My Girlfriend and I Enjoy Rough Sex—Is There Something Wrong With Us?
I don’t think that there's anything wrong with you or your girlfriend. Many people enjoy rough sex, roleplays or rape fantasies. This type of play isn't necessarily connected to past abuse and as long as it's safe, consensual and both people enjoy it, it can be a pleasurable part of people’s sex lives.
The key words there are safe, consensual and enjoyable. It sounds like you and your girlfriend talked beforehand about her fantasies and what she enjoys, and you were willing to try some new types of play to see if you enjoyed them too. This type of communication is essential to any type of sexual relationship, but especially one where rough sex or restraints are used. So, it’s great that the two of you were able to discuss your desires honestly and openly.
Roleplays that involve forced or coercive sex can be powerfully erotic because they involve extreme dominance and submission and explore what may be a person’s darkest fears, and for that reason, it’s important to fully discuss any rape scenarios before enacting them. What types of words, actions or restraints are OK? What are off-limits? Do you have a “safe word”—a mutually agreed-upon word or phrase that will instantly stop the scenario if either party says it—in case things get too intense? Both people have to genuinely feel that it is OK to use this safe word, not only the person in the submissive role, but also the person in the dominant role. Enacting a scenario in which you are playing a rapist can bring up a lot of emotions and questions.
It’s also important to talk with each other after an intense scene. Check in with each other and share how you’re feeling and what you liked or didn’t like about the scene. Leave time to decompress and take care of each other physically with a glass of water, cuddling or other activities that will bring you back down to “real life.”
There are some people who are survivors of sexual or physical abuse who practice kinky play and find some release or healing by being able to experience intense sensations or dominance/submission within a safe space that is under their control. That doesn't mean that everyone who enjoys kink or BDSM has been abused. However, it’s an important topic to discuss, and if someone is a survivor of abuse, extra care should be taken to discuss words or actions that could be potentially triggering (reminding the person of their past abuse). Someone who has been triggered may not be physically able to say a safe word or otherwise stop a scenario.
Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.