Does a Preference for Rough Sex Indicate Deeper Psychological Problems?

Reader’s Question

I’ve always liked my sex a little rough. I enjoy being bitten, and I have also enjoyed being tied up once in a while. I most definitely like being in the submissive role, but I also enjoy being in the dominant position once in a great while.

I’ve never thought of my sexual interests as a problem. The way I see it, it’s just a different way to enjoy sex. Some people like being dominated, some like to dominate, and some just enjoy tender sex. I actually enjoy all of these forms of expression. But recently my boyfriend of 2 years told me that he believes enjoying being dominated or being in the dominant position is a symptom of an underlying psychological problem. I completely disagree with this, however, and think that people can simply like different things.

I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist. So I’d like a professional opinion. Is the mere fact that I enjoy either dominant or submissive sex covering up a deeper problem? Thanks.

Psychologist’s Reply

Sexual interests or preferences become problematic when they interfere with the other healthy aspects of a person’s relationships or daily living. For example, if a person’s interest in dominant sex is so intense and pervasive that they simply can’t enjoy intimacy with their partner in any other way, and their partner desires more from the relationship than to always have to assume the submissive position, there’s definitely a problem. Similarly, if such an interest is such a compulsion that a person’s social and occupational life is turned upside-down because of the relentless drive to pursue such activity, there is definitely a problem. But the mere fact that a person enjoys a variety of activities of a different nature and finds that these activities spice up their sex life is not necessarily an indication of an underlying problem of any kind.

All that said, problems can arise in relationships if a person always requires some new or novel form of sexual expression to be sufficiently excited by sexual activity. There can be underlying problems if a person is simply incapable of deriving satisfaction from deeper, less titillating forms of intimate expression. You, however indicate a capacity to enjoy a wide range of activities. So, there’s nothing in what you report that raises the red flag for underlying psychological problems.

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