A Little Kink Goes A Long Way: Why Roleplay Is Healthy In Relationships

by Gigi Engle

Have you ever wanted to try being someone else behind closed doors? Have you ever yearned to change up the power dynamics in your relationship, just to get a thrill? Have you ever had a fantasy such as being a schoolteacher, a robber or a housewife?

Does it make you wonder if you’re weird or crass or gross for feeling this way?

Well, you shouldn’t. Roleplay in relationships is actually really healthy.

Despite what the holy rollers may tell you on bad cable television, sex is not dirty, and roleplay is not some sinister sexual practice only indulged upon by sinners and deviants.

It’s actually a healthy practice within the framework of relationships that can help to grow and fortify your connection to your partner.

To get the real meat behind all that unexplored curiosity, Elite Daily sought the help of Emmalee Bierly, Caitlyn Caracciolo and Jennifer Chaiken, three marriage and family therapists who specialize in sex therapy.

They are the founders of The West Chester Therapy Group, and they are here to give us our most craved answers to our most depraved questions.

The desire to roleplay is not about dissatisfaction with your sex life; it’s about trust and safety.

According to Caracciolo:

Roleplay is the acting out of your own fantasies or a partner’s, and the playing out of a fantasy tends to happen when one feels very safe and secure within a relationship. Role playing can be an excellent indicator of feeling emotionally and physically safe with a sexual partner.

Roleplay can be a “can be a deeply healing experience and [can] deepen the relationship or strengthen the individual.”

It’s a very powerful way to express yourself and your desires.

While porn and movies may have you thinking men and women have their specified fantasy roles laid out for them, Caracciolo informs us this may not always be the case in reality.

One example could be if you’re the female in a heterosexual couple and your high-powered financial analyst boyfriend wants you to treat him like a ‘bad boy’ and spank him -- perhaps this is hinting at a deeper need of his to not be in control and always have it together.

The two polarizing roles, the dominant and the submissive characters within sexual exploration have the power to change the bonds between partners. As Caracciolo told Elite Daily:

These two roles can work to deepen, strengthen and enliven relationships, whether each partner is switching between dominant and submissive or the roles stay static.

Put on your proverbial masks, ladies and gentlemen. The cat is out of the bag.

Your fantasies are more common than you think.

The three most common fantasies are dominant/submissive, bisexual fantasies and spontaneous or public sex. See, your behavior isn’t as bizarre as you thought.

Dom/Sub: As Bierly puts it, it allows each of us the “opportunity to have an unequal distribution of power in a safe and controlled environment. It allows us to release our inhibitions and to be engulfed in pleasure and a loss, or gain, of control.”

According to Caracciolo:

Humans appear to have subcortical circuits for both dominance and submission. Most of us display these two sides of us many times within the same day (or hour). A partner who wants to be dominant may have felt or currently feels helpless and weak at different points or within different areas of their lives and is benefitting from feeling in control in this area.

Bisexual: Just because you want to roleplay in a bisexual role does not mean you have homosexual tendencies.

It “does not mean we are all bisexual, but many people have had sexual interest towards someone of the same gender.”

Mind blown or nah?

Spontaneous: The “just can’t wait to have you” sex. This is one we’ve all heard of and at least thought about (if not gone ahead and tried). The idea of having sex in public is invigorating. The danger of it all!

Don’t be so afraid.

You shouldn’t be so terrified by the idea of roleplay. It doesn’t mean you’re unhappy in your partnership, and it doesn’t mean you find your sex life to be bland.

Just because you like to be someone else during sex doesn’t mean you’re damaging your relationship and the life the two of you have outside of the boudoir.

As Caracciolo tells Elite Daily:

Roleplaying in the bedroom does not mean it will bleed into your outside life. Relinquishing or grabbing control by the horns for one night (or every night) does not mean you and your partner will become two actors unable to shed off their roles.

It’s about fun and games. Loosen up a little bit. Stop worrying so much. You’ll get grey hairs.

Roleplay indicates trust.

The key to successful, healthy roleplay is trust. Without it, boundaries can be crossed and lines eviscerated.

It’s about mutual respect and an understanding that this is the exploration of certain, intimate fantasies, and at the end of the day, the most crucial, fundamental element is consent.

According to Chaiken:

With this self-expression comes the opportunity for acceptance and validation from your partner, leading to a more emotional, intimate connection. The sexual confidence and lowered inhibitions needed during roleplaying is only achieved through a tremendous amount of safety and trust within a relationship.

If you can engage in roleplay confidently, you’re not proving yourself to be some sexual pariah; you’re actually proving you have complete faith in both your partnership and your lover.

If you can feel comfortable opening yourself up to that kind of vulnerability, you’re reaffirming your connection to each other.

If you can roleplay, you are communicating.

If you’re in tune with yourself sexually, you’re on a much more enlightened path.

You should feel relaxed enough in your relationship to be able to ask your partner for what you want without shame.

As Chaiken tells us:

The first step toward good communication is being in tune with yourself. Gaining an understanding of what your desires are and being aware of your level of comfort and openness to act out those desires will help you to communicate with your partner.

If you have a sturdy relationship, communication should be fluid.

Knowing what you want and asking for it with ease is what sets strong couples apart from the pack.

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say couples that roleplay together, stay together.

Roleplay keeps that spark alive.

Roleplay is also a great way to spice things up in the bedroom. You are both committed to each other and have grown used to being with each other.

Shaking things up a little bit can be exciting. Just be sure you’re presenting this as an invigorating experience, not as a substitution for something missing.

Chaiken notes:

Presenting role play suggestions to your partner in a way that plays off the enhancement of your sexual routine as opposed to putting down your current one will help to elicit a positive response.

Wanting to venture down new sexual avenues doesn’t mean you’re sick of having sex with your partner; it means you’re in a place where you aren’t afraid to try new things together.

“This comes from the repetition of the “routine,” as well as the familiarity that comes from long-term exposure to one person.” Chaiken says.

You can be perfectly happy and still be adventurous. Roleplay gives each of you a chance to breathe new life into the familiar.