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How do you know if you’re kinky or not

Kink’s rise in popularity and public awareness has led many people to question their own sexual identity, with regards to kink and BDSM. It’s hard to watch a movie like Fifty Shades of Grey and not wonder if those same tendencies live inside you somewhere.

The commonly-presented duality of kinky versus vanilla isn’t as black-and-white as it may seem – many people view it as more of a spectrum than a binary. So while you might not be 100% vanilla or 100% kinky (frankly, few people are), here are some questions to ponder if you’re not sure where exactly you land on that spectrum…

Have kinky scenes in media ever captivated you?

True, some such scenes are so well-made and affecting that even a vanilla person might have a surprising reaction to them. But would a vanilla person think for days, or even weeks, about the spanking scene in Secretary or the public-sex scenes in Crash? Perhaps not…

Has a relationship of yours ever felt like it was missing something crucial?

Some kinky people can be satisfied by vanilla relationships, but many cannot. If vanilla sex with partners in the past has always felt slightly less exciting, natural, and/or immersive than you’d hoped or imagined it would, there’s a chance that kink is the missing ingredient for you.

Are you turned on by pain and/or power?

While these are obviously not the only two kinks out there, they’re sufficiently common interests among kinksters that you might initially notice your own pervy proclivities in an attraction to these themes. When you think about your favorite sexy pieces of media (porn, erotica, fanfiction, and so on), do you find that power imbalances between characters feature prominently in them – such as teacher/student relationships or boss/employee dynamics? What about the eroticization of pain? Have you ever craved these things in your own sex life? That could be a big clue.

Are you sexually adventurous?

There are definitely vanilla people out there who love to try wild stuff, but if you’ve found yourself continually drawn to trying new things sexually, even things your partner(s) thought were a bit weird and out-there, it’s possible you might be kinky.

Do you feel connected to the kinky community?

Not necessary everyone in it, mind you, but feeling somehow mentally tethered to kinky people as a group can be a sign that you belong in that group. It’s sort of like how a burgeoning bisexual might get a little teary-eyed watching their first Pride parade, not even knowing yet how well they fit into what they’re seeing. Do you love talking to kinky people, reading their writing, hearing their stories? Maybe there’s a sense of kinky kinship between you.

Do you spend a fair amount of time wondering whether you’re kinky?

Some queer and trans writers, like rom-com author Casey McQuiston, have argued that straight people don’t tend to spend a ton of time wondering if they’re straight, worrying about it, puzzling it out. By the same token, vanilla people don’t generally spend great swaths of time trying to dissect and analyze their own vanilla-ness; usually they just know what they are and accept it, because they don’t feel a pull toward kink. If you’re feeling that pull, it’s probably worth heeding.

Do you just… feel kinky?

Not to compare kinkiness to queerness or transness too much, because they differ in some crucial ways, but: there is an element of self-identification in all three of these labels. At a certain point, you just have to claim the label that seems to fit you best, even if it gives you impostor syndrome at first. Feeling kinky – believing that you are kinky, even a little – is enough. You don’t have to “prove” yourself beyond that. You can just be who you are.

katewritesaboutsex

Kate Sloan is a journalist, blogger, podcaster, and educator who has been writing about sex online and in print for over five years. She writes about sex, kink, relationships, fashion, beauty, writing, and mental health. She has been voted a Kinkly.com Sex Blogging Superhero for four years running, and her words reach over 22,000 sex nerds, weirdos and queerdos every month. As a journalist and essayist, Kate has written for Glamour, Teen Vogue, Daily Xtra, the Establishment, Maisonneuve, Herizons, the Plaid Zebra, xoJane, and more.

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