How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

How Many People Have Experimented With BDSM Before?

BDSM has long been deemed a paraphilia—meaning an unusual sexual interest—by psychologists and psychiatrists. The classification of BDSM as a paraphilia implies that it’s likely to be a pretty rare sexual practice in the overall population. But is that really the case? Just how many people have ever had a BDSM experience before?

This question has been difficult to answer with any degree of certainty because, historically, nationally representative sex surveys haven’t routinely inquired about BDSM. As a result, we’ve had to base most of our knowledge on the results of convenience samples, which aren’t representative of the population and therefore don’t tell us as much about actual prevalence rates. However, a recent national US sex survey offers useful insight.

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Women Who Sleep With Other Men While Their Husbands Watch: The Psychology of Cuckolding

Women Who Sleep With Other Men While Their Husbands Watch: The Psychology of Cuckolding

Three Women is a fascinating new book on sexual desire written by journalist Lisa Taddeo. It takes a deep dive into the sex lives and relationships of three American women who live in different parts of the country.

These women include Maggie, who has a sexual relationship with one of her teachers in high school that ultimately devastates her psychologically. Then there's Lina, who is in a passionless relationship with her husband that prompts her to seek out an affair with her high school crush. Finally, there is Sloane, who has an active sex life with her husband—a man she desires above all others—yet she has sex with other men, and sometimes with women, while her husband watches.

I had the honor of interviewing Taddeo recently about Three Women and, in a series of posts, I will be sharing some of the highlights from our discussion. Today, I’d like to start by exploring the psychology behind Sloane’s relationship.  

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Four Things You Can Do To Keep Passion Alive And Boost Sexual Satisfaction

Four Things You Can Do To Keep Passion Alive And Boost Sexual Satisfaction

How does sexual satisfaction change over time in a relationship? The good news is that scientists have found that it increases. The bad news is that this increase only occurs throughout the first year—and then it typically starts dropping after that. 

 We are, of course, talking about what happens on average. There’s certainly a lot of individual variability, which means that some people buck the trend and find that their satisfaction either remains high or keeps going up. 

So let’s say you want your sex life to stay on a positive trajectory. How do you ward off that decline in satisfaction that so many of us seem to experience? Here are four science-backed tips for keeping passion alive and improving your sex life. 

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What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

What the Kink Community Can Teach Us About Consent and Communication

A few days ago, I received several messages from friends saying they heard a segment on NPR about kink that mentioned me. Naturally, I was curious to give it a listen, but mostly because kink is a topic that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard covered on NPR—and I listen to NPR a lot! It turns out that the segment is all about what the kink community can teach us about sexual consent and communication, and it’s pretty well done.

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Is Kink a Sexual Orientation?

Is Kink a Sexual Orientation?

What does it say about you if you’re into kinky or BDSM sex? Is it a serious leisure activity, or is it an innate aspect of your sexuality? Could the answer be different for different people? A recent article published in the journal Current Sexual Health Reports grapples with these questions.

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What We Can Learn About Consent From The BDSM Community

What We Can Learn About Consent From The BDSM Community

Sexual consent is all about having solid communication with your partner(s). However, many of us aren’t very good communicators in general when it comes to sex and, further, many of us don’t have a good model for how consent communication should actually go—when should it happen and what are the key things that should be discussed?

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The Sexual Fantasies of People With Non-Binary Gender Identities

The Sexual Fantasies of People With Non-Binary Gender Identities

I have written quite a bit about similarities and differences in the sexual fantasies of self-identified men and women (see here for a summary).  Of course, however, not everyone identifies as male or female. So what do people who have non-binary gender identities (e.g., transgender, bigender, genderqueer) fantasize about? And how are they similar or different to those of self-identified men and women? 

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Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury (Featured Book Series)

Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury (Featured Book Series)

In the last year, I have been approached to consult on a number of legal cases that center around disputes over whether a given sex act constituted consensual BDSM or sexual violence. This prompted me to do more extensive research into the area of BDSM and the law, which led me to a recent book titled Consensual Violence: Sex, Sports, and the Politics of Injury by Dr. Jill Weinberg, who happens to be both a sociologist and a lawyer. I decided to give it a read and I’m glad I did because it was nothing short of fascinating. 

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Why A Lot Of Gay Men Are Attracted To Straight Men

Why A Lot Of Gay Men Are Attracted To Straight Men

Pornhub’s annual year-in-review always offers tantalizing insights into what it is that turns people on—and last year’s review was no exception. I recently wrote about some of the top search results on the site and discussed the psychology behind them here. However, there was something else in last year’s Pornhub report that caught my eye that I thought deserved its own article: the fact that “straight guys” was the most-viewed category on Pornhub’s gay site.

What’s the deal with that? 

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Feederism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feederism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Erotic Eating And Weight Gain

Feederism has been described as "a fat fetish focused on erotic eating, feeding, and gaining weight" [1]. There are two types of people who exist within this fetish culture: feeders and feedees. Feeders are people who get sexual pleasure from feeding other people and seeing them gain weight. By contrast, feedees are people who get sexual pleasure from being fed by others and gaining weight.

Feederism has been described in the psychological literature as a paraphilia—a term that means having an unusual or uncommon sexual interest.

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3 Sex Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

3 Sex Fantasies That Are More Common Than You Think

Paraphilia is the term psychiatrists and psychologists use to refer to any type of unusual or “non-normative” sexual interest. The number of sexual fantasies that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been labeled as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, however, a lot of these fantasies aren’t so uncommon after all.

Here are three specific sexual fantasies that are typically considered to be paraphilic, but that are actually quite common in terms of the number of people who have fantasized about them before.

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How Does Consent Work In An Orgy?

How Does Consent Work In An Orgy?

There’s a big assumption built into the way most people talk about sexual consent, which is that sex is exclusively a two-person activity. While it’s true that sex most often occurs in pairs, it’s definitely not the case that sex only ever involves two people. Sometimes people have threesomes or participate in orgies or other group encounters. So how does consent work when you have more than two people involved?

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4 Uncommon Sexual Fantasies And What They Mean

4 Uncommon Sexual Fantasies And What They Mean

I have been studying the science of sex for the last ten years. During that time, I’ve learned a lot about what turns people on, from the vanilla to the kinky. 

Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I embarked on a study of sexual desire that ultimately became the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States.

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What Your Sexual Fantasies Say About Your Personality

What Your Sexual Fantasies Say About Your Personality

Our sexual fantasies appear to reflect, at least in part, our personality traits and characteristics. In studying the sex fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want, I found that the Big Five personality factors of openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and neuroticism were all linked to the types of fantasies people reported having. 

Below, I briefly describe what each of these traits is all about and how they are related to the types of things you’re more (or less) likely to fantasize about:

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The Deeper Psychological Meaning Behind Your Sexual Fantasies

The Deeper Psychological Meaning Behind Your Sexual Fantasies

When we hear or read about other people’s sexual fantasies, we have a tendency to focus our attention on the specific act they describe, such as a threesome or bondage, and the physical sensations that go along with it. However, our fantasies are much more complex than this and, often, they go well beyond a desire for purely physical gratification. It turns out that we’re often seeking to meet deeper psychological needs through our fantasies, too. And depending on what your needs are at a given moment, you might very well be drawn to different types of sex fantasies.

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pegging

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pegging

Anal activities have become increasingly popular in porn—and in people’s sex lives, too. For example, changes in Pornhub search trends reveal that queries for anal sex have increased by more than 100% in the last decade. At the same time, there’s been a sizeable increase in the number of men and women who say they’ve tried anal sex at least once before when you compare recent data to 1990s data.

Anal sex isn’t just one thing, though—people are exploring anal stimulation in multiple forms, from rimming to pegging. And if there’s a trend in anal sex right now, it seems to be pegging, an act that has been depicted and discussed with great frequency not just in porn, but also in pop culture.

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How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

People who are into bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (or BDSM for short) experience a lot of stigma. For one thing, they are often seen as psychologically disturbed, despite research showing that BDSM practitioners appear to be just as psychologically healthy as everyone else. For another, many people—including a lot of mental health professionals—question whether you can practice BDSM and still have a healthy relationship. In fact, in one survey of therapists, fully one-third of them reported being unsure of whether someone into BDSM could carry on a functional relationship [1].

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Four Fascinating Things I Learned About Sex At A Sex Research Conference

Four Fascinating Things I Learned About Sex At A Sex Research Conference

I recently returned from the Sexuality Pre-Conference, held just prior to the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the chance to see an incredible set of talks and what I’d like to do in this post is briefly walk you through four of the most interesting things I learned by attending this meeting.

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Experiences With BDSM And Group Sex Among Friends With Benefits And Romantic Partners

Experiences With BDSM And Group Sex Among Friends With Benefits And Romantic Partners

Do people engaged in casual, “no strings attached” sexual relationships engage in similar sexual activities compared to people in committed romantic relationships? There is some research to suggest that the answer is yes, at least when looking at relatively conventional sexual practices. For instance, in a 2014 study I published on this subject, I found no differences in experiences with kissing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse when comparing people who had a friend with benefits (FWBs) to those who had a romantic partner [1].

However, we didn’t inquire about participation in less conventional sexual activities, such as BDSM and group sex. It’s possible that we might see different engagement in these activities based on relationship type, given the fact that these relationships--romances and FWBs--tend to differ in terms of both sexual exclusivity and sexual communication [1].

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