Sex Advice

The BDSM Test Is the Get-To-Know-Your-Kink Diagnostic So Many Sexologists Recommend

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsSeptember 16, 2020

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BDSM is a tidy acronym for a broad range of sexual preferences that relate to physical control, usually broken into six components, “bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism,” according to Ali Hebert and Angela Weaver, professors in the department of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University, writing in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. And it can be a safe, consensual avenue for exploring the kinks that comprise your unique sexual fingerprint. But for the uninitiated, BDSM can conjure images of how it’s portrayed in pop culture—and let’s just say, Fifty Shades of Grey is not it. Sexologists and sex educators say that IRL BDSM is more about communication with yourself and your partner than it is about Red Rooms of Pain. And to get that conversation started, there’s an online BDSM test that can help you safely learn your tastes.

The first version of the BDSM Test launched in 2014 and it—or similar quizzes like the Sex Personality Test —is often used by sexologists and sex educators with their clients. The BDSM Test is free and works by asking you the degree to which you agree with certain statements related to your sexual appetite. Statements include, “I want my partner to serve me and address me as a superior” and, “I like to be dominated, especially in the bedroom.” At the end of the test, takers will learn the degree to which BDSM “archetypes” fit their particular desires. For instance, you may be 67 percent exhibitionist (or someone who enjoys showing their naked body to other people), 42 percent voyeur (someone who enjoys watching sexual acts), or 15 percent switch (someone who alternates between submissive and dominant behaviors).

Taking the test requires you to do some personal reflection, and sex educator Shanae Adams, LPCC, says that it’s this self-examination that makes the test worth taking. “I think this quiz is for everyone who has an interest in learning more about themselves and their sexual appetites,” she says, adding that she often uses it with BDSM-curious clients. “This quiz is also great for generating discussion and providing language [for talking to your sexual partner]. It can help people become illuminated on what they don’t know and give them a direction to explore in regards to what turns them on and makes them feel good.”

“You definitely can’t know where you’re going [sexually] if you don’t have a place to start.” —Shamyra Howard, LCSW, sexologist

Sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW, adds that the archetypes can be particularly enlightening. “This test can help a person understand their kinks and possibly permit them to explore them. I like that the test gives you a scale to choose from [with each statement] and also gives percentages [with your results]. This can help you honor your 10 percent dom and settle in your 80 submissive,” says Howard. “You definitely can’t know where you’re going [sexually] if you don’t have a place to start.”

As with all types of tests that categorize and organize your personality and interests, remember to be flexible and open to the possibility that what revs your engine might not be the same in six months, a year, 10 years. “This is just a test and not a monolithic experience,” says Adams. It also surfaces an a la carte list of options, not a set menu: “If you test high in an area that doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to do that kink. Also in reverse, if you test low in an area that interests you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t explore it,” Adams says. “Use the test as a tool for a jump point, but not as an end-all and be-all.”

There’s a reason the term BDSM encompasses so much: Sex and sexuality are complex. So consider the test an invitation to look deeper—not a box to trap yourself in (unless you’re into that sort of thing).

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