“Good Girl”: A Sexologist Explains What Exactly A Praise Kink Is

If you’ve noticed an uptick in people talking about “praise kinks”, you’re not alone. There’s been a definite surge in interest and discussion around the kink, thanks, in no small part to — surprise, surprise — TikTok.
At the time of writing, #praiseknk has 84.6 million video views and #praisekinks has 3.5 million, so it’s fair to surmise that people are resonating with this particular kink. 
In fact, it appears that TikTok, with its open flow of communication and an algorithm that delivers exactly what you need to hear at the right time, is bestowing on people eye-opening revelations. Along with BookTok, which is doing a fair job of disseminating information about what a praise kink is, it seems that the words “TikTok made me realise I have a praise kink” is the latest, and thankfully, harmless diagnosis to take over the app.  
But what exactly is a praise kink? And if it sounds like it’s a bit of you, how might we go about incorporating it in the bedroom? 

What Is A Praise Kink?

Unsurprisingly, a praise kink is exactly what it sounds like. “[It] essentially refers to anyone who gets off on being told how good they are,” explains Georgia Grace, sexologist and co-founder of NORMAL, a female- and queer-owned sexual wellness brand. 
Examples of a praise kink in action may include phrases like, “you’ve been such a good girl, I’m so proud of you, you’re so good at doing that,” Grace tells Refinery29 Australia. It can also be folded into “mummy and daddy play”, whereby one party is in a position of dominance (the mummy or daddy) and the other is more subservient — though that doesn’t mean that a praise kink is linked to childhood deprivation or a lack of verbal affection when you were growing up. 
Whilst many like to theorise and, yes, meme-ify sexual kinks, kink educator Aoife Murray is quick to point out there is yet to be any real, solid research connecting a praise kink to specific childhood characteristics. 
Now, it’s probably fair to say that everyone likes to hear about how great they are from time to time, but a praise kink isn’t about the pride you get when someone tells you that you’ve nailed your highlighter today. “I think a lot of us want to feel good while having sex,” Grace explains. With that in mind, a praise kink specifically involves attaining a level of sexual excitement from praise, compliments or verbal affirmations. And, of course, the praise isn’t limited to forming complete, coherent sentences. Noises (think: moans, groans) can also work towards igniting someone’s praise kink. It’s all about receiving recognition and confirmation that the person with the kink is doing a good job. 

How Can You Embrace A Praise Kink In The Bedroom?

Grace has a few tips for how to safely dip your toes into the praise kink waters. “As with anything, even though it may not seem hardcore or intense like dirty talk, we need to check in with our sexual partners first,” she says. “Using a praise kink outside of a usual context can be quite surprising, even triggering and shocking.”
Like all sexual activities, seeking and receiving explicit consent from your partner or partners before engaging. In short, make sure you broach the topic of a praise kink before you start throwing out terms like “good girl” in bed, and if you’re worried about how to approach the topic, remember — it doesn’t have to be a big deal. 
“It can be something really simple,” Grace explains. “Send someone this article [and say] hey, I read about this, look at this, would you be curious about trying it?”
This gives the other person the autonomy in the situation to opt in or out of trying it. 
Grace also suggests that after the subject has been broached, testing the waters outside of a sexual context first could be a gentle way to ease into it. “You could just say something while watching television,” she says, adding that this helps to ensure that everyone is definitely on board before taking it to the bedroom.
For some people, embarking on the exploration of a new kink is something they might turn into a grand affair. “Some people plan whole days around fetishes,” Grace says.
For others, it needs to be no big deal; simply dropped in as maybe a casual, “I’ve been such a good girl, I deserve a kiss”. There is, as ever, no set rule book when it comes to approaching kink-play — except, of course, seeking consent and setting boundaries and parameters before engaging.
A praise kink, with its positive reinforcement and almost playful, affirming edge, is a fairly safe kink to explore. It might not even sound like a kink to some people, but it’s important to bear in mind that the concept of kinks is subjective. As Grace points out, the word kink refers to anything outside of the “straight and narrow”. The definition is vague for a reason; kink is all about welcoming inclusion and curiosity. 
“This is a fun kink to play with,” Grace says. “People can feel more safe dipping into this kink.”
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