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Home  > Health >  Sex & Love

Aw, Bite Me
by Dr. Marty Klein

Have you ever felt so turned on that you wanted to be bitten just a little too hard? Maybe you even dared your partner to do it. Then there are those times when you're underneath your mate and you stretch out your arms, deliciously submitting, inviting hands on your wrists.

More on sex and love:
Are you ready for role-playing?
Making monogamy sizzle.
How steamy is cybersex?
Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

Well, seems you already know something about erotic power-play.

People also refer to this wide range of activities and attitudes as bondage, discipline, role-playing and S/M. It's always consensual. Always.

Erotic power-play can be mild and barely noticeable; extreme, with complicated equipment and well-practiced behaviors; or anything in between. Some people just dabble with this stuff, while others never have sex without it.

There's an enormous American S/M subculture, complete with vocabulary, magazines, Web sites, retailers and conventions. Every year, thousands of whips go through airport security. So do millions of recently spanked butts.

At its core, erotic power-play isn't about pain or humiliation, although it may have these elements. It's fundamentally about intensity, communication, fantasy, empowerment, spirituality, lust and testing limits. It's also about trust.

Submissives trust that their every sigh, squeal and smile will be carefully observed, respected and responded to. Dominants trust that submissives will know and communicate their needs and limits.

Both trust that when the game is over, neither will be expected to be a top or bottom outside the bedroom nor will they be judged for their preferences. Trusting someone that much can be a thrill.

As with non-power-play eroticism, people may choose a predictable script or they can enjoy improvising, following or leading their partner. And as with all sex, too much alcohol invites bad decision-making and poor communication.

Don't think of erotic power-play as something "those" people do. It's what people just like you do but only when they feel like it.

Marty Klein, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage counselor and sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif. He has written for national magazines and appeared on many TV shows, including Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones. You can read more about his books, tapes and appearances on his Web site,

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• More Articles by Marty Klein, Ph.D.
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Web Links
• Marty Klein's Sex Ed

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