Sub in the City

Imposter syndrome and kink shaming in BDSM

Imposter Syndrome and kink-shaming in BDSM

In a world dominated by social media, we have grown ever-so hard on ourselves, constantly comparing our journeys and achievements to others, wondering if we are enough. Imposter Syndrome is the psychological pattern of self-doubt, where we tell ourselves we’re not good enough or we’re a ‘fraud’. This often creeps in when reflecting on our careers or our life choices, but it can also be common in the bedroom too. Imposter syndrome and kink-shaming in BDSM are common, but it’s important to remember that you are enough!

Our sexuality is something so unique and special to each of us, yet many of us feel ashamed of it.  We give in to peer pressure to do things we’re not into or feel obliged to suppress our desires to fall in line with what’s considered the norm. But when it comes to BDSM (or sex in general for that matter) it’s important to know that, whatever your kinks, you are enough.

One of the leading causes of imposter syndrome and kink-shaming in BDSM is pornography. The world has such warped views on what sex should be, that we end up totally disappointed or putting ourselves down for not being good enough. Well, let me break it to you, the sex you are striving for doesn’t exist. And I promise you that that’s only the sex you think you want.

I often recommend people watch porn together as a tool to dissect their own fantasies and start exploring them in the bedroom. But there’s a huge emphasis on the fantasy there. Fantasies don’t always translate well into reality, so while pornography can be enjoyed as part of a healthy sex life, it’s important to put more focus on creating your own reality, rather than comparing yourself to what you see on screen.

I can honestly say the BDSM community is so incredibly open and welcoming – and it makes sense that some of the least judgemental people you’ll meet are in fact incredibly kinky. But despite kink-shaming being a big no-no when it comes to BDSM etiquette, these stereotypes are still present in our subconscious, resulting in many of us continuing to feel like we’re not good enough, even if we think we accept our kinks.

It’s time to put a stop to imposter syndrome and kink-shaming in BDSM and accept ourselves and others. If you think you’re experiencing imposter syndrome in the bedroom, here are a few things to remember to enjoy a happy and healthy sex life…

Your kinks do not define you

Your sexuality is undoubtedly a huge part of your identity, but it’s important to remember that you are not defined by what you like in the bedroom, like, at all. Your kinks make up just one part of you, and if someone honestly believes that your desire for your partner to peg you makes you a bad person, then they’re probably not the right person for you.

The point is, even if one kink isn’t someone cup of tea, that doesn’t mean they should judge you if it’s your flavour brew, and vice versa. Dating as a kinky person can be difficult at times, but it’s important not to let your desire to find a 100% kink-match cloud your judgement. While sexual compatibility is super important for a happy and healthy relationship, you also need to have more in common than just sex, otherwise, it probably isn’t going to last.

Maybe you’re better off saving the fact you like to be tied up and gagged for once you’ve been on at least a few dates. And I’m not saying that because you’ll receive judgement on your kinks, I’m saying that to allow you not to judge others based on your kinks. It’s a two-way street. Check out my post ‘online dating when you’re kinky’ for more on what NOT to do.

Everyone’s definition of sex is different

One of the reasons we experience imposter syndrome and kink-shaming in BDSM is because we compare our experiences to others’ experiences, but everyone’s definition of kinky will vary. What may be super-kinky and out-there for some may be just another Tuesday night for others. And that’s okay.

Kink is not a competition, there is no qualification in BDSM, and as I have said time and time again, if there is someone claiming to have graduated from Dom school and is the Dom to end all Dom’s – they’re full of shit.

And this is why boundaries are so important when it comes to BDSM and sex in general. You must respect others definitions of what sex is for them, and what they do and do not enjoy. What particularly comes to mind for me here is allowing your limits to be pushed because you want someone to like you. This is straight up peer pressure and is another major reason why imposter syndrome/kink-shaming exists within the BDSM world.

If someone ever makes you feel bad for not having tried a certain position, or if someone ever tells you that what they like is “much more hardcore” than you, that is kink-shaming! As I teach in my workshops, BDSM is a journey and one that is totally unique to you. You don’t need to worry about having all the gear, going to all the parties, posting your experiences online, if that’s not for you or if you’re not ready. That doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to call yourself a part of the community.

BDSM is all about pleasure-seeking, but if the thought of going to a fetish club or sending nudes to someone makes you incredibly anxious, don’t do it! In doing something you’re uncomfortable with, you’re going against the whole point of exploring BDSM.

Accepting yourself is the key to all pleasure

Whether you’re open about your kinks publicly or not, what matters the most is that you accept yourself and your kinks wholeheartedly.

Why is it that the topic of sex is so taboo when it is one of the most natural urges in the world? And why do we feel awkward or embarrassed about pleasure itself? Even those with partners they love and trust can find it truly difficult to express themselves sexually, and this more often than not is down to the pressure we put on ourselves more than anything else.

This is also down to societal stereotypes on what is considered ‘the norm’, and some kinks suffer more than others. For example, society often demands that men be Dominant, which can often make those who identify as male and wish to explore their submissive side feel as though this is something to be ashamed of.

It can be extremely difficult when you want to explore your kinks but don’t have a willing partner, and this is when we can become inclined to push our boundaries in order to fit in with other people’s kinks, longing for at least a little bit of pleasure at the expense of our own fantasies.

While I encourage everyone to be flexible, open-minded and open to compromise when exploring your kinks with someone, you also need to keep your boundaries clear and intact. And remember this goes both ways. If you are into breath play but your partner is anxious about it, don’t push them into doing something they aren’t entirely happy with just to get a few kicks. Trust cannot be built this way and you’ll never truly reach your sex goals until you’re on an even playing field.

Stop kink-shaming and start kink-sharing

If you want to get started with sharing and exploring your kinks, whether that be with a long term partner or a play partner, then a great way to do this is to both write down a list of things you’d like to try or think you might like to try (do this separately). Then, compare the lists and see what mutual kinks come up. Also discuss things that didn’t match, and chat about your reasons for liking/disliking certain things. This is a light-hearted exercise that not only helps you align your kinks with someone but also gets you practicing saying them out loud without shame or fear of judgement.

Happy kink sharing!

If you’d like to find out more about the world of BDSM then keep an eye out for my series of workshops that cover everything from an introduction to BDSM to impact play, scene-setting, subspace, and more. You can also follow me for all things kink-related on Instagram and Twitter.