Okay, first things first: Kinky sex isn't just about spanking.
Not that spanking is off limits or anything, but kink includes a whole spectrum of behaviors beyond BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism). It could involve anything from roleplaying, to blindfolds and feathery props, to having a threesome, or even pegging.
“Kink is a broad term that generally refers to sexual practices that are ‘non-normative’ in that they extend beyond typical or common sexual behaviors,” explains Michael Aaron, PhD, a certified sex therapist and sexologist in New York.
More From Women's Health
The biggest rule: If you and your partner are both interested in kinky sex, have an open conversation about what it is about kink that's a turn-on, and what you're comfortable trying, says Jenni Skyler, PhD, a certified sex therapist, sexologist, and director of The Intimacy Institute in Colorado. "Having a game plan and setting up a safeword is important,” she says.
From there, “take baby steps,” says Skyler. “Enjoy it, get acclimated, and then take a few more baby steps. Keep exploring until you find what feels good for you.”
Something that’s also important to note: Kink doesn’t have to be overly adventurous or extreme. If vanilla sex is more your thing, you can still embrace your kinky side and explore what works for you.
Meet the experts: Michael Aaron, PhD is a certified sex therapist and sexologist in New York.
Jenni Skyler, PhD is a certified sex therapist, sexologist, and director of the Intimacy Institute in Colorado.
Gloria Brame, PhD is a sex therapist and certified sexologist based in Athens, GA.
Alejandra Lucatero is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in sexual health at the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Janet Brito, PhD is an AASECT-certified sex therapist and founder of the Sexual Health School.
Courtney Padjen, PhD is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a sex and relationship therapist at the Centre for Sexual Wellness.
Elyssa Helfer, PhD is a certified clinical sexologist with the American Board of Sexology and an AASECT-certified sex therapist.
David Ortmann, LCSW is a psychotherapist and sex therapist in New York and California.
“The beauty of kink is that the possibilities are limitless,” says Elyssa Helfer, PhD, a certified clinical sexologist with the American Board of Sexology and AASECT-certified sex therapist and marriage and family therapist. “While some representations of kink involve elaborate outfits, expensive equipment, and renting out a dungeon space for a scene, for many kinksters, simply shifting language can be enough to turn a vanilla experience into a kinky one. It’s about adventure, creativity, openness, and fun.”
If you’re not sure where to start, read on for 26 expert-approved kinky sex ideas you and your partner(s) will love—but first, some safety precautions and communication tips.
How should I approach kink with my partner?
First, no matter what kind of kink you’re trying out, it’s always a good idea to have safewords, or non-sexual code words you can use (like “yellow” to pause or check in, and “red” to stop or end the scene). Try coming up with a few and practice using them during sexual situations, says Gloria Brame, PhD, a certified sex therapist.
As you venture into kinkier sex, Brame recommends asking your partner about their favorite kinds of porn, their fantasies, and their erotic secrets—and sharing your own. Before jumping into this one, make sure you’re both ready to have a non-judgmental outlook on what the other might disclose, she says. “The pressure is to listen with an open mind and learn more about who they are inside, sexually,” she says. “Your real goal is to listen for ideas that you could both safely act on and which you either don’t mind doing for them or actually would love to do to them.”
If you and your partner(s) are curious about engaging in BDSM but not sure where to start, you can always take an online test to figure out your interests, and then compare answers. “Don’t assume that you know anything in the questions. Google is your best friend to look things up [while you answer],” says Courtney Padjen, PhD, LMFT, director and sex and relationship therapist at the Centre for Sexual Wellness. From there, you can move forward and think about how you want to incorporate these interests in the bedroom.
If you're interested in impact play—which can mean anything from spanking to flogging to using a crop or a paddle—you'll also want to familiarize yourself with necessary safety measures. “There are certain areas that you shouldn’t hit… even when it comes to something as simple as spanking. If you get more advanced, you might want to use [other tools],” says Padjen. Try going to an impact class, which will give you and your partner an opportunity to try intermediate-level toys in a safe and supervised space.
The same suggestion applies if you and your partner are interested in exploring a dom-sub dynamic. “Taking a course is definitely going to be a good teacher of what the possibilities are,” she says. You can find classes and workshops online or in-person at your local sex toy shop.
Ahead, 26 expert-approved kink ideas for your next sexy night in:
1. Grab a blindfold.
Chances are, you have a scarf, a sleep mask, or a tie laying around your bedroom somewhere—tying one on deprives you (or your partner) of one of your main senses, making all the others—touch, taste, smell, sound—all the more electrifying. “In doing this, you can experience pleasure in a different way,” explains David Ortmann, L.C.S.W., a psychotherapist and sex therapist in New York and California. Blindfolding also underscores a kinky power imbalance, he says, leaving your partner at the mercy of your touch.
2. Play with a simple restraint.
On that note, belts, ties, and scarfs can also be an easy, un-intimidating way to experiment with restraint (a.k.a. bondage). “Really, trying it out is as simple as using a bandana or scarf to restrain someone’s hands," Ortmann says.
You can also pick up a beginner's kink kit that includes things like blindfolds and fuzzy handcuffs, says Skyler. “Most sexuality stores sell beginner packages that also include things like a feather on a stick for sensation play or a soft flogger for spanking,” she says.
3. Go to a sex dungeon.
Before you freak out, BDSM dungeons can actually be a great place to observe kinky sex from the sidelines—the experts really recommend them. “Many local dungeons have beginner classes where you can practice things like rope tying and spanking,” says Skyler. This is also a great place to learn some kink safety tips.
But if you draw the line at the word “dungeon,” check out classes on kink that are offered by your local sex-positive sex shop to pick up some kinky tips in the bright light of day. Ortmann recommends The Pleasure Chest. “The people in there will treat you like you’re at Macy’s trying on a blouse—it’s very not scary,” he says.
4. Start spanking.
Spanking can be a surprisingly intimate way to get into kink. “It can be something that’s actually bonding because it's tactile and involves skin-to-skin contact,” explains Ortmann. “But it also involves a power exchange.” Start light—a swat with your hand or a fuzzy padded flogger from your local sex-positive shop can be a good way to ease into things.
5. Play dress up.
Whether your fantasy is a silk French maid get-up, hot cop outfit studded with leather, or a fuzzy animal print catsuit, costumes can be a fun way to get kinky. “Something I might say is 'we haven’t played with clothing yet—tell me what would make you feel sexy and naughty to be dressed in and tell me what turns you on to see me in,'” Ortmann says. This can also be a great segue into role playing.
6. Talk dirty.
Good old fashioned dirty talk can be a great way to start playing with the power dynamics that are so prevalent in kinky sex. “There are things that we can say to our partners to push their buttons,” Ortmann explains. For example, some kink connoisseurs find that being called derogatory names during sex gets them off.
Just tread carefully. “If something is loaded, like the word ‘whore,’ you want to check in with your partner before you use it,” says Ortmann. “Learn which words are powerful for them in a positive way—do they want to be coaxed and seduced or ordered?”
7. Get wet (yep, as in pee).
“Urinating on your partner [or being urinated on] is more common than people realize—it’s a hugely intimate act,” Ortmann says. “It can be incredibly humiliating and degrading for the receiver and incredibly powerful for the giver.”
It’s not for everyone, but if this kink has you intrigued, get your feet wet (pun intended) in the shower, Ortmann advises. Next time you’re taking a steamy shower together, ask your partner how they would feel if you peed. “The safest place to start that is really in the shower—you’re going to be clean in two seconds,” he says.
8. Sit back and watch.
Voyeurism—giving your partner a strip tease, letting your partner watch you touch yourself, or simply enjoying being objectified while naked—is a more approachable kink. “It has a power dynamic but not a tremendous one,” says Ortmann. “It’s not so psychologically deep that you can’t just trade roles after 10 minutes.”
9. Use a mirror.
Full-body mirrors can have more than just one purpose. “Having sex in front of a mirror can be an introduction to engage in voyeurism or exhibitionism,” says Alejandra Lucatero, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in sexual health at the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health in Honolulu, Hawaii. Doing so will not only allow you to get a view of the action from different angles, but you’ll also be able to see all the faces and reactions you and your partner have during sex.
10. Make a sex menu.
See a few interesting ideas but still shy about initiating? “I recommend couples use menus,” says Aaron. Here’s how it works: On your next date night, write down which kinky sex ideas sound interesting and have your partner do the same. When you’re done, swap menus and pick two things from each others' lists, Aaron explains.
“Now you’ve collectively chosen four items and need to collaborate on how to put a scene together,” he says. For example, come up with a story to role play that involves a little dress up, blindfolding, and getting spanked. “It can be a lot of fun sexually," says Aaron. "Plus, working together this way also improves the relationship and intimacy."
11. Try edging.
If you like teasing or being teased, then you’ll probably enjoy edging. ICYDK, edging is when one partner brings the other close to climax and then stops. The process repeats as long as desired, and often results in stronger orgasms. To test this out, Brame recommends bringing bondage into the mix. “Tell your partner that the only way they can be freed is when they beg for relief. Then, use your hands, fingers, lips, or any toys you like [on them]. Your goal is to get them excited and edge them,” she says.
12. Get creative with unexpected sex toys.
If you don’t have certain toys, you can improvise using household items. A wooden spoon, a hairbrush, a fork, or even a spatula can work well. “Any of the above can suddenly become erotic if you use them sensually on your partner,” says Brame. “Some of them can also be used for spanking or applying pain to small targeted areas anywhere on their body they consent to feel some painful sensations.”
13. Try body worship.
Body worship can apply to your butt, breasts, feet, and more. Not sure how to set the scene? To start, Brame recommends that the worshiped partner sit in a chair or on the edge of a bed or couch, and while the worshiper kneels by the other’s feet to establish a power dynamic. “Body worship means kissing, sucking, or licking whatever part of the body turns you on,” she says.“Yes, that can also include oral sex if you wish, but make sure one partner is on the ground while the other is above, so you both can enjoy the power dynamics implicit in the position.”
14. Indulge in praise kink.
Regardless of the role you like to take on in the bedroom, hearing words of affirmation can feel amazing. At the end of the day, your partner wants to please you, and vice versa. And if one of you happens to have a praise kink, the opportunities to indulge in it are limitless. “These can range from 'I love how you do that' to simply saying ‘Good girl (or boy),’” says Brame. “Feed their souls by letting them know they are pleasing you, and you appreciate every sensation you’re receiving from them.”
15. Incorporate a little punishment.
Yes, it’s called punishment, but you can also think of it like “funishment.” “Start very, very gently if your partner is inexperienced,” says Brame. “Most [kinksters] prefer to give punishments in a playful way, so please don’t do this out of [real] anger or frustration!” In other words, make sure you’re level-headed when providing or receiving punishment. And remember, just like any other kinky act, punishment requires ongoing consent.
16. Try roleplaying.
For many people, roleplay can feel nerve-wracking and maybe even a bit embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be. “Roleplay is your friend,” says Brame. “Make your partner call you by a name that reflects your chosen role, and cross the bounds of decency (for fun and mutual pleasure) by making them surrender to your erotic whims. Dressing for the role is optional but could be exciting for both of you.” Roleplay can mean pretending to be a teacher, nurse, or fitness instructor, depending on your fantasies.
17. Ease into objectification.
Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like: treat your partner like an object for your own pleasure. “This could be a footstool, or a table, or another type of furniture, but the most important part is the mind-bending aspect of them being unable to speak or make sounds (except for their safe word!) while you treat them as that object of choice,” says Brame. Additionally, you can incorporate some form of discipline by giving a light spank or pinch if they act out of their role.
18. Masturbate together.
People think of solo time when they think of masturbation, but engaging in mutual masturbation can take things to another level. “Masturbation is typically seen as something you do behind closed doors, away, or hidden from your partner,” says Lucatero. Watching your partner get off (and vice versa) can really intensify your experience, she adds.
Need a toy? Here are just a few...
19. Use toys in new ways.
Keep it simple with this one. For example, you can use a vibrator that may be primarily for clit stimulation and use it on your nipples instead. “Use a blindfold around a penis instead of a cock ring, or use Shibari rope for sensation play instead of a flogger,” says Lucatero. Using different textures to stimulate various body parts (so long as it’s safe to do so) can keep things interesting and exciting.
20. Have sex in different rooms.
The bedroom might be your go-to spot for sex, but sometimes, all you need is a change in environment. And no, that doesn’t mean you have to resort to car sex—although if that’s what you’re into, go for it! Try other rooms like the living room, the bathroom, or the kitchen, suggests Lucatero.
21. Watch porn together.
Sharing your favorite porn with your partner can be a vulnerable experience, but it’s a great way to introduce them to your kinks. And if you're concerned that porn videos won’t accurately portray your kinks, consider sending them your favorite kinky audio porn or erotic stories.
“[Your partner] may find it arousing, and one thing might turn into another,” says Lucatero. “Leave it on during sex and pretend you’re engaging in a threesome, foursome, or an orgy. Watch while you have sex, imagine them watching you, or use it instead of sensual music.”
22. Hit the record button.
Sure, a mirror can be great, but making a video and recording yourselves (with consent, of course) can allow you to tap into voyeurism and exhibitionism kinks even more. “Record yourselves, and pretend someone is watching. Later, go back and watch yourselves to continue the fun, or watch next time you find yourself in the mood and masturbate to it,” says Lucatero. This can be an especially useful suggestion if you don’t love the idea of watching porn but still want to have something to watch later.
23. Sext throughout the day.
If your flirting game is on point, you’ll love this idea. Spend the day texting your partner about everything you want to do with or to each other when you next see each other. Then, you can play out your conversation IRL.
“By connecting throughout the day and talking sexually to each other, you are creating a buildup and bodily tension that will naturally need a release,” says Janet Brito, PhD, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and the founder of The Sexual Health School. “After work, agree to meet at a bar to continue the flirty sexting, until you've created enough anticipation that you are ready to give in to sexual ecstasy.”
24. Pretend you're strangers.
This one is as straightforward as it sounds, but there are several factors you can play with. For starters, you can take it as an opportunity to put your best flirting skills to use. You might also find yourself putting in extra effort to seduce your partner. “If you have financial means [to rent a hotel], imagine that you are meeting for the first time, enjoying a night on the town and each other,” says Brito.
25. Have sex outside.
Having sex outdoors can feel adventurous and give you a fun, sexy adrenaline rush. Maybe you enjoy the underlying fear of getting caught, or perhaps you like the idea that someone might be watching. Whatever your reasoning, just be careful about accidentally breaking public indecency laws. If you're somewhere remote or close enough to a camping site, try breaking out a tent and getting it on there, suggests Brito. “In some states, having sex in public is against the law, but you most likely can enjoy some kinky sex in your tent. Of course, make sure you are mindful of your neighbors,” she says.
26. Attend a play party.
Play parties allow you to lean into voyeurism or exhibitionism, depending on your mood and the rules of the space you’re in. “You get to watch other people, and there are also some other parties where clothing may be optional in the play space,” says Padjen. Additionally, play parties are an opportunity to meet or play with other kinksters, learn from them, or simply socialize.
What about aftercare?
No matter what kind of kink you're trying out, aftercare is a must. It’s often done after a scene ends, or whenever someone safewords out of a scene. “While we often focus on the psychological and physical aspects of kink play, we cannot overlook the many physiological shifts that occur as well,” says Helfer. “Aftercare addresses all of these aspects, allowing room for tending to any wounds or physical concerns, managing emotional and psychological care, and gently regulating if an altered state of consciousness was experienced during the play itself.”
Aftercare can look very different from person to person, so it’s always best to negotiate the kind of care you’d like before engaging. Some people prefer a warm blanket and something light to snack on, while others prefer alone time or talking things out. Whatever your needs are, make sure to communicate them as much as possible to avoid sub-drop (that is, when uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings creep up after a scene). This can occur anywhere from minutes to days after engaging in play. Asking each other questions about what the experience was like will help with processing and ensure proper regulation.
Got it? Great! Now, go ahead and grab that blindfold.
Macaela MacKenzie is a journalist covering women’s equality. Her work focuses on sports, the gender gap across industries, and breaking down stigmas in women's health. She has over 2,000 bylines for outlets including Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, Women's Health, SELF and Forbes. She's currently working on her first book on women's equality in sports.
Sabrina is an editorial assistant for Women’s Health. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, training in mixed martial arts, or reading.