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.)

Shaming Dominant Women Who Submit

There is a faction of men, and some women, who are very outspoken about their contempt for Dominant Women who enjoy submission. I have seen them stalk and harass such women, proclaiming, “She’s not a REAL Domme! She submits!” Aside from looking like a troll, there’s a clear lack of understanding about power exchange as it exists outside of their porn clips and fetish fantasies, as well as some possible double-standards and hidden misogyny. Let Me attempt to bring these people into the real world.

First of all, I want to say that I do not trust ANY Dominant — female, male, or otherwise — who claims to have never submitted and does not have an interest to do so. To Me, it’s a big ol’ red flag. It’s kinda like when you have a supervisor who has never done your job and has no interest in learning what you do, but they are happy to act like an authority about it and boss you around. Nobody likes these kind of people.

I believe that to be an effective and great Dominant, you need to experience submission. What does giving up power mean, how much are you willing to give, under what conditions are you able to let go, how do you feel and react when being given an order, what goes through your mind when you are pushed, and so on. This is important because having an experience as a submissive increases your empathy for submissives.

Likewise, to be a great top you need to understand what it means to bottom. If you want to use an implement on someone, you should know what it feels like to receive that implement (anatomical limitations aside). If you don’t understand the perspective of the person who is bottoming, your knowledge will be limited to what you can imagine their perspective being like. And, personally, despite My rich imagination, I can tell you that there really is no substitute for actually feeling a single tail yourself.

“But how can a woman say She’s Dominant but also be willing to submit? Dominant Women don’t submit! It’s against their nature! It invalidates Their Holy Dommliness!”

Here’s the reality: dominant men can kneel before Me, submit to My power for one, two, three or more hours, and at the conclusion of our scene, guess what? They get up off their knees and continue their lives as dominant men. Likewise, a Domme can relinquish control to another…and when She stops relinquishing that control, She’s still Dominant. People, like power, are things whose expression is multi-layered and dynamic.

One way power can be expressed is through an intrinsically “dominant” personality. You may have heard of “type A” personalities. These are dominant types. Their brain is wired in such a way that they are naturally take-charge people. They feel more comfortable in leadership roles, and being assertive and confrontational is usually easier for them.

Another way power is expressed is by making a conscious choice to express it in a given situation. If one makes a decision to take the advice of their doctor and have the surgery, this is actually an act of submission! However, agreeing to let someone else operate on you does not change your underlying personality — whether dominant, submissive, etc. — before, during, or after the procedure.

Also, like many men, women usually have requirements before they’ll agree to offer their submission. It might be only given during certain activities, definitely not during other activities, and there might even be conditions to “inspire” submission, without which they don’t feel the desire or ability to do so in the first place. Sometimes it’s a person’s sex or gender, sometimes their age or ethnicity, sometimes it’s physique or clothing, sometimes it’s money. I have heard several men tell Me that beauty inspires submission in them. Or height. Or intelligence. Or big tits. Or bitchiness. Or very high heels. Dommes who submit are pretty much guaranteed to have their own versions of these things. It’s all personal and valid.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would someone who is Dominant even feel a desire to submit in the first place? Isn’t that exactly what Dominant people don’t want to do?”  I think one reason why people feel this way is because they are, probably unconsciously, associating submission with weakness, humiliation, or because it’s a sign that someone is actually unable to effectively dominate. None of these are true.

Imagine a dominant male CEO who is responsible for leading his company and the people in it every flipping day. He’s very good at this, but it’s still a lot of pressure and it can wear a person out. Most people will want to find ways to manage the stress that is generated. We all tend to do this naturally; it’s part of our inclination to homeostasis. The more “on” and “in control” a person has to be in their lives, they more they might feel a need to do the opposite to find their equilibrium. (The inverse can be true for people in positions in which they lack power.) This is not weakness. It’s a function of emotional health. So, the CEO might find his equilibrium by going sailing, gambling at a casino, or visiting a Dominatrix.

It’s the same for a Domme. She might spend all week controlling Her subs’ every move; tying them down and doing all sorts of things to them “without their consent” and on the weekend think, “All these guys seemed so at peace afterward. I want to know what it’s like to be tied down and have things done to Me ‘against My will’. I want to take a break and give someone else the power to make the decisions.” And so, like the always-in-control CEO, She decides to release some pressure by situationally submitting to another.

The thing about this that shamers don’t seem to understand or care about is: the rope that ties Her down or the thing that does whatever to Her doesn’t magically change Her desire, ability, or wiring to be Dominant anymore than the CEO who gets on his knees and licks the bottom of My shiny black boots. These are just experiences people are having. It doesn’t fundamentally change who they are. (Well, it could have an effect on one’s consciousness and self-concept which can change over time, but that’s for another article.)

People also can submit just for fun. I mean, some of you do it for that reason, right? You’re not hardcore, “lifestyle” slaves, you just want to negotiate some activities and then let your Dominant make the decisions about what they look like for a couple hours. You enjoy the mystery, the suspense, even the “game”. It’s sexy. It’s a good time. Why would that be any different for a Domme?

Lastly, if a woman is really Dominant, She’s going to do whatever the hell She wants, anyway — whether someone thinks it’s okay or not. A person’s ignorance won’t change that, and any unexamined beliefs regarding women, dominance, submission, and how they relate to that person’s fantasies about those things are theirs to own and don’t necessarily have any bearing on reality. So stop shaming Dominant Women who submit.

 

The Judgmental BDSM Professional

Have you ever had someone shame you about your identity or sexuality?

Feels horrible, doesn’t it?

Have you ever had a Domme or Mistress do it?

If you’re a genuinely submissive person, it can be especially damaging — possibly pushing you out of the BDSM community altogether.

I have seen Dominants, Mistresses, and Masters judge others because of their identity and sexuality — including their kinks. When I see this, I find it enraging — especially when that person is a professional.

When one makes eroticism their livelihood, one would think that person has achieved a certain level of security and maturity in that area. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Some people’s insecurities very clearly bleed into their work.

I have seen some BDSM professionals mock, ridicule, and shame people because of the (consensual) things they enjoy. I have come across attitudes and remarks which are homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic, ageist, ableist, and more. I have seen professionals make remarks about not doing “gay stuff” or not liking “trannies” (this is different than saying you don’t offer forced bi or feminization). I read a group of Mistresses (some, at least, who were or had been professional) mock a submissive’s desire to call his anatomy a “clitty”, calling it “ridiculous” and “infantile” and his being hurt by this as being “too sensitive” (a tactic used by abusive people). I have seen a few Pro Dommes call sexually liberated women “sluts” (and not in the good way).

Would you want to have a scene with a person like this?

If you’ve ever been shamed about your identity or sexuality by a Dominant — or anyone, for that matter — you do not have to accept it. You can speak up. Contrary to what some believe, dominating someone does not mean you are (nonconsensually) cruel. In fact, that’s a red flag.

And if that person is a professional? They should be held to an even higher standard. One should exemplify security and acceptance in this area. If one can’t respect the identity and sexuality of others — even if they themselves don’t understand or practice them — then how exactly do they expect people to trust them and feel understood and safe?