Thursday, February 22, 2024

Pain & Pleasure in the Brain: Why it Hurts So Good!

Photo by Olga Korolenko on Unsplash

Mind and Body Experiences

To be fully engaged in life, we must become aware of the extraordinary connection between our mental state and our physical being. Everything we do relies on neurons communicating with one another, electrical impulses and chemical signals carrying messages across different parts of the brain as well as between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. The body and mind work together to heighten all our experiences, our love and sex lives included.

Pain and Pleasure Ignite The Same Areas of the Brain

Scientists have also discovered that emotions have a physical place in the brain. Anger, happiness, sadness, fear – each has a specific neural circuitry that has evolved over millions of years. Interestingly, many dichotomous emotions reside in the same place. For example, fear and anger come from the same area of the brain, which is the root of the “fight or flight” response. Similarly, pain and pleasure are also roommates. Studies have shown that people who enjoy BDSM (Bondage, Domination/Discipline, Sadism and Masochism) ignite the same areas of their brains for both the pleasure and the pain they experience.

Emotional Hurt, Physical Pain

When people feel emotional pain, it triggers the same areas of the brain as physical pain.

Why is this? Going back to our initial definition of feelings, the body responds to the messages of the mind. This applies to a broken heart as much as a broken toe.

Our body responds to our thoughts and feelings. Below is a just a short list of some of the physical conditions that can indicate our emotional health is out of balance:

♥ Back pain
♥ Chest pain
♥ Constipation
♥ Exhaustion
♥ Headaches
♥ High blood pressure
♥ Insomnia
♥ Palpitations
♥ Sexual problems
♥ Stiff neck
♥ Upset stomach
♥ Weight changes

Alan Fogel, Ph.D., explored this phenomenon for Psychology Today (“Where Does Emotion Hurt In The Body?” 2012) with a series of insightful questions, most notably this one about tripping over a box someone left behind, “If my brain sends me the signal that I broke my toe and I can feel it in my toe, where does my brain place the emotional pain of anger I have for the guy that left the box in the hallway?” More directly, “Where does emotional pain hurt?”

Fogel wonders if emotional pain might reside in the area of the body that represents that unexpressed emotion. For instance, in the example of a toe stubbed on a box left in the hallway, the decision to not yell at the culprit may result in tension in the neck, throat and jaw because the desired expression was not taken, so the muscle that would have otherwise been exercised becomes tense. So, really, saying someone is a “pain in the neck” is more truth than cliché.

Using this logic, is “heartbreak” a real thing? Some researchers believe so. The feeling of love is partly created by vagal-parasympathetic activation, which promotes an easy and relaxed integration of breathing and heart rate. When this comfortable feeling is challenged
by deception or a break up, the sympathetic nervous system responds the same as if it were a physical threat. Since the safety was felt in the chest area, the body may go into protection mode, thereby causing shoulders to hunch into a downcast posture as if to protect the chest and the heart from further pain.

It is important to become aware of where emotional pain resides in our bodies because the location may hold the key to releasing the pain. To improve your emotional and physical health, keep these basic goals in mind:

♥ Don’t repress, deny or ignore your feelings.
♥ Express your feelings in appropriate ways.
♥ Maintain a positive outlook.
♥ Develop resilience.
♥ Practice relaxation techniques.
♥ Take care of your body with healthy nutrition and exercise.

Take a moment to pay attention to your body. Do you have a physical pain that isn’t related to a known injury or ailment? If so, how might it be related to unresolved emotional pain?

Tune into these emotions, and work through them instead of suppressing them, and you may find this will alleviate the physical pain.

 

Mistress Damiana Chi PhD Interview with Erika Jordan for Sexpert.com

Mistress Damiana Chi PhD

You are fascinating! Can you give us your back story?

Well…the short version is: I have been a full-time professional dominatrix for over 20 years. My interest in it began when I was curious about the psychology of BDSM while I was in my master’s program in counseling psychology.  I wrote a few papers on it then, and then when I went into my doctorate program in clinical psychology, I continued writing papers on it, and eventually writing my doctoral dissertation on it.

I am the founder of a psychologically-based, worldwide Dominatrix Training Program—The Evolutionary Dominatrix™ Academy. Which is a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive, high-level mentorship program in the art and mastery of Female Domination. In which I certify Dominatrixes upon graduation.  I am also a certified sexologist, specializing in kink-centered life coaching.

As a coach I’ve often struggled with destructive patterns in my clients. I’ve wondered if maybe the gentle guidance approach is ineffective for some and they need something more. How did you come up with incorporating BDSM into your therapy?

BDSM, when practiced correctly, is in and of itself, a healing modality.  There is a tremendous amount of trust and understanding being built in the foundation of the pre-scene negotiations even before the session begins.  The submissive feels seen, accepted, valued, and engaged with on levels that are very powerful and healing.  When all of this is established in the safe, sane, consensual and ethical container of the session, we can freely “play” in the dark places that we don’t go to in the vanilla world.

How did you begin and how have you transformed since then?

I began my pro domme career as a psychology graduate student because I wanted to immerse myself in the subject that I was writing about. As I had mentioned earlier, and found that I was a “natural” dominant.  This was not surprising, as I had always been dominant in my romantic relationships.  The transformation that I have experienced over the span of two decades is enormous. And I am still growing every day, as a domme, and as a woman.  I love and accept people, especially men, on a deep level that I did not realize was possible.  When they open up and show me their most vulnerable and intimate sides of themselves, I see them as the most beautiful beings on the planet.

Can you tell us about a success story you have had?

Literally all of the clients and subs that I have ever sessioned with is a success story.  I am not exaggerating, nor trying to boast.  I have a saying: “I am a Lightworker who plays in the Dark.”  A lightworker is a healer—one who brings light to those whose lives they touch.  After sessions, my subs feel a profound sense of happiness, not just in a momentary sense, but on a deep level, because the needs of this special kind of connection have been met.

What type of clients do you tend to attract?

I attract all types, but most of my clients are successful, high-educated, emotionally intelligent professionals.

How do you incorporate BDSM into a session when the client likes pain and see it as positive reinforcement?

There are two types of sessions that I do: traditional BDSM sessions and kink-centered life coaching.  I do not mix the two, but if someone wants one form and then the other, we discuss and agree on the plan of action together.  If there is a client that “likes pain,” then this would be a BDSM session.  There are two basic dynamics that a BDSM session can take form: Domme/sub (domination) or Top/bottom.

When you ask about how to see pain as positive reinforcement, then this would most likely fall under a domination dynamic.  When I do a “slave training” session with corporal punishment, I would usually frame the reasoning for the pain in these three ways for positive reinforcement: 1) taking pain as a regular practice makes them into a better submissive for me, 2) taking pain provides me pleasure as a sadist, 3) taking pain will atone for their transgressions.

Can you walk us through a session? I’m sure they’re all very different so just pick one you’d like to showcase.

There are countless scenarios for sessions, but I have a basic slave training program that I put many of my subs through, in which there are 4 categories.  I have created the acronym WAPP! (the sound of an implement hitting an ass) to signify the 4 categories: Worship, Abasement, Pain and Penetration.

All of these things will make for a better slave.  Abasement is making the sub lower than the Domme, to help them understand their lower status.  This can be having the sub kneel, crawl, pulled by collar and leash.  Pain can be corporal or cock and ball torture or nipple torture, commonly.  Penetration can be anything put in any orifice of the sub’s body: ass, mouth, urethra, ears, and nostrils.  Worship is making the slave worship the domme by kissing or massaging her feet, shoes, and boots (commonly).

Is your dungeon available to anyone besides your clients? Do you rent it out?

My dungeon, The Chi Temple, is my private play space, available to a selected few Domme friends who rent it for sessions.  I also run my in-person workshops there: The Dominatrix Archetype™ Workshop, and the Advanced BDSM Workshop.

What is your favorite thing about BDSM?

I feel blessed to be able to bond with people in this very special, profound, intimate way.  The relationships I have built in the BDSM world are lifelong and treasured.

Would you say your occupation has bled into your personal life and if so in what way?

I would say that my occupation has helped me practice very clear boundaries, confidence, knowing who I am, and zero victim mentality.  The dommes I know also have these strengths and more.

How can someone sign up for a session with you?

People can go to my website, MistressDamianaChi.com to apply for a BDSM session, and BDSMsexologist.com to apply for a kink-centered coaching session.

What kind of client is the right fit for you?

Someone who is respectful, polite, sincere, open about who they are and what they are looking for, follows direction, not a timewaster.

Tell us about a time you had to end a session prematurely because the client was out of line.

This has never happened in my 20+ years of sessions because I have a really effective screening protocol.  There was only a mismatch a long time ago, early in my career, where there was a guy who acted strangely, and afterwards I found out that he was high on cocaine.  Since then, I have had a zero tolerance policy for substance abuse during sessions.

How do you treat destructive patterns?

I do not see people with destructive patterns. In these cases I refer them to friends of mine who are kink-aware psychotherapists.  I am not a practicing, licensed psychotherapist, although I have been trained as one.

What do you do when the client comes to you to end his love of BDSM or a particular fetish?

I have never had a request from anyone who wants to end his love of BDSM or a fetish.  As a sexologist, I work with clients in an empathic, coaching-style approach in support of a sex-positive kink/BDSM lifestyle, focusing on building a healthy self-image and self-acceptance.  If someone has a desire for BDSM to an unhealthy degree, I believe that there are other mental imbalances at play. In which case, I would refer them out to kink-aware psychotherapists.

Tell us about your program? Who is it best suited for? Where can they find it?

The Evolutionary Dominatrix™ Academy is a one-of-a-kind, psychologically-based, comprehensive, high-level mentorship and certification program in the art and mastery of Female Domination.  It is best suited for women (cis and trans women, and non-binary femme people) who highly value their personal and/or professional growth, the development of their female domination mastery skills, and a comprehensive BDSM education.  The website is Academy.TheEvolutionaryDominatrix.com.

Bio:

Mistress Damiana Chi, Ph.D. is a professional and lifestyle dominatrix who has held a full-time practice for over 20 years at The Chi Temple, her elegantly-appointed BDSM studio in Los Angeles, enjoying a range of clientele and subs, from novice to seasoned. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, an M.A. in counseling psychology, B.A. in behavioral sciences, and is a certified sexologist, specializing in kink-centered coaching.

Mistress Damiana is the founder The Evolutionary Dominatrix™ Academy, in which she personally mentors women, in all parts of the world online, in the art of Female Domination with her self-developed psychologically-based methodology and domination framework, as well as an in-depth focus in submissive psychology. The marriage of her psychological background and passion for the BDSM arts and D/s dynamics gave birth to her evolutionary teachings, taking FemDom to a new level of excellence, connection and joy.

Mistress Damiana also offers in-person trainings, such as her signature course: The Dominatrix Archetype: A Psychological and Practical Methodology Workshop (for Academy students or accepted applicants), and The Advanced BDSM Workshop (for Academy students or alumni).

Go to BDSMsexologist.com for more information about consultations and coaching, and MistressDamianaChi.com to apply for private BDSM sessions.

https://academy.theevolutionarydominatrix.com

https://www.mistressdamianachi.com

https://www.bdsmsexologist.com

For more hot talk go back to the beginning with Erika Jordan and the birth of the Playmate Pickup Podcast.

Come find me at PlaymatePickup.com My six week course, Playmate Pickup is available with personalized guidance at PlaymatePickup.com. Acquire the skills to approach women with confidence and get them to want you!

 

BDSM: What is Dominance, Submission & Power Exchange

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

This is the first in a series of stories about what BDSM is and is not. I feel strongly about pointing out the facts because of all of the misconceptions and assumptions about BDSM there are in the general public. Some vilify it. Some think it’s a license for misogyny and to disrespect and abuse women. Some just have the wrong ideas of what it’s all about. The sad thing is that people have and pass along these beliefs without having any idea of what BDSM is all about. Even more frightening are the people who get into BDSM and do not fully understand what they’re getting into. I’d like to clarify things and hope that you’ll share this information with those who need it.

What is BDSM?

The basis of BDSM play is dominance and submission. A male Dom or female Domme (Dominatrix) takes the lead in directing BDSM play over (a) submissive partner(s). The “taking the lead” dynamic is known as power exchange.

What is Power Exchange?

Power exchange is based on a carefully negotiated agreement between a Dominant and a submissive. Each makes a joint consensual agreement over sexual acts that may and will not be carried out in their BDSM play. Just because a Dominant has control over BDSM play does not mean that they can overturn the “will nots” or hard limits set forth by a submissive. The Dominant has a responsibility of playing within the bounds of their agreement with the sub. While a Dominant may want to push a submissive’s limits, a submissive has freedom to control play with safe words. Safe words are generally green (go on, this feels good), yellow (slow down, take it easy) and red (stop, immediately).

When I say consensual, consent is the No. 1 rule. No exceptions. Ever. Safe words are always honored.

“Exchange” is the key word in power exchange. It’s not just about a Dominant directing acts solely for his or her enjoyment. Domination is not about entitlement to sexual acts and pleasure without reciprocation to a submissive. Being a submissive does not mean that he or she gives up the right to receive pleasure. Some of the role playing that takes place in BDSM play – like chastity play and orgasm denial – is not the literal meaning of denial. It just means that pleasure is delayed but is granted at some point, and is usually more intense than in most other situations.

Dominance & Submission

Being a submissive is not about lying back and making himself or herself the sole recipient of pleasure. There is just as much “work” involved for a submissive as there is for a Dominant. BDSM play is all about pleasure for both Dominant and submissive.

Being a Dominant comes with a lot of responsibility. A Dominant has the responsibility of knowing how to safely use the toys and implements he or she uses in BDSM play. A Dominant has the responsibility of monitoring of a submissive’s mental and physical well-being during and after sexual play.

Being a submissive does not mean being a doormat or being a lesser being to a Dominant. Being a submissive is purely about giving up control in BDSM play. Submissiveness should feel challenging, liberating and fulfilling. Being challenged should feel like a thrill or a dare, not anything that feels bad or demeaning.

Relinquishing control to a Dominant is built upon trust and respect of a submissive. Trust is built over time and respect is earned both ways. The act of submission is a gift to Dominant and should be respected and cherished. In social BDSM communities and gatherings, Dominants and submissives are some of the most respectful people you’ll ever meet. They take respect seriously.

Most importantly, Domination is not about inflicting physical pain for pain’s sake. There is a close correlation between pain and pleasure in BDSM sex. Learning and knowing that correlation between the two takes a lot of education in how it works and how to apply it. Domination is also not about inflicting emotional pain. Negative words that may be used during BDSM play are not to be taken literally or to heart, especially after a session ends. Negative words are simply part of the role playing that takes place during a BDSM session.

Think of Dominance and submission as being the positive and negative ends of a battery or a magnet. Positive does not mean good or better. Negative does not mean lesser or bad. Without polarity, there is no charge, and Domination and submission is all about creating a powerful sexual charge.

Previously Published at: http://agoodwomansdirtymind.com/what-bdsm-is-isnt-dominance-submission-power-exchange/

What is it really like to live the 24-7 Dom/Sub Relationship

When I sit here and write this blog to share with you, let it be known I am NOT an expert on this topic.  I too, have researched it and in the various adult entities I am involved in I have been exposed numerous times to others who do choose to live this type of lifestyle 24/7.  Now, this can not only be referred to as information on a Dom and Sub but also on a mistress or Fem Dom and submissive.

A relationship between two people where one is the higher authority figure, hierarchy, or power structure.  Now, just as I have discussed in previous interviews and blogs, the number one most important thing is consent.  You are choosing to be involved in this type of relationship and communication is the key ingredient.

When it comes to roleplay or playing out your sexual fantasies, you must know that if choosing to live this lifestyle 24 hours a day 7 days a week, you will not always be aroused.  So, it reverts back to why you are choosing this lifestyle.  Does this mean one of you is less superior than the other? Does this have anything to do with race, gender, age difference, race, or another variable?  The answer in my research is absolutely not.   It comes down to both involved choosing to voluntarily choose who is in which power position.

It is also important to keep in mind, no one is perfect and mistakes will occur.  A safeword is still 100% on the table and limits must be set between both involved.  Everything I always say and will continue to say, revolve around communication.

What about Kink groups? Communities, seminars, books, or anything having to do with learning more about the Dom Sub relationship, will they help? Again, I have found that we can always improve in any way of life by continuing our education.  So, do not be afraid to reach out for guidance and assistance.  Remember, you are both learning and although one may be more experienced there needs to be a level of patience and understanding to continue to build a healthy Dom sub relationship.

So, if this type of lifestyle intrigues you my suggestion as with any other alternative relationships we have discussed on my podcast is to take it slow, communicate, attend seminars, workshops, read blogs and listen to podcasts.  You learn by listening.  Learn together and work together and back to my words I live by, “Patience will Prosper”.

Coralyn Jewel

Spanking: A Hands-on Tutorial

(Note: This post is written from a straight submissive woman’s perspective. I also prefer to use pronouns consistently in my writing. I in no way infer or suggest that there’s anything wrong with submissive men or bi, lesbian, gay, trans or omni sex; I honestly can’t speak from those experiences. My only intention is to provide safe, sane and responsible sex-positive information.)

Unless you’re a die-hard masochist or pain slut, the sexual intent of spanking isn’t just about pain. A little sting on the behind or the back of the legs is like taking in a good sweet and sour soup at a Chinese restaurant – it’s an unexpected intense sensation. When it’s done right, a spankee’s mind will blur between pleasure and pain.

Before You Begin

Before you lay a hand on your partner, talk about spanking. Talk about your spankee’s experience (or non-experience) with spanking. Ask about her about her likes and dislikes and what her pain thresholds are. If you’ve never spanked during sexual play, let your partner know and take things slow. Use and honor “Slow down,” “No,” “Stop” and safe words. (Sometimes safe words, or words other than “No” and “Stop” don’t come easy when a spankee’s sexually charged, orgasmic or in extreme pain.)

Warm Up

The last thing you want to do is start off by wailing on your sub or partner’s ass, especially with no preparation or notice. Think of that approach as the equivalent of getting rammed in the ass with no lube. Gently stroking the tush and the back of the upper legs with your hand makes the spankee feel cared for and gets the blood flow going. Making your sub/partner feel relaxed and subdued is elemental in building trust for how things will ensue.

Start off Slow

Once your partner falls into a comfort zone, give a quick smack. At the beginning, use more soft touches than spanks. It’s even better when your soft touches and spanks are unpredictable. The unexpected is key to the yin-yang/pain-pleasure mind fuck. Gradually build up the intensity and frequency of your spanks.

A Hands-on Tutorial

There’s definitely a technique to taking a hand to the bum. Don’t make hard contact by striking through the tissue. That’s a sure way to bruise. Snap at the meatier parts of her ass or back of her legs and pull back quickly. Flick your wrist as if you’re cracking a whip.

Also, hold your hands in different ways. Cupping your hand with your fingers together gives the effect of a spanking but also has a bit of a caress to it. Using a flat palm with your fingers apart will have more of an impact. Giving quick whacks with a flat palm with your fingers together will definitely leave a sting, a red mark, and definitely a louder smack.

Don’t think of spanking as just smacking. After all, this isn’t the kind of  spanking you got as a kid. Swat your fingers up or back and forth like a whisking a broom. Use one or both sides of your hands and fingers.

Don’t spank the same spot over and over. Alternate between cheeks and try the hips, sides of her butt, or the bottom back of her legs. A little and more gentle swat to the pussy can leave a delightful jolt, too.

Mix Things Up

Spanking isn’t just all about the ass, although anal play while you’re spanking is fun if your partner’s into that. Alternate between spanking and pussy play either with your fingers, dildo or vibrator. Reach around and grab or caress some boobage. Tweak or pinch a nipple while you’re giving her ass the soft touch treatment.

Getting Heavy Handed

When your spankee’s breathing starts getting heavier or if she’s getting pre-orgasmic, this is the time to step things up in intensity. Let her sounds and movements guide you. If an “Ouch!” is immediately followed by an “Oooh, yeah,” you’re doing things right.

Never be afraid to ask how your partner is feeling. Sometimes spankees won’t say they’re hurting because they think there’s some kind of expectation to endure pain in order to earn pleasure. If your partner is into that kind of game, at least tease her by giving her teasing touches near her pussy – the insides of her thighs, the crook between her leg and her groin. Gliding your finger tip along the top of her ass crack to the small of her back will send tingles and shivers throughout her body and down to her very core. Daring her to come while she’s getting spanked can be a hot dynamic.

Some good, hard spanks while you’re in the middle of hardcore fucking can definitely be in order. A swift whack will usually make her vaginal walls clamp around your cock and give her an orgasmic jolt. Again, monitor her response. If she’s really hurting (and chances she won’t be if you’re doing it right), it’s going to kill her mood and you’ll both lose out.

By all means, I don’t mean to suggest that you have to spank or be spanked from foreplay to orgasm. Just like any other sex play, do what feels good and fits the mood. Don’t be surprised if the person doing the spanking will decide when he’s had enough. His hand is getting a work-over, too, or he might want to put them elsewhere.

Afterglow and Aftercare

After all is done, bask in the tenderness of afterglow. Make your partner feel cared for, loved and pampered. Talk about what happened. Don’t be surprised if she wigs out a bit after coming down or even the next day. This is common. Some call it sub-drop or post-coital tristesse (read more about this in Ms. Q & A: Why do I Cry After Sex?). It can be brought on by the polar extreme sensations, a crisis of conscience, or a fear that she’s not truly valued or respected. Assure her that she is by both your words and actions, especially if words like slut, whore and cunt are used during play.

If you’re a conflicted spanker or don’t feel like it’s in your nature, tell her. Respecting limits goes both ways, and extreme and kinky sex doesn’t always mean better sex.

Be sure to follow up in the following days. Check for bruising, marks, and welts. Some gals like a little reminder of a stinging bottom or a warm red mark for a day or so, but if it lasts more than 24 hours or if it’s really painful to sit, take it as a signal to take things easier the next time. A little bruising might occur and she might be OK with her, but blotches of black and blue on her backside are not. Even if she didn’t say “Stop,” “Slow Down,” or use a safe word, it may have been hard for her to judge her pain level if she was also feeling a lot of pleasure. Some medications can exacerbate bruising, too.

More, Please, Sir

If hand-iwork isn’t enough, you’ll most likely want to look into some toys and implements to extend the long arm of the law of great sex, but I’ll get into those in another post. I promise.

http://agoodwomansdirtymind.com/spanking-done-right/

How To Spice Up Your Sex Life When You Don’t Know Where To Start

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

You’re bored with your sex life. So you Google “how to spice up your sex life” and you see a torrent of “Top Ten” articles with a laundry list of things you could try. They’re informative enough but the broad array of choices leaves you with analysis paralysis.

Then you go to an online or offline bookstore hoping to find something useful only to be met with a landslide of how-to books on very specific sex practices that either offer a tribal identity you don’t want (“be a dom top!”)  or they scare the hell out of you.

The internet articles are too broad and unfocused while the books are too narrow and tribal. The articles assume you’re open to everything; the books assume you’re committed to something.

But what if you’re not open to everything?   What if you haven’t committed yourself to something?  What if you haven’t identified yourself as an adherent to a particular sexual practice?

How do you discover organic and authentic ways of expanding your sexual horizon?

Should you try rough sex? Voyeurism? Exhibitionism? Leather? Rubber? Role play? Act out fantasies? Cultivate a fetish? Get tied up? Do the tying?

The options are confusing because they answer questions you haven’t thought through. Let me explain. I once asked an interior designer friend what color she thought I should paint my bedroom.  She didn’t pull out a color chart and lay out a buffet of options.

She didn’t recommend any particular colors, either.  Even when I presented her with colors I was considering she brushed them aside.

“You’re in such a rush to come up with the answer you’re going to end up with a bedroom you hate,” she said. “You’re starting with answers when you should be starting with questions.”

“Such as?” I asked.

“What do you want to feel when you enter the room? What is important to you in a bedroom? What experiences do you want to have? Who are you and how does the choice of color express it?”

She was right.  It was only after I answered those questions that I was able to identify the best option.

In your desire to paint your sex life another color you shouldn’t be asking questions like, “what hue should I use?” You should be asking yourself the same question my interior designer friend asked me: What do you want the color to do?

Properly broadening the palette in your bedroom–or what you do in it– must come from understanding what motivates you, what excites you, and what aspects of desire you might have hidden from yourself but, if allowed to surface, could help you experience whatever is lacking right now.

You may be aware of your boredom, your restlessness or even a mismatch between your identities and your actions in bed. But just because you’re dissatisfied does not necessarily mean that you know how to address it. That’s why those articles and books are so dissatisfying. They’re answers in search of a question.

Here’s the central question upon which your journey rests:

“What do I want out of sex other than 

physical pleasure and emotional intimacy?”

If your answer is nothing then you don’t really need to go on a quest to “spice up” your sex life. If all you want is more physical enjoyment out of sex you can do it by improving the skills and techniques of activities you already enjoy (and more pointedly, getting your partner to do the same).

If you are seeking greater emotional intimacy you also don’t need to seek kinkier alternatives as you can achieve your goal by you or your partner changing the style of your lovemaking.  And of course, improving actions outside of the bedroom. For example, being kinder to your partner or doing your share of the housework will do more for your sex life than improving techniques or finding a new “spice”.

Don’t get me wrong, greater pleasure and intimacy are crucial to a satisfying sex life but they’re baseline experiences.  They’re what you expect from sex.

Sex Can Provide More Than Pleasure Or Intimacy

Most sexual dissatisfaction orbits around the person you’re having it with. Or to be more precise, the person you are being with the person you’re having it with. Let me explain.

Have you noticed that the person you are being when you’re having sex is always you? And the person you’re having sex with is always that person? But what if you–or they– weren’t? What if, when you’re having sex, you are not being you at all? And your partner isn’t being who they are either?

You would have a completely different experience of sex.

And this gets at the crux of most alternative sexual options. By temporarily embracing a new identity you can experience what is currently unimaginable to you.

Why Identities And Roles Are So Sexually Powerful

By identifying yourself differently you behave differently. As a confident take-charge person you do different things in bed than a passive submissive person would. A cop behaves differently than the guy he’s arresting. A patient assumes a different position than the doctor who’s examining her.

If you’re a hammer then everything looks like a nail. But what if, for a few hours, you’re not a hammer? What if you weren’t even a nail? I don’t want to tell you what to be, I just want to point out that the key to finding the spice that’s right for you is to understand which identities arouse your curiosity.

The Two Fundamental Identities You Can Experience

Just about every “spicy” sexual practice that you can think of– from exhibitionism to voyeurism to bondage to rough sex  to role playing–  hinges  on your relationship to power. It is this relationship that has driven a good deal of the sexual desire you have had, are having, will have or want to have.

The two fundamental drivers of this relationship to power are, of course, domination and submission. If you can get clarity around what aspects of each you want to experience you will be well on your way to choosing the right “spice.”

You’ve been playing with power all this time, you just never labeled it that way.   If you like to be pinned under your partner, you’ve experienced the thrill of submitting to power.  If you like holding them down you’ve experienced the thrill of wielding it.  It’s not possible to have sex without some kind of power exchange.  At one moment or another you are wielding or yielding.

If you’re the bottom in missionary you are surrendering yourself.  If you’re on top guiding the speed and depth of your partner’s thrusts, you’re controlling them.  If you dig your nails into his back you’ve inflicted pain.  If he does it, you’ve had pain inflicted on you.  If you’ve liked a massage that almost hurts you’ve experienced a pleasurable aspect of pain.  If you’ve given one you’ve experienced the satisfaction of administering it.

Just because you’re not conscious of how you relate to and enjoy power doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing it. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to be consciously aware of how you relate to power and move intentionally toward some aspects of it you haven’t yet experienced.

The best way to understand your relationship to power is to take your erotic temperature with a diagnostic quiz. The best ones won’t label you; they’ll simply help you start a conversation with yourself.  You can try mine, this one, this one or that one.

As you take these quizzes, don’t worry about contradictory desires–they’re normal. You can prefer to be submissive during a kiss and dominant during intercourse.  And don’t try to slot yourself into a category either. Look for opportunities, not labels.

Remember my interior designer friend, the one who asked, What do you want the color to do?

When I took the time to look inward and answer the question, the color choice became obvious to me.

These diagnostic quizzes are a great way of getting at a modified version of her question: What do you want the spice to do?

When you take the time to look inward and answer the question, your spice choices will become obvious to you.

—–

Sex Advice author Michael Alvear co-hosted HBO’s The Sex Inspectors. His newest book is the 2nd edition of How To Bottom Like A Porn Star.