Romance, with a side of handcuffs.

Guest post by Sienna Moore. A version of this article was originally published on Mamamia. 

I cross my legs and try to get comfortable… well, as comfortable as is possible when you are about to do something totally new and a little bit taboo, with a group of complete strangers. Looking around, I check out the 25-or-so others. They seem… well, normal I suppose. But that makes sense; I’m pretty normal, yet I too have signed up for an introductory class on kinky play.

I’ve got that feeling in my chest. The one that says both ‘Holy crap how did I get here?’ and ‘This is potentially going to be very cool’ at the same time. The atmosphere of the room calms me a little. It’s warm, there’s big cushions, it feels a bit like we are just hanging out in a big lounge room, rather than a workshop space in the inner city. But it’s not a loose, casual vibe that’s happened because no-one is at the helm; in fact everything about this experience feels like it’s been designed to create safety and ease.

A man – actually, I think he identifies as a ‘person’ rather than a ‘man’ – who introduces himself as Rog sits at the front of the room. He’s not the scantily-clad old creepo I was half expecting. He’s just like any quiet-ish, friendly 40-something guy you’d meet in a café. He looks a bit like counsellor, and as it turns out he is. As he describes his journey into this work it is clear that he sees a real therapeutic benefit in it. He points out that those who identify with the world of kink have been shown to have better than average mental health indicators. He’s rather passionate about how kinky play can be used as a powerful personal development tool. It doesn’t take long for me to see why.

Being a ‘101’ style workshop, the session is a gentle enough mixture of theory and practice. Clothes stayed on, all manner of questions were encouraged and the discussion that ensued was quite fascinating. What blew me away is that kink is actually not entirely about sex. In fact, it doesn’t have to be about sex at all. It’s about personal power, expression and connection. Because of this, it’s also a powerful way to take your relationship to a whole new level. For me that was unexpected; allow me to explain…

Among the principles of kink there is a traffic light ‘safe word’ system which is used to indicate to your partner what you are loving, what you’re open to and what’s not ok. As we tried it out, it struck me as a pretty amazing communication tool which could flow through to other aspects of a relationship. It can be challenging to give feedback to a partner in a way that doesn’t result in tension or angst. Since it’s not safe to do a lot of kink activities without having really good and clear communication in place, kinky play becomes a practice space for better relationship strategies in general. If a person can get comfortable in asking for what they want and in articulating boundaries, a whole lot of things can get better.

If done well, kinky play can be positive and nurturing, even romantic. In my personal experience, being ‘dominant’ is nothing like it’s portrayed in the media. I had thought it involved being mean and even violent. Wrong! You can be a very loving and nurturing ‘dom’ and it can be incredibly freeing to be in the ‘sub’ role. As I wrapped my man in a simple rope chest harness, we both felt a shift in the energy between us. It didn’t restrict him but enabled me to guide and lead him. With this hulking 6ft tall man blindfolded and totally under my control, the power and freedom I felt was truly unbelievable. Far from being a sordid, abusive process, this was one of the most empowering and liberating things I’ve done.

My man later told me that as I gently ran my hands over his body, kissing him lightly and directing his movements, it was a surprisingly emotional experience for him. He could not remember a time in his adult life that he had felt so ‘held’ and so very loved. At no point was his masculinity questioned. He was submissive but not subservient. It is a beautiful thing to offer yourself completely over to someone, even for a moment, knowing they will not abuse it. What an incredible way to build trust. For a man who is in a powerful role professionally, it was a gift for me to relieve him of that burden and allow him to just receive.

In that judgement free, safe space I was able to shed the private-school, dutiful-wife-and-mother, conservative constraints that I carry around and I was able to step into my feminine power. In his words, I came alive. Apparently the sensation of being led around by a capable, powerful, positively charged woman was also a pretty massive turn on. Though much more than just a purely sexual experience, we engaged at an emotional and spiritual level. Rather than just learning some fun and sexy games, what we had experienced was some profound new territory that looks like sex but is about so much more.

As we drove home, both still on a high, we agreed kink is something we’d like to explore further. It’s hard to imagine a couple ever feeling disconnected or neglected if they are able to make the time to be in that space and to ‘play’ like that.

Rog runs regular workshops for any level of curiosity on sexuality and related topics, some of it kinky, some of it not. Check out http://www.curiouscreatures.biz

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