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When people think of BDSM, it is usually conceptualized as being based entirely on sex rather than romance. BDSM is thought to be rough, angry, lustful and dehumanizing. While these traits may be incorporated into some BDSM relationships, they do not necessarily reflect the whole of the relationship. When I first started seeing somebody who was interested in BDSM, I saw it as a way to explore my sexuality while pleasing my partner. I was completely unaware about the non-sexual, romantic benefits of BDSM.

Firstly, trying anything out of the ordinary feels like an adventure—and BDSM is one you get to share with a partner. You’re learning about each other’s loves and limits in an entirely new context, and you get to see your partner and allow them to see you in a way entirely different than the rest of the world does. I’m a dominating person in my regular life, but submissive in the bedroom. Sharing a side of myself nobody else got to see with a partner was incredibly intimate, and in a way liberating. It gave me a place where instead of being strong and forceful I was allowed to be weak, vulnerable, and to let go of control. It gave me space to be what I was too afraid to be elsewhere.

This physical and mental vulnerability requires an incredible amount of trust in your partner. You cannot allow someone to bind your hands and feet, to gag you, to strike you, without having complete faith that they will not hurt you, nor do anything to you that you don’t want them to do. The intimacy brought about by giving yourself to someone, or by having someone give themself to you completely deepens your trust and romantic connection. BDSM and loving relationships are hardly mutually exclusive, but can go hand in hand with each enhancing the other.  

By Michaela Madraga

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