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Why BDSM Couples Like Having Rough Sex
4. BDSM: All About Communication
BDSM is still viewed as an unconventional sensual, erotic, and sexual behavior, yet couples who practice this tend to develop a better sense of self. These couples are more likely to communicate their likes and dislikes with their partner. In the previously mentioned 2013 study, Dutch researchers found BDSM lovers were more extraverted, more open to experience, more conscientious, less neurotic, less sensitive to rejection, more securely attached, and higher in subjective well-being. Specifically, all three BDSM subsets, including dominants, submissives, and switches, outscored controls on “subjective well-being”; the difference was significant for dominants.
So, what’s the connection between BDSM and healthy relationships?
It’s a combination of self-awareness and communication. BDSM helps couples recognize their sexual identity and desire. Communication is a standard in BDSM activities because couples must be able to negotiate boundaries and safe practices. According to O’Reilly, some couples feel their overall levels of communication improve with kink play.
“These benefits spill into other areas of the relationship (e.g. parenting, division of labour, emotional expression) and serve to deepen their existing bond,” she said.
Communication and consent are critical in BDSM, especially when it comes to pain play.
5. Pain Is Pleasure: Why It Feels So Good
Several couples will admit they get pleasure from experiencing pain, or inflicting (consensual) pain on others. Yet, some of us will yell in pain when we twist our ankle or break a bone, and even a papercut can produce misery. There’s actually a difference between good pain and bad pain.
“Interestingly, our brain processes social rejection in the same place where it processes physical pain. When we experience pain in a sexual act, we’re going to enjoy that pain differently, because we have a different interpretation to it than an accident where we don’t have control,” Wanis said.
When we experience bad pain, this indicates something is not right, and needs immediate attention. However, when we feel good pain during sadomasochism — giving or receiving pleasure from the infliction or reception of pain and humiliation — it is enjoyable. A 2014 study found sadomasochism alters blood flow in the brain, which can lead to an altered state of consciousness similar to a “runner’s high” or yoga. Brain changes were seen in the prefrontal and limbic/paralimbic pain regions when participants either received pain or gave pain.
Here, the pain led the central nervous system to release endorphins, which are proteins that act to block pain, and promote feelings of euphoria.
It seems pain and pleasure have always been intertwined.
There’s one other reason pain may sometimes feel good: The range of interests in BDSM could possibly possess an evolutionary advantage.
6. Evolutionary Advantage: Is BDSM A Reproductive Strategy?
BDSM involves role playing, with aspects like dominance and submission, which can be roughly translated into lower and/or higher-ranking partners. In mammals, high hierarchical status is linked with increased reproductive success, and Czech researchers believe BDSM-induced arousal could be a manifestation of a mating strategy.
In a 2009 study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers found sexual arousal through overemphasized hierarchy, like dominant-slave play, can represent a reproductive strategy. Role play allows someone who has a need to be dominant to feel dominant, and someone who is submissive to be able to reproduce. It joins two people who have varied, but complementary, sexual preferences to reap benefits from each other.
People who engage in BDSM also show adaptability and knowledge of various sexual behaviors. They’re able to relate in socially and sexually unconventional ways that can give them an evolutionary edge. In other words, BDSM can make someone become more open-minded, self-aware, and more expressive in communicating their needs and desires, which is advantageous in any relationship — not just those that are intimate.
7. BDSM: The ‘New’ Way To Have Sex
BDSM has been a thing for a very, very long time, so it’s hardly “new”, but Fifty Shades expanded the conversation around it. The movie inspired people to explore their own sexual preferences, and embrace their naughtiest desires. However, it’s important to note its representation of BDSM is problematic; it is indeed shades of grey.
Couples seem to be enticed by BDSM because it steers away from the conventional, and encourages the exploration of the unknown, or taboo. It’s against society’s norms, and solicits more intrigue.
“We want to break the taboo, and that becomes sexually exciting,” Wanis said.
If we’re willing to hand over our physical, mental, emotional, and psychological safety to our partner — that’s more than just kinky sex, that’s trust. Hopefully, that trust has been earned.
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