How To Start A Kinky Relationship Front Cover

Front cover for How To Start A Kinky Relationship

by James Amoureux
Published in 2011 by The TantraLogic Group

 A few months ago, I attended a discussion at a leather conference about Master/slave (M/s) relationships. Someone in the class pointed out that despite much talk about the virtues of M/s relationships, such relationships often do not seem as enduring as vanilla (non-kinky) relationships.

I began to think about this at some length.  Anecdotally, it does certainly seem true that the vast majority end after a few years (somewhat ironically, I write that sentence the evening before I attend the wedding of an M/s couple who I am certain will truly be together for the rest of their lives.)  It is unusual to hear of an M/s relationship that has lasted 10 or more years.

I think that both vanilla and kinky relationships fail for many of the same reasons. In addition to the standard problems all relationships face, many M/s relationships fail because because people enter them committed to their fantasy instead of being committed to the person they are in the relationship with.

Fantasies are devoid of the detritus of everyday life, such as illness, stress, bad days, in-laws, children, and so on.  Just like vanilla couples, M/s couples spend the majority of their time engrossed in everyday life.  When someone is committed to their fantasy life, and not their partner(s), these stresses are more likely to undermine someone’s commitment to their relationship.  Unfortunately, inside the M/s community there is much discussion of how M/s relationships are better or more authentic than vanilla ones, and discussions of frailties of M/s relationships seem taboo.

I had put that thought out of my consciousness when, out of the blue, James Amoureux sent me an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing this book, and soon enough I found a copy of this in my mail box courtesy of the author. I mention this in the interest of full disclosure.

Whenever I read or review a book, I always strive to free myself from any preconceived notions about the book or its author, because I generally believe that a book should supply its own context for both. Nonetheless having never heard of the author or this book, I did a cursory internet search to learn about both.

What I learned made me leery of the book before I began to read. First there is the name of the publishing company, TantraLogic Group.  Though I recognize that some people claim that religion (or spirituality) and BDSM are intertwined (if not the same thing), I am always skeptical about anyone who wants to combine the two. I am even more skeptical when that spirituality is of an Asian or Wiccan persuasion. The second thing that that concerned me is that the author describes himself as a relationship coach, an occupation which reminds me of the sleazy hucksters who dispense advice on how to meet women in free adult newspapers.  Despite these trepidations, I tried to read this book with an open mind.

Amoureux begins How To Start A Kinky Relationship by exploring what attracts people to kinky sex before delving into what kinky sex is, an introduction to BDSM, how to meet kinky people, what to look for in a partner, how to introduce kink into a vanilla relationship, and how to sustain a kinky relationship.

Amoureux clearly and succinctly describes many of the problems relationships of all types face, and he offers clear and prescient advice on how to avoid the problems of both vanilla and kinky relationships. I wish that the M/s community would invest more time in discussing the type of advice Amoureux dispenses and less time proclaiming the superiority of M/s relationships.

This is a truly outstanding book from cover to cover. In many ways it reminds me of a well-written textbook. Not only is Amoureux’s writing is clear and concise without being self-indulgent or boring, the book’s layout is pleasing and easy to follow. It also contains excellent references. I especially enjoyed Amoureux’s emphasis on communication in relationships, and his use of personal experiences to elaborate his points.

I was particularly interested in the book’s discussion of how individual sexual interests can be viewed as part of a normal distribution. According to Amoureux, given the sexual variance of the whole population, one should expect outliers of the kinky or asexual variety. Whether this is true is open to debate, but it is an interesting theory.  Unfortunately in my estimation rather than emphasizing that one should expect kinky outliers, it emphasizes that we are outliers and makes us easier to marginalize.

My only complaint about this book is that Amoureux does not emphasize the notion of confidentiality in the BDSM community. While it is great that Amoureux is able to be open about his interest in BDSM in all facets of his life, not everyone has the luxury or desire to do so.  To Amoureux’s credit, he does acknowledge that one’s interest in BDSM is a private matter, but he suggests indirectly that being out is superior to not being out.

That one complaint is very minor and does not detract from the book.  As someone who has read nearly every introductory BDSM book, How To Start A Kinky Relationship is by far my favorite and I will recommend it again and again.