I recently found a local counsellor I like, but when I revealed that I enjoy BDSM and kinky sex (impact play, objectification, dominance and submission etc) she became visibly distressed. Her jaw literally dropped. She told me that what I do is unhealthy and that I should deal with my issues and trauma in other ways. I thought she was going to be a good counsellor for me, but her reaction made me really uncomfortable. What do you suggest? Any insight would be appreciated.
Counselling and therapy includes dozens of different modalities and approaches, each with their own theoretical and philosophical foundations. Sometimes these various modalities are contradictory to one another. One therapist might well support your kinky lifestyle, another will not. This can reflect the type of therapy or counselling they do, but it’s more likely based on their own personal biases and prejudices. The arena of human sexuality is especially fraught with shadow and difficulty, and counsellors are not immune. Our cultural puritanism runs deep, and often leaks into the counselling office, where concepts of normalcy get pitted against concepts of deviancy.
I’m curious – Are you indeed dealing with your “issues and trauma” through kink and BDSM? Or is this your counsellor’s assumption? Are your kinky proclivities troubling to you? Or are they just troubling to her? These are useful distinctions.
If you otherwise like this counsellor you could ask her about her possible prejudice and see if a way forward together is possible. If sex figures heavily in your counselling work, and if you want someone who can accept your enjoyment of BDSM and kink, you might have to cut your losses and look for a counsellor who is kink-friendly and BDSM-aware. Some counsellors and therapists will openly advertise this, or you can ask explicitly in your initial consultation.
My approach is to treat kink and BDSM as a rich and fascinating area of sexuality. Certainly there is important psychological material there, but it should be met on its own terms in a spirit of curiosity, not with reflexive disdain, criticism, or moralizing.
Kink and BDSM can be seen as a space for playing out particular sexual or erotic psychodramas. These psychodramas are not necessarily damaging, and can be the rare places where certain dark myths get a voice. Consensual BDSM is not literal abuse, it is symbolic and metaphorical. Unfortunately, not all counsellors and therapists understand this.
Beyond the psychological implications, kink and BDSM can also simply “feel good” for some people. There are plenty of physiological and biochemical explanations for this, ie – the dopamine release that comes from a sense of accomplishment or the endorphine cascade produced by certain kinds of strong sensations.
Plenty of research is available to support the health and legitimacy of kink and BDSM practices. All your counsellor or anyone else has to do is search “BDSM research” online and they’ll see about a million results. If you’re feeling generous and want to do your counsellor’s work for them, you can always send them a link to this Introduction to BDSM for Psychotherapists.
Is it possible for BDSM and kink to be unhealthy? Of course. If you have concerns about your sexual inclinations, taking these concerns to a therapist or counsellor is an option, but it’s the counsellor’s job to examine these possibilities with you, not to project their own shadow or assert their judgements onto your sexuality.
Bottom line? It sounds like your counsellor’s reaction to your sexuality is professionally outdated and inappropriate. You can agree to disagree with her on this one point, you can try to educate her, or you can look for a kink-friendly counsellor who understands or at least won’t judge this aspect of you.
All My Best,
Like what you’re reading here? Get my new book –
Conscious Kink for Couples: The beginner’s guide to using kinky sex and BDSM for pleasure, growth, intimacy, and healing
Learning about relationships at Westcoast Bound kink and BDSM conference
I recently attended a conference on relationships where I got to learn from some of the most passionate, skilled, and experienced facilitators that I’ve ever encountered. This wasn’t a psychotherapy conference, or even a conference specifically on attachment theory, Imago, active listening, neuroscience, or empathy, although many of these topics were touched upon.
The classes at this conference were on topics like…
Passion, Joy, Fear and Healing at the end of a Whip. BDSM, Sex & Shame. Nonverbal Power & Surrender. Control & Dominance Moves with Rope. The Good, the Bad, and the Poly.
It might seem a strange place to learn about relationships, and a strange place for a marriage counsellor and couples therapist to continue their own learning, but here’s my profound discovery from my weekend at Westcoast Bound: The cutting edge of relationship work is being honed at the margins.
Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise. Isn’t it always the pioneers pushing the edges who bring their discoveries to the rest of us, providing tales of adventure, and exotic spices to enrich our lives? Perhaps it makes sense that those pushing the edges of relationship would make discoveries that eventually touch us all.
You may not enjoy being erotically flogged, or you might, but the communication, care, and visceral energy that goes into and comes out of such a scene is illuminating for anyone. The idea of whipping or being whipped by your beloved may create cognitive dissonance and be on your list of hard limits, but watching the dance of the whip in skilled and caring hands, its gentle kiss against trembling skin, and the intimacy between the people involved (despite the bright-light conference room setting) rivals the feeling of the most evocative dance performance you’ve ever witnessed.
Over the course of my career as a couples counsellor, and in my life as a human being hungry for connection, growth, and understanding, I’ve been to many workshops, retreats, and trainings. Many of these have been about communication, intimacy, and relationships. The part that is often missing is about what to do with the uncomfortable feelings that arise in relationship, how to work with the darker aspects, shadow, contradiction, paradox.
If you visit the Westcoast Bound website (click here), you will see a striking image of a woman wearing a gas mask, with electrical tape in an x shape across her nipples. You’ll probably see some irreverent quotes and potentially confusing language. What won’t be immediately obvious is the tenderness, courage, authenticity, presence, and playfulness – all crucial qualities for relationship – that is cultivated and celebrated at the event, to a degree I’ve rarely seen at other types of gatherings.
An interesting thing about empathy, compassion, and even intimacy and eroticism, is that they often arise more or less spontaneously out of duress, from experiences that feel raw and risky. Westcoast Bound is a place for screaming and begging, uncomfortable squirming, laughter along with tears. People here are creating experiences for each other that raise adrenaline and endorphins. It’s not for the faint of heart. Neither, for that matter, is an extraordinary marriage, a difficult conversation, or true intimacy.
If we want to create a sense of risk and courage to make a relationship feel more exciting and bonding, and we want to do this safely and well, we better develop skills – both physical and emotional. And so a conference like this is about developing these skills, both hard skills and soft skills.
A fingerbanging and g-spot orgasm workshop, it turns out, is as much about tuning into your partner’s experience as it is about perfecting a certain way of using one’s fingers. It becomes a class on intimacy and communication. Along the way there’s humour, and a few jaw-dropping spectacles (I’ll let you use your imagination).
With its x-rated language and startling imagery, a BDSM community – any BDSM community – creates a sort of boundary (“You must be THIS tall to enter”). An initiation is required. Can you handle the shock? Do you have a relationship with your darker side? Beyond this boundary of initiation lies a surprisingly rich landscape of relational, emotional, and conceptual riches, but only for those who can tolerate or are attracted to certain discomforts.
Speaking as someone who delves around the many edges of relationship, sex, and intimacy, and who also very happily works smack dab in the middle, with many conventionally minded “vanilla” couples, I urge those who dwell somewhere toward the centre to strike out and explore the margins. You needn’t embrace everything you find there, but you’re likely to discover something valuable. This is no prescription, rather a humble invitation.
By the way, tickets for the Westcoast Bound weekend cost around, wait for it… a hundred and fifty bucks. Hard to find that kind of value for a three day learning event. There are plenty of fetish nights in any city that will show you the shiny surface of this world of kink and BDSM, but if you want the depth, the grit, this is the type of conference to look for.
Some of the workshop presenters have been teaching for thirty plus years. They’ve written books and directed films. Many have lived through prejudice if not outright persecution. There’s an incredible collection of experience, wisdom, and diversity in this place. You will learn something from these people, although probably not what you anticipated.
You’ll be exposed to an intersection of trans, queer, kinky, poly, Top, bottom, Dom, sub, switch people and communities, and, if you are willing, you might emerge changed. Your world will get bigger. Your eyes may bulge, judgements flair. If you make it to the dungeon parties, you may be shocked by the unabashed sadism and masochism you witness. And you may be surprised by the… normalcy of it all. We all have a sadistic and a masochistic side. Some are willing to play with these aspects of self, wrestling them into consciousness. Others hide them away, setting the stage for being bit in the ass later, or doing the biting, neither consensually nor with awareness, let alone enjoyment.
Here are some words I overheard after the event –
I’m pretty proud. It was an incredibly cathartic experience. I let out tears and screams that I’ve been holding in for many years. I’ve been seeing therapists for 5 years and I was never able to release them. But in this environment I was able to let go. I felt so safe and accepted. This weekend was a life changing experience.
In my writing, I sometimes talk about the need for finding healthy expressions of sadism and masochism in relationships. I talk about acknowledging the power struggles and power dynamics that are always present in relationships. I talk about nurturing playfulness and erotic tension (WCB presenter Midori on BDSM – “It’s like cops and robbers… with fucking!”). I also point out the benefits of talking explicitly about sex and desire in relationships, and about the pain and shame that keeps us silent. All of these crucial relationship themes are woven throughout the Westcoast Bound experience.
In my work counselling couples, the root of the trouble turns out rarely to be the thing we began with, the core stuff is rarely the “presenting issue.” More often we discover that it is something about how a couple thinks about their relationship that needs addressing. Adding to the problem is that most of the people in our lives think about relationships more or less the same way we do. The messages we get about sex and relationship tend to reflect our own, and we find ourselves trapped in a cultural echo chamber. Without new ideas, new influences, we remain imaginatively and creatively stuck.
The purpose of therapy is, amongst other things, to broaden our perspectives, our thinking. Some of the most celebrated researchers and thought-leaders on sex and relationships come from the world of academia and psychotherapy – Murray Bowen, John Gottman, Harville Hendrix, John Bowlby, Harriet Lerner etc – but we need the wisdom from the margins too, people who have used their lives to dive into the darker depths, and then report on what they find.
A weekend immersed in a different way of seeing sex and relationships (kink and BDSM being just one possibility; certainly there are others) might not be therapeutic exactly… but it might just end up making us somehow more whole.
Below are links to some of the presenters I saw at Westcoast Bound 2017. Check out what they have to say. Sign up for their newsletters. You might find them challenging. You might disagree with them. But you might also find something that you’re ready, or even hungry, for.
Midori – Kink author and educator. Check out her books and workshops.
BDSM stands for bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; sadism and masochism. In my work, I often refer to BDSM as “erotic power exchange.” In a BDSM experience, one person’s individual power and autonomy is consensually given to the other, within negotiated parameters, for erotic or sexual purposes.
Every relationship that I’ve ever had the honour of witnessing in my work as a marriage counsellor and couples therapist has included aspects of sadism and masochism, cruelty, power struggles, role-play, and various psychological manipulation, headgames, and mindfucks – even as one or both individuals in the relationship work desperately to hide these qualities from themselves or each other, keeping the dark elements buried in unconsciousness, and maintaining a veneer of innocence and normalcy.
The unwillingness to confront one’s own complicity in creating the suffering that inevitably arises in a relationship can be understood in part as an avoidance of facing one’s own shadow; a reluctance to enter into one’s own darker realms.
Conscious Kink and BDSM , in addition to providing sexual or erotic outlets and pleasures, can also become a structure and a practice for revealing, observing, and befriending our dark and shadowy parts.
Sex is a window to our deepest core, to the material of our soul, and by following our kinky desires, and intentionally adding the element of conscious awareness, we end up doing important psycho-emotional work.
Doing this work as a couple, within the sexual/erotic realm, and witnessing each other in the process; this has the power to foster incredible intimacy, growth, and healing. Conscious Kink combines sexual adventurousness with an intention towards awareness, creating a valuable integration practice for life.
Kink and BDSM: For healthy, loving, sensitive people
Hollywood and popular culture have, predictably, distorted kink and BDSM for their own sensationalist purposes. “The gimp” in Pulp Fiction… the stalker-ish behaviour of Christian in Fifty Shades of Grey… these are to real-life kink and BDSM what Tom and Jerry are to real cats and mice: Entertaining perhaps, but mostly bearing little resemblance or relevance to actual kinky people or kink practices.
Real-world kink and BDSM is practiced intelligently, consensually, skillfully, and inspiringly by people across all socio- economic, political, and even religious spectrums. I know kinky social workers, administrators, and public servants. I know kinky social activists, Christians, pagans, and single parents. Welders and bus drivers can be kinky, so can school teachers and entrepreneurs. Married, single, gay, straight, black, white, privileged, oppressed, happy, sad, fat, thin… you get the idea.
I’m painting this picture to help dispel whatever assumption you might have that only “other” people are attracted to kinky sex. If you’re struggling with feeling alone, marginalized, or weird for your (or your partner’s) unconventional desires, I assure you that you are in plenty of good company. Many healthy, loving, sensitive, intelligent people are into kink and BDSM.
Conscious Kinky Couples come from all sorts of backgrounds, and show wide variations in preferences, styles, and personality types, but those with some practice under their belt tend to develop three qualities in common. Interestingly, these same three qualities, or more accurately their absence, predictably show up again and again in the work I do with non-kinky client couples. Could Conscious Kinky Couples have something to teach us all?
Three qualities of Conscious Kinky Couples
1. Conscious Kinky Couples talk openly and explicitly about sex.
They have the courage to ask for what they want, and to represent themselves sexually. They don’t assume that their partner will read their mind. They negotiate to get both partners’ needs met. They share their sexual fantasies and desires. Conscious Kinky Couples might use mystery and intrigue intentionally to cultivate turn-on and eroticism, but they’re ready to talk candidly about sex, and they don’t hide behind assumptions, social convention, or their own shame and wounding.
2. Conscious Kinky Couples work to heal their sexual shame and wounding.
The intentional and explicit nature of their sex lives forces Conscious Kinky Couples to confront their shame and wounding repeatedly, often in many different contexts. Their kinky play or BDSM practice may include consensual humiliation or objectification, sadomasochism, erotic power exchange etc. The Conscious Kinky Couple uses these experiences, and the debriefing that follows, as opportunities for self-examination and integration.
3. Conscious Kinky Couples make time for sex, and they consciously cultivate eroticism in their relationship. Lack of time is a universal theme I encounter with the couples I counsel. Kids, work, family, friends, holidays… there’s a long list of commitments and priorities that creep in to take precedent over sex. Conscious Kinky Couples, however, are more likely to dedicate time to sex. Conscious Kink gives couples a structure for actively supporting and growing their sex lives, a structure that is sorely missing in many modern relationships.
BDSM, Kink, and Shadow Integration
“We find that by opening the door to the shadow realm a little, and letting out various elements a few at a time, relating to them, finding use for them, negotiating, we can reduce being surprised by shadow sneak attacks and unexpected explosions.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Each one of us has qualities or parts of ourselves that we have denied, repressed, or “split off” from consciousness. Pioneer psychologist Carl Jung called these exiled parts of self “shadow” because, pushed away from awareness, they remain hidden from us.
We deny these parts of self, often from childhood, because they were unacceptable to our parents, to society, or to our immature, narrow vision of ourselves. We all originally exiled parts of ourselves for good reasons; it was our way to adapt and survive, and also to create a positive self-image, to “be good.”
For some of us it was our anger or rage that was unwelcome, and so we rejected that part of ourself. For others it was our power, or maybe our weakness. Either strength or vulnerability might have offended our caregivers when we were young; any quality at all might have been deemed unacceptable, and so was driven underground.
Individuals and families have their own standards for which qualities are allowed and which are denied, and every culture and subculture also has its own codes for what it rewards and what it punishes.
Each of us in our lifetime is faced with the task of, one way or another, bringing these repressed parts into consciousness and finding them an appropriate and enriching place in our lives. Until we do, they continue to drive our thinking and our behaviour, and have an enormous, though invisible, impact.
These rejected parts of ourselves not only cause suffering as they shape our lives from beneath conscious awareness, on the flip-side they also have valuable gifts to provide once we do the work of retrieving them. Thus the benefit of retrieval is twofold.
Reclaiming our lost parts, integrating our shadow… this is a process of becoming whole, of healing. In fact, some psychotherapeutic models put shadow retrieval or integration, in some form, at the center of the healing journey.
This work is difficult because to integrate the shadow, to retrieve the lost parts of self, means to face tremendous pain and confusion. We must face that which we long ago deemed unacceptable, bad, or even evil. But we must first find it. We must summon that which we banished, that which we fear most. And we must do it without yet knowing how these parts of self will eventually be integrated. We have no place reserved for them in our home, and yet we must welcome them in.
We can not face our shadow directly because it is unconscious, and therefore invisible; otherwise it would not be our shadow. It must be viewed through a veil or intermediary. Shadow must be approached indirectly, through metaphor, myth, art, role-play, poetry, and other forms of suspended disbelief. Shadow retrieval and integration happens on the edge of consciousness, in the liminal spaces, in the places in between. Conscious Kink can provide these places.
Making a place for sadism and masochism in a relationship
“Hatred and aggression — and carnivorous sexual intent — aren’t our ‘dark’ side. Our dark side is the side that denies its own existence.” ~ David Schnarch
Two of the most commonly denied, most present, and most influential, though unconscious, aspects of self are in fact twin shadow archetypes: the sadist and the masochist.
We all have an inner sadist taking pleasure in the suffering of others, and also an inner masochist finding comfort in our own suffering.
BDSM can turn sadomasochism into an art and a practice, and provides, if we use it consciously, a structure for beginning to glimpse and reconcile our own denied or projected sadism and/or masochism.
Conscious Kink allows us a soundstage, a theatre for playing out a sadomasochistic drama, for bearing witness to our own sadistic or masochistic desires and tendencies, and potentially for finding them a home, an appropriate place in our psyche via our erotic lives.
Without a practice of this sort, we might continue unconsciously playing out our sadomasochistic patterns in our lives and relationships, denying our own complicity, and projecting our capacity for cruelty or martyrdom onto others, where we can judge it from a safe distance.
A conventional lover might protect their self-image of innocence, claiming, “Oh no, I never, ever punish my partner for not meeting my expectations. I take no joy in cruelty.” And then they give their partner the silent treatment, or with-hold affection, or explode with accusations.
By contrast, a practitioner of Conscious Kink, in a carefully negotiated BDSM session or “scene” with their partner says “Do as I say or there will be a consequence.” The sadism is revealed. It is summoned onto the stage where a couple can see it, work with it, play with it, learn from it, find its erotic energy and harness it. Here we find potential for mutual pleasure, as well as shadow integration; transformation; alchemy.
The BDSM scene becomes a sacred space between the world of reality and the world of pretending. Sadomasochistic dynamics are first acknowledged as desire in the self, and then they are given a life through collaboration and negotiation. Within a BDSM scene, sadomasochistic dynamics become “play,” but they are also rooted in our deepest, most real, core selves.
The BDSM scene provides the “in-between” space necessary for retrieving the sadism and masochism we have denied in ourselves but projected onto others. The result, by any name, is healing.
Erotic power exchange: Dominance and submission
“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Power dynamics exist, mostly unconscious and unacknowledged, within all relationships. So much so that therapists often talk about the “power struggle” phase of a marriage or relationship as though it were inevitable.
Beneath the spoken agreements in any relationship, beneath the obvious labour divisions and the negotiated sharing of responsibilities, lurk shadowy power struggles, uneasy balancing acts, and resentment-laden asymmetries.
Consciously bringing power exchange dynamics into a relationship in an erotic or sexual form can add more than “spice” or excitement, it can shine a light on some of these hidden power struggles and imbalances.
Also illuminated is your own personal relationship to power –
Are you comfortable with power? Are you afraid of it? Do you fight for power in your relationship? Do you crave it? Do you share power well with others? Do you consider the responsibility of power to be a burden?
Are you trustworthy with power? Do you trust power in the hands of your partner? Do you abdicate your power and then resent its loss?
How about powerlessness? Do you fear loss of control? Do you crave loss of control? Do you long for surrender?
Uncovering the hidden power dynamics in ourselves and in our relationship through a practice of Conscious Kink can have surprising and even disturbing outcomes.
Control issues may be revealed. Fear, cruelty, punishment, with- holding… these are all normal dark-side aspects of power that may present themselves. They’ve been there all along, but now we see them in a new light.
Conscious Kinky Couples can collaboratively and consensually play with power dynamics, eroticizing them, finding pleasure in them, and perhaps, over time, gleaning some of the deeper meanings that power (and powerlessness or surrender) holds in their relationship and in their lives.
Conscious Kink and BDSM practitioners usually identify as either top, bottom, or switch. The terms dominant and submissive are often used interchangeably with the terms top and bottom. Tops (dominants) hold power, bottoms (submissives) surrender power, and switches, as the term implies, can go either way. The degree of power exchange, and the specific nuances, are carefully discussed and negotiated until full consent and understanding is reached.
You’re not bound (pun intended) to any particular identity, and you’re free to experiment with whatever sort of power exchange suits you and your partner.
Like what you’re reading here? Get my new book –
Conscious Kink for Couples: The beginner’s guide to using kinky sex and BDSM for pleasure, growth, intimacy, and healing
A reader asks Have you read Esther Perel’s book Mating in Captivity?
I really like the articles you share on your facebook page and on your website. I’m wondering if you have read the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel and if so, what do you think of it?
My response –
Esther Perel’s book Mating in Captivity has been recommended to me often enough that I picked up a copy recently and gave it a speed read. Here are my initial thoughts –
Perel’s observations and experiences mostly match my own, professionally and personally. Early in the book Perel gives nods to both David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage and Mark Epstein’s lesser known and wonderful book Open To Desire. Her influences are my influences, and so I quickly felt resonance.
I appreciate how she respects the tension between the two poles of desire that commonly define relationships – the desire for security/safety and the desire for excitement/freedom. Rather than offer some easy solution to this dilemma, she invites the reader to sit in the uncomfortable paradox of wanting two seemingly contradictory experiences. This feels like a wise and respectful approach, and one that I employ in my own practice.
Her legitimization of the underlying impulses that drive extra-marital affairs, namely the desire for “aliveness”, will certainly be mistaken for advocacy by those who can’t discern between descriptive and prescriptive voices. Likewise, her willingness to explore kink/bdsm without pathologizing it, and to explore eroticism outside the marriage unit, including consensual non-monogamy, will likely confuse or offend those with fundamentalist ideologies.
Perel gives voice to the elephants in the room. Her truths suddenly seem obvious upon reading, and one wonders how they escaped recognition until now. (The answer likely has to do with the power of taboo and with our unexamined assumptions about sex and love.)
Mating in Captivity acknowledges traditional gender roles and the ways they have shaped our beliefs about marriage and relationship, while offering thoroughly realistic current assessments of how these roles are becoming fluid matters of choice rather than matters of inherited social convention.
Perel’s cross-cultural (and sub-cultural) points of view challenge core American beliefs about the nature of romance, marriage, and intimacy; beliefs that couples therapy as an institution has, itself, largely internalized. For example, you’ll find nothing about “emotional cheating” in this book. In fact, acknowledging and working with the presence of “the third” (whether real, metaphorical or fantasy) is presented as a valuable erotic tool for couples.
In a cultural environment where marriage is expected to become an increasingly serious, responsible, secure and, frankly, non-erotic venture, intentionally nurturing eroticism in the home becomes, as Perel puts it, “an open act of defiance.” Accordingly, Mating in Captivity speaks to those who have a defiant streak.
I’m grateful for the author’s contribution, and the book has earned a place on my shelf. For readers struggling with affairs, the loss of eroticism, waning desire, sexual shame, disconnection or other common relationship issues, Mating In Captivity will be a beacon of illumination and hope, while also posing significant challenges to the ways we are accustomed to thinking about fidelity, love, sex and marriage.
My boyfriend really likes gangbangs. He’s done them in the past and watches a lot of this type of porn. I’ve never participated, being relatively new to this type of thing and I’m trying to understand. I wanted to know if engaging in something like this with a long term partner (as a means of pleasing him, and I would be okay with it too) would jeopardize the relationship. Our goals are to both grow holistically and I’m concerned it would go against that path. He has since made efforts to change his thinking, but it has got me thinking now, what’s the worst that could happen?
Opening your sexual relationship to include others is intrinsically neither helpful nor harmful. It can be either – or both – in different circumstances. I understand your concern that it could jeopardize a long term relationship, and the truth is that it might, but no more so than repressing sexual desires also might.
It sounds like you are warming up to the idea for your own sake. If you were seeing me as a client, I would want to cover some basics on what will help you have a successful outcome should you choose to try it. I do know smart, loving, “holistic” long-term couples who enjoy group sex, gangbangs, and kinky sex of all types, so I know it’s possible.
The word “gangbang” can have a violent connotation. Conventional porn tends to portray impersonality, objectification and degradation. This can influence our perception of sex in general and can come to define specific sexual activities like group sex. As you consider expanding your own sex life, please stretch your vision beyond what you’ve seen in porn. Much more is possible.
Someone close to me recently pointed out that for her a gangbang is really just “group sex with me in the starring role!” The point is that you and your boyfriend can choose whatever sort of tone or feeling you want for the experience. A so-called “gangbang” or group sex session with one woman and multiple men can be gentle, rough, tender, slow, fast or any combination that you choose.
The more clear and communicative you are about your own desires (and limits), the better your chances are of having a positive experience. Get in touch with what YOU actually want. What would feel good for you? Not just for him, but for you too? After all, YOU’RE in the starring role!
Be specific when you discuss the scenario with your boyfriend. Use candid language. Get clear on your limits and make sure you are both on the same page before you include others. Select your collaborators carefully. Are they trustworthy? Do they have sufficient empathy and communication skills to fit into the scenario you envision?
Talk about safety – physical AND emotional – and make sure everyone is on board. I encourage you to discuss and practice moment-to-moment consent. Make sure everyone knows what “Stop” means. Just because you agree to try something does not mean you are required to continue. Giving yourself permission to stop, or slow down, or change course at any time, and making sure this is understood by everyone, will go a long way to build trust and avoid regret. Hopefully it all goes fantastically and you have the time of your life. But if it isn’t going well for you, please stop and re-assess. Make sure everyone present is your ally in this regard.
Consider what kind of aftercare you want. Cuddling? Group shower? Just you and your boyfriend? I encourage you to debrief the experience together. How was it for you? Were there surprises? What did you enjoy? What would you do differently?
Obviously it’s best to practice safer sex using condoms/barriers. I also encourage you to play sober, especially to start. If you can’t muster the courage or chemistry without alcohol or drugs, you aren’t ready.
Please be patient and kind with yourself. Group sex is not as easy as porn stars make it look. Much like one-on-one sex, group sex can have a learning curve and it might require practice before it becomes truly enjoyable. As the woman in the starring role, you may find yourself feeling emotionally and physically vulnerable or awkward as well as excited. The more you can stay present to the experience, communicate your desires, and represent yourself before, during and after the event, the more likely you are to come away feeling good about the experience.