Praise Kink Phrases: What is a Praise Kink and How Can You Enjoy It?

Once in a while, I check the search terms people use to find me. For the last few months, the term “praise kink” has popped up again and again. Which is interesting, considering this is something I’ve never actually written about!

So I thought it would be fun to talk about it. What is a praise kink, what are some praise kink phrases you can use, and what do you need to know about this incredibly popular fetish?

Let’s dive in and find out!

What is a Praise Kink?

In short, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Someone with a praise kink gets off on being praised, complimented, or receiving verbal approval.

“But doesn’t everyone love praise?” you’re probably asking. And yes, many of us do! But having a praise kink isn’t quite the same thing. For people with this kink, receiving praise might elicit a sexual response, send them to subspace or Topspace (yes, it’s more common amongst submissives in my experience, but Tops and Dominants can have a praise kink too!) or otherwise have an impact beyond just “warm fuzzies from receiving a compliment”.

I don’t think there’s any actual data on this (can someone finance this study immediately please?) but I suspect there is a lot of crossover between those who enjoy praise in a kink context and those who have words of affirmation as one of their primary love languages.

Praise kink is often seen as being part of the softer, gentler type of BDSM. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be! As with all kinky things, it can be whatever you make of it.

Do You Have a Praise Kink?

You might be reading this article wondering if this description applies to you. Sorry, I can’t answer this for you! The only person who knows for sure if you have a praise kink is you.

But consider these questions:

Do you have a sexual, submissive/dominant, or otherwise kink-based response to receiving praise?

Do you enjoy sex or a kink scene more when your partner gives you lots of positive verbal feedback?

When you think back on your hottest sex/kink scenes, do the complimentary things your partner said to you stand out as one of your favourite parts?

If any of these sound like you, then you might have a praise kink!

It’s important to note that praise kinks can be very contextual. While some people might find it hot whenever anyone gives them praise or a compliment, others find that this desire is specifically directed towards those with whom they have some kind of attraction, sexual relationship, or kink dynamic.

Some Praise Kink Phrases You Can Use

Ultimately, the best way to learn what praise kink phrases will work for your partner is to ask them. Communication, understanding one another, and listening to feedback will get you further than a list of ideas ever will.

But if you’re not sure where to start, here are a few to get you started.

  • “You’re such a good… [girl/boy/slut/pet/their favourite term of endearment]”
  • “You’re doing/you did really well.”
  • “You look so beautiful/handsome/sexy when you… [insert activity here]”
  • “I’m so proud of you.”
  • “I love how well you took that spanking for me.”
  • “That feels amazing, keep doing that.”
  • “I love it when you… [insert action or activity here]”
  • “I can’t stop thinking about when you [insert hot or sexy thing they did here]”
  • “Your ass looks incredible in those knickers
  • “You’re so good at [eating my pussy/sucking my cock/fucking me/insert activity here]”
  • “I can’t wait to show you off to everyone at the club”
  • “You’re strong, I know you can take it for me”
  • “You’re so loved and cherished

These are all just ideas and you will undoubtedly come up with your own as you explore. Remember: the only right way to do it is the way that works for you and your partner.

Do you have a favourite praise kink phrase? Share them in the comments if so!

This post contains affiliate links. All views are mine.

What is Commitment Without Entanglement?

I’ve been thinking about commitment a lot recently. What it is, what it means, and how I can ethically incorporate it into my life in a way that aligns with my needs, my values, and my partners’ needs and values.

As a polyamorous person and an ethical slut, commitment matters a lot to me. Does that surprise you? Many people assume that true commitment is impossible in a non-monogamous context. Of course, I don’t agree.

What is commitment, anyway?

Oxford Languages suggests the definition of commitment as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc”. I think this is actually a pretty okay definition.

We all think we know what commitment means in a relationship, especially as it relates to mononormative culture. People often equate commitment with things like getting married, living together, and raising children together. Our society also strongly equates commitment with exclusivity. (Hands up every polyamorous person who has been asked “when are you going to commit to one person?”)

As a non-monogamous person, I suggest we look at commitment a different way. Instead of asking “what does society tell me a committed relationship looks like?”, ask yourself “what does commitment mean to me?”

Here are five things commitment means to me.

  • Commitment means I will prioritise you highly. This does not necessarily mean I will always put you first, and I will not necessarily prioritise you to the detriment of other important things in my life. But I will always consider you and strive to behave in ways that honour our connection.
  • Commitment means I will attempt to work through problems that arise in our relationship, engaging in good faith and seeking solutions that work for everyone involved.
  • Commitment means that I honour the ways in which you, I, and our relationship will grow and change. I want to grow along with you, not away from you.
  • Commitment means I want you to be in my life for as long as it is a happy and healthy choice for both of us. Ideally that means “for life,” but I accept things change. If our relationship is no longer good for one or both of us, I will let you go.
  • Commitment means that your happiness matters to me. To the best of my ability, and to the extent it doesn’t harm me or anyone else to do so, I will behave in ways that faciliate your happiness.

Your answers may be different. But I encourage you to think about what commitment is to you and maybe write down a “commitment manifesto” like the one I’ve shared above.

What is entanglement?

When I talk about entanglement in a relationship, I’m broadly referring to what is often known within polyamorous communities as “the relationship escalator.” Coined by writer Amy Gahran, the relationship escalator is described thus:

The default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal.

The goal at the top of the Escalator is to achieve a permanently monogamous (sexually and romantically exclusive between two people), cohabitating marriage — legally sanctioned if possible. In many cases, buying a house and having kids is also part of the goal. Partners are expected to remain together at the top of the Escalator until death.

The Escalator is the standard by which most people gauge whether a developing intimate relationship is significant, “serious,” good, healthy, committed or worth pursuing or continuing.” (Source.)

The relationship escalator isn’t inherently bad, if it’s something you genuinely want (as opposed to something you’re following because of social, cultural, or familial pressure). But holding up the escalator model as the pinnacle of relationship achievement is deeply damaging to many people.

On or off the escalator?

Even though I strongly identify as non-monogamous, I’ve always valued having a core, deeply entangled relationship in my life. This is what Mr CK and I have. We live together, we share bills and cats and household chores, we are at least somewhat financially entangled. We’re each other’s next of kin at the hospital. We make big decisions together, and we hope to be together for life.

I also do not want all my relationships – or indeed any others – to be this entangled. The beauty of non-monogamy is that relationships don’t have to be all or nothing. If you have great sex but don’t have romantic feelings for one another, you can have a great friends-with-benefits arrangement. If you love each other but don’t want to live together, you can enjoy the connection for what it is without pushing for it to be more. When you have a need one partner can’t or won’t meet, you can get it fulfilled elsewhere.

This means you get to choose whether each relationship is on or off the escalator. It means you get to choose what level of commitment you want, and what that means for you and your partner(s).

You can even decide to take certain steps on the escalator but skip others, if you want to. For example, “we want to live together but no kids,” or “we want to get married, but monogamy isn’t part of our arrangement.”

Commitment without entanglement

When you try to define commitment without the trappings of heteronormative, mononormative, escalator-driven relationships, it gets complicated fast. It also gets really, really diverse.

Here are five things I’ve learned about how to do commitment without entanglement.

Create milestones that matter to you

Every serious relationship has meaningful milestones. What these look like and what they mean to you both/all will be different in each relationship. A few common milestones that don’t necessarily imply entanglement include the first kiss, the first time you say “I love you,” the first time you have sex, and the first night you spend together.

Unromantic milestones matter, too. In my relationship with The Artist, I remember feeling like our relationship had turned a corner the first time we navigated a (non-relational) crisis together. It wasn’t fun at the time, but in the long run it cemented our bond even further. I felt similarly after the first time they saw me in the middle of a major mental health crisis and didn’t run away.

What relationship milestones feel significant to you and your partner(s)? Think about both things you’ve already done (“the first overnight we spent together felt really significant to me”) and things you’d like to do someday (“I really want to introduce you to my best friends.”)

Have each other’s backs

For me, one of the biggest signs of commitment is when someone is by my side through difficult times. I enjoy the sex-with-no-expectations brand of relationship with some people. But I want to know that my inner circle people are there for me.

If you’re around when you want a hot shag but then disappear when I’m sobbing on the sofa because my depression is so bad, I won’t see the relationship as a committed one and will adjust my expectations accordingly.

Having each other’s backs isn’t the same as expecting the other person to drop everything to care for you in every crisis. But it does mean stepping up when you can, being there for the bad times as well as the good, and going out of your way for the other person at least some of the time.

Ask, don’t assume

When was the last time you asked your partner what love and commitment means to them? It’s easy to assume other people define these things in the same ways that we do. But assumptions are the fast-track to hurt feelings and miscommunications.

If you’re not sure what your partner needs or wants, ask them! If you’re not sure how they’re feeling, don’t try to guess. Just talk about it.

Learning each other’s love languages can be useful here. People often make the mistake of assuming that everyone gives and receives love the way they do. The love language framework isn’t perfect. But it gives you a way to explore and communicate your needs to your partner and to understand theirs.

Asking isn’t unromantic! Asking someone what they need or want is actually a huge sign of love and respect. Mononormative culture holds that we should be able to read our partner’s mind. This is bullshit. Don’t try. Seriously, I cannot emphasise this enough – just fucking ask.

Stand up for the relationship

When I was with my ex, one of the things that stopped me ever feeling safe was the fact that his wife had veto power. Even after years together, she could have told him to dump me at any time and he would have complied. Even though it was only ever hypothetical, we talked about the possibility at length. One of the things that really hurt was the knowledge that, if push came to shove, he would not stand up for our relationship.

I won’t date anyone with a veto arrangement any more. I believe that longer-term and more entangled partners should absolutely get a say and be able to voice concerns. But I cannot be in a situation where my relationship could be unilaterally ended by someone who isn’t even in it.

If you want to show commitment to your non-entangled partner, that means being willing to stand up for your relationship if you ever need to. This might mean telling your spouse or nesting partner that no, they don’t get to slam a veto down. It might mean speaking up when your friends or family (if you’re out to them) dismiss your non-entangled relationship as not real, not serious, or not important.

Keep the promises you make (and don’t make ones you can’t keep)

To my ex, promises made to me were always breakable if anything better came up (or his wife just had a bad day). This prevented me from ever feeling truly important to him.

In general, if you make a promise or commit to a plan with your partner, you should do everything you can to honour it. Emergencies happen, of course. Part of being in a long-term relationship means being flexible enough to roll with the punches when crises arise. But breaking promises or cancelling plans for minor reasons impedes building a true sense of commitment in a relationship, in my opinion.

The other piece of this is not making promises you can’t keep. My ex used to tell me that we – me, him, and his wife – would all live together and I’d be an equal co-primary someday. I eventually realised this was never going to actually happen. If I’d known that earlier, I could have adjusted my expectations accordingly. Instead, by promising something he never intended to actually follow through on, he deprived me of the ability to make an informed and consensual choice about how much I wanted to commit to that relationship.

If your non-entangled partner is asking for something, it can seem kinder to say “yes, someday” then just keep pushing it off into the distance. But if the real answer is “no, never” or “probably not,” it’s actually much better to tell them that. Hearing “no” to something you want is never fun. But it’s much better than being strung out on a false promise and then being let down again and again.

What does commitment without entanglement mean to you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m so curious how other non-monogamous people handle this.

The Kinky Love Languages: Acts of Service

(This week’s “midweek” post is late, sorry about that.) This is the last post in my “five love languages for kink” series. Today we’re talking acts of service! I deliberately left this one until last because it is, arguably, the one that most obviously lends itself to a BDSM context.

The acts of service love language can best be summed up as “actions speak louder than words.” The key for people who subscribe to this love language is doing things for each other in order to show love, caring, consideration and commitment.

How to love a submissive whose love language is acts of service

“Hold on a minute, Amy!” you’re saying. “The submissive performs service for the Dominant, not the other way around!”

Which, yes, that’s certainly the way it looks – and in many dynamics, that’s how it plays out. But “service” doesn’t have to mean subservience. Acts of service, in a love language sense, means doing things for the other person that make them feel loved.

The Five Love Languages site suggests things like doing the dishes, collecting their mail, and getting up in the middle of the night for childcare duties. But how do you perform acts of service for your partner as a Dominant without it undermining your dynamic?

Acts of service are, fundamentally, about taking care of each other. And I believe that as a Dominant, one of your primary and most important roles is to take care of your submissive. Exactly what “care” means in this context is, of course, open to interpretation and will depend upon your dynamic. A Daddy Dom will care for their submissive in a different way to a sadist, a pet player, or an Owner in an Owner/property dynamic.

So, yes, making your submissive dinner might be considered an act of service. You can do this out of love and to show care… and even Dominance. Making a meal might mean you’re making sure that they get proper nourishment, because they’re your most cherished possession and you like to take care of your things. Similarly, taking a chore off their hands when they’re exhausted, running an errand to save them time on a busy day, or picking up medication for them can all be acts of service that show them they’re loved… and also that you’re taking good care of your favourite toy.

Acts of service from a Dominant can also facilitate the possibility for kinky fuckery. An exhausted submissive who doesn’t have the energy to play because they’re busy running both your lives is no fun at all. Offering acts of service, as well as making your submissive feel loved, can also free up time, physical energy and mental space… which can be used to do all your favourite filthy things together.

And don’t forget that a relationship is a partnership! You might have negotiated an unequal power imbalance but you both still exist in the real world, and in that world you need to be equal human beings with responsibilities that you take on together. And shouldering your share of the load – and sometimes extra in order to support your partner – is sexy (and Dominant) as hell.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is acts of service

I mean, this is the easiest one of the entire series to write! Service is very often a part of a D/s relationship, in the sense of the submissive performing acts of service to the Dominant.

Of course, exactly what this looks like for you will depend on your dynamic. In one of my past relationships, one of the ways I showed service was by cooking for my partner (who hated cooking but loved good food.) At other times, making someone’s tea or coffee has been an act of service. Right now I’m not in a 24/7 D/s relationship but I perform small acts of service for my partners when I can, whether it’s making them food or going to the store for something they need.

Ask your Dominant, if they haven’t already told you, what specific shows of service work best for them. Perhaps you always make their drink in the morning, iron their favourite shirt or polish their boots before you go out, or have dinner on the table when they get back from work. The keys here are routine and flexibility. Routine can help build a dynamic and a submissive headspace, as well as showing consistency and reliability. But flexibility is essential when circumstances, people and needs inevitably change – which they will.

Acts of service can also relate directly to your kinky play. Cleaning the sex toys after a session, coiling your Dominant’s rope in the way they like, or making the effort to have their favourite brand of lube before they come over all totally count as acts of service. Not to mention that sexual service – performing a sex act for the Dom’s pleasure – can be hot as fuck.

Years ago, a (*tongue firmly in cheek*) Terribly Twue Subby Sub I knew lectured me: “submission isn’t cups of tea and blowjobs, you know!” And I was like… maybe not to you? And that’s fine? But I’m a service-oriented sexual submissive and actually those things ARE a big part of it to me.

Service, like submission and Dominance and kink and sex and relationships, is what you want it to be.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

The two big keys to successfully pulling off acts of service are:

  1. Doing it without being asked, at least sometimes.
  2. Going above and beyond the usual call of duty.

Of course, no-one expects you to be a mindreader and know exactly what your partner wants without them asking. But presumably you know them at least reasonably well, yes? So use that knowledge to find little ways to perform service for them without being prompted. Run to the store when you’ve run out of milk before they get up and make their morning coffee, put a hot water bottle in bed for them on a cold night, or make them lunch before a long work day. The significance here isn’t in grand gestures, but in finding little everyday ways to show consideration and love.

“Above and beyond” just means that doing the expected roughly-50% of general life duties (household chores, childcare, life admin) isn’t enough by itself (though it is important!) You need to go a step beyond that, at least sometimes. The quickest way to make your partner feel unloved and resentful, if their love language is acts of service, is to do the bare minimum you can get away with.

How can your partner show they love you via acts of service?

FYI: this post contains affiliate links.

The Kinky Love Languages: Physical Touch

It’s time for the penultimate “Kinky Love Languages” post, in which I explore the five love languages and ways that they can relate to kinky relationships. Today we’re exploring the love language of physical touch.

When people think of the love language of physical touch, they often think of sex first. And, yes, sex is part of this language for sure. But it’s far from the only part. A person whose love language is physical touch is likely to highly value things like cuddling, holding hands, hugs, kisses, and even an arm around their shoulder.

Let’s look at some ways this can relate to kinky relationships, shall we?

How to love a submissive whose love language is physical touch

A submissive who speaks the love language of physical touch is likely to highly value the physical aspects of BDSM. Think the thud of a flogger across their back, the feeling of rope tightening against their skin, the raw intimacy of a spanking, the feeling of your hand in their hair. If your submissive speaks this language, it’s more important than ever to make plenty of time for close, physical, intimate kinky play.

For a submissive who experiences love through physical touch, your touch can be its own reward. Caress their cheek when you tell them they’re a good girl or good boy. Give them a few swats on the ass before bed. Stroke their hair. If you want to reinforce certain behaviours or just make your submissive feel loved, give them plenty of physical affection. Touch them lovingly, easily and often.

Many submissives want to feel taken care of. You can incorporate physical touch into the way you care for your sub. This could include things like washing or brushing their hair for them, helping them with things like shaving, or even – something I’ve occasionally found super hot – feeding them from your hand.

Something I love as a submissive is to feel like my Dominant is proud of me and wants to show me off. If your sub’s love language is physical touch, try keeping them physically close to you when you go to a kinky event or play party. A hand on the small of their back, an arm around their waist or simply holding their hand could help them to feel more submissive and more loved.

You can also easily incorporate physical touch into your day to day or quiet time at home. Fondle their ass while they’re cooking, if that’s something you have consent to do. Have them sit at your feet with their head in your lap while you watch television or read the newspaper. Give their leg a gentle squeeze when you’re sitting together. Hold their hand as you walk around the store. Pause to kiss them before you go to work.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is physical touch

People tend to forget that Dominants like hugs and cuddles too! Many Dominants highly value physical touch and physical intimacy with their partners beyond just the sexual.

If your Dominant’s love language is physical touch, you have so many opportunities to bring this into your service to them. Learning to give a really good back massage or foot rub can be a wonderful gift for your Dom. You could also include physical closeness by doing intimate tasks for them such as painting their nails, styling their hair, or washing their back.

You can also show your submission through low-key physical affection. Try laying your head on their lap or shoulder, curling up close to them on the couch so they can pet you, or kissing whichever parts of their body they like to have kissed. (I used to show submission to a former Dominant by kissing their feet. Super hot if that’s your thing!)

Again, the physical side of kink is likely to be hugely important to your Dominant if this is their love language. So make time for kinky play! Prioritise it in your week and do your best to stick to any play dates you arrange. And tell them what you like and what you’re in the mood for! A Dominant whose love language is physical touch will love nothing more than to have the body of a naked, willing submissive at their mercy to play with.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

I firmly believe that physical intimacy is so, so important for almost all romantic relationships. For many people, this does mean prioritising regular sex and/or kinky play. If this is you (or your partner,) don’t forget to make time in your week to get sexy together.

Again, though, remember that this love language isn’t just about sex. Cuddles, kissing, holding hands and the kind of easy physical closeness that come in a long-term relationship are all so important. Prioritise them.

Physical touch is probably the hardest language to meet if you’re in a long distance relationship. There are still things you can do, though! Give your partner a soft toy to hug. Give them a shirt that smells like you to sleep with. Invest in some really good app-controlled sex toys so you can touch them sexually by proxy. But realistically, if one or both of you feels strongly connected to the love language of physical touch, you’re going to need to make an effort to see each other in person as often as you can.

Is physical touch your love language? How do you meet it? How can your submissive or Dominant partner help to meet it?

Heads up: this post contains an affiliate link.

The Kinky Love Languages: Quality Time

This is the third in a series of five posts covering the five love languages as applied to kink and BDSM. If you don’t know your love language, take the quiz linked above to find out! Today, we’re talking the love language of Quality Time!

A person whose love language is quality time is all about spending meaningful, one-on-one time connecting with the people they love. In some ways, it can be the easiest of the five to give – but in long term relationships, quality time often falls by the wayside in favour of “just generally being in each other’s space.” It can be especially difficult if your relationship is long distance, or if you work long hours, have children, are on a limited income, or otherwise have factors in your lives which make spending time together difficult.

But you CAN do it! Read on to learn some ideas for your kinky dynamic.

How to love a submissive whose love language is quality time

As a submissive, their undivided time and attention is one of the greatest things my Dominant can give me. I need to feel wanted in a relationship, and planning quality time with me – and following through on it – is a huge way for my partners to show that they love and value me.

One obvious, and super fun, way to love your submissive whose love language is quality time is to plan and carry out a fun kinky night with them! This might mean staying in and getting your kink on in your bedroom, or it might mean taking them out to a fetish club, kinky event or play party.

Not all your quality time together has to be active play time, of course. Snuggling on the couch can be just as meaningful as a full scene, and can show your submissive that you love them as a person and partner, and not only as a kinky plaything. Of course, if you want to make a low-key date night kinky, you could always order your sub to wear a butt plug throughout the movie or edge three times before you take them out to dinner…

In smaller ways, a good way to show love to your submissive is to carve out small pockets of time in your day just for them. If you live apart, a nightly phone-call will mean the world to them. If you live together, a few minutes each evening where you cuddle and talk about your day can help you to feel connected amidst your busy lives.

Finally, ritual can be an incredibly useful tool if your submissive values quality time highly. This could encompass a task (“make my coffee for me each morning then sit quietly and cuddle with me while I drink it,”) or could have a play element to it (“five spanks every night before bed.”) Equally, it could be a simple connective ritual like watching an episode of your favourite TV show together last thing in the evening or setting aside Friday nights to be your glass-of-wine-and-debrief-of-the-week time. Whatever it is, the predictability and regularity of it is likely to be comforting and meaningful.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is quality time

It can be tempting, as a submissive, to think that showing up and getting beaten is all you need to do to make your Dominant happy. This really isn’t the case, though – especially if their love language is quality time! Quality time needs to be intentional, deliberate and, well, quality. When you’re spending quality time together, make sure that you’re showing up ready to completely focus on your partner.

Don’t expect your Dominant to do all the date planning, either! Just because you’re the submissive, doesn’t mean you can’t take charge of making plans from time to time. Most Doms want to be wooed and taken out on dates just as much as most submissives do.

If your Dominant likes surprises, tell them you’re taking them on an adventure – and maybe the barest bones info on what to wear or pack – and do all the planning to make something cool happen for the two of you. You can easily view making plans and taking them somewhere that will make their eyes light up as an act of service. If they’re not a fan of surprises, ask their permission to treat them to a date night/day/weekend doing any activity they want to do.

Another possibility for your Dominant is to give them the gift of you, completely available with no interruptions, for a period of time to have their kinky fun with. “I sent the kids to a babysitter, my phone is off, dinner is taken care of... and I’m all yours for the whole night!” What a yummy and wonderful gift.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

Regardless of dynamic and role, quality time is key to all relationships and this is especially true if this is one of your main love-languages. Whether you’re a Dom or a sub, the best gift you can give to someone whose love-language is quality time is an evening, day or weekend of your undivided attention where you can do fun things together and enjoy being in each others’ company.

If you’re long-distance or live apart, quality time will by necessity be harder to plan – but you can manage it with good scheduling and a little help from modern technology! Skype dates, phone dates, IM-dates, regardless of whether you are doing long distance kink or just catching up on your lives, can go a long way to bridging the quality time gap left by distance.

Planning quality time is also a part of this love-language. This might be sexting about all the kinky things you’re going to do when you’re next together, or it might be looking through a brochure and deciding where you want to go on holiday – or anything in between. Having plans to look forward to can be an amazing boost for your relationship and can make you both feel loved, valued and wanted.

Finally, a word on what not to do. Being flaky or cancelling plans is the worst thing you can do to someone whose love language is quality time! Emergencies happen occasionally, of course, and flexibility when they do is important. But making plans and sticking to them is paramount and if you frequently cancel, blow your partner off or mess them around, they’re going to start feeling unloved and unimportant.

What’s your favourite way to spend quality time with your partner?

If you’re enjoying this series, you can show your appreciation by buying me a coffee.

The Kinky Love Languages: Giving & Receiving Gifts

I started this series months ago with Words of Affirmation and then it fell by the wayside along with many other things as I coped with the overall garbage fire that was 2019. But we’re back and today we’re talking the love language of gifts! Let’s go. (And if you don’t know your love language, take the quiz to find out!)

A content warning that this post does discuss spending money, so if that’s difficult or stressful for you please feel free to skip this one. I have tried to be mindful of different budgets and provide a range of options for each suggestion.

Giving and receiving gifts is often regarded as the poor cousin to the other four main love languages. Those who feel an affinity with this method of showing and receiving love tend to be derided as materialistic, shallow, or throwing money at a relationship in lieu of actually making an effort.

However, I believe that is unfair. The people I’ve spoken to for whom this is a primary love language take care to point out that it’s not about the money spent or the value of the gift. Instead, it’s about the love and affection that goes into picking out the perfect thing for your partner.

The “gifts” in this context do not have to be big, expensive and extravagant presents – nor probably, in most instances, should they be. This love language is about paying attention to the things your partner loves or what they need, and giving them things that reflect that care and attention. Buying their favourite brand of tea before they sleep over, bringing them a bar of chocolate after a bad day, or picking up a cute trinket you saw for £1 because it made you think of them all come under the “giving and receiving gifts” love-language umbrella.

So how can this one relate to kinky dynamics?

How to love a submissive whose love language is gifts

In my experience, very often what submissives want more than anything is to feel truly seen and known by their Dominants. Another thing that is very often important to submissives is to feel taken care of. The love language of gifts gives you, as a Dominant, tonnes of opportunity to provide for these basic and important needs.

So pay attention to what your submissive likes! Listen for cues, watch the things they lust after or buy for themselves. Take note of things like any favourite colours, foods, hobbies or artists. That way, when you have cause to buy them a present – for a special occasion or “just because” – you can get them something really perfect.

Is your submissive always working hard and barely taking time for themselves? You could give them a gift which says “I’m giving you permission to relax” – say, a nice bath bomb or the latest issue of their favourite magazine? Perhaps the heating in their apartment is wonky, so you buy them a big snuggly blanket to keep them warm on cold days. Have they been wanting to write more? A beautiful notebook might be the perfect present.

Sexy gifts are also a great option, if your relationship includes sex! Why not surprise your submissive with a new vibrator, masturbator, or super pretty dildo? They’ll think of you fondly every time they use it!

Finally, consider the meaning of gifts that signify your relationship and importance to each other. You’ll need to negotiate its meaning fully, of course, and I don’t advocate springing this on someone without discussion – but for many submissives, their collar will be the most precious gift they ever receive. If that’s not right for your relationship (or they already have one,) then other options might be a special piece of jewellery, a harness, some beautiful underwear, or even a kink toy that is only for the two of you to use together.

How to love a Dominant whose love language is gifts

A good way to think of this is to frame the idea of giving the perfect gifts to your Dominant as an act of service. Many Doms love the idea of a submissive who pays attention and can anticipate their needs. Notice what their favourite snacks are and make sure you have them in. Bring them a coffee when you meet them at the end of a long day. Stressed out Dom? Buy massage oil and read up on how to give a really good massage. As with any other partner, keep notes on their favourite things and use this knowledge to guide your gift-giving.

A way to take this a step further, if you’re so inclined, is to make it your mission to seek out something special for them that they haven’t been able to get. Is there a book they really want that’s out of print, an edition of a game that’s no longer made, or a limited edition version of something that would make their eyes light up? If you have the chance, making an extra effort in this way can be a profound show of love – and service.

Kinky toys and tools are absolutely ideal gifts to give Dominants, too. Pay attention to what things they pick up and admire when you go to the fetish market together, or what things they’ve mentioned they really want to try. File this information away for later then, when you have occasion to give them a gift, you can surprise them with something that they’ll get endless joy out of using (on you, naturally.) Have you ever given a sadist a new whip as a present? I recommend it.

And kinky presents don’t have to stop at physical things. What about a ticket to a kink event you’ve been wanting to go to together, or a course of lessons in rope, whip technique, or some other skill they’ve been wanting to learn?

If you wish, you could even turn giving gifts to your Dominant into a kinky thing in and of itself. I am far from an expert in “financial Domination” and it’s something I encourage you to be extremely careful with and set firm limits around… but if the idea of showering your Dom with gifts and treats as part of your submission, or pretending you are being “made” to do it, gets you off then this can be a fun thing to play with.

Additional tips that are good for anyone

At the end of the day, most people love to receive the kinds of gifts that show thought, consideration, and a true knowledge of who they are. Regardless of whether you’re kinky or vanilla, a Dom or a sub or something else, you can show love to your partner by giving them the occasional well-considered, well-timed gift.

If you’re in a long-distance relationship, consider gifts that help your partner feel connected to you. This could be as simple as sneaking a shirt that smells like you into their luggage before they leave, or as elaborate as buying them a fancy app-controlled sex toy for use during your sexting sessions.

Homemade gifts are almost always wonderful. So if you have a talent, use it! I own two paintings and several pieces of jewellery made for me by my partner The Artist, and I absolutely cherish these things. I’ve made everything from chocolate chip cookies to knitted items for loved ones, and they’re always really well received.

Finally, gifts don’t have to be physical items! Something I treasure immensely is when a partner gives me a gift of an experience for us to do together. This could be buying dinner at their favourite restaurant, going to see a show together, or almost anything that they’ll love doing and love doing with you. This works particularly well for anyone who sits at the intersection of “receiving gifts” and “quality time” in their love languages.

What’s your love language? Has your Dominant or submissive ever given you a really amazing present? Tweet me or tell me about it in the comments!

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The Kinky Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

This is the first in a mini-series of posts where I explore the five love languages as they can relate to kink and BDSM. If you don’t know your main love language, take the quiz to find out! Most of us are a mix of several or all of them, but have one that comes out most strongly. The model is somewhat flawed (I think there are more than five languages – two additional ones of mine are co-creation and food, for example) but it’s a useful starting point for exploring how you like to give and receive love. I believe that a lot of problems with one person feeling unloved and unappreciated, in relationships where everyone is acting in good faith and doing their best, come down to a mismatch of love languages and not understanding each other’s.

Words of Affirmation

People whose primary love language is words of affirmation like to be told they’re loved. They like to be told explicitly, out loud and in detail that they are valued by their partner(s.) People who understand love via words of affirmation do not ascribe to the adage that words are meaningless and only actions count. Don’t get me wrong though – your actions still need to back up your words!

How to show love to a submissive whose primary language is words of affirmation

Many submissives will tell you that the words “good girl,” “good boy” or similar will just make them melt in their Dominant’s arms. If you have a submissive who will do anything for these nuggets of praise, you might just have a sub whose love language is words of affirmation. Offer them genuinely as often as you can.

You can take it a step further, too. Mix in other compliments and words of praise. This can range from “I’m so proud of you” when they accomplish something, to “you look so hot kneeling for me like that” during a scene. Compliments – on their achievements, talents, character and looks – should be given freely. Remember to make sure everything you tell them is genuine and heartfelt. A person who speaks this language can tell when you’re just parroting the lines with no feeling behind them.

A submissive who needs words of affirmation is likely to need regular reassurance, too. They might need to hear that you love them, that you value them, and that they’re not too much or too needy. If you’re in a non-monogamous dynamic, they’re likely to need verbal reassurance sometimes when you’re spending time with others. Tell them explicitly how much they mean to you.

Don’t underestimate the power of written words, too! If you live apart, a “good morning beautiful/handsome” text could brighten their whole day. If you live together, a naughty or affectionate IM while they’re at work will make them smile and keep them thinking of you.

Writing tasks were also made for these submissives! Have them write down fantasies, write in a daily journal, or write down mantras to increase their confidence in themselves or the relationship. You could even set “lines” as a punishment if they misbehave! As with any punishment or protocol, make sure you negotiate fully.

How to love a Dominant whose primary love language is words of affirmation

People tend to forget that Dominants have emotional needs too! Like anyone else, D-types also have ways that they prefer to give and receive love. So if your Dom is into words of affirmation, how can you make sure they feel loved and appreciated consistently?

A Dominant who is into words of affirmation might love to hear lots of verbal feedback during and after play. You don’t have to go overboard or fake it, but a well-timed “mmm, that feels so good” or “this is making me so hard/wet” is likely to go over well. After play, general words of appreciation (“I needed that so much, thank you”) or specific compliments (“the way you handle the whip is so sexy”) are likely to make them glow. Again: whatever words you give, it’s important that they are genuine! Only say things you mean!

It’s amazing how often submissives don’t realise this or forget it, but: COMPLIMENT YOUR DOM! I often say “hey, nice ass” when I see Mr CK walking around naked. (Words isn’t really his language, but it is mine.) Tell him that shirt really suits him. Tell her the way she looks in those boots makes you go weak at the knees. Make sure they know you really appreciate their skills as a… whatever it is they’re good at. Tell them you love their laugh, their random acts of kindness, their devotion to their family. Just pick something and tell them how great they are!

However confident and stoic they seem, Doms can also feel insecure, jealous or wobbly. Regardless of your relationship structure – but especially if you’re non-monogamous – check in with your Dom regularly to see how they’re doing. Be prepared to offer any verbal reassurances they need. Ask them what they need you to remind them of, or pick it up from contextual clues, and tell them that thing. Let them be vulnerable with you and meet that vulnerability with words of love and support.

If your D-type sets you a writing task, take it on promptly and joyfully. Do the best you can with it. In fact, you might even suggest this to them if they haven’t thought of it!

Additional tips that are good for anyone

Don’t be afraid to remind your partner of your confidence, faith and pride in them. As someone who speaks the words of affirmation language, if I have a big interview, presentation or important meeting coming up at work I love nothing more than hearing “good luck, I know you’ll rock it!” from my partners. And if something they aim for doesn’t pan out, be there to pick their spirits up with loving reassurance that it doesn’t mean anything about their ability and that things will go better next time.

Sexting was made for relationships between people who communicate their love in words. Share a filthy fantasy, a sexy dream you had, or spinning an elaborate scene together over text or IM are all great ways to feel more connected… and to gain delicious new ideas of things to try together.

If you live apart (or even if you don’t!) then consider love-letters. These could be emails or actual, old-fashioned pen-and-paper letters. However you do it, they’ll give you something to look back on and cherish for years to come.

Say “I love you.” Seriously. Say it often. No-one who speaks the “words of affirmation” language will get tired of hearing it.

Do you speak “Words of Affirmation” as your love language? How do you like to give and receive love in your kinky relationship?

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