Congruent Joy

Dimensions of Kink and BDSM

We may use terms such as “submissive” and “dominant” and so on, but these are very broad categories.

It’s like walking into a supermarket and saying, “I’d like to buy some food.”

In the supermarket there are a thousand different food items for sale.

What kind of food do you want?

Thus I thought it might be useful to describe some of the dimensions of kink.


If kink were a movie… what genre of movie are you interested in? A horror movie, a romantic comedy, a…?

In what spirit, in what mood do you want to practice kink?

  • Practical, straightforward, matter-of-fact?

  • Kind, loving, compassionate?

  • Cruel, domineering, punishing, humiliating?

  • Joyous, ecstatic, lyrical?

  • Humorous, fun, silly?

  • Challenging, arduous, strenuous?

  • Meditative, calm, spiritual?


Physical, sensual, sexual, mental, emotional?

Limited to a specific place and time, or extending into your life in general in some way?

Desire and Boundaries

There can be things we’re willing to do (even if we wouldn’t seek them out for their own sake, we don’t care much one way or the other)…

Things we want (and while maybe we don’t always need to get everything we want, we’d at least like to get some of them)…

Things that are requirements for us (we have to have them)…

And limits (those things that we’re not willing to do or experience).

Force and Willingness

Force, compulsion, constraint, being made to do something or being made not to be able to do something…

Or, instead, acting by choice, willingness, eagerness, zeal?

Someone might describe themselves as a “submissive” or “slave” and into obedience… yet does mean that they want to be willingly obedient or to be forced into obedience?

And for someone who describes themselves as a “dominant” or “master” and is also into obedience… do they want a partner who is eagerly and willingly compliant (and would be unhappy with an obstinate partner), or a partner they need to force into obedience (and would be unhappy if someone just gave in all the time).

The same word can have entirely opposite meanings!

Pain and Pleasure

In the right circumstances, some people can enjoy pain, it actually feels good to them. So, for example, if someone wants to be spanked… is it because they want to enjoy a spanking that feels good, or do they want to be punished with a spanking that they don’t like?

Roleplay and Authenticity

Do we want to play a role, like we’re actors in a movie, and enjoy a pretend scenario? (E.g. pirate and captive etc). Or do we want to be ourselves, able to do and enjoy something that we can’t in other circumstances?

Risk and Safety

What risks are we willing to accept? Risks that we want to take? Or how safe do we want this to be?

Some BDSM activities are inherently riskier than others (much as say someone could choose to go mountain climbing instead of hiking).

Practice and Growth

Do you want to continue and do more of a practice that you enjoy?

Do you want to try new things? Take classes, receive training? Provide training, give classes?

Do you enjoy helping a partner who is new and inexperienced learn, or do you prefer an experienced partner?


Nonmonogamous, monogamous, casual, friends, poly, one on one, multiple participants, private, public, in person, remote?

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