- “Different Loving” is one of the best sexology books on BDSM and kink practices.
- The book is not meant as a sex guide but as a description of non-standard sexualities.
- If your partner has expressed interest in BDSM, the book will help you understand why people enjoy it.
- BDSM offers sexual activities that don’t include intercourse, which can be a relief if you have erectile dysfunction.
According to the Global Survey of Sexual Behaviors, between 8 and 28 percent of people engage in S&M or bondage sexual practices. Many more fantasize about them. The popularity of the “50 Shades of Gray” books and movies showed that sexual power play attracts big audiences.
“Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission” by Gloria J. Brame, William D. Brame, and Jon Jacobs is one of the best sexology books on the subject. The authors spoke with over 200 people, from engineers to attorneys, who in their free time like to explore non-standard sexuality.
Why We Love It
This book is not meant as a BDSM guide. Its goal is to present the richness of unusual sexualities. The authors warn that some of the activities described can be risky and discourage practicing them.
“Our goal is to explain what people do, why they do it, and what they get out of it.”
It’s a challenging read but an important one if you’re interested in exploring the idea of BDSM at home with your partner. The book explains what this lifestyle is about — and flashy sex rooms are not the most important part of it.
Is This Book For You?
“Different Loving” is a deep dive into the world of nonstandard sexual desires. It can be a thought-provoking read, especially if you don’t know much about the topic. All erotic practices described are done by consenting adults, but some of them can still trigger you. It’s best to approach this book with a dose of curiosity about our complex — but very human — nature.
Here’s why you may find it interesting or even enlightening.
If You Feel Like a Freak
People described in “Different Loving” engage in sexual activities many of us didn’t even know existed. And yet, these men and women are not freaks or perverts. They care about their partners and make meaningful contributions to society.
If you’ve ever felt like your sexual needs were weird, this book will help you accept yourself and your particular erotic interests. You’ll realize that you’re not alone and find resources to meet like-minded people.
If Your Partner Has Unusual Desires
Sex therapists’ offices are filled with couples in crisis. Sometimes it’s not cheating or lack of desire but something more creative. Perhaps you discovered that your male partner loves wearing women’s stockings. Or your wife of ten years finally gathered the courage to ask you to give her a good spanking.
If you’re used to more standard forms of sexual play (sometimes called vanilla sex), the revelation can be shocking. You may feel angry or even disgusted by your partner’s preferences. Those feelings often come from uncertainty or fear. Learning why people enjoy kinky activities can give you some peace of mind.
Understanding is one thing, and joining your partner is another. You are in no way obliged to engage in sexual activities that make you uncomfortable, but you’ll have to find ways to communicate with your partner about their sexual needs and yours. Sometimes it’s better to talk to a counselor or sex coach who can help you navigate those conversations.
What You’ll Learn
“Different Loving” is not your typical how-to guide, but it will give you better insight into unusual sexualities. You’ll find some of the information useful, even if you’ve never dreamt of visiting a BDSM dungeon.
Play by the Rules
One of the biggest complaints from BDSM practitioners about “50 Shades” films was that they didn’t focus enough on the rule of consent. People who enjoy erotic power exchanges, bondage, or spanking want to do it without causing excessive harm. Pain is inflicted only if someone says they want it.
There are many books and workshops you can take if you’re planning to experiment with kink. Different communities follow different principles, but there is general agreement that BDSM practices must be “safe, sane, and consensual.”
Here’s what that means:
- Safe. Understanding and minimizing the risks of harm or injury and taking care of your partner’s wellbeing.
- Sane. Play only when both of you have full mental capacity and not under the influence of mind-altering substances.
- Consensual. Everything you do with another person has been agreed upon, and you are able to stop or pause at any time.
Men Can Be Submissive Too
Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of men who enjoy BDSM practices as submissives, or masochists. Men are raised from a very young age to be tough guys, to take responsibility, and to always hold it together.
Getting into a submissive role helps some men relax and surrender. While there is a sexual element to it, the experience can mean much more to a guy. It can provide a space to just be, to hand over tension and the constant need to be in control.
So, if you’re a man who secretly fantasizes about being tied up, or if your partner has shared such fantasies with you, don’t panic. It’s not as bad as you think!
Kink Is About Connecting
One thing you should not rely on for kink education is mainstream pornography. According to the book’s authors, popular porn misrepresents the truth about sado-masochism. It dehumanizes people, presenting them as objects of violence or humiliation.
What it doesn’t show is communication, getting to consent, and the aftercare which is a necessary element of any BDSM get-together.
If you want to learn more about dominance, submission, bondage, and other types of nonstandard sexual play, there are good educational videos showing the true face of BDSM.
Finding Sexual Fulfilment Beyond Intercourse
BDSM has one big advantage over vanilla sex: It’s less focused on penetrative intercourse. This makes it an interesting field to explore if you have sexual concerns such as erectile dysfunction. In kink, you play a lot of mental games and find fulfillment and arousal through teasing or by guiding your partner to surrender and release.
Some kink practices, like a special style of rope play called shibari, turn the erotic experience into an art. That doesn’t mean that intercourse is not on the menu once you decide to get kinky. If you and your partner agree to include it in your play, you’re free to do so.
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Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.