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.

Read More

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].

Read More

How Many Americans Have Tried BDSM? (Infographic)

How Many Americans Have Tried BDSM? (Infographic)

The immense popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a lot of curiosity about BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism). Among other things, people have begun to wonder just how many of us have explored BDSM practices before. Unfortunately, however, this isn't a sexual activity that researchers have routinely inquired about on national sex surveys--at least not until now. A study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight. Check out the infographic below for a look at Americans' interest in and experiences with various BDSM acts and some of the key takeaways from this survey.

Read More

Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About BDSM Sex And Those Who Practice It

Five Scientific Facts You Should Know About BDSM Sex And Those Who Practice It

BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism) is a widely misunderstood set of sexual practices. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there about both the people who are into BDSM, as well as what it is that they do sexually. Unfortunately, popular media depictions of BDSM (e.g., Fifty Shades of Grey) have only served to reinforce many of these misconceptions. In light of this, here's what you really need to know about BDSM according to the science.

Read More

A Revealing Look At BDSM Sex And The People Who Practice It

A Revealing Look At BDSM Sex And The People Who Practice It

As discussed before on this site, Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t offer the most accurate or realistic depiction of BDSM sex. Other popular media portrayals of it aren’t necessarily any better either. So what is BDSM sex really like and what do we know about the people who practice it? A new study just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine offers a revealing look.

Read More

How Common Are BDSM Fantasies? (Infographic)

How Common Are BDSM Fantasies? (Infographic)

Sexual fantasies about bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have long been deemed to be "unusual" or "deviant." But are they really all that rare? A new study just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that BDSM fantasies are probably more common than previously thought. Check out the infographic below for a look at the numbers. Keep in mind that this sample is not representative, so you should not necessarily assume that these numbers reflect BDSM interest more broadly--however, they do suggest that BDSM is probably far from an "unusual" fantasy.

What do you fantasize about? Tell us about it and take part in the largest and most comprehensive study of sexual fantasies ever by clicking here.

Read More

What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

In my last article, I discussed the prevalence of sexual sadism and masochism based upon results from the latest Reader Survey. This survey revealed that 50% of readers reported experiences with sadism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from giving pain) and 51% with masochism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from receiving pain). The goal of this article is to explore in more depth and detail how sadomasochism is actually experienced among readers who completed the survey. Specifically, what type of pain was most common (physical vs. psychological), and how intense was it? And what types of sadomasochistic acts were practiced most frequently?

Read More

Are People Who Practice BDSM Psychologically Disturbed?

Are People Who Practice BDSM Psychologically Disturbed?

There is a common perception that people who practice bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have major psychological issues. As some evidence of this, just take a look at how people who practice BDSM are portrayed in the popular media. For instance, consider the following excerpt from the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey:

“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes. “Because I’m fifty shades of f*cked up, Anastasia.” (page 369)

The title character, Christian Grey, is depicted as carrying a lot of emotional baggage.  Not only did he have an abusive childhood, but he was introduced to sex at a relatively young age by one of his mother’s female friends. The book implies that these experiences helped shape Grey’s dominant persona and interest in BDSM. So is this an accurate reflection of reality? Do people who are into BDSM really have more issues? A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests not.

Read More

Is "Fifty Shades Of Grey" An Accurate Depiction Of The BDSM Community?

“Why don’t you like to be touched?” I whisper, staring up into soft gray eyes. “Because I’m fifty shades of f*cked up, Anastasia.” – Excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey (page 369)

It seems as though everyone and their mothers (and a fair number of grandmothers, from what I hear) has read E. L. James’ erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The book describes the sexual exploits of Christian Grey, a successful and sexy businessman who introduces a young female college student (Anastasia Steele) to the world of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). After hearing so much about Fifty Shades, I couldn’t help but wonder about the contents of this book. Is it an accurate depiction of the BDSM community, or is it pure fiction? As you'll see below, the answer to this question is somewhat of a grey area.

Read More