How do I find out who actually likes rough sex?
March 20, 2009 4:35 PM   Subscribe

When a potential partner says they like it rough, how do you figure out if they actually like it rough?

I am a female who enjoys rough sex. Slapping, scratching, biting, wrestling, choking, hair-pulling, tying up, the whole gamut, though not so far as to use ball gags and face masks and that sort of thing.

I know not everyone is used to this so I make sure my preferences are clear to potential sex partners, and they nearly always respond with excitement and assurance that they are into those things too, and they'll be able to "handle" me.

Then during the act itself, I inevitably find out they have no clue what they're doing. They won't slap me, they get disoriented and upset when I slap them, they lose focus if I scratch, they aren't aggressive, and one time a guy actually whimpered for me to not hurt him and it wasn't because he was trying to play submissive. When I do get them to do something they usually don't do it nearly hard enough, even when I ask them to. Often the sex will last way, way longer than necessary because the person can't stay aroused and in the end I have to go plain vanilla-style in order for them to come so I can get the experience over with.

This has happened multiple times and is getting extremely frustrating. How do I screen out people who claim they like it rough but can't deliver when the time comes? I have thought of looking in BDSM communities, but I'm not into a formal D/s relationship--I like both participants to be aggressive and rough, rather than one being dominant and the other being submissive.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite Or, if utterly desperate, craigslist? Course thats if youre just looking for a straight hook-up. If you're trying to test out a person you're already with, then I'm stumped.

Maybe try and meet them halfway, at the start? If youre going (ha) balls-out during your very first encounter, you might be overwhelming even the guys who ARE into it but just need to get comfortable with you.

For me--though I am not as hot and heavy as you are--such rough sexual play is based on trust. When I'm with new people, I'm invariably shy about even acts I'm normally very used to.
posted by CTORourke at 4:45 PM on March 20, 2009

Just a thought, but you could put your cards on the screen by showing them porn that represents what you mean when you say you like it rough.
posted by dersins at 5:02 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Are we talking about rough casual sex, or are you looking for a relationship? Either way, I think you need to commit to several sexual encounters, starting out with just a hint of roughness, and gradually building up to the level you're hoping to reach. Honestly, even if the person can "take it," the inherent awkwardness of sex with a person you don't know very well is bound to be compounded by the psychological intensity of these demands. Regardless of how well they can talk the talk beforehand, you can't just expect someone to go all the way to 11 with you on the first encounter and have it go really smoothly.

The more you trust someone and understand their limitations, the better "rough" sex you are able to have with them -- you know when you're in "safe" territory, you know when you're pushing their boundaries, you know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, when to slap 'em, and when to run. You can have really rough sex without cultivating that bond -- it just probably won't be very satisfying. I recommend recruiting a fuck-buddy that is interested in matching the pace you set, and guiding him/her to the point you're aiming for.

If you're not interested in having regular vanilla sex at all -- not even as a gateway toward violent sex with a willing partner -- then I don't think your expectations are very fair. If you're really looking for someone who understands and shares your kink and can meet you there at full intensity right away, that sounds like a great fantasy, but in real life those encounters are fairly rare.
posted by hermitosis at 5:05 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think the one thing you might take away from the BDSM scene, even if you don't pursue a formalized relationship within it, is the notion of negotiation prior to play-- ie, not so much "whether or not someone likes it rough," but how rough they like it, which sorts of rough are a turn-on to them, and what sort of rough will cause them to signal that they need to stop, right now, and seek reassurance/ less intense contact.

When you're playing with intense sensations, it helps to lay everything out in advance-- "I'm a hard physical masochist who enjoys mutual slapping, scratching, and takedown play, and I enjoy very painful sensations. I'm not so much about ritualized submissive behavior, verbal degradation, or roleplay-- I just like the more violent physicality. Are you OK with abruptly being slapped during sex without warning, or do we need to work up to that? Scratching, as long as it doesn't draw blood-- is that something you'd like?", that sort of thing.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:07 PM on March 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

and by "as long as it doesn't draw blood," I mean "most folks who are into this with casual partners are not into unprotected exposure to bodily fluids." The usual safe sex disclaimers apply.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:09 PM on March 20, 2009

Mmm, I'm probably the kind of guy you're getting disappointed by. If someone asked me what beyond-vanilla things turn me on, I'd list the things you listed. But I'm relatively (not completely) inexperienced in it, and I've been in situations where someone's said, "Yeah OK, let's do it then," and I've ended up looking perhaps as clueless as these guys you're describing. Often I end up being passive, in the sense that I'll pull someone's hair after they've pulled mine (and I'll pull harder), but I don't take the initiative. I think that's down to some experiences where girls have hinted at this kind of thing, then it's turned out that in practice they're not comfortable with it. I'm not interested in formal BDSM at all, but I am still really interested in this stuff. As I say, I think I'd probably be one of these disappointing boys for you, but maybe you're coming on too intense all at once and you could build it up with one of these people to the point where after a few goes they're getting closer to what you're after. I certainly wouldn't be turned off or disoriented by getting slapped, and I'd give better than I got, but, not being a proper BDSMer, it'd take a few sessions before I was really feeling able to get rid of all the inhibitions. I don't know how you're meeting these guys, but maybe you can start slowly, rather than expecting everything all at once? I'm saying that maybe these guys aren't total write-offs, though obviously there must be loads of people who'll do all you want naturally. Other answers will tell you where you might meet them.
posted by cincinnatus c at 5:15 PM on March 20, 2009

How do I screen out people who claim they like it rough but can't deliver when the time comes?

Recognize that a major problem with finding men that will be good participants - even among men that are into rough sex - is the typically considerable size and strength difference between men and women and the fact that may men are worried about that in several respects. Nobody (sane) wants to bruise a woman during sex and risk looking like a woman-beater if things don't turn out well in a relationship and she decides to lie to other people, including the cops. Nobody wants to slap a woman that's into slapping and accidentally inflict way more injury than intended. Etc.

I second the comments above about the training-wheels approach, both to get partners to do what you want and avoid biting off more than you can chew. You will also need to be EXTREMELY reassuring to potential partners because of the risks associated with (consensually) hitting women.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:38 PM on March 20, 2009

I have thought of looking in BDSM communities, but I'm not into a formal D/s relationship

The BDSM and larger kink community is the best place to find partners who are experienced in the kind of sex you enjoy. Cast your net there.

The BDSM community doesn't only include people who are into domination and submission, though that's often how it's depicted in the popular media. That said, you might feel more comfortable in a larger community that self-identifies as "kink-positive" rather than a specifically BDSM setting.

Google the name of the city where you live (or the nearest city to where you live) and "kink"--e.g., "Baltimore kink" or whatever--and you will almost certainly find a reasonably active kink community hosting events for people who are kinky. If you can't find such a thing, maybe contact the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle and ask if they have any pointers to groups or events in your area.

Look, it's like golf. If you loved golf, and a good golf game was a necessary quality in a partner, you'd look for partners at golf courses; you wouldn't meet guys at LAN parties and hope you'd find someone who was a golfer too, or that you could encourage them to golf with you, would you?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:52 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

Don't do what one chick did with me. I'd have been happy to play rough if she'd told me she was into it, but instead she tried to provoke me while we were in bed. Even with a few beers on-board, I could tell she was trying to act bratty and insult me (to belittle her, to smack her, whatever) in order to get me angry enough to get rough. But going about it in that manipulative way -- and in a way that would leave me vulnerable if she decided to claim assault afterward -- just turned me off. So instead, I went to sleep, had some non-rough sex with her the next morning, and turned down her requests to go on more dates.
posted by orthogonality at 8:19 PM on March 20, 2009

I think there's more than one query there. How do you find people who are experienced enough to participate successfully in your style of rough sex is one. How do you get people who are perhaps new to what you are wanting to participate successfully is another question altogether.

How to find the perfect lover? That's the question for the ages isn't it. The answers above are all good. You can certainly advertise in all manner of sexually oriented dating sites and sort the responses accordingly.

As for the second question, it seems to me that there's a scale involved in this form of sex that involves ramping up gradually. For example, most people (I think) enjoy getting spanked a bit. At first, it's painful but then as things proceed the person getting spanked can take a whole lot more force and impact enjoyably. The key is to scale upwards slowly or at least in a manner that doesn't exceed the receiver's ability to expand into the sensation.

I'm thinking perhaps you are escalating things in such a manner that your partner can't get into a learning curve. I think there's also key differences in the types of rough behavior. Like spanks or slaps might be doable, but scratches might be really painful and abhorrent to some people.

I think most BDSM practioners set up a code word which means, 'stop what you are doing, it's gone too far.' I think if you try ramping up slowly with mutual understanding of what's happening, with a code word to stop the progression you would have better luck. Perhaps that's not your fantasy though, you want to get roughly slapped around and severely f**ked.

More power to you. I agree with some comments above that men are strongly socialized not to be abusive and that this may be an insurmountable barrier to this form of sexuality for those who are.
posted by diode at 9:57 PM on March 20, 2009

I think you're just going to have to communicate what you're into. With casual sex partners, this is going to be a little more difficult. With someone you are dating, you can bring it up - preferably not when you're in bed - but maybe as part of a lead-up to foreplay. If the guy you are with says they like rough sex, start talking to them about it in detail, talk about what specifically turns you on, and do it while you're touching him and getting turned on. Make it clear what you really like - say, hair pulling, for example - and make it clear that it gets you going.

I'll agree with some of the other posters that many men have been socialized to not engage in any sort of violent sex. You need to make it very clear that you consent to whatever level of roughness you are comfortable before you engage in sex so that they aren't so surprised or taken aback in the bedroom.
posted by bedhead at 10:42 PM on March 20, 2009

One idea is to set up "red, amber, green" safewords beforehand so your partner can say if he wants you to stop, go slower or speed up without breaking the mood. Also perhaps the way you talk to potential partners about rough sex could be tweaked a bit - are you making it clear enough that it goes both ways?

I find my tolerance for and enjoyment of pain differs depending on how comfortable I feel with a partner. It's not just trusting them as a person and emotionally and all that, it's trusting them to be good in bed and know my limits, which never happens immediately. It's easy to get frustrated when you're looking for really good sex and not getting it, but you will find the right person to bite, especially since you know what you want and are going the right way about finding it.

If all else fails, you can borrow my boyfriend for a bit. He bakes, too.
posted by teraspawn at 5:07 AM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

OkCupid allows people to create public quizzes and fun online tests with multiple score axes, and (because it also happens to be a dating site) a lot of people use this to make quizzes for potential partners. You wouldn't need to say "I made this quiz for you", just "I know an interesting test online called How Rough Do You Like It?, which suggests if we're in the same ballpark. I'll show you my score if you show me yours!", and go from there.

Then, instead of asking "Do you like X", the test could ask a detailed series of things that establish boundaries, desires, actual experience, things that sound good but haven't been tried, and so on. If you have two or more axes for the score, the results could impart a fairly detailed overview, though you would not have access to his specific answers (unless you were with him when he was taking it)

You might want to try the Dating Persona Test first, as this gives an idea of what the OKCupid test system can do in the hands of clever people. If you just want to write a regular test like a Cosmopolitan article, that's simple. But the Dating Persona Test shows a few more tricks - it's a Myer's Briggs style four-axis personality test tailored to aspects of love-life. It disregards the magnitude of your scores, simplifying things down to which side of neutal your score fell on each axis, thus reducing it to a 4-bit binary result, plus a 5th bit (male or female), resulting in 32 possible character descriptions.
(Be warned, you won't like the results of that test, because it gives you the bad as well as the good :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2009

I have thought of looking in BDSM communities, but I'm not into a formal D/s relationship--I like both participants to be aggressive and rough, rather than one being dominant and the other being submissive.

You're a switch. You're looking for another switch. The place to find one is, yeah, the BDSM community, where switches like you are a pretty significant minority, or a personal ad site that doesn't mind letting you talk about your kinks — the aforementioned okcupid, craigslist, or maybe fetlife.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:21 PM on March 21, 2009

You're a switch.

I don't think so, at least in how I'm reading the question. Isn't a switch someone who likes taking both a dominant and a submissive role, depending on the situation and the partner? Whereas the OP is, I think, someone who likes their sex rough, in a fighty-hurty kind of way, rather than wanting to take turns being the top. But people use those words differently, and identifying as a switch might make sense in some settings, too.

My experience is that it is pretty useless to ask more than general "do you like X?" questions, especially when they are in line with societal expectations. People answer honestly, and with the best of intentions, but words are just really, really imprecise, and context matters enormously. So person A and person B can both say "I like being slapped in the face during sex," but one of them wants gentle and symbolic "slaps" that make their cheeks a little red, and the other person will want hard and painful slaps that leave bruises. Same words, totally different meaning.

Better than over-precise questioning, I think, would be working on improving your "kink-dar" (for lack of a better phrase -- your sixth sense for who can become a dirty pervert in the bedroom and who can't), and more importantly your ability to nurture and lead a willing-but-uncertain partner into new territory. Not many people may be able to give you what you want on the first date, but my experience is that most people's sexuality is actually pretty malleable, and given time and lots of patient teaching you should be able to transform a willing novice into your rough sex provider of choice.
posted by Forktine at 5:45 PM on March 23, 2009

I agree, you're not a switch, for the reasons Forktine stated. This is not a D/s situation.

I had a girlfriend once who liked to be treated roughly. Unfortunately (for both of us, I think) we never had sex. But the rough play we both had was unusual IMHO and loads of fun. We bit, we hit, left marks and bruises (like in the thigh, where it wouldn't show much, and we rassled and rolled around and yelled, and we were both very happy in all of that. I was very frustrated, but I loved her and our play enough to continue. I've never met anyone else like her, and I really can't imagine breaking someone in slowly to this kind of play. It's extreme and definitely not for everyone. But keep looking, try the BDSM folks, try craigslist (screen carefully!!!) and good luck in your search. He's out there, looking for you.
posted by davoid at 10:33 PM on March 23, 2009

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