Kink vs Lifestyle
As further truth about the diversity factor in BDSM and D/s relationships, we frequently see noobs and even some “veterans” using the term “kink” while others refer to an “alternative lifestyle”. The lines of definition also blur when referring to mainstream, vanilla, power exchanges, and a host of other terms that seem to free float online and in society. Kinks, most often, seem to refer to fetishes and yet, the fetishes themselves are seemingly more “preferences” or “explorations” rather then adhering to the clinical definitions. Clinically-speaking, a fetish is something that you cannot do without to achieve sexual or sensual arousal. Lifestyle refers to the social practices you engage in as a matter of course.
If, just as an example, you sometimes spank or flog your partner or are spanked/flogged by them, this qualifies as a casual kink, but is not really a fetish IF you don’t require it as a MUST to get aroused. If you MUST include leather or latex in your life to get aroused, that would be a clinical fetish. If you, on a daily basis, behave as generally accepted in a D/s relationship, then you’re “in” the lifestyle. If you sometimes ~ but not always ~ “play around” with power exchange and other times doubt whether you should, you’re probably just “kinky.” Are we clear about that?
Being true to your nature, your personality, your cravings and needs, will help you self-define where you are in this morass of what is what, even if you switch-up “roles” (i.e. dominant sometimes, submissive other times). Like gender-based sexuality identities (heterosexual or LBG), BDSM roles are not always “hard-defined” because people are individualistic. But a good deal of sexual behavior is termed “exploration” these days. Trying “it” (whatever it is) on to see if it fits you is fine, provided “it” is safe and consensual and can be perhaps a way to “check your kinks”. A D/s or BDSM lifestyle, however, is far more than just ascertaining if you enjoy slipping into that latex catsuit or not.
I big shout out to and thx to wmcutterblack for the help!