it is still considered to be extremely taboo in many circles, and therefore greatly misunderstood. Kink-shaming occurs often, so this form of sexual expression and celebration remains somewhat in the shadows. While it may add to the allure and excitement of kinky connections, it’s important to understand what kinks are, how to know if you are kinky, and how to tell your partner about your kinks. 

What Does Being Kinky Mean?

When someone is defined as “kinky” it means they like to have sex in a way that is unconventional or uncommon. As a rule of thumb, whatever isn’t “vanilla” sex is likely going to be kinky in some way. Vanilla sex generally includes romance and passion, and is often though of as regular sex. 

Kinky people crave sexual intimacy outside of traditional lovemaking. They seek more edgy ways to get themselves or their partner off. Boosting the intensity of sexual actions also increases the intimacy and connection for people who engage in kinky sex.

It is important to note that your kinks (as long as they are consensual), do not necessarily reflect your values. It’s not uncommon to find a kinky couple that consensually engages in derogatory, painful, and anti-feminist acts or roles in the bedroom. Yet at the same time, they are still being wonderful allies or activists in the rest of their lives. 

A Short List of Kinks

The list of kinks really is only limited by your imagination and creativity. Sure, there are tamer versions – like striptease, food play, oral sex, rimming, or fingering. And there are also what many consider as extreme kinks – fisting, medical play, CBT, and golden showers. But essentially, there are four main types of kink:

1. Role Play

One of the most common types of kink is role play. In this kink, sexual partners take on identities other than their own, and carry out sexual fantasies within those personas. Oftentimes these roles can enter into the BDSM world (defined below). Some may be as simple as calling your partner “daddy,” “baby,” or “ma’am.”

Couples who want to engage in light role play can start with simply choosing an alias for lovemaking, and enjoying whatever their imagination brings up. To intensify role playing, try out a costume, expressive characteristic or an accent for your sexual alias. 


BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism) is perhaps one of the most widely known kinky realms. Within BDSM exists a massive world of play possibilities, ranging from rope tying, leather costumes, and carefully cultivated role playing. Each of the areas provides the players with a framework to communicate their sexual tendencies and realize their wildest kinky wants.

woman in bondage which is on a list of kinks

3. Bondage

One of the most pervasive forms of BDSM expression is bondage. It inherently provides a dominant and submissive hierarchy, which adds another level of intensity and intimacy. Restraining can be minimal – such as using a necktie around the wrists – or can go as far as a full-body rope restraint, often known as shibari

Within more elaborate bondage scenes, the submissive can become a kinky art piece, suspended from the ceiling and on display for an audience. Shibari and other restraining practices can stimulate excitement as well as euphoric elation, more commonly known as “sub space.” The release of brain chemicals that occurs for a participant can often be what draws kinky people into this practice.

4. Impact Play

Impact play is another prolific form of kinky fun. Within this edgy play space, the line between pleasure and pain is blurred, as the submissive consents to being physically struck by the dominant.

The tools for impact range from floggers to whips to riding crops, and oftentimes a human hand. The dominant in the impact scene strikes the submissive repeatedly, most often on the buttocks, legs, feet, back and nipples. Pain turns into pleasure, and it’s not uncommon for both dominant and submissive to get a release. Bondage and impact play often coincide, as they intensify the roles of dominance and submission in impact play. 

What is a Fetish?

Under the umbrella of kink lies the widely known indulgence of fetishism. So, what is a fetish?

Sexual fetishes are defined as sexual attraction to inanimate objects, including non-genital body parts. Common fetishes are sexual fixation with feet, lingerie, leather, or even food.

Someone with sexual fetishes will feel sexually aroused, or even get off, looking at or touching these objects. Imagining intimacy with (or worshipping) one’s fetishished object is often enough to provide sexual gratification. Does the sight of someone’s feet, breasts, or hands get your heart pumping? You may have a fetish that is worth consensually exploring. 

What are Your Kinks?

If you’re feeling turned on or curious by any of the above, you may be kinky. Wanna embark on some kinky exploration? We recommend starting with a self-guided kink session.

Next time you provide yourself some sexual stimulation, take the time to envision some or all of the examples above. What comes up for you? Excitement? Disbelief? Arousal? Fear? Delight? This exercise is also helpful if you’ve tried some kinky things before, but aren’t sure of your limits. You can also check out the book Coming Together to gain a better understanding of why your kinks turn you on and what they make you feel. 

What is a fetish? Girl in chains

How to Tell Your Partner About Your Fetishes or Kinks

Before embarking on a new sexual journey, we recommend spending some time learning your own boundaries. You may not know all of your boundaries in a new realm, but it is important to set a limit you can communicate to your partner.

Are you curious to try flogging, but have no desire to be called any names other than your own? Your partner should know that. Keep in mind, you may discover your limits as you hit them – which is why it’s important to try kinky things with someone who respects your nos and celebrates your yeses. 

Sharing with your partner that you are, or think you may be kinky, can be an exciting experience. You’ve discovered a new part of yourself, and you’re excited to explore that technicolor flare with your partner. If you are wondering how to tell your partner about your kinks, we recommend first creating a safe space. Then you might start with the question “are you open to exploring kink?” 

If they say “yes,” share how kink makes you feel. Share what it doesn’t do for you. Be clear. Allow your partner the space to ask questions, and be gentle in your responses. Share your boundaries and inquire about theirs. It’s important to have patience and build trust in this realm. Enjoy each yummy moment in building your kinky relationship. 

How to Tell if Someone is Kinky

When connecting with a new partner, you have the opportunity to discover their sexual tendencies and desires – and your shared ones.

There are a few telltale signs that your partner might be kinky. Articulating boundaries and desires are a common language in the kink world. If your partner asks for yours, they might be kinky! They may also test the waters with you in asking if it’s alright to call you a new name in the bedroom, or spank you lightly. Watch for subtle and overt hints. When in doubt, ask! 

How A Sex Coach Can Help

No matter if you’re a seasoned practitioner of kink, or someone who is curious about new forms of sexual connection – a sex coach can help you explore and come to terms with your kinky side. They can teach you how to talk about it with partners in a safe, consensual, and communicative environment so you can have new adventures in the bedroom.

The world of kink and fetishes provides an infinite amount of possibilities. A sex coach can help you continue to educate yourself in a more experiential and interactive way by teaching you to practice consent, relationship boundaries, and all of the possibilities related to kink and fetishism. 

Wanna find a sex coach online or in your area? Check out our directory of trained and certified sex coaches. Or if you find that you want to share your knowledge around kink, help others and change your career – consider becoming a certified sex coach yourself!

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschmanhttps://www.somaticainstitute.com/faculty/celeste-hirschman/
Celeste Hirschman is the is the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She received an MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Women’s Students from UCSC.

In her teaching and coaching, Celeste routinely draws on her extensive training in attachment psychology, sociology, gender studies, and body-based modalities like Hakomi. She uses these embodied learning principles to help students and clients tap into their own somatic wisdom, deepen their experiences of pleasure, and realize their full personal and professional potential.

A prolific writer, Celeste researched and published a defining paper on adolescent sexuality development in 2006, during her tenure at SFSU’s Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

Since then, she has co-authored 3 books with Danielle Harel: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. She writes frequently and is generally the first expert journalists turn to for quotes and information on sex, dating, and relationships.

No matter what she does – whether she is co-producing the sex-coaching-based TV series Here She Comes, or teaching at the legendary Esalen Institute – Celeste always brings her unconditional love, scintillating presence, erotic energy, and insight to every part of her work.

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