Sex Advice

The BDSM Test Is a Get-To-Know-Your-Kink Diagnostic Recommended by Many Sexologists

Photo: Stocksy/Alexey Kuzma
BDSM is a tidy acronym for a broad range of sexual preferences that relate to physical control. It's 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. BDSM can be a safe, consensual avenue for exploring the kinks that make up 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 BDSM is more about communication with yourself and your partner than it is about a Red Room of Pain. And to get that conversation started, there's an online BDSM test that can help you safely learn your tastes.

What is the BDSM Test?

The first version of the BDSM Test (which you can take here) 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."

The length of the test varies depending on which form you choose to take. You can take the shorter, more simple test (which takes about 10 minutes to complete) and get reasonably accurate results, says the test’s homepage. This version is best suited for folks who are mildly interested in BDSM. If you’re looking for maximum accuracy, though, you might opt for the longer test with more questions—which is recommended if you’re already very into BDSM and takes approximately 25 minutes to finish.

At the end of the test, takers will learn the degree to which BDSM "archetypes" (25 total) 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). A person can score in all of these categories or some of these categories, with varying percentages.

What To Consider Before You Take the BDSM Test

First things first: You should aim to answer the BDSM Test questions honestly if you want it to yield results that might help you be more attuned with your sexual likes and dislikes. “People approach the BDSM Test at different levels and with different kinks,” says Lovehoney sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW. “For this reason, it is helpful to start where you are in your individual kink journey.”

For instance, if you're new to this exploration and aren’t sure what you’re into, “go with the response that feels most desirable at the time,” says Howard. On the other hand, if you’re BDSM-savvy and are familiar with your kinks, you should opt for the response that’s true for you rather than what’s desirable.

As you might have gleaned, taking the test requires you to do some personal reflection. 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.”

Also on the importance of honesty, Adams says that the BDSM Test is still used “to pull research as well, so that's another reason why you really want to be honest. We can use this for research as we're crafting what's going on in the BDSM world and how trends change over time,” adds Adams.

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

Howard 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 now might not be the same in six months, a year, or 10 years. "This is just a test and not a monolithic experience," says Adams.

It also surfaces an à-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 in which to trap yourself (unless you're into that sort of thing).

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