We’re far from done with social stigma against BDSM and kink communities, but things are certainly better than they used to be. “Paraphilias” are still just about listed in the DSM V, but the situation has improved dramatically. We’re starting to see research suggesting that practitioners are certainly no more likely to be mentally ill than the general population. Another one of the unexpected BDSM benefits may in fact be enthusiasts are somewhat more mentally healthy on average.


This didn’t feel like news for me. For ten years now I’ve been seeing the ways that kink is good for you over and over again, both in my own life and in the lives of those around me. I’ve rounded up a few BDSM benefits for you here - and do let us know if you think I’ve missed anything out.



unexpected BDSM Benefits


BDSM benefits me by giving frequent reminders of my own strength, bravery and resilience.


Coming to the other side of a difficult scene is a powerful, exhilarating feeling. I’ve taken beatings that have left me with a wide smattering of deep bruises for weeks afterwards or given me trouble sitting down for the next few days. I can sure as hell handle going to the dentist even though it freaks me out. BDSM benefits me by helping to identify which of my limits are things I’d like to overcome rather than things I genuinely have no interest in. Then work through those limits with a partner, to the point where I actively enjoy something that once terrified me. There’s no reason to think I can’t stand up to a patronising dickhead behaving like a bully in a social context. Knowing what I’m capable of has been tremendously healthy and helpful for me.



Healthy communication is built into my relationships at the deepest levels.


unexpected-bdsm-benefits-2When your sex life involves delving into dark psychological spaces on a regular basis, it’s absolutely vital that you’re in frequent communication with them. You need to know that they genuinely do respect you, for one thing. One of our other writers recently posted an excellent piece about humiliation play where she looks at that in a little more depth. You need to be sure that you’re communicating with your partner effectively and continually about the workings of your sex life. This naturally spills over into all other aspects of your relationship, too. The BDSM life is one in which partners talk to each other openly, honestly, freely and clearly. There’s no way that does a relationship anything other than good both inside and outside the bedroom.



One of the BDSM benefits that grew over time is that I’ve dramatically improved my ability to read people and respond to subtle signals.


I’ve had relationships where I could tell what someone wanted me to do next just from the way they tilted their chin. When I’m deep in subspace with someone I know well, I instinctively know exactly how to communicate my comfort and tolerance level to them without having to say a word. Stuff like this doesn’t just make you better at giving a stellar blowjob. It also gives you transferable skills that are useful in all manner of social situations, from parties to boardrooms. We talk a lot about the undeniable benefits of talking to your partner as much as possible, but non-verbal communication skills are just as valuable.



I’ve developed some techniques that let me process pain and discomfort like a pro.


I’m not necessarily a masochist in the classical sense -which is to say that my threshold for experiencing pain as directly enjoyable pleasure is relatively low most of the time. But I sure as hell like to receive a sound beating. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of its unexpected consequences is that my pain processing techniques are actually pretty solid. The useful thing about BDSM benefits is that they’re often directly transferable to other situations - like getting a tattoo, or struggling to the end of a difficult workout. They’re neat tricks to learn, and they come in handy more often than you might imagine!


Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.


© stefan_weis / Dollar Photo Club und michelaubryphoto / Dollar Photo Club

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