Sexpert Lia Holmgren on Beginners Kink
We’re living in special times-- as kink and sexual exploration steadily lose their long-held stigma, there is more in the way of media representation, opportunities, and practical how-to-BDSM guides out there. But how do you cross the first line-- opening a dialogue with your partner?
We met with Lia Holmgren, a renowned Sex Expert and Relationship and Intimacy Coach with 17 years of industry experience. Born in Czechoslovakia and raised in Germany from teenhood, Holmgren has an international client base and a cross-cultural background that gives her unique insight into human sexuality around the world. In anticipation of our KinkLab event, we asked her for her best advice on starting to explore your kinky side, both individually and as a team.
1. When did you first become interested in kink and BDSM?
First subconsciously, then it was love at first sight.
As a child I grew up in a repressed, post-communist and ultra conservative country that didn’t leave much room for exploration. However, subconsciously, I was experimenting with BDSM as early as kindergarten when I would tie up other kids to chairs or beds playfully. Of course I didn’t know what I was doing, but I remember fantasizing about it when I was alone and going to sleep. It was fun! When I was older, my first girlfriend ended up being a true free spirit and domme. She was absolutely sexually liberated. I loved the energy around her and even after our relationship had ended, I continued to explore areas of Kink and BDSM. In the next couple of years I went on to fully experience all areas along the ‘power exchange’ spectrum, from dom, through switch, to sub and the sub-dynamics in between.
2. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone wanting to introduce kink to a new partner, what would it be?
Begin slowly. Like foreplay evolves step by step, you’ll want to gradually introduce kinks to a new partner. You don’t want to potentially overwhelm them by dumping all the details of your kinks on the new partner all at once. Find playful ways to incorporate aspects of kink one by one. Be patient with your partner. It’s like eating chocolate: don’t eat the whole package at once, it might make you sick!
3. What are the most common concerns and grievances of individuals with more vanilla partners?
Many adults in the kink lifestyle are concerned with the lack of understanding for their kink/fetish and often overcome by fear of judgment or the fear of being left alone. It’s understandable that some fantasies are truly unique, not just a set of handcuffs and a blindfold. To tell our partner we would like to pee in a diaper and/or wear lipstick and a skirt as a man can be a terrifying experience. The strap-on fantasy for men is the most common, yet most of them would never share this with their partners.
Individuals often have to overcome shame for kinks and sexual fantasies, and introducing that to a new partner brings opportunities to be judged and to feel that shame. The worst nightmares for individuals I deal with happen when their partner shows little compassion, or can’t relate to the principle, concept and desire in a fantasy. It leads to deep withdrawal and loneliness.
4. Why do you believe maintaining sexual exploration is so important for a healthy relationship?
No matter how old we get, we need to feed our inner child, to fulfill our need for “play”. When we were kids our lives would be interesting filled with daily exploration. We were curious, eager to learn and it made us alive. Once we grow up, our daily lives and stress take over and we get sucked into a routine. We are consumed by thinking what we have to do, what we should have done, and often times our sex life doesn’t get much attention. To put your sexual exploration with your partner on the calendar is equally important as planning other tasks and errands in life. Happy and healthy relationship are a fundamental part of our life, if not the most important. Relationships often require maintenance and putting your dual exploration with your partner as a priority can lead to a deeper connection. Exploration makes us curious, excited and brings something new into our life. It makes us feel alive in body and soul!
5. What do you typically go over with couples looking to explore kink and bdsm in one of your sessions?
I first start by understanding the couple, and their individual and shared fantasies, kinks, and bdsm practices they want to explore. I like to help them think about fantasies in great detail, suggest different toys and outfits, and provide techniques to help them realize their imagination while giving them some education about safe, consensual and sane BDSM practices including safe words, pre-scene discussions and post-care. The foundation here is an understanding of each other’s desires, finding of compromises if needed, and setting healthy and fair boundaries. The spicy details about how to, when and where, I often leave up to them but I am there to discuss details should they wish.
6. What are some of the steps you'd suggest to take when introducing a partner to your kinks/kink lifestyle?
One of the first ways to approach the introduction is finding out where your partner’s head is about the BDSM/KINK lifestyle. See how they react, if it’s up their alley, if there is a chance or there is absolute NO. Again, start gently, with just small hints, such as showing some sex toys online, maybe lead a walk to the sex/ fetish shop and see their reaction. If you are watching porn, maybe watch some porn together and again see what the partner has to say. You can tag them in a meme on Instagram, or send them a news article that you found on the subject. If you see a positive response move forward slowly. Ask what her/his fantasies are, share some of yours, and suggest if you can explore them together.
7. What's most important to strive for in this situation? Total self-gratification or compromise?
To find the compromise or set boundaries with your partner can be highly gratifying. It’s part of the play, it’s hot, and a lot of fun to discuss the details. It’s also most gratifying when both partners are walking away satisfied, and that’s where the compromise lies.
8. How would you suggest handling a partner who isn't receptive to your kinks or desires?
If this is the case, it’s good to know how important for us our kinks and desires are, how highly they rank in what we want to prioritize. We need to evaluate the relationship, the quality of it and the past and the future. Is it worth it to work towards fulfillment of our goals and risk losing our partner? Or is it worth to spend all our life in a vanilla relationship when we are craving more? This is the time when you can contact a sex coach or a therapist and try to go over all these questions with him/ her, and then again mediated with the partner.
9. What are some good beginner-friendly kink practices?
Some beginner-friendly kink practices can include roleplaying. Some role plays don’t require too many toys and you don’t need to be an expert in using them. A house-wife/ house-husband rollplay can incorporate household items like a feather duster, spatula, or wooden spoon as props and impact toys so you can explore the scenario without having to invest in toys before deciding if this type of play is for you.
You will engage your mind and fantasy the most, use some fun outfits and talk the way your character would. Perhaps a bitchy boss and disobedient employee who gets punished for objectifying the boss? Or a schoolgirl who doesn’t do her homework? How about a doctor and a patient or a horny nurse? When it comes to toys, blindfolds and ice cubes for some sensory play or handcuffs, rope, anal plugs and cock rings could be an easy way to start. A fan-favorite is bondage of all four limbs and to tease and practice edging and orgasm denial with hitachi wand or other vibrating toys, while also stimulating with ice cubes on the nipples and light scratches. Add in a blindfold for added intensity!
10. How would you suggest someone go about figuring out their kink orientation (dom/sub etc)?
One of the best ways to figure out what really drives an individual wild is to imagine sexual scenarios and see what gets you excited; you can even do this while pleasuring yourself and see what fantasies really set you off.
Do you want to tell someone what to do and how to please you and take charge in the situation? Or would you prefer someone telling you to go on your knees and please them? Take a walk to the sex shop and fetish shop and see what is out there. See what strikes your fancy and don’t worry about asking the salesperson. They will gladly explain to you the usage of different toys you might have never seen before. I also suggest watching some porn and exploring the categories to see what is happening that you might like. I coach many clients who want to discover what really turns them on, and they want to step outside the box, but they don’t know where to start. I personally offer a proprietary BDSM test for my coaching clients to help determine what areas of the kink spectrum gets them going the most and how to fulfill those needs.
Final Thoughts from Lia
It’s important to congratulate and celebrate your partner’s start to their kinky adventure. Once one realized that he/she has a kink and/or a fantasy and one was brave enough to share it with his/her partner, considering that everything went well and he/she liked the idea of exploration, didn’t judge or wanted to break up, you should take a moment to celebrate that milestone.
In order to maintain a healthy kink-focused relationship, I’d recommend to couples to talk about their fantasies once a month. Sit down over the weekend, when their headspace is not in the office and talk with each other about what would they like to explore the next, discuss the last fantasy (if any) that they played out together as last, what they liked and what they’d like to do better. Important is to give each other enough uninterrupted time to explain their thoughts, wants and needs. It’s always great to avoid criticism and “shoulds”, and give gentle suggestions.
There is always a space for improvement and also the best relationships might want to get tips and tricks on how to maintain the harmony and good communication. I’m a true believer in prevention before a treatment and in the same way as I usually advise clients to prevent disorders with healthy lifestyle and diet, I also think that preventing crisis in a relationship with respectful and understanding conversation and loving acts is the way to go.
If there is a topic couples can’t figure out on their own, from setting the fair boundaries and/or finding compromises, a Relationship and Intimacy Coach is there to help. Besides dealing with couples that are going through crisis or more serious problems, I also work with many new couples on a pre-marriage and “let’s get serious” kind of coaching. These couples would like to see if they are a good match depending on their sexual desires, sex-drives and expectations. I understand that sex drive changes over the course of one’s life, but if the first years or a decade is great, the obstacles that might be on the way later are easier to work through!