Cleveland Sex Therapy

Telling Your Partner About Your Kink: Four Steps

Understanding your kink is the first step when incorporating it into your relationship.

Sexuality is wild. We can get trapped into asking ourselves, Am I normal? And to answer that I ask, What is normal? Normal has historically been defined in terms of purity culture, toxic masculinity, and sex negativity. So when looking at that, do you really want to call yourself normal? We all have kinks that range from more socially acceptable (anal) to less socially acceptable (sadism). We can't help that some are more "socially acceptable" than others, but that does not mean that they are better or healthier. Arousal is dynamic and our desires can and more likely will adapt over time. So when it comes to talking to your loved ones about your kinks, here are 4 steps to consider:

But first, a special note from me, your local sex therapist: If you feel the need to open up and express these due to societal pressure, don’t. This is private to you and no one gets access until you are ready for them to. Okay, now onto the steps.

Step 1: Understand Your Desires

Understand the "why" behind your "kinks."

Ask yourself these questions:

Where do you think this desire came from?

Can you pinpoint the origin?

Why is this kink arousing for you?

What does it give you?

What have you done to explore this kink so far?

Do you feel any shame?


What have you done to explore those feelings?

Have you tried this in the past already? What was that like?

Ethical porn is a great option here. Also At this time, a sex therapist or kink-friendly/affirming book or podcast could be a great place to start.

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Step 2: Start Slow

Bring up the overall topic of sex more and begin creating a safe environment.

Now, just start talking about intimacy in general with your partner(s). Mention how intimacy is important to you and that you want to grow together. This involves talking more about sex overall and what it means to both of you. Talk about your favorite parts or sex and some of your favorite times together. What turns you on and what turns you off? This is a great way of getting your partner more open to topics outside of "vanilla" (traditional) sex. What is your partner open to trying that they have never done before? This could be a good time to download an app like Spicer or the Gottman Couples App to help with the process. Set aside multiple times over the next couple of weeks and just talk about intimacy in general. Once there is comfort there, you can move on to step three.

Step 3: Take The "Risk"

Due to sex negativity in our society, talking about "kinks" will always be risky, but if you feel comfortable and confident, take the plunge!

This is always going to be the scariest part. I get it. Vulnerability is extremely courageous and if you can confirm that this person you are opening up to will not judge, shame, or mock you, I say let’s do it. This is something important to you. Remember, your sexuality is not confined to a box and if it is important to you, starting the conversation is essential.

Step 4: Circle Back

If there is pushback, reframe the conversation and see what could be agreed upon. If there is no pushback, then have fun exploring!

The dam is open but that does not mean the flood has begun. This is an ongoing conversation between you and your partners. If your partner is overwhelmed, give them permission to be. Talk to them about your journey. If they are hesitant, help them understand it does not have to be "all or nothing." If you are into urophilia, or golden showers, and your partner isn’t, maybe see if they would be open to you watching them piss. If you want to be spanked with a paddle, maybe start with a light spanking with a hand or watch some erotica together. You are going to hopefully be in a relationship for a long time so this does not need to be solved immediately. What is that saying, "Slow and steady wins the race?" That couldn’t be more true with Kink.

Cleveland Sex Therapy is owned by Matt Lachman, a licensed professional clinical counselor and certified sex and relationship therapist who specializes in working with individuals, couples, and polyam folx on their concerns relating to sexuality, intimacy, and overall sexual health. The goal of Cleveland Sex Therapy is to promote inclusivity and nurture sex positivity. For more information, feel free to contact him at