How Do I Know If My Kink Is Good Or Bad? And What Can I Do About It?

Do you feel unsure about your sexuality, specifically your kinks? Have you been concerned whether what you enjoy is “good” or if it’s “bad”? Have you asked yourself, “Is it OK that I’m doing this?” or “Is there something wrong with me?” If you have, it’s normal. People have these concerns — sometimes to the point of causing great distress — that something is just not right about the “kinky” things they enjoy, but they have difficulty considering this objectively.

When trying to get some insight, it’s important to remember that since everyone has different likes, dislikes, levels of comfort, etc., and what feels good for one person may not be for another. “Good” and “bad” can be used as a shorthand for a value judgment and these values don’t necessarily apply to everyone. Because of this, I encourage you to instead think of them as either “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help evaluate where yours fall:

When engaging in your kink, do you…

MistressTissa_Strippedrequire that you first become intoxicated? Are you unable to engage in your interest without first needing to get drunk or do drugs?

…ignore boundaries — whether your own or someone else’s? Do you routinely allow yourself to be pressured to do things you don’t want to do? Or do you pressure or “trick” someone else into doing things? Is “consent” something you let someone else decide for you or something you believe you should decide for others? (This does not include the practice of “consensual non-consent”.)

…not know when or how to stop? Do you have a compulsive need to do your kink? Does it feel like you’re “addicted” to it? Do you want to stop but you believe you can’t?

 …feel guilt or regret afterward? Do you wish you hadn’t done what you just did? Do you experience anxiety or depression afterward? Perhaps feeling bad about yourself, beating yourself up, or even go so far as to have thoughts of self-harm?

…see that it has had an overall negative impact on your life? Such as preoccupying much of your thoughts at the expense of other important things? Compelling you to recklessly spend money? Causing you be late for or miss work? Affecting your interpersonal relationships, such as with family or friends? Or generally decreasing your quality of life?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you may have an unhealthy relationship to your kink. (If you didn’t then your relationship may be healthy.)

What’s important to note with feelings of guilt or regret is that while they may indicate a problem they don’t necessarily mean that the kink itself is the problem. Sometimes people feel guilt or regret because of their own beliefs about their kink; such as that they are a defective or bad person, something which our culture may teach us but may not be true. Some people feel guilt or regret after secretly engaging in their kink because they assume the people in their lives will not understand or approve. In both these cases, the issue may not be the kink but the attitudes and circumstances surrounding the kink.

What do you do if you think you might have an unhealthy relationship to your kink?

I recommend finding a qualified professional who is trained in mental health and has competency with human sexuality, particularly kink, and experience helping people with the kinds of emotions you’re having (e.g. shame, guilt, anger, addiction).

Where can you get a kink-competent* provider?

One place I’d recommend looking is the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom’s Kink-Aware Professional database. This database does not include all providers; only those that have requested to be listed. So, if you don’t see someone in your area, that does not mean there isn’t someone out there.

Another place to look is a search engine. Try searching for “therapy” or “counseling” or even “coaching”; your city or state; and your specific kink, or just “kink”, or even “sexuality”. See who comes up. If anyone looks interesting, give them a call. You may find other directories this way as well.

What if I have/don’t have insurance?

If you have insurance and need the provider to be in-network, contact your insurer for a list of mental health professionals in your area and then do a quick web search for each of them. See if they have a website with information about their competencies. If you’re unclear, give them a quick call. Most providers will be happy to answer a few questions about their qualifications and if they think they might be able to help you.

If you can’t find someone in-network, don’t despair. Sometimes insurers will cover out-of-network providers if their rate is comparable to those in-network. Or, they will cover a certain amount and you pay the rest. Ask your insurer about this. Then ask the provider you’re interested in if they are willing to work with your insurer.

If you are able to pay out of pocket you are likely to have more options. So consider if you’re willing to go that route and how much you are able to afford. I recommend thinking about this before you make any calls so you’re prepared to discuss it if you find a provider that interests you. (Note: unlicensed providers are not able to take insurance.)

How do you know if the person is right for you?

This is usually not immediately apparent. It’s like going to a doctor or restaurant or even meeting a new friend. Sometimes you may feel like it’s a good fit from the first visit, sometimes it takes a little more time. Prepare yourself for there to be some trial and error.

Before you make an appointment with someone, know that you are completely within your right to vet the person with whom you will be sharing many personal details of your life. This means you’re allowed to ask them about their education, experience, attitudes toward and competency with your specific kink (and even kinks, in general), and how they have helped people like you in the past. If they do not welcome your questions, this is, in my view, a red flag.

Also important is to be aware that if you do find someone and they in any way try to shame and tell you that you should not be kinky and are bad for being this way, I recommend that you STOP seeing them. This is not the behavior of a kink-friendly or competent provider and is not an appropriate match for kinky people. (They are also likely to not be a good mental health practitioner in general.) Seeing someone like this would be like a gay person wanting support for being gay and the provider telling them that being gay is bad and to stop being gay. If you do not feel they are offering reasonable support, then try someone else.

Does having unhealthy thoughts or feelings make you “crazy”?

If you are worried about the possibility that because you might have an unhealthy relationship to your kink that you are in some way “crazy”, please understand that having any of the above thoughts or feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “mentally ill” in the way a lot of people think of it, but that understanding unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and the processing and modification of those things, is what therapists, counselors, and even some coaches are trained to do. This is why they are a good choice to support you through these types of issues.

(*Not just kink-friendly. Anyone can be “friendly” to a situation or type of person; it doesn’t mean that have any idea of how to appropriately help and support them.)

Beth’s 2nd visit

Beth came back for round two. This time for two hours.

Knowing what I had come to learn about her, I thought she’d enjoy more spanking. Not only for potential eroticism but also as something that could be therapeutic for her. So, I decided to give her a more immersive experience with it. I instructed her to lay across my lap and I gave her a thorough bare-handed spanking.

Then, of course, there was more tickling. Which has both of us literally rolling on the floor. She kept trying to writhe away from me…and I kept dragging her back. The laughter was infectious.

I then introduced her to flogging. Varying and building sensations. She surprised me with how much she took for her first time.

And, like that, two hours was up.

Later that evening, she sent me this email:

“I got home a little while ago and although I spent the entire car ride back trying to figure out how to thank you properly,  I am still at a loss for the right words.  
This has been a very rough month for me. My depression and anxiety have been unrelenting. I’ve had a constant tightness in my chest and all my nerve endings felt like they were on fire, everything hurt.  But then I came to see you and for some reason  by some miracle, you managed to quiet all the noise in my head and all I was thinking about or focused on was what was happening in that room today.  I felt safe and protected and cared for and I don’t know how to thank you for that.
I really appreciated everything you did today and I actually enjoyed it too. You make it easier to try to push my boundaries and try new things. I was so worried that last time was a fluke and I was afraid to believe in the positive things I felt afterward, because I didn’t want to be disappointed or let down. And then I came today and now I know it’s definitely not a fluke. I feel even more certain that you are going to be able to help me make the changes I need to make in my life, if you will allow me to keep coming back.  I trust you and would really like you to continue to guide me through this journey, if you are willing. 
Thank you so much Mistress.”
Then, the next day she shared:
“For the first time in a month, i slept soundly thru the night and didn’t feel exhausted when i woke up. And today, I’ve just been thinking of everything i felt and experienced yesterday. For two hours i didn’t feel broken or defective or afraid. I don’t know how you did that, but i am so, so grateful!”
A big grin took over my face when I read this. I am so happy for her!
I look forward to wherever we may go next time!

My time with Beth

I just saw Beth for the first time last night. She contacted me and said she really wanted to experience a session with a Dominatrix, and had thought about for a long time, but felt very apprehensive about it — so apprehensive that she felt she couldn’t even talk about it out loud.

While we were negotiating the scene, which was clearly challenging for her, she expressed some deeper issues, such as embarrassment, shame, and that she “spent a lifetime repressing feelings or thoughts that seemed ‘wrong'”.

She disclosed that she struggles with depression and a lot of anxiety. She explained that she’s let fear “rule” her her entire life and make decisions for her, and this has filled her with many regrets. Some of her fear was about physical contact and intimacy, and that she’s has created walls to protect herself, which simultaneously has created her own isolation from happiness and fulfillment.

But she said she is tired of it. She’s tired of being a “prisoner of her own brain”; she really wants to break through that. And she told me she thought I would be a good match for her because of my background and skills in psychology, and the testimonials that people had written about their experiences with me.

I suggested a coaching session before we met to discuss some of these deeper feelings and hopefully help to assuage her anxiety. She accepted and it allowed me to get to know her even more, which allowed me to tweak the session to benefit her even more.

I wanted it to be therapeutic, but also sexy. Well, here’s what she emailed me afterward:

I just got home,  exhausted,  a bit delirious and with a behind that is still stinging….I smiled the whole way home.  I truly do not know how to thank you for tonight.   It was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced,  and although I am still a bit overwhelmed and my head is spinning as I try to process this,  I am so profoundly grateful to you.  You really must have super powers,  because you managed to intimidate me,  get in my head and push,  while somehow managing to make me feel comfortable with you, and safe.  Trust does not come easily to me,  and although I don’t know why,  I do trust you. I left your house feeling so proud of myself ( a rarity!) And by the time I got home,  I was actually feeling hopeful,  for the first time in a very long time,  that I might be able to break thru these limits this time.   Hope is everything,  and I have no idea how to thank you for that.   

I hope I have your permission to request another session with you down the road,  because i really believe I have more work to do.   And, just typing this is making me bright red, but it was actually fun!

Thank you so much Mistress, for everything.”

Thank you, Beth! I had a fantastic time with you and I’m honored to have been a part of your journey. I hope we get to have another experience again soon!

Article: Can Bondage Play Reduce Anxiety?

“It feels like an opportunity to completely let go and to be completely present at the same time,” said Gorgone, a 22-year-old Shibari model who was tied up that night. “There’s a certain release from anxiety you get from it. Some people do it by drinking. They are looking for something that is going to take them away from themselves,” she said. With bondage, though, she said the high is also clearer and perceptions can become sharper — closer to a state of mindfulness than inebriation.

Although preliminary, there is growing scientific support for some of the BDSM community’s observations. In a study from 2013, researchers surveyed 902 BDSM practitioners and 434 “vanilla” people, asking them questions about their personality, relationships, attachment styles, and general well-being. Practitioners of bondage reported less neuroticism, a trait similar to anxiety, and more security in their relationships than people strictly into vanilla sex. Since this was a survey, it doesn’t show that BDSM activities caused these effects, but it does indicate that people who practice BDSM seem to be calmer and more comfortable in their relationship than people who don’t, lending some weight to the idea of a link.

Full article here: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/02/can-bondage-reduce-anxiety.html