Vanilla Sex vs Kinky Sex: Which is Better?

Are you struggling to mix things up in the bedroom? Worried that your sex life may be getting stale? Too scared to try kink? Well, let's figure out which kind of sex is best for you.



I wanted to write a post breaking down vanilla sex and kinky sex. What are they? Which one is better? And how to know which one is right for you. 


What are they?


Let’s start with the most well-known kind of sex, vanilla sex. Vanilla sex was originally defined as a traditional version of sex that promotes heteronormative, patriarchal values/behaviors. This means that sex took place between a cis-male and a cis-female, where there would be slight outercourse/foreplay, but eventually led to penis-in-vagina sex, with the cis-male orgasming. Nowadays, "vanilla" sex has broadened some to include both partners orgasming, as well as nuances of LGBTQIA+ people (i.e. using toys or anal sex is usually considered "vanilla" for queer people). Another way of looking at it is that vanilla sex is sex that does not involve exploration and promotes routine over novelty. 


On the other hand, "kinky" sex can be defined in several ways. One way is saying that it is anything outside of vanilla sex. Another way is to say it promotes exploration and novelty over routine. To me, the best way to define kink would be to say that it is the kind of sex and intimacy where people do not follow traditional societal scripts that are considered to be “normal.” Meaning, that sex does not always have to lead to penetration. Sex can be whatever we make of it. It means trying new things. But most importantly, I think it means putting yourself in a vulnerable position of exploring your and your partner's sexuality. From BDSM to blindfolds, it can all be kinky if it is new to us.



Which one is better?


Let me start by saying that there is no version of consenting sex and intimacy that is better than the other. With that being said, let’s talk about the pros and cons of each. 


Vanilla Sex Pros: Comfort, Stability, and Safety. 


Vanilla sex provides us with such a safe environment to have sex with our partners. There is comfort and safety that show up when we are doing what we know with someone we trust. 


Vanilla Sex Cons: Routine, Boring, Muscle Memory. 


On the flip side, this routined intimacy can be boring and challenging for some. It can also tap into our muscle memory. Muscle memory hurts us. After a while, we start to do things the same way as always and this keeps us less attuned to our bodies. Forced sameness can feel comforting and safe but can limit our pleasure.


Kinky Sex Pros: Novelty, Exploration, Freedom


At the heart of kinky sex is novelty. It is exploration and through this exploration, we get to uncover new areas of our sexuality that may have been hidden due to sex negativity and purity culture. I say this often: kink is true freedom


Kinky Sex Cons: Conflict in a relationship, Anxiety, Trauma/bad experience. 


The cons of kinkiness come with readiness. If we jump into it too quickly then it can cause a lot of anxiety and conflict in our relationships. It can also lead to a bad or traumatic experience depending on the partner and what you are doing. 


Which one is right for you?


When determining which one is right for you, there are a few things to consider:


First, what is the purpose of sex for you? Is sex an important part of your life or is it something you don’t prioritize?


Second, how are you currently feeling about your sex life? Do you want to mix things up? Are you bored? If the answer to these is yes, maybe incorporate some kink. 


And third, do you feel safe in your relationship to explore? Starting to engage with kink can be vulnerable so it is important to consider the security within your relationship.



Final Thoughts


Do you want to know my honest answer? I think both need to be incorporated into a relationship. The safe routined vanilla sex combined with the exploratory novel kinky sex will lead to a long-term sustained sexual relationship. 



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 Matt@ClevelandSexTherapy.com