If You Don’t Like Your Partner’s Kink, Is The Relationship Doomed?
Having different preferences is totally normal.
Exploring sexual pleasure through kink is all about finding what feels good to you. Whether you enjoy BDSM, using sex toys in bed, indulging your praise kink, or spicing things up with a little sex chocolate, there are nearly endless fun things to try. Although you can totally experiment solo, getting kinky consensually with a partner can be super hot, too — especially when you really start to learn each other's desires. But what happens when you don’t like your partner’s kink?
“Misaligned kinks can look a number of ways,” Lena Peak, a sexuality educator at The Expansive Group who has a master's degree in social work, tells Elite Daily. “Perhaps one partner is kinky and the other partner is more ‘vanilla,’ or maybe both partners are kinky but they don’t have much interest in each other’s kinks.” If your preferences feel mismatched, Peak says it can cause “surprise, concern, excitement, disappointment, curiosity, or even disgust.”
Maybe your partner has a humiliation kink, but you don’t find it attractive — or they like the idea of golden showers, but for you, that’s a total turn-off. If you don’t like your partner’s kink, you may worry about your sex life and even start to doubt your long-term compatibility. You may also feel hesitant to bring it up out of fear of making things awkward or hurting your partner’s feelings. Here’s how to approach the situation, according to sexperts.
If You Don’t Like Your Partner’s Kink, Is That Bad?
PSA: It’s natural to have different tastes and preferences during sex. DuEwa “Kaya” Spicer, a licensed clinical social worker and certified sex therapist, says not to stress if your partner’s kink isn’t for you. “It is perfectly normal to not share all the same erotic interests,” they say. ”It doesn't have to mean anything more than ‘to each their own.’”
Recognizing your differences can sometimes bring you closer. “Having different kinks can encourage couples to communicate more openly and honestly about their desires and boundaries,” Rhiannon John, a certified sexologist at BedBible, tells Elite Daily. “Additionally, it can allow couples to explore new sexual experiences … which can be exciting and fulfilling.” You may find that even though you don’t like your partner’s kink at first, you grow to like the way it turns them on — or it leads you to discover a new kink you both love equally.
This situation doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your relationship. According to John, kink is only one small piece of the compatibility puzzle. “Sexual compatibility is complex,” John explains. “[It] also involves sexual attraction, physical and emotional intimacy, communication, trust, respect, and the ability to satisfy each other's sexual needs and desires.”
That said, everyone’s sexual needs are different, and in some cases, having mismatched kinks can be a deal-breaker. “Different people place different values on the importance of sex in their intimate relationships,” Peak says. “Some people may place a high value on having matching or aligned kinks, and they may be more inclined to feel like the relationship isn’t sexually compatible.” If you feel like it’s becoming an issue in your sex life, it may be time to have a conversation about it.
How To Tackle The Convo With Your Partner
If you want to broach the topic with your significant other, experts suggest approaching it with care. “Be mindful about when and where the conversation takes place,” Peak says. “Make sure everyone is in the right headspace and is able to give their undivided attention. Refrain from judgmental statements, facial expressions, or body language when your partner shares sexual interests that may not align with yours.” Instead, Peak recommends being open and curious about your partner’s desires, and thanking them when they share.
“The goal is to find what I call ‘sexual empathy,’” says Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., a licensed sex and relationships therapist and the director of the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute. She suggests asking your partner what, specifically, they love about their kink and seeking to understand the “why” behind it. “You might [learn] that their kink makes them feel powerful, or it helps them let go, or it gives them a freedom they don’t feel in the rest of their life,” she says. “You may be able to relate to those things, even if you can’t relate to their kink.”
If your partner likes BDSM, for instance, but you don’t see the appeal, you might ask: “What about BDSM do you enjoy?” Or, “Is there a particular sensation or feeling that you’re seeking?” You may be surprised to find similarities with some of your own kinks or eventually feel comfortable enough to explore your partner’s fantasy.
That said, even after talking with your partner, you may still find their kink unattractive, and that’s OK, too. “I do not encourage folks to participate in kinks just to please their partner,” Spicer says. “Doing so may build resentment between the couple, ultimately negatively impacting their sex life… do it because you want to or you are curious about the kink.”
Let’s Say You’re Still Unsure. Should You Try Their Kink Anyway?
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to engage in your partner’s kink or not — but if you do, consent, boundaries, safety, and communication are crucial.
“It’s OK to feel unsure or neutral about your partner’s kink, but consent is a must,” Peak says. “Remember that you can revoke your consent at any time. One way to communicate this to your partner is [by saying], ‘I’m not sure how I feel about this kink yet, but I’m willing to explore and find out together.’”
Before trying it out, Peak and Spicer recommend creating an agreement with your partner, setting boundaries, creating safe words (or gestures), practicing negotiation, and planning aftercare in advance. Additionally, experts say that attending a kink workshop and exploring kink solo through porn, erotica, or fantasizing can help you feel more comfortable engaging with different kinks in general. You can also join a kink community by attending a local munch (a casual gathering of folks who are interested in BDSM, kink, and fetishes) or joining a social network like Fetlife. Folks in polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous relationships may also find it helpful to join a dating app like KinkD, Feeld, or Kinkoo.
If you don’t like your partner’s kink, it doesn’t mean your relationship can’t work — but in some cases, you may decide to part ways, and that’s OK, too. If you’ve done your part to communicate openly and listen to each other’s needs, and things still aren’t working out, it may be a sign that not being together is for the best. After all, you both deserve happy, fulfilling sex lives — and sometimes, it’s not always a match.
“We are entitled to our sexual pleasure. It is our birthright,” Spicer says. “Either way, practice compassion, empathy, and care.”
Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., licensed sex and relationships therapist
DuEwa “Kaya” Spicer, LCSW, licensed sex therapist
Lena Peak, MSW, sex educator at The Expansive Group
Rhiannon John, certified sexologist at BedBible