Can BDSM Behavior Be Healthy?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Me and my boyfriend have been dating for more than 3 years, and about the get married soon, he was the one that introduced me into this world, I can’t help but feel that there is something wrong with this kind of passion to BDSM.
I never had any desire to give control to someone else or to be the one in control + I don’t get any pleasure out of feeling pain from spanking and other things.
I also think that violence is never a good sign, even if it’s in a small amount and never with the intent to hurt, that in itself tells my whole body and brain that this is wrong.
Another reason why it feels wrong to me is because having a fetish and to have the desire to give your control to someone else feels really unhealthy, destructive and unstable, also BDSM actions and behavior seems dirty to me! Lovemaking should be pure and warm; there is no need to use other devices and material stuff to feel it.

My question is, is it ok? Is it healthy? If so then how is good for the body and the brain?
My boyfriend was into it ever since he was a child, even before it was related to anything sexual.
I want to know what’s happening inside his brain? What creates and activates this desire in him? Also is it changeable what can make me be more acceptable and in peace towards it?

I don’t want to switch partners, he is the one I love and I plan to be with him for the rest of my life.

——

Boyfriend’s side:

As she said, I’ve always been excited from tying up (both giving and receiving), even since my initial sexual maturity at adolescence, and even prior to that.
I’ve been looking and exploring the subject for long, in theory (reading and watching online) and practice (tying up myself and seeing how it feels), from what I’ve read this is typical for people who are inherently into it.
Then when I finally met my lovely girlfriend, I soon gradually introduced her into this world, showing her everything that can be done with it.

We don’t have a “BDSM lifestyle”, and it is kept in the bedroom, but there we do and explore many aspects. Tying her up and playing with her body is major fun, and she enjoyed the strongest orgasms ever when she couldn’t move away and stop me in the middle of my actions.
From the physical aspect, I enjoy the helplessness; it’s arousing for me, both when I can do everything with her and when she can do everything for me.
The pain, in the right places and right amounts, is also arousing, again both giving and receiving.
Of course I never have any intention of causing harm, and we do everything to maintain safety and security, I’ve read a lot about it and give it much attention.

For me, if it’s something fun and safe, that we both enjoy doing, then there’s no reason to look for anything wrong with it. She is looking for a social norm, maybe a justification, even though it is only between us. She even started having her own new fantasies about it now, but perhaps feels guilty about it as if it is somehow wrong to want it or to enjoy it. Please explain to her that it is ok, she needs a “second opinion” :-)

A: Thank you both for your thoughtful and dynamic question. Within the practices of BDSM the rules in the bedroom are simple. A limit is set on what is and isn’t okay and these limits are respected. What is clear from the letters you have sent is that there is a discrepancy about what those emotional limits are for her. These need to be identified and agreed to and honored.

On the other side of the coin is the normalization of reciprocal control and restriction embedded in the process of attachment. Even the most basic affectionate embrace, a hug, involves mutual holding, restraining and then letting go.

The imbalance between the two of you is what needs to be adjusted and not holding it up to some generalized norm. I would work on it through conversation, but if there weren’t an agreement I would strongly encourage you to consult with a sex therapist or couples therapist to help sort through the discussion.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Can BDSM Behavior Be Healthy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/07/can-bdsm-behavior-be-healthy/