When Kink is Out of Sync – How to Handle Mismatched Kinks

I am thinking it’s a sign

That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images

And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned

And I have to speculate

That God Himself did make us into corresponding shapes

Like puzzle pieces from the clay

–The Postal Service, “Such Great Heights”

Hey, my kinky polyam peeps! Even though, as a polyam person, I’ve acknowledged and embraced the concept that no one person is a perfect fit for another, I will say there is something romantic about the concept. The song the lyrics above were lifted from was Panda and I’s wedding song, and part of the reason we chose it were those exact lines: the idea that two people were just made for each other, like some divine destiny. I know it sounds silly, not to mention entirely impractical. Humans are complex creatures and the odds that someone will meet all your needs is so highly improbable that I would (and do) argue that it’s an unrealistic standard that needs to be thrown in the trash like so many antiquated concepts about romance.

Still, while no two people are a perfect fit, it is fair that we expect our partners to be at least a “relatively good” fit. While they may not meet 100% of our needs, they should meet at least a substantial portion. After all, if your partner isn’t satisfying you emotionally, why are you even with them in the first place? But what if one of those needs is something in which there’s just a strong fundamental mismatch? Something that is deeply important to one or both of you, and the other partner simply can’t meet it. What do we do then?

Kink is not just a taboo subject outside the community, but a sensitive and often intimate one within it. While generally not as deeply ingrained into one’s identity as their sexuality or gender, like polyamory, it’s roots can run quite deep into one’s psyche, and having kink needs go unfulfilled will often be treated as a deal-breaker. For a kinky person, them and their kinks are a package deal, and while their partner need not engage in those kinks with them, they absolutely must have an outlet for them.

So how can a partnership not just survive but thrive when there is a fundamental mismatch in kinks. There’s where I come in. As a bratty, masochistic submissive nested with another masochistic submissive, Panda and I are a real-world example of how you can make it work, and we’re here to say, “Don’t give up hope”, because options are out there.

As always, before we get started, let’s do the infodump:

For this article, I pulled information from this November 2022 article from Mashable, this May 2020 advice piece from The Guardian, this November 2021 article from Lovers, and finally this May 2021 article from one of my favorite sites, Psychology Today.

Compromise is an important component of every relationship. It’s unrealistic to expect we can get everything we want all the time, and the concepts of empathy and compersion tell us our partner’s happiness is something that will help our relationships grow and thrive. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to concede on every point of contention, but it does mean we must attempt to find common ground. Because kink can be such an intimate aspect of someone’s life, finding said compromise can often be tricky. If you and your partner have mismatched kinks, there are three main avenues that you can pursue.

1. Try it out – When Panda and I first entered the BDSM community nearly a decade ago, she made it very clear that she wanted to explore what it meant to be a submissive. Because I really had no interest in kink but wanted to make her happy, I gladly went along with her to the munches, classes, and house parties and did my best to satisfy her. One of the tenured members of the community and my mentor even offered to take me under his wing and teach me how to be a Dominant.

While I experimented with that mindset for over a year, I ultimately decided it wasn’t for me, and if not for Penguin, I probably would have carried on much longer than I did. The point is I was open to the concept and didn’t immediately cringe at Panda’s suggestions. Now, this is not to say than you or your partner should feel coerced into doing anything that makes them uncomfortable. The first thing my mentor asked me to do was get educated. He told to get a copy of “The Loving Dominant” by John and Libby Warren, and I read that book quite voraciously. I learned not just what Dominance meant, by a lot about BDSM in general, and while the book is geared toward the “left side of the slash”, I believe reading it has made me a better submissive.

As the Psychology Today article states, if you are uncomfortable engaging in your partner’s kinks, there may be more than one way to “scratch that itch”. For instance, if your partner likes to be spanked, ask why that specific kink appeals to them. If it’s the pain, are their other ways you can help them enjoy masochism without being the one inflicting that hurt. If it’s the idea of vulnerability, there’s lots of other options in which your partner can achieve that sensation that you might be open to. I currently don’t have a BDSM dynamic with Vixen as she has made it very clear that she can’t be “someone who hurts people”. That’s not to say that it doesn’t turn me on when she uses her “Mom Voice” on me.

2. Find a Dance Partner – As complex as people are, it amazes me how we are able to partner up at all. As a polyam person, it makes me wonder how I was able to function in monogamy as long as I did. The amount of compromise that has to go into making a relationship last is tremendous, and kink only complicates matters.

While technically not under the umbrella of Ethical Nonmonogamy, there’s a significant amount of overlap between the two communities, and I have no doubt that it’s due to the difficulty in finding a partner that matches your desired kinks. Unless you and your partner met at a kink munch or party, chances are, when you and your partner begin to explore kink, you’ll find there are many things in which you’re just not on the same wavelength. “How do you feel about me calling you ‘Mommy’?” simply isn’t typical first date conversation.

It should be no surprise then that a significant portion of the kink community typically engages in some sort of ENM as well. While not everyone goes as far as exploring polyamory, unless they’re engaged in a 24/7 dynamic, chances are that Dom or Sub that you’ve met is engaging in play with more than one person. This tactic is what has enabled Panda and I to continue to be part of the kink community despite having a traditional, vanilla relationship. Because Panda and I were already engaged with the ENM community for a number of years before we began exploring BDSM, the idea of having seperate Dominants just seemed natural

If ENM isn’t something you’re comfortable with, know that finding and outside kink partner isn’t the same as becoming romantically or sexually involved with someone. Yes, kink can sometimes become sexual, and more often than not it does involve an emotional investment. This isn’t to say that “no sex” can’t be an agreement that you and your partner can decide on. Kink relationships can live on the purely platonic level, and as someone who has done scenes with a platonic friend, I can say they still bring an immense amount of satisfaction. I will say that the same chemicals that flood our brain during a scene are the same ones that can create emotional and romantic attachment, so be aware that the risk of your partner “wanting more” is a very real possibility.

3. Grin and Bear It – Not every love story is meant to have a happy ending. Everyone is allowed to have boundaries, and sometimes those boundaries inherently conflict with the desires of our partners. That’s not to say that the relationship can’t succeed and in fact thrive. It simply means that there will be a piece that will be missing. As I said earlier in this piece, human beings are complex creatures and we cannot expect us to be able to be the source of all our partner’s happiness. Some gaps in our relationships are manageable and can be worked around. Others are large and may cause a strain that could turn out to be too big to bear.

That wraps it up for this piece. I’ll say it does feel good to get back to writing on a regular basis. Stay tuned for our next piece on the Relationship Autonomy Index where we help you find out exactly where you may land on the ENM scale.

Until next time, stay kinky, my friends…

–The Bratty Cat

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: