No-one wakes up one morning and says “check it out, I’m into kink now”. We come to all things through a process. A desire takes root, and we prod at it and probe it to see whether it will stick or is just a passing fancy, and how important it is to us. Most of us do that internally, keeping things to ourselves until we feel that some kind of “coming out” is needed.
Warning: lots of generalisation coming up, and this particular progression isn’t going to be every person’s experience. It doesn’t have to be linear, multiple stages might be grouped together. You might be impulsive and just skip right to the end, or you might decide that something should just remain a fantasy. Think of it as a general map, not turn-by-turn navigation.
The first stage in any fantasy is actually being aware that you have it. It’s one thing to know that a kink, say for example spanking, exists. It’s another to know that it interests you in a more-than-academic way.
This is more complex than it first sounds, because kinks are very facetted. To watch someone being spanked is not really to understand it. There may only be one aspect of it that interests you or it may be contextual. The interest might be physical, or emotional, or connected to something else. Perhaps you find your imagination turning to the sound, the heat, the pain or the power exchange.
I chose spanking because on the surface it’s relatively straightforward, so you see how complex understanding an attraction to something like Master/slave dynamics might get.
This can be a troublesome stage for a lot of people. It raises a flood of questions. Why does this turn me on? What does it mean? Is it wrong? Is something wrong with me?
Whether or not you can answer all the questions it raises, if the desire or urge remains then all the intellectualising in the world isn’t going to shift that
Once you’re aware that something interests you, the next stage is to mentally explore it. This often goes through four sub-stages:
Deflection by education
Because often it’s not easy to come to terms with fantasising about a kink, many people separate themselves from it by treating it as an intellectual concept. This is where you learn as much about it as you can, while trying to keep the research as impersonal as possible.
Self-understanding by education
Understanding a fantasy involves taking information about the fantasy and interpreting it in a way that helps us explain where our fantasy comes from and why we have it. This is a step towards comfortably integrating it.
Tangential gratification via de-personalisation
Sooner or later most of us look for some sense of gratification for our fantasy, and often this is by seeking out porn, websites and forums. This often starts as a depersonalisation of the fantasy by getting enjoyment as a removed third party. We are a removed third party who is not part of a particular scene, story or situation, so we can enjoy it in a voyeuristic fashion.
Core gratification via personalisation
De-personalisation leads to personalisation, and it is natural to imagine ourselves in the scenes or stories we see online instead of just being a removed observer.
After exploring the fantasy privately for some time, the next stage is actually thinking about it happening in real life. This is the point where we cross the line between imagining ourselves acting out the fantasy and actually wanting the fantasy to become a reality.
At this point we’ve often been thinking about it long enough to have given a lot of consideration to the benefits and the risks.
This is a precipice moment. The doorway is clearly defined. Do we step through it or not?
This is the stage where things stop being purely a fantasy and start becoming real. For those already in relationships, it might be a time for bringing up the topic with their partner or “coming out”. For those who are single it is often a time for manouvering into a position for meeting someone like-minded, which might mean becoming a more active member of the kink community or beginning to use dating sites.