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If you’re here, clicking this NSFW shopping article in the year of our lord 2022 — chances are you’re trying to get in touch with your inner kinkster. First of all: Welcome! And you’re not alone, all sorts of surveys that have dropped since the pandemic first put a lot of people’s sex lives on ice have shown that people are more and more interested in having a spice-y, kinkier time in bed than ever before.
One of them from last year, the “summer of love survey” by the Kinsey Institute and sex toy retailer Lovehoney found that 73 percent of the respondents said they shifted into a kinkier mindset, looking to incorporate some spice into their sex lives.
“During periods of heightened stress and anxiety — like what we experienced during the pandemic–it is often harder to become and stay aroused,” Kinsey Institute Research Fellow and Lovehoney Scientific Advisor Dr. Justin Lehmiller said in a statement when they dropped the survey. “One way that people might cope with this is by trying new and immersive sexual activities that allow you to be in the moment and free your mind of distracting thoughts. Trying new things is also a way that people can ‘feel alive’ during periods of stress and boredom.”
The realm of “kink” can include so, so much — it’s a large umbrella that includes various so-called “non-conventional” sexual behaviors that would take a while to break down here. But more often than not, when used in conversation, it’s often including BDSM (which include bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism) and various more specific fetishes. The only limits, when it comes to human sexual activity between enthusiastically consenting adults, is one’s imagination, TBH.
That said, if you’re looking to inch your way into a wilder (or simply more interesting) sex life, we’re here to help you and recommend some fun stuff to play with. But first, you’ll want to do your research.
I know, I know, this isn’t on the surface-level something that sounds sexy. But I promise it’s a lot sexier to know what you’re talking about, asking for or agreeing to when you escalate the intensity of activities in your bedroom. This ranges from checking on some erotic materials (porn, audio or written erotica, various spicey blogs) to determine what makes your little kinky heart go pitter-pat, reading up on some of the basics of consent, kinky safety philosophies (RACK, SSC and the 4Cs are good starting points, FYI), safe words (I typically recommend a stoplight system of “red, yellow and green” or simply using “stop” and “no” if you aren’t playing in a context where you’ll want play to continue beyond a “stop” — but having a non-verbal safeword is also a good practice), getting a feel for what kind of sex you want to be having and what kind of aftercare you’ll need.
If you have an existing partner or partners, you’ll want to have this conversation with them and do some of this sexy homework together. This can be such a special chance to grow and explore together, particularly if you’re both a bit new to the game. If you’re looking for partners who will want to play a certain way, I highly recommend joining online communities in your area (you can find some of these locally via FetLife for example) and going to some non-sexual events (munches) and eventually play parties to meet IRL people with play experience in chill environments.
Being a beginner in kinky spaces is a special time but also a vulnerable one. Power exchanges can be as emotionally intense as they are physically and it takes a lot of communication, discussion and negotiation to do it well and to keep everyone happy and safe. So having a baseline knowledge of what you want, don’t want (ex: never say you have no limits and if someone claims they have no limits, run) is a really important step in making sure that your encounters stay on the exciting and fun side and that you can advocate for your own pleasure. Trust your gut and know that it isn’t uncommon to like something more in sexy theory than in practice and that you can revoke your consent or put an end to any activity you want at any time (regardless of the role you are playing in a sexual encounter or scene).
Okay, I am done being a sexual health lifeguard (for now) and am about to recommend you some simple and helpful toys and tools for budding kinksters looking to build out their personal collections. This is far from an exhaustive list and your mileage will vary depending on your specific interests, tastes, comfort levels and those of your partner(s), but we’ll try to cover a range of common activities that will, if nothing else, get you thinking hard and long about the things you want out of your own sex life.