6 Kink Styles (& How To Explore Them)

Handcuffs on a sheet

Question. What does it mean exactly, when someone says they’re a sub? 

A dom?

A voyeur or an exhibitionist? 

The moment you toe the kink waters, it almost feels like you learn an entirely new language. And that’s what these terms all refer to: various ways to be kinky, each with their own modes of sexual play. 

Kink is where we get a little more exploratory with the psychology of sex, and sure, it can be edgy – it can involve pain play, and it can involve leather and whips. All the stereotypical stuff. 

But kink can also be very simple, because what we’re really talking about here is play: using our imagination to heighten the sexual experience, and collaborating with one another to pull it off. 

But wait. Why would I want to try kink?

Kink offers an endless world of sexual play possibilities, but here are some benefits to kink as a whole:

  • can help your relationship, by building greater intimacy and trust
  • offers a deep way to explore the feelings you want to experience during sex
  • allows you to try erotic power exchange (more on that below) in a safe, sexy way
  • adds novelty to the sexual experience

Intrigued? I thought you might be! Let’s look at some common kink profiles, and how you can go about trying them out IRL. As with everything in sex, though: if you’re partnered and new to kink, it all starts with a conversation. Listen to Part 1 of my kink & BDSM series for scripts to help get that conversation started. And for more on these kink styles, listen to Part 2 of my kink and BDSM series.

1. Submission

If your sexual fantasies tend to feature you in a “powerless” position, where you’re tied down, you’re being told what to do, or you’re being asked to give up power…these are all signs of a submissive or sub type. Here are some ideas to explore submission:

  • Having a partner take away one of your senses or abilities. For example, they could take away your sight (with a blindfold).
  • You could also relinquish your physical control, with bed restraints, leg spreaders, or handcuffs. (Psst- you can find all those supplies and more at Good Vibrations.)
  • Creating a situation where your partner makes the rules, and you have to follow them. (For example…you have to say “please” for certain sex acts.)

Now, these are all ideas for submissive behaviors, but really, what makes a sub/dom dynamic hot is more the overall vibe. The alchemy of consent and chemistry-building can help you experience the delicious feeling of being under someone else’s control or controlling someone else…which brings me to our next kink type. 

2. Dominance

If your fantasies tend to feature you in a “powerful” position, where you’re barking orders, you’re teaching someone, you’re tying someone else down…these are all signs of a dominant or dom type. Here are some ideas to explore dominance, if you’re partnered:

  • You can dominate through text, building tension leading up to the sexual encounter, by telling your partner exactly what you’re going to do to them. 
  • In the moment, you can try restraining your partner, using the examples above. 
  • On the “rules” point above for subs, you could make things extra spicy by having them wear a Dame Eva while you have sex – and telling them they can’t come until you say so.
  • Like the “vibe” point above, the key to being an excellent dom is being hyper-observant of the sub and their body language, while you exert control over the situation. YOU are the boss of this sexual encounter.

Of course, you can also play out dom/sub dynamics in edgier, more roleplay-esque ways, such as CNC (consensual non-consensual sex) or DDLG (daddy dom/little girl). Let’s take a look at each. 

3. CNC (Consensual Non-Consensual Sex)

Just so we’re all clear, this is a fantasy about forced sex. To pull it off, your communication must be crystal clear up-front, to delineate an exciting yet safe sexual experience for all involved. Here are some ground rules: 

  • Experimenting with CNC should only happen between trusting parties.
  • Establish a safeword: a tool in the kink world, to help the situation from going too far. Take this step ahead of time, outside the bedroom. 
  • From there: you can play! As a heightened form of the dom/sub dynamic, CNC could look like one partner pushing another against a wall, “forcing” them to have sex right then and there.
  • Or, it could look more dramatic, like establishing a day for the event, but not the time, giving the encounter an air of unpredictability. 
  • Another way to play with CNC dynamics is for the sub to sink into the “struggle” headspace, where they are trying to resist the sex itself – possibly while it’s happening.

Again, this one is edgy! No doubt about it. If it scares you, don’t try it. But in a container of safety and trust, CNC can offer a way to play with sexual feelings that aren’t always societally acceptable. That’s why I always say that kink is play, as we are firmly in the world of imagination and exploration. 

4. DDLG (Daddy Dom/Little Girl)

Another way to express dom/sub dynamic is through DDLG, where the dom is the “daddy,” and the sub is the “little girl.” (Note: this doesn’t have to be gendered. Take these terms as energetic descriptions, not age / genitalia-related.) 

The vibe of this play is one in which the daddy dom plays more of a caretaker role, while the little girl plays an innocent, perhaps child-like role. Here are some ways to play:

  • Start solo. If this kink profile sounds interesting to you, do some research on your own first: watch ethical porn, listen to audio erotica, etc. and see if this kink style is authentically compelling. 
  • If it is, try playing outside of the bedroom first: the daddy dom may treat his little with candy, get something special for the little to wear, tell them how cute they look. At this stage, we’re just building a vibe.
  • When you move to the having-sex stage, a fantastic way to heighten the energy is via dirty talk. Play with language here that draws attention to the roles you play: “are you being a good little girl?” Or perhaps: “please do that again, Daddy.”

Now let’s take a look at a couple of kink styles that are less about power, and more about transgression. Here are two common ways to express that “ooh, that feels naughty” transgressive feeling. 

5. Voyeurism

If your fantasies involve watching other people have sex, you might have a voyeur streak. Here are some ideas to explore voyeurism if you’re partnered – all, of course, with consent.

  • Watching your partner undress, shower, or bathe.
  • Watching your partner masturbate. You could either sit in the room with them or “secretly” watch them through a crack in the door.
  • Bringing another person into the bedroom (advanced kink play right here!), and watch your partner have sex with them.

Being a “voyeur” is one of the most common fantasies out there, for good reason: there’s the thrill of possibly getting caught, and for a lot of us, it’s enjoyable to watch partners “in their element” – when they don’t realize we’re there.

6. Exhibitionism

The flip side of voyeurism, of course, is exhibitionism. If your fantasies involve being watched, or the thrill of getting caught doing the act…you might be an exhibitionist. Here are some ideas to explore it.

  • Having sex outside. This could be somewhere relatively private, like your backyard
  • Or, you could go for something more bold: sex on a hike, or while you’re camping. (Note: exhibitionism, while fun, also involves the potential onlookers around you. Be courteous, and choose spots wisely.)
  • Having sex in a car: a little cramped, but sexy. You could try this one using lotus position, with both people in the passenger seat, receiving partner sitting in the lap of the giving partner.

Congratulations! You’ve now added more words to your sexual vocabulary, you’re well-acquainted with some common kink profiles, and you’ve also got lots of ideas for play. Now go forth, and enjoy all the kink the world has to offer.