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BDSM, kink and unusual sex in the time of COVID-19

Talking about this earlier would have been pointless: the shock was still fresh, the information confusing… I don’t know about you, but I needed some time to gather my ideas – and I already know that they are going to probably change again over the next weeks. Still, we almost are into the second month of quarantine, so the subject can be avoided no more.

For anyone reading this article in a better future, where you don’t instinctively guess what the hell I am talking about: here in 2020, between a climate crisis and a locust invasion, we are all isolated inside our homes under the threat of a virus so infective as to have triggered a full pandemic. This is an indispensable measure to limit the contagion, and allow health facilities not to buckle under the strain of tens of thousands critical patients – so even Italy is discovering its social conscience, and it is following with unexpected diligence all quarantine rules.

The people and the media only talk about this, literally. On the one hand, this made clear how it wasn’t so necessary after all to be bombarded by the deranged statements by politicians more into trolling and playing influencers than to run a country like adults; on the other, we are all kind of getting fed up with bleak bulletins and recommendations on how to wash our hands.
Above all, what everybody is afraid of admitting in public is that the situation is going to continue for quite a while. The most reliable estimates are picturing one year and a half yet until a still-inexistent vaccine will reach mass distribution, followed by a long spell during which social habits will remain very changed anyway. Imagine the fun.

Also, what I am not seeing in this cheerful scene is anybody tackling a matter that concerns roughly one billion people in the world. What does the virus emergency entail for those not sexually normative?

A pandemic means you cannot ignore your fantasies anymore

Did you notice the screams from the neighboring apartments? That would be the growing intolerance among couples who muddled along out of habit, convenience or duty, and suddenly found out they actually have to live together even if they had not much in common. A psychologist friend tells me that these days several of her patients lament they are faking long business conference calls just to keep away from partners they feel imprisoned with – or to keep in touch with their lovers.

This is the symptom of a very common mistake: running from one’s affective and erotic ideals to avoid self-questioning. Telling yourself that «this is fine enough anyway» or that «this is just temporary» could have been a valid way out until yesterday, but now we all have to face our life choices. And for those harboring kinky desires, things are even more complicated.

In fact, those alone at home with their unconscious no longer have a reason to deny their preferences. Not coincidentally, the access statistics to extravagant porn websites are peaking like never before. In practical terms, this means that those who once occasionally masturbated over fetish fantasies – just to pick an example – are now spending many hours immersed in that imagery. Free from the social pressure of having to wear a mask of “normalcy” through most of the day, countless people are finally letting their repressed desires unchained, often realizing that they are far more satisfying than the standards they felt they had to conform to.

Those sharing their living space with a partner, instead, might be faring a little worse. No matter the progress made in recent years, lots of people keep thinking that having kinky interests as not compatible with a happy steady relationship. In other words: the cultivate and sometimes turn into reality their deepest-seated erotic dreams hiding from their official partner. And while leading a double life is always terribly straining and complicated… when the possibility of fulfilling your passions far from home disappears, even a harmless preference can turn into an unresolved and unsustainable obsession.

Therefore, in both cases we’d better see how to safely manage the ever more cumbersome presence of uncommon erotic tastes.

Turning confinement into an opportunity

In times of crisis it is essential to make a virtue of necessity. More specifically, you should at the least use the occasion to make your sex life better – maybe much more so.

The first step is to accept your impulses. As strange as it sounds, so many people are so scared by their own erotic fantasies that they reject them. This is partly due to the belief that having out-of-the-ordinary preferences is “wrong”, “immoral”, “sick” or “monstrous”, yet outside of the tight boundaries of our own heads, the truth is that anything safe, sane and consensual is perfectly legitimate.
Other times, we tend to be the victims of a compulsion to label everything. A typical example is teenagers who realize to be attracted for someone of their own gender, and in panic ask themselves «am I gay, then?» Spoiler: no, that is a perfectly normal phase of exploration almost everyone goes through, but you are missing the point here. Even if you were gay, that wouldn’t be a problem! You can well become infatuated with one particular person without having to upturn your whole identity for that, or abandon yourself to great fetishes now and forget them the day after tomorrow. Actually, a key feature of healthy sexuality is not to be caged by unchangeable scripts.

The second point is to consciously learn about your likings. This is a crucial passage, because we usually approach unusual eroticism through pornography, that portrays it in exaggerated and distorted ways with no regard for the characters’ emotional (and sometimes physical) well-being. Therefore, following its example would be dangerous, as discovered by thousands of ladies who jumped into BDSM convinced they were stepping into the world of Fifty Shades of Grey, and ignoring how it really works. However, the same goes for tantric sex, cuckolding or thousands of other possible variations.
So: enjoy all the porn you like… but while you are at it, also reserve some time for studying how things are done in the real world. You might realize you prefer some games as fantasy only, while it is well worth to do others.

To this end, a very important recommendation is to choose your information sources carefully. The first instinct is to reach for Google or to dive headfirst into dedicated social network groups… and it also is the wrongest one. The risk is to unknowingly become entangled in dangerous disinformation bubbles, powered by dishonesty or arrogance. In this highly stressful period due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus we are all inevitably more fragile and manipulable: this is definitely not the time to buy into toxic environments such as trans drama, nor to fall into real frauds like financial domination, which are merely two examples among many.

Another phenomenon typical of this long quarantine is the sudden proliferation of “experts” popping out of nowhere with countless courses, opinions, revealed truths, private consultancies and online whatnots – any excuse to raise a few bucks or at least a few followers. For those newly approaching certain themes can be difficult to distinguish the charlatans from reliable teachers – but choosing the wrong mentor can bring very unpleasant consequences, so you want to be very careful. Some time ago I wrote an article about how to choose your BDSM teachers, but its principles will apply to any other kink too.

If you are thinking all of this to be too much work, believe me: you are mistaken. Partly because safety and pleasure are directly proportional to your understanding of the practices you are experiencing; partly because investigating the unusual sides of sex really is very exciting, and it can lead to unpredictable connections and discoveries.
Still, sooner or later the time will come to turn all this knowledge into practice.

How to find the right person to explore unusual eroticism with

The strange situation we are living through makes finding your perfect partner complicated. Unless you already have them at home and you are ideally attuned, you will need to modify the most trusted strategies a little. Let’s see the two most common cases.

Single persons are clearly off with a disadvantage, but this is balanced by the exceptional opportunity to reach the most absolute happiness. The important premise here is that this century is far from being perfect, but gave us the possibility of not having to compromise on satisfaction. Also, The digital connection fever brought on by the pandemic allows to reach even more people than those who were online mere months ago – and to get to know them unhurriedly, since the moment of physical meeting them will have to be postponed for quite a while in most cases.

All the preparation described above will clarify your ideas about what you are seeking and the kind of person you want to make your erotic dreams a reality with. One tip: beware of catfishing, so you won’t waste your time on phantoms. Online sex is nice just as role-playing games are, but you should always keep in mind that the eventual goal is to meet, and maybe even start a relationship – so it is important use the time at hand to get to know better your potential partners even for their non-sexual aspects, as all-round persons.

Things are radically different for those already with a partner, with whom they are maybe sharing their isolation space already. In this case, the first step is – unless you already have it – to establish a serene cohabitation. As mentioned in the opening, this is not always easy but introducing new sexual games in an already unstable relation is a double-edged weapon that often does more damage than good. Unfortunately I am not qualified for offering couples therapy advice, but I can remind you that one positive side of this health emergency is the massive availability of free remote-accessible psychological support services. Once you feel you have reached a good harmony, the next step will be to propose your fantasies. And no, not in the way you are probably thinking of.

The understandable passion for one’s kink might inspire a movie-like big reveal, where you surprise your partner with the sudden reveal of every detail of erotic dreams you maybe nurtured for decades. Pity that the most probable effect of this approach would be to shock even the most open-minded person, especially if they have to discover a side of you they never suspected, and to elaborate the complexities of an imaginary not of their own. Ask just all the newly-revealed gay people now forced to cohabit with their unaccepting parents: you don’t want to be in their shoes.
Please consider that, even in the best outcome, your idea of Practice X will hardly match the other person’s. Between you lies a hodgepodge of prejudices, wrong media representations, personal interpretations, lack of common jargon («So you want do to CBT with me? You could have told me earlier you had a passion for cognitive behavioral therapy!») and simple personal tastes – the ideal recipe for catastrophic misunderstandings. Therefore, I suggest a solution based on four steps meant to minimize the risk of conflict.

Step One – Do not introduce the matter as «there is an extremely important thing for me I never told you», but in terms of «since we are stuck at home, what about playing a bit and exploring something new together?» This will avoid perceiving it as a betrayal or as an imposition, in addition to downplaying the drama. Also, can you imagine any quarantined person refusing the distraction of a novelty?

Step Two – Even if you are the greatest sex guru ever, assume the approach of a newcomer on par with your partner. Don’t lecture them, but turn both of you to an external source of information. Like those mentioned above, for example. Or the many books listed and reviewed here. Or mine, which are not so bad and of which you can even download free previews. In any case, it will be nice to rediscover everything through the eyes of the person you love.

Step Three – Listen to your partner. I know your fantasies are very specific, but the other person has every right to have fantasies of their own. Some aspects of the exploration probably won’t agree with them, while others you may have overlooked might excite them. Maybe the practice you aimed for won’t do anything for them, but some unexpected else will. Or maybe the situations they have in mind are even more complex than yours, and possibly even more fun. In short: try keeping an open mind to new possibilities yourself, and enjoy the journey toward unknown territories to satisfy both of you.

Step Four – Don’t rush it. The saying is wrong: it is better an egg today and the chicken tomorrow. Instead of immediately trying to transform your lives into a kinky fairy tale, take the opportunity to savor every new little game, and especially the way your relationship is evolving. After all, time is on your side, and once you’ll have ignited your curiosity, you’ll both have heaps of occasions – with or without quarantines – to make (and receive) new proposals to widen your erotic repertoire.

Enjoy your lockdown!

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