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5 Common Kinks–& What To Know Before You Try

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    Photographed By Lauren Perlstein; Illustrated By Ly Ngo.

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    I never thought of myself as kinky. It’s a confusing term — where, exactly, is the line drawn? What makes you "kinky" rather than just "open" or "adventurous"? On TV, the “kink” we see is often stylized dominatrixes being played for laughs — that, or Justin Timberlake telling us he's our slave (because see these shackles, baby?).

    Kink can mean a lot of things, which change based on whom you're talking to. Generally, though, it can include: BDSM (spanking, domination, being tied up); threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes; watching other people have sex; finding casual or anonymous partners on Craigslist; and much, much more. It can include being dressed up like a pony and going to dressage camp with a bunch of your leather-clad pals, or wearing a tasteful collar with a bell on it. For some people, it might involve extreme experimentation, such as breath control (including erotic asphyxiation or choking) or fantasy roleplay. Kinksters vary widely in gender and sexual orientation. Some people take on kink as an identity, the same way someone might identify as gay, but others don't. Like many things in life and sex, kink is a spectrum.

    People don't talk a ton about their kinky sides. In some cases, this may be because we're afraid of being laughed at or rejected because of our fantasies. Or, maybe we haven't learned to value our full range of sexual expression. Other times, we're scared of being physically hurt when experimenting with our desires. We might feel guilty for having "abnormal" sexual feelings that we're convinced other people don't have (even though Kinsey found out in the 1950s that there's a lot more kink happening than we hear about). Or, maybe we're feminists who secretly want to be tied up and made to suck off a stranger. The bottom line: We have complicated feelings about kink.

    With kink, there is no normal, but there are some more common acts. Ahead, some different kinks along with things to remember if you decide to try them. If you do something and discover it's not for you, no big deal. But, if you find yourself wanting to learn more, give yourself the chance to explore.

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