Kink. Deviation. Transgression. Whatever you call it, when it comes to sex, the implication is the same: you’ve strayed from the straight and narrow. Somewhere along the way, your carnal proclivities have taken a sharp turn into the untamed, sometimes dangerous, often exciting badlands beyond the realm of what’s normal.

Well, yes and no…

“The word unusual has a negative connotation attached to it when talking about sex. It can be read to imply something taboo,” says psychologist Athena Lazarides, founder of the adult store “I believe that all consensual sexual practices between adults, even those that carry a label of unconventional, are, in the greater scheme of human sexuality, very normal.”
The important thing to take from the bestsellers, bumper stickers and increasingly broad media coverage of kink is not only that it’s okay to enjoy a few alternative turn-ons, but that if it’s going to be truly gratifying for you and your partner, exploring the path less travelled – that bend in the road, if you will – is just as crucial a part of sex as kissing, cuddling, masturbation, oral sex and all the other things you don’t feel the need to discuss in hushed tones. Lazarides explains that when coming to terms with your desires, “the first step should be accepting that sexual desires, however unusual, are a natural part of human nature.

The second step is in challenging any outdated beliefs around sex that you may have.” Do that and it becomes clear: there really is no prescribed roadmap for healthy human intimacy as longas you remember the 3 Golden Rules:

1. Communicate
2. Respect Each Other’s Boundaries
3. Make Sure You’re Both Having Fun

It’s time to think about sex – and all its associated kinks, personal idiosyncrasies and quirks – in positive terms. It’s not a matter of what “we” do versus what “they” do, but a wide-ranging spectrum of possibilities that everyone fits into. Better yet, a playground where we can explore each other – and discover ourselves – in new ways that leave us sweaty, breathless and itching to get out and play some more.

Here’s our glossary of what it takes to get down in some of the kinkiest ways imaginable


Sure, kinky sex is fun, but it can also be intense. In any sexual scenario where a power exchange takes place, it’s important for the dominant partner to check in and make sure the sub is feeling calm, secure and emotionally grounded.


Who’s a good boy then? Animal play is a type of role-play in which one partner, usually the more submissive, takes on the role of an animal, like a puppy or a kitten, imitating its behaviour and being “trained” or “rewarded” accordingly by the other partner. (Leash and saucer of milk optional.)


Or, in full, Bondage & Discipline and Sadism & Masochism. Various types of kinky play fall under this umbrella acronym, each with various options. Maybe you’d bring out the handcuffs for special occasions, or she might have you manacled to the bed on a daily basis.


Limiting a partner’s movement for erotic purposes by using any of a variety of restraints. This can be as simple as her tying you to the bedposts with one of your work ties or as intricate and as beautiful as Shibari, the Japanese art of rope bondage.


Mutual agreement or approval; the cornerstone of any sexual activity.


“It may not sound kinky, but communication is key,” says Lazarides. “It takes courage and vulnerability to expose one’s intimate desires, so an open discussion should be met with respect and kindness from both partners. Set a time where neither of you will be interrupted. Think about what you’d like to say prior to the discussion and approach the conversation with a non-defensive attitude.

In return, listen to what your partner has to say. Remember, this means no interrupting or eye-rolling, even if you hear something that sounds weird. The whole point of this conversation is just being able to discuss your sexual kinks without the fear of a backlash.

If you can both communicate your needs effectively, get ready for all sorts of play.”

DACRYPHILIA Arousal from seeing a partner cry.


A sexually dominant female – although many women prefer the genderneutral term Dom, or Dominant, particularly as these don’t call to mind the stereotypical images associated with the word (think thigh-high boots, riding crop and German accent).


If kink is a spectrum that we all explore based on our personal preferences, what counts as “extreme” or “on the edge” will differ for each of us. Edge play usually involves the chance of harm – be it physical or psychological – although once again, what may be harmful for you could be the norm for me. It’s not for everyone, so might require some caution in the beginning.


The words kink and fetish are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Whereas a kink can enhance intimacy, but isn’t the primary focus of your lust, a fetish involves a sexual preoccupation with an object or body part, not usually sexual, to the extent that fixation on this object replaces real intimacy.


Perhaps not the first bodily fluid you think of when you think of sex – or maybe it is? The act of urinating on or being urinated on by another person. For a healthy individual, urine is safe to come into contact with and even drink in small amounts.

(You might want to limit this sort of play to the shower, for the sake of cleaning up afterwards.)


A non-negotiable, definitely will-never-do. Limits (see “Soft Limit” too) are put in place so that play remains safe for both parties – both physically and emotionally – and personal boundaries are respected.


Role-play in which a submissive assumes the role of a child – sometimes complete with spankings from “Daddy” when she’s been bad. (Weirded out? Read more about “Role-Playing” to wrap your head around it.)


“Kink is all about trust,” says Lazarides. “Being able to ask, explore and play out your sexual desires with a partner heightens intimacy, as you’ve shown and explored and authentic part of yourself. There’s a real level of honesty that enters the relationship, as you’ve risked ‘exposing’ yourself to another.”


A submissive position, kneeling can be used as a subtle way to introduce a power dynamic into your bedroom games. It may take little more than kneeling at her feet and asking how you can serve her to bring out a usually shy partner’s more assertive side. Grrr.

(More in the A-Z of Kink coming in Part 2)