What images do you think of when you hear the word, ‘kinky”? Do leather and whips come to mind? Maybe a latex body suit, or perhaps a blindfold? A burning, waxy candle?
Do you hear a string of dirty, sexy words? Do you imagine feet in a pair of stilettos? A tightly wound length of rope? A public location? Three people in a bed? What about a toilet? A stuffed animal?

Kink is a term for sex acts that are considered outside the norm. Different people have very different ideas of what is kinky. For some people, just having sex with the lights on or using a sex toy is wildly kinky. Others won’t bat an eye until you’re covered in whipped cream, spanking each other and screaming dirty names on the roof of Rush Rhees Library in midwinter.

However you define kink, you’re probably into one or two acts that give you an extra thrill because they’re outside your idea of the norm.

Maybe you do them all the time, but there’s a special feeling because they’re taboo, freaky, the opposite of ‘vanilla.” Even if it’s just watching porn while you have sex or taking it in the butt, it can be fun to test the limits of your sexuality.

Of course, there are lots of people whose everyday sexuality is considered kinky in popular culture. Some of these people revel in their nonconformity and others wish that mainstream society would be more accepting of their sexual choices.

Either way, it’s important to live and let live. Even if someone’s got a sexual preference that you think is gross or strange, they’ve got a right to it as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

If you name any particular kink, there is most likely a community built up by people who are into it. Whatever it is that you’re into, there’s a good chance there are others who share your tastes. The Rule of Quantum Kink says that if you can think of it, somebody gets off on it. You can also probably find it in porn on the Internet.

If you’ve got a kink that you want to share with your partner, bring it up gently. As always, approach the topic when you’re not in the bedroom. If it’s an immediate request, your partner might feel pressured and agree to something they don’t actually want.

Give your lover some time to digest the information; people’s first reactions to such ideas are not always the best indicators of what they really think.

Never coerce someone into something they really don’t want. It won’t be satisfying for either of you. If your current bed partner doesn’t want to participate in a kink that’s really essential to you, you may need to find someone else who does.

If a partner brings up a kinky trick they want to try, do your best not to be judgmental. Even if you think it’s a weird or gross thing to do, try to keep your cool.

If you dislike the activity, not the person who’s into it, a negative reaction from you could really hurt their self-esteem and make it harder for them to confide their desires to you in the future.

Instead, just say it’s not for you and then find out exactly how important this particular activity is. If they can’t live without it, you may have to go your separate ways (or work out an arrangement). You can do this, though, without hating each other.

Of course, if your sex buddy wants to do something you’re intrigued by, have at it! Communicate with each other about what’s going to happen before you get started and check in as you experiment.

If you like what goes down, you’ll have added to your sexual repertoire. If not, you’ll at least have tried something new. A little kink never hurt anyone.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.

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