Dear Rhonda,

I am a sadist. I always have been in all my sexual encounters. I met my current wife and fell in love with her. We got married and had a baby. I kept on seeing my regular BDSM encounters behind her back. One day she found out and I made a promise that I will only be with her and that’s it. I don’t want to break my promise but I need that part of my life. Sex does not do it for me anymore. I need the rush. I need the feeling that being in a BDSM relationship gives me. I don’t want to give up my marriage and she won’t let me do what I want to others. Please help, what should I do?


Dear Rick,

It sounds like you are in a bind. I am sure I do not need to point out you should have had this conversation long ago, before you made a monogamous commitment and before you became a parent. Unfortunately when we fall in love, the period of limerence often disguises major sexual incompatibilities, and this causes problems for couples down the track, after they have made a monogamous commitment to one another and for some, once they have started a family. This is now more than a question of choosing between your sadism and your wife and child, because you have made that commitment and you have responsibilities as a parent.

So what can you do?

Talk to your wife about what sadism means to you

How does sadism relate to (or sit apart from) your love for your wife and the sex you share? What needs does it meet for you? Is it about identity, intimacy, getting a physical or psychological ‘fix’, about the ‘rush’, or something else? How does this differ from regular sex? What does the sex you share with your wife mean to you? What does it mean to her? What does sadism mean to her? What does your experience of sadism mean to you both? In healthy relationships, we have sex for the relationship first, then for our partners and then for ourselves. Where does BDSM sit within this picture? What needs is it meeting, and how can you get these needs met in a way that suits you both?

Incorporate sadism into your sex life with your wife

If your wife agrees, try incorporating sadism into your sex life. Remember to start small, with dirty talk and a lot of fantasy rather than action. You will need to go slowly as you discover one another’s boundaries. It is also important to maintain a balance and ensure your wife gets her needs met, and that may be for non-BDSM sex. In this case, you need to find a working compromise, for instance, you might have BDSM sex sometimes and regular sex at others.

Gain permission to practice BDSM outside the relationship

If your wife is not open to incorporating any BDSM into your sex life (even through dirty talk and fantasy), find out if she is willing to allow you to compartmentalise your sadism and practice outside the marriage. Previously you were doing this behind her back; you are now seeking permission to do this with her knowledge and consent.

Offer for her to set down conditions under which your BDSM interactions occur, for instance, she might request you see a professional submissive, or rule aspects of your encounters (such as intercourse) out of bounds. Offer her some control over your activities, so you are playing with her consent and within her boundaries. She needs to feel safe, respected, valued and desired. It is also important to offer her something equivalent in return.

Reconnect with your wife

You say ‘sex does not do it for me anymore’ which suggests a conditioned response. Your wife must also be missing out at this point, as the two of you are no longer connecting sexually. To share intimacy and pleasure again with your wife, start by cutting out BDSM practice and stimuli temporarily, even when you masturbate. (You can re-incorporate sadism once you feel reconnected and are able to enjoy sex with your wife).

Get back to the basics of sensual touch. Be present with your body and your senses and the experience of pleasure with your wife. Start by using a ‘mindful masturbation‘ practice, and then incorporate a similar approach to partnered sex (see Phase 1 and Phase 2 from this handout). Do this without expectation of orgasm or release. It is about getting back in touch with your senses and what is happening between you and your partner in the moment; it is not about achieving an end.

How else can you get your BDSM needs met?

Once you have considered what BDSM means to you, consider how else you might get this need met, whether it is through fantasy, masturbation, or something else entirely. Continuing to practice sadism outside the marriage is an option; however, you know the price when your wife inevitably catches you out. As a parent, you have responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of your child, so this needs to take priority in your decision-making. For the same reason I do not want to suggest ending the relationship, as if everything else is working well and your child has a healthy and happy home life, this needs to take precedence. This is something you might revisit if your situation and your child’s needs change.

Getting help

If you are not able to have these conversations with your wife on your own, you might consider seeing a kink-positive sex therapist who can help support you finding a working solution. A good kink-positive sex therapist may also have some suggestions for incorporating BDSM into your everyday if you are not able to get this need meet through your relationship with your wife.

We can’t always have our cake and eat it

As I have written before, the expectations we place on our partners in monogamous relationships is enormous and often unrealistic, and causes much dissatisfaction and downright misery for some. Though statistically, monogamy is not a reality for many long-term relationships, culturally we pay lip service to it. You made a monogamous commitment to your wife, so it is not unreasonable for her to expect you to honour that, and for you to pay the price should you choose otherwise. All you can do in this situation is try to work through your sexual differences with your partner by honestly examining what sex and monogamy means to each of you (and in your case, what sadism means), and try to find ways to accommodate these needs, perhaps by shifting your expectations of one another. We can’t always have our cake and eat it.

I wish you the best of luck.

Rhonda x

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