As humans, complexity streams through our veins as surely as our blood. Our entire biology is based on an intricate infusion of chemicals, thoughts and emotions. The association between sexual pain and pleasure is one such example, and a desperately intriguing one that many people are too ashamed to consider (or worse, experience). Typically, where there is pain there is a force field of avoidance, panic and discomfort. Pain is not something which is normally sought out, it’s a reason to cower behind a bristly old shrub and pray to God it doesn’t find you. So why is it, then, that in the midst of sexual pleasure, a bite that pinches just that little bit too much can be what sends us into a state of orgasmic euphoria?
"BDSM creates another level of intimacy, despite its tendency to cause unnerving intimidation."
It’s a mysterious link, and one with dangerously underestimated power. There is a higher state of being, a current stronger than the ocean and an untapped erogenous overload to be found in the collision of such polarity. Not only does carnal aching have the capacity to add to pleasure, but sexual pleasure is a sure-fire way to release oodles of concentrated pain. As naturally self-loathing creatures, we unwittingly take delight in the seething nibble of discomfort. I myself appreciate the fragments of torture littered throughout sex as a way of satiating my hunger for a physical release for the inner pain of being an exceedingly conscious, chaotically-minded animal. It’s eclectic to give in to instinctual behaviour, if only for a moment; to spoil in the pain of someone else, or yourself. Pain and pleasure are everywhere- sexual and emotional ravishing has been exploited ferociously in literature, film and television, providing an outlet of imagination for those who are too uptight to admit that when they go to sleep, the darkness becomes a canvas for the painful indulgence of loving and lovemaking.
Scientifically speaking, pain and pleasure are both cause for arousal. The release of certain chemicals and hormones in the brain and body are stimulated in the same way by both desire and violence; entwine the two to create an out of body, out of mind experience. Biology has the ability to transform stressful and painful experiences into moments of pleasure, merely by stimulating the release of serotonin and melatonin. That adrenalin fuelled “rush” that washes over you with every thrust that pounds so hard you feel your spleen start to tear and leaves you moaning with intense desire rather than screaming in agony? That’s norepinephrine and epinephrine commingling and saying “Hey, lighten up, it’s not so bad.”
Emotionally, I think it’s a strange thing to trust someone enough to let them hurt you, knowing that when they do, it is not out of spite or maliciousness but a symbol of their affection, their need, their craving. It takes a lot of courage to make yourself that vulnerable, to give in to such nakedness and primitive conquest. To take in every bittersweet sensation without restraint and let it flow into your lungs like oxygen. BDSM creates another level of intimacy, despite its tendency to cause unnerving intimidation. Throughout my hormonal voyage through coital exploration, I have found the relationship between sexual pain and pleasure to be merely a physical mirror for the emotional whiplash of giving another person VIP access to your soul, and while it may leave you with a bruise or two and a neck painted with hickeys and bite marks, it feels amazing.