Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) — that’s the key to happiness, or at least that’s what my iPhone news feed just told me. What’s hygge, you say? It’s a quality of coziness that kindles a feeling of contentment. It is a Danish term associated with relaxation and indulgence. One article described it as a cup a tea, a good book, a blanket and some friends, even a knitting circle. Maybe knitting isn’t the path to finding your hygge. Maybe it makes you angry, makes you want to throw the skein across the room as I often have. Finding that cozy corner can be hard among the legos, textbooks, and dolls. There might be another key to achieving Danish happiness and you can still use the yarn from that abandoned knitting project. Perhaps for a little light bondage or rope play, instead.
In a study out of the Netherlands with 902 BDSM participants and 434 control participants, those who practiced BDSM were more mentally well-adjusted than those who described their sex practices as mainstream or “vanilla.” The study looked at how the participants dealt with rejection and attachment as well as their overall sense of subjective well-being.
BDSM participants as a group are, compared with non-BDSM participants, less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, yet less agreeable (Wismeijer and Assen, 2013).
A few years ago, I heard Mollena Williams speak. The former Ms. Leather 2010 discussed her being a submissive in Bondage, Discipline/Dominance, Submission/Sadism, Masochism (BDSM) relationships. Ms. Williams explained that she did not have a dramatic childhood full of abuse, that she just always wanted to be tied up, “owned,” kicked, punched and flogged, this was what made her happy. As a society, we often make assumptions about what we believe are “healthy” choices when talking about the mind and/or the body. One common assumption is that if a person likes to spank their lover then they must be abusive and if the person getting spanked asks for more, well then they must have some dark past or a low sense of self. These assumptions are just that. Assumptions are not facts.
As far as I know, Ms. Williams is not Danish but she sure is following her own form of hygge and finding her bliss under her partner’s knee and her own agency. I’m not saying that you need to sign up for flogging 101, although there’s probably a class closer to your neighborhood than you think. Rather, I am suggesting that if you get a pat on the bottom by your partner and like it or if the idea of teasing your partner to a level of explosive orgasmic frustration makes you hot, don’t shy away from it, as you may be on the road to finding your hygge sweet spot.
And remember, just as all sex should be, consent is at the center of kinky sex play. There are rules and boundaries that are created and maintained when playing with BDSM, so that all participants are safe, physically and emotionally. If you feel so inclined to explore, start slow and do your research. Get cozy, snuggle up with your play partner and slap on the movie, Secretary.
No partner, no problem. See if there’s a munch near you. A munch is a PG group of like-minded explorers who meet in public areas, like a café and discuss the BDSM scene. No one will tie you up there, no whips involved, simply some pleasant conversation with a twist and perhaps some amuse bouche. Of course, you can bring a partner as well.
The point is that there are many different paths to happiness, contentment, indulgence and feeling connected to yourself. Yours might just be under the backside of a paddle or with the cozy embrace of a pair of crocheted cuffs..
Wismeijer, A. A., & Assen, M. A. (2013). Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.