Integrity – the Key to Trust in Kink Relationships

01_eve_marieEve Marie shot by Danny Stygion

To reach the most potent depths of power-exchange requires the highest level of personal integrity.

Aspiring to the highest level of integrity is critical to deepening trust and connection with a partner. I define integrity as having the intention and commitment to be responsible, accountable, risk-aware, actively listening, transparent, honest, and present.

It means telling the truth, starting with what you want…and what you don’t. Unwavering respect of boundaries is critical in power-exchange dynamics.

Clear, transparent, and fair negotiation with your partners should be standard procedure. Knowing proper techniques, risk/safety factors for your style of engagement, and the toys or tools involved, goes without saying.

Encouragement, discussion, and compassionate support of your partner, as well as yourself, before and after scenes, is a golden practice.

Adhering to these types of practices and principles builds the foundation for an ongoing and deepening exploration. This level of safety and trust offers the possibility of engaging and sharing our most protected and vulnerable erotic depths with our partners.

While this can seem a complex effort overall, the fundamentals of consciously engaging and exploring your Eros with integrity are easy to develop and learn as a practice.

The most important aspect is to have the clear intention to aspire to the highest level of integrity.

Here are 4 Tips to up the integrity, trust, and connection level in your power- exchange engagements.

  1. Negotiate Thoroughly

The potential for misunderstandings, perceived or actual consent violations, resentment, mistrust, or emotional/physical harm are excessive when there has not been a clear negotiation. I would discourage ever engaging in D/s-BDSM with someone you just hooked-up with, or even your own partner, if you have not already come to complete, conscious agreement on all fronts before the scene begins.

The point is to feel empowered, connected, and exhilarated after engaging your deepest desires, not wounded or disconnected.

Start the negotiation with the intention to make a deep, heart-felt, human-to-human connection before you enter into any level of D/s-BDSM. The foundation for exploring these powerful depths of our sexual desires is trust, whether for a one-time scene or long-term connection. Each side needs to know they are ultimately cared for while revealing and expressing vulnerable and often scary parts of their sexual desire.

Conduct your negotiation in the most honest, transparent, and revealing  manner possible. Be clear, direct, and thorough. All partners should share in full equality, voice, and advocacy for what they want and do not want at this stage of the journey.

  1. Intention, Pace, Trust

Be clear about intention. It is important to clarify your intentions, boundaries, and expectations beyond the initial encounter for yourself and your partner. If you want to enter the encounter as a one-off with no expectations afterwards, state that clearly right off the bat.

Make sure your partner understands your intention. Press for a direct response that they understand and agree.

Hold your boundaries firmly if a potential partner says they are looking for casual only, and you seek more, and vice versa.

Discuss clearly what may be involved in an initial engagement with your partner in terms of props, toys, roles, and intensities. Get clear about safe sex practices to maintain and sexual history.

Start slow and keep it simple if you are just beginning. Get clarity about options for what to do if something unexpected comes up during the engagement. This would include usage and agreement on safe-words.

Some issues that may arise as you engage may just need you to pause and check in with each other, and then continue. Others may require you to come to a complete stop, and check in about what has come up and/or what one or the other needs most in that moment.

Sometimes, even with clear negotiations, there are things that can present unexpectedly. The best thing to do in these situations is to breath, stay calm, shift to full compassion, and care for the partner needing support. These will likely be rare, if ever occurrences, with proper preparation. Furthermore, considering them in the initial negotiation builds trust, which will most likely reduce the likelihood of these occurrences even further.

  1. Understand and Allow the Paradox

The nature or essence of the dynamic in D/s-BDSM is power-exchange.

One takes control, one surrenders for an agreed upon time. This exchange is inevitably both sacred and profane in its nature. There is a noble (D/s) and a taboo (BDSM) context that is occurring simultaneously.

It is very important to understand the distinction between the two, and how both are engaged during a D/s-BDSM encounter.

Embracing either Dominant or submissive role in this kind of dynamic can bring one in touch with deep-seated instinctual, historical, mythic, and/or archetypal aspects of the collective human experience. These are mythic themes and sensibilities that have been part of human theater, epic mythical tales, and cultural cosmologies for thousands of years.

It is not just the physical sensations and sex that are compelling in D/s-BDSM. It is also the intoxication of the sacred ritual of regal power and devotional surrender, and the primal instincts of being devoured or ravaging another.

  1. Time and Space

I recommend you set aside a minimum of 2 hours to immerse yourselves in this compelling personification of your erotic nature.

You might find you could easily go 3 to 5 hours or more. Some scenes can be designed to go for an entire weekend or more.

Before you engage your partner, take time to prepare yourself by getting present, clear in intention, and embodied in whatever way works for you.

Take care in preparing the space you will engage in. Bring in ambiance of light, sound, texture, aromas, and all that sets the right tone for the way in which you and your partner wish to journey. Make this a sacred space, whatever that might mean to you.

Also, prepare in advance a good aftercare plan that includes access to emotional support if needed. This applies to both the dominant and submissive. Moving deeper into your authentic, sexual desires is an opportunity to both be empowered and to heal if these steps are followed.

In conclusion, the key to coming to terms with our sexuality and creating healthy power-exchange dynamics, is to learn how to express and experience our desires safely, honorably, and consciously, in a way that aligns with the integrity in our agreements we make with ourselves and others, and that encompasses our core values.

We must also compassionately examine and resolve the unconscious concerning powerful, negative cultural messages we’ve internalized about our sexuality and ourselves. That is why this is both an empowering and healing journey.

One short article cannot cover all the important considerations of exploring your Fetishsexuality or Kink desires, but I hope this gives you a starting point to launch your own journey into the depths of your sexuality, and aids you in building your dynamics.

About Galen Fous MTP 

Kink-Positive Therapist, Author, Educator & Sex Researcher

Galen regularly speaks at universities, grad schools and conferences about sexuality and Kink. He offers AASECT and APA approved CE classes for therapists on various accredited online educational platforms.  His research focuses on understanding the unconscious psychological dynamics of Kink, Fetish and D/s-BDSM sexuality. Galen Has a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology from ITP.

He works with clients within a Transpersonal psychology framework that helps individuals and couples get honest, shame-free and confident in expressing their authentic sexuality. Galen helps clients shift from compulsive, dishonest, risky sexual behaviors to negotiated, consensual authentic sexual practices.  This framework includes resolving the embedded fear, shame and judgments entangling one’s desire.

An important component of his research into the nature of Fetishsexual and Kink desire is the development of the Discover Your Personal Erotic Myth Survey.   ( ) This ground-breaking and ongoing research survey with over 4000 participants so far, is the first study that begins to document the mythic archetypal aspects of Fetishsexuality by mapping of the sexual unconscious.

Galen’s latest book, “Decoding Your Kink – Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires” has been praised by sexual psychologists and educators as “Visionary …Masterful …Groundbreaking …Cutting Edge…Worth its Weight in Diamonds … Highly Recommended…A Must Read!”  He is also the author of “The Sharp Edge of Love – Extreme Sex, Mythic Passion, Primal Intensity.  Learn more at

In 2000, he introduced the world renowned Tetruss Shibari Suspension-Bondage Rig, Portable Dungeon, and Sex Swing, the world’s most versatile adult toy. (


  1. Kateofspades says:

    Trust and Integrity as so essential to power exchange. I would even argue that they are more essential than anything else.

  2. Thank you for writing this piece. This is advice that never gets old.

  3. subbyJoe says:

    Before a power exchange starts, do you recommend being friends with someone first?

    • @subbyJoe – it depends what you mean by friends. For me it is more about being present with my counterpart in the moment after a thorough negotiation, and the building of trust and connection before the scene starts. And giving authentic care for each other when the scene is done. I strive to become intimates more than friends…and from that an ongoing friendship may develop as well, if not a long term relationship.

  4. Jayne Richards says:

    You wrote …creating healthy power-exchange dynamics, is to learn how to express and experience our desires safely, honorably, and consciously, in a way that aligns with the integrity in our agreements we make with ourselves and others, and that encompasses our core values.

    Something I’ve discovered over the past several years is that many have no clue what their core values are or if they align in the least with the partner they are attempting D/s with.

    If we all understood what are top core values are and if they align with our partner we would have more opportunity to create a successful dynamic. JMO

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