Open Relationship Benefit #4: Personal exploration... in bed

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me" ~ AJ McLean Before we delve further into this topic, I want to take a quick moment to divert your attention towards an online fortune cookie generator - because we all know that the fortune cookie sayings are 100x funnier when you add "in bed" at the end ;)
Defining Kink and Fetish
I did a quick look at what Urban Dictionary, Wikipedia, WikiAnswers, and had to say about what defines "kinky".  Two words popped up repeatedly in the definitions: unusual and deviant.  This means that that the "kink" label is used to classify sexual preferences that fall outside of what is culturally accepted as "normal". What is classified as "normal sex" within Western culture? It's the practices that are commonly labeled as vanilla sex: PIV intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation.  (Wikipedia is fun for impromptu research ;) ) So kink basically means everything else that's considered sexual or arousing.  :)  
Personal Explorations and Self-Acceptance
Remember when you were a kid, and there would be a new type of food on your plate? How did you react? Maybe you pushed at the piece of broccoli with your fork, hoping to have it slip off the plate and onto the floor.  Perhaps you hid those Lima beans under a piece of lettuce. Or, perhaps you scrunched your nose and looked at the food on your plate with mild disgust.  Remember what your parents would say in response?... "How do you know that you don't like it if you haven't tried it?" After holding back  your juvenile gag reflex and tasting the new food, maybe you accepted that you didn't care for it, and left it at that. But maybe, maybe, you tasted that food and found it delicious and wondered why the heck you put up such a fuss in the first place. While I'm not saying that you should push yourself to become sexually explorative, I am saying that there may be different types of sexual experiences - ones that you haven't tried before - that you may find pleasurable.  Some of them you may want to do again, or may start to fantasize about those sorts of experiences :) While understanding what "turns you on" may be a fun experience, it may be an emotionally challenging one as well.  A lot of us have been raised in a sex-negative culture: one that causes us to feel ashamed about our bodies and desires if they don't fit what culture deems as "normal".   It takes time and focus to change that guilt and shame into self-love and acceptance.  
Square Peg and Round Hole: Partners With Different Preferences
What if you (or your partner) has a particular kink that the other person isn't into? What do you do if both you and your partner are turned on by giving but not receiving, or vice versa? You or your partner could choose to deny that part of yourselves.  Or one partner could go along with it anyways in order to help fulfill the other partner's sexual need.   The third option would be to open up the relationship so that the partner could explore that aspect of their sexuality with someone that shares the same kink. As an example from my own situation (yes I got his consent before writing this!)- over the past few years my husband and I have discovered that he becomes more aroused when he takes control or is able to immobilize/bind his partner.  While I do like the occasional power exchange, he and I clash when it comes to his kinks involving dominance, bondage, and pain.   On the flip-side, I'm starting to explore my own leanings towards gender-queerness, something that Corey's curious about on an intellectual level but not interested in sexually.  Rather than repress these aspects of our sexuality, we are each allowing the other the opportunity to further explore those parts of ourselves.  
Homework assignment: Know thyself
There is a website dedicated to building an online community of people with diverse sexual preferences: FetLife.  This site is a mix of a personal network site (you complete a profile and can friend/connect yourself with other users), as well as a discussion board site.  On your profile, you can indicate which fetishes you are into or curious about and specify whether you prefer to be on the giving, receiving, wearing, or watching end.   They have a rather large list of kinks and fetishes to choose from for your profile, and there's more that aren't even shown on that page. I had to use the search feature to find a couple of kinks that weren't on the main list. Sign up, fill out a profile, and spend some time going through the kink list. Seriously consider your reactions as you go through the different options. Indicate the ones where you go "I'm into this" or "Oooh, I'm curious about this".  If you are in a relationship, encourage your partner to do the same on their own (no coaxing from you on the kink/fetish list) and review each other's choices. You may get new ideas on what to explore with each other :)  If there's some kinks that either of you have that the other's not interested in, and both of you are consenting, you now have a community to go to where you can explore those aspects of your sexuality. In addition to joining FetLife, if you are financially capable of doing so, consider donating to help promote further developments to the site.  To further pimp the donations part (since I support what this site is doing), here's the donation video that was published by one of the site owners: Untitled from JohnBaku on Vimeo.

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