Parents Found Out I am into BDSM

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I am an 18 year old and my parents found out I am into BDSM. They insist BDSM is demented and only “crazy people” engage in it. What do I do?

Number one is you are not “crazy” or “demented” for engaging in BDSM and you are a legal consenting adult in the United States. There is also nothing wrong with young person exploring their sexuality and sex preferences. Some Individuals talk about it as if there is something wrong with it, or wrong with people who are interested in enjoying BDSM. Usually theses people who think it’s wrong have not heard about it properly, or think that various kinds of sexuality are wrong. We call this Kink Phobia and it can harm people. You can watch a documentary about Kink Phobia Here!

Kink is Normal

Wanting to experience or give some kinds of sensations, and/or wanting to explore different kinds of wielding or giving power with someone, is absolutely okay. What’s important is caring about everyone’s physical, mental and emotional health, well-being, and safety; and not wanting to do anything against the other person’s wishes or that would actually harm someone.

Some people get very jumpy and concerned about the idea of younger people being interested in BDSM, and that’s mostly because of a few misunderstandings. First, some people have trouble with the idea that young people have any kind of sexuality or sexual feelings, and think that maybe the whole topic of sexuality is wrong or inappropriate because of age.

Some people do realize that they’re interested in BDSM while they’re still fairly young. You’re definitely not alone! It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong or strange about you. It’s natural for people to become aware of their own interests and preferences over a very big range of ages, and different people will discover different things about their own self at very different ages.

Here is are some research findings for individuals who do engage in BDSM. Which you can use to educate your parents if you wish. I would gauge whether or not they would be open to learning before pushing it onto them. If they are not open to learning then it will be a boundary you need to set with them;. The topic of your sex life is now off limits for conversation unless they are willing to listen with the intention of understanding. You can also shut down the topic of conversation entirely. I would also explain that shame you for your sexual preferences in teaching you that it is not okay to be different and have the freedom to express yourself. Which means they are not safe people to come to if you have questions or concerns surrounding this topic or relationships.

Is BDSM Mentally Healthy?

No. Early psychologists viewed BDSM-related interests as pathological—leading many in the kink community to feel intense shame about their desires. Today, however, many researchers and clinicians acknowledge that BDSM can be part of healthy sexual expression. However, if the interests and behaviors involve non-consenting parties or cause the individual distress, they may indicate a mental health disorder. A substantial amount of research literature shows that BDSM players are no more likely than the general population to suffer psychiatric problems, and they have no psychological disorders unique to their kinky proclivities:

  • A Los Angeles investigator administered standard psychological tests to several hundred BDSM aficionados and concluded they were mentally healthy. 
  • Australian researchers surveyed 19,370 Aussies aged 16 to 59. Among the 2.2 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women who called themselves committed to BDSM, all tested psychologically healthy and reported no disproportionate history of childhood sexual abuse or any sexual trauma.  
  • University of Illinois scientists took before and after saliva samples from 58 BDSM players. They measuring their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. After BDSM scenes, the participants’ cortisol levels decreased significantly. This shows that their BDSM play reduced their stress levels chemically.
  • Dutch researchers gave standard personality tests to 902 BDSM players and 434 controls. The same proportions of both groups tested psychologically healthy, but the kinksters were “less neurotic, more conscientious, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, less sensitive to rejection, and showed greater subjective well-being.” Those who scored most mentally healthy were the doms, followed by the subs, and in the last place, the conventionally sexual (vanilla) controls.          
  • Finally, researchers at Idaho State University asked 935 kinksters what BDSM meant to them: personal freedom (90 percent), adventure (91 percent), self-expression (91 percent), stress relief (91 percent), positive emotions (97 percent), and above all, pleasure (99 percent).        

BDSM players are a cross-section of the population, the people next door, mentally healthy and typical in every respect—except that they find vanilla sex unfulfilling and want something more exciting and intimate.

References

Bezreh, T., Weinberg, T. S., & Edgar, T. (2012). BDSM Disclosure and Stigma Management: Identifying Opportunities for Sex Education. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(1), 37-61. doi: 10.1080/15546128.2012.650984

Bourdage, J. S., Lee, K., Ashton, M. C., & Perry, A. (2007). Big Five and HEXACO model personality correlates of sexuality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(6), 1506-1516. doi: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886907001584

Gaither, G. A., & Sellbom, M. (2003). The Sexual Sensation Seeking Scale: Reliablity and Validity Within a Heterosexual College Student Sample. Journal of Personality Assessment, 81(2), 157-167. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa8102_07

Malouff, J. M., Thorsteinsson, E. B., & Schutte, N. S. (2005). The Relationship Between the Five-Factor Model of Personality and Symptoms of Clinical Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 27(2), 101-114.

Richters, J., De Visser, R. O., Rissel, C. E., Grulich, A. E., & Smith, A. M. A. (2008). Demographic and Psychosocial Features of Participants in Bondage and Discipline, “Sadomasochism” or Dominance and Submission (BDSM): Data from a National Survey. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5(7), 1660-1668. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00795.x

Wismeijer, A., & van Assen, M. (2008). Do neuroticism and extraversion explain the negative association between self-concealment and subjective well-being? Personality and Individual Differences, 45(5), 345-349. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2008.05.002

Wismeijer, A. A. J., & van Assen, M. A. L. M. (2013). Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, n/a-n/a. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12192

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