Research

Why Is Monogamy Rare in the BDSM Scene?

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Close-up of two hands wrapped together in chains

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When Vagabond and I met, neither of us realized just how lucky we were to stumble across each other—two monogamous BDSM practitioners in a sea of nonmonogamous kinksters. At the time, I was still fairly new to BDSM, and though Vagabond was not, he didn’t realize how overwhelmingly nonmonogamous the BDSM scene is. It wasn’t until we started attending BDSM events together that we noticed what a rarity we are as a monogamous couple. But why? 

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Research Recap: Do Kinky College Students Value Consent?

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Woman holding sign that says "Let's talk about sex consent baby..." with "sex" crossed out indicating an emphasis on consent-seeking behavior

It’s an understatement to say that consent is a big deal among people in the BDSM community. Whether online, at a big event, or in a class at the local BDSM dungeon, teachers and event leaders never go near the sexy stuff until they’ve covered consent and risk awareness. There have been lots of studies demonstrating that BDSM community members have good consent practices relative to the general population, but what about all the kinksters who haven’t yet entered the scene? How common is kink in the general public, and do they behave like BDSM community members with respect to consent-seeking behavior and safety? Caroline C. Boyd-Rogers and her fellow researchers conducted a study called “BDSM Proclivity Among College Students” to find out. The results were published in Springer Nature in 2022.

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Why BDSM Education Is Essential 

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Man at a teacher's desk holding a book and microscope while woman in plaid skirt stands above him on desk holding a pointer.

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What’s one of the main things that separates good BDSM players from bad ones? Education! Learning as much as you possibly can about how to do various kinky activities is crucial not only for safety but for maximizing pleasure. We might all have different kinks, but we doubt you’ll find a partner who wants to see you fumble around in the bedroom or make a careless yet dangerous mistake. And even if you already have great chemistry with the only play partner you’ll ever want to fuck, we’ll explain why education is not only necessary and fun, but can take your BDSM life to the next level.

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HOW COMMON IS BDSM?

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Fairly common, as it turns out, which isn’t super surprising. A survey of more than 9,000 people in Finland revealed that about 35 percent of men and 38 percent of women were interested in BDSM sex. Interest was much higher among non-heterosexual respondents vs. heterosexual ones and among younger respondents (18–28 years old) vs. older ones.

When it came to having participated in BDSM, more non-heterosexual people had tried BDSM than straight people. Thirty-seven percent of women had been submissive once or more as compared to 23 percent of men, and 32 percent of men had been dominant once or more as compared to 25 percent of women. These findings were in line with previous studies showing that men skew more toward dominant, and women skew more toward submissive. It’s worth noting, however, that these numbers dropped to single digits (except for bisexual people) when the frequency increased to monthly or more. This suggests that while BDSM may be common for people to try, it’s far less common for BDSM to be a regular part of sex.

The study also assessed associations between personality traits and interest in BDSM. For both men and women there was a negative association between BDSM interest and honesty-humility and conscientiousness, but there was a positive association between interest in BDSM and openness to experience. The study authors noted that for personality associations, “the effect sizes were negligible at best, thus offering no real practical implications.”

One of the biggest limitations of the study was that all the respondents were twins or siblings, so they may have been raised differently than only children. The study authors didn’t mention it, but it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that there might be some sort of genetic predispositions to certain sexual activities as well.

Interested in other studies about BDSM? Check out all of our posts about BDSM research.