Raise Your Hand If You are a Sensualist

Not everyone is into pain (for pleasure). Not everyone who enjoys kink is into pain. A sensualist is not into pain. There are tens of thousands of sensualist dominants, sensualist submissives, sensualist slaves, and sensualist kinky players out in the wild who know what sensualism is about. Many of those thousands are entangled with the SM part of BDSM waters because it’s all that they know about. Many more will never begin their kink journey because they think that all BDSM activity includes pain. Pain lovers and non-pain lovers are all seeking intense pleasure or fascinating altered states or both but we get there by different paths.

Sensualism and being a sensualist are one end of the BDSM spectrum. Only part of the range is concerned with pain as the avenue to intense pleasure and wonderful altered states of consciousness. Another part of the range is in pursuit of the same goals but without pain in any form.

Sensualism is a commitment to adult play without pain and with an intention of inducing intense pleasure and/or desirable altered states of consciousness. Sensualist refers to the play participant, Top or Bottom, who loves all manner of ways to reach intense pleasure and/or desirable altered states without inducing pain.

Sensual fun is not what makes someone a sensualist. Sensuality is not sensualism. Two different things. Anyone along the BDSM spectrum might burn a scented candle or set the scene with low lighting and soft sheets. Pain lovers can use sensual techniques but that does not make them sensualists. They are sadists and masochists and, sometimes, some of them like to use sensual techniques in their scenes.

Biology or biochemistry, actually, determines whether someone is a no-pain-for-pleasure person. It is helpful to think of kinky people dividing into two categories: the pain seeking group gets a flow of endorphins in the brain that floats them into a higher space. Their brain chemistry is like that. Sensualists have very different wiring. If we feel pain during a scene we are not feeling affection for the Top who delivered the too strong sensation to our bodies. We just feel pain and hurt and maybe distrust for the Top. To a sensualist, pain is just pain. It will never deliver pleasure or anything wonderful to a sensualist’s body/mind.

On the other hand, sensualists are not pain-averse as a characteristic of being a sensualist. They can give pain in a context of consensual play as a matter of choice. A sensualist might top a masochist bottom in order to share a mutually desired experience or result with a play friend. A sensualist bottom might endure pain as a demonstration of his loyalty to his mistress.

Being a sensualist is as lively and fulfilling as any other kink lifestyle. Think of a kink activity. If it can’t be done without pain (cutting, for example) then it is not on a sensualist’s list. If it can be done and it has nothing to do with causing or receiving pain then it is sensualist good. If it is associated with pain but can be controlled away from pain then it can be included on the sensualist list. So, for example, impact play (flogging, caning, whipping, spanking, paddling) is associated with SM and pain but there is no reason why a sensualist Top cannot use impact play in a scene. Their sensualist Bottom would receive light to strong sensations in the body without ever entering the pain range. A sensualist Top would, in this example, explore a range of sensations short of giving pain. Sensualist fun for all.

Sensualists can play nice or they can play right at the edge of pain. Did you know that? A slow, even hair pulling within limits can be sexually stimulating for sensualist Top or a sensualist Bottom. Sensualists can play right at the edge of orgasm and enjoy riding the drug-like high. Look over there. That just might be a contented, sleepy-eyed sensualist curled up inside his mistress’s cage.

Not every kinky person is in to pain. This is good information for every Top who wants to best understand their prospective play partner. Sensualists need to know that they are not alone but rather are a large portion of a strongly diverse BDSM spectrum. We can all appreciate the existence of different paths to reach intense pleasure and/or altered states of consciousness whether you are a pain person or a no-pain person.

Mistress Sky is a tantra practitioner, bondage queen, and hypnotist. Professionally, Sky is a life positive counselor for alternative lifestyles at Gates Counseling. She gives presentations and workshops and writes about Unequal Partnership, the dominance/submission model that she developed over the last ten years.


  1. this article was a comfort. i don’t think i fall in the beat me till I’m black and blue. i much prefer softer things and light spankings over caning for example. to each there own!

  2. Wonderful article, Mistress Sky. I identity with so much of this. For years, I thought I was more a fetishist than anything, but sensualist makes a ton more sense in my mind. I am a top most of the time and prefer traditional pain play to be more on the mild to moderate side. In essence, if it produces a reaction, I’m good. It’s also why I enjoy playing with, say, ice cubes, or tickling my submissive’s feet until she promises to be good. On the edge of masochistic, but not quite there. That’s my style and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  3. Thank you. This article is very interesting and informative.

  4. Aquarius2 says:

    Everyone is different and that is part of the fun exploring things to try and what the limits are. then each session gets better and better. Just remember to change gears when switching partners! a wrong nipple squeeze can put a dent in the play time for example.

  5. Sensualism is definitely one aspect of my kinky spectrum. I don’t consider myself a sensualist though and your article does a good job of explaining why.

  6. Ausgezeichnete says:

    I love this article! I wish Sensualism was more visible in the BDSM community. In Facebook groups and the like the newbies all think they have to be extreme to be “part of the club” or think that Sadism is the only way to proceed. There is so much more. I love a Sensualist Dom who might tip the tiniest bit into Sadism (my Dom is a Sensualist/Daddy). When I Top I am a Sensualist who *can* dip into Sadism if my sub wants. But I don’t have the capacity to *be* a Sadist, or to submit to one.

  7. I understand this article, but as a sensualist who also enjoys pain I don’t feel it is entirely accurate. Of course there are sensualists and many other roles that do not enjoy pain. But being a sensualist does not mean one can’t find pleasure in pain or even crave it. One role doesn’t exclude the other. Pain is provided by touch, touch is a sense.

  8. Richard Dietzel says:

    I feel it’s telling that a search on sensualist/sensualism produces exactly one post this is where we stand in the community as well, feeling singular if in a good place or isolated if not.

Speak Your Mind