How to Have Better Kink Scenes: ADHD in BDSM

January 24, 2024

If you or your partner have ADHD, you have likely experienced a chaotic element to your connection and intimacy. Let’s talk about embracing the creative chaos, while providing stability for neurotypical partners in your BDSM scenes and relationships. 

ADHD is full of seeming contradictions that actually camouflage strengths. It stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, (the H is for hyperactivity which may not be part of your picture). Although this appears to be a lack of attention, people with ADHD are actually paying attention to many things at once. Because of this different way of using focus, the ADHD brain brings some powerful strengths to BDSM.

HYPERFOCUS

Contradicting the ADHD brain’s perceived lack of attention, hyperfocus is a powerful strength.  Getting great amounts done to the exclusion of all else while time passes unnoticed, a common experience of hyperfocus, is great for weaving a complicated rope dress for 3 hours, or  *studiously* ensuring  that your partner becomes a drooling, quivering, completely satisfied bit of putty in your hands…

Tapping into hyperfocus is tricky, like the “special attack” in a video game. What prompts it is complex and inconsistent, for example a spark of dopamine from intense interest, or endorphins from the acute anxiety of  an imminent due date. Also like a video game, your likelihood of accessing this ability increases with full health meters. This means consistently prioritizing sleep, food, water, and rest. 


CREATIVE MULTILEVEL THINKING 

ADHD people are GOOD at making connections between vastly different topics. If an ADHD person has the time to plan a scene the way they like, you get a well crafted, multi-layered scene: negotiated acts of physical touch, pain, dominance/submission, sex, boundary exploration…and their psychological motivations, emotions around current events,details shared about daddy issues, and the food you said you hated last week! The ADHD person is surprising and innovative offering unique out-of-the-box suggestions. 

It DOES help to communicate when your thoughts  jump around. I’m a fan of the phrase, “Commercial? (Insert random thing you thought of) … And we’re back,” to signpost a topic change, but allow an ADHD brain to work the way it wants.


JACK  OF ALL TRADES

New interests come often, with a big hyperfocus to learn the basics. Even if you don’t end up an expert, you’re still a well rounded partner with breadth of experience to draw on. Combining this with multi-level thinking, you can create a well informed scene that, for example, titillates the senses with rope, draws on psychology for adept power dynamics, uses paint that won’t stain your rope but WILL make it appear your partner is bleeding, incorporates such vivid knowledge of  archaic weaponry that toys feel real, and includes a robotic hand you made to create a mysterious other partner…. Whatever your specific interests, the possibilities are truly endless. 


These are some powerful positives! Let’s also talk about how to…



NORMALIZE THE STRUGGLES AND MAXIMIZE THE SKILLS

BDSM, no matter how well we minimize risks, can be dangerous. Attention is important for safety.  

You can promote a safe strengths based arena with a go-with-the-flow attitude. ADHD people are likely familiar with a love/hate relationship around structure. So establish a plan, but let creativity (or fuck-ups)  take you places you didn’t expect. 

An ADHD brain may struggle with linear organization like tracking time, hitting every objective, and remembering rules or instructions. So don’t be afraid to boost your scene by writing things down. A written scene negotiation sheet is great. You can also externalize executive function tasks. Set alarms, ask for/give instructions in writing, and delegate counting/organizing tasks (maybe to your submissive)… Externalizing becomes a strength. 

Sensory items also help with focus for tops and bottoms. BDSM is FULL of sensory aspects, so play on this. Provide an ADHD brain with multiple stimuli at once to boost focus. For example, sucking on a dildo while getting fingered, and counting strokes from your partner out loud with your “mouth full.” Then you stay present, and you look impressive doing so many things at once!



EMPOWER LEARNING

To leverage multilayered thinking when learning new things for kink, involve multiple learning styles. For example, try combining verbal instruction with hand writing notes, AND trying the thing out. If rope is your thing, there’s a great resource for free digital lessons. It corresponds roughly to the content of Shibari You Can Use,”by Lee Harrington, a gorgeous and simple to follow paper text and photo guide of the basics. Using this double learning style helps a neurodivergent person learn rope skills in their own way, at their own pace. 



COMMUNICATION AND FOLLOW UP

ADHD comes with different needs and methods for communication. The ADHD brain has an extraordinary ability to focus on the present, without losing the feeling of past connections. If you look at people as plants, and the attention they give each other as a watering schedule, you might say ADHD folks are like succulents: they don’t need much water. This can cause you to struggle to maintain relationships with neurotypical “plants” that need more consistent watering.  Also, something like responding to a text may simply slip your mind. So, discuss communication expectations with your partners, and find a way to meet both your needs. For example, clearly express minimum communication needs, give permission to respond with just an emoji, or to poke the other person if they don’t reach out or respond within a certain length of time. For happy partners, you don’t have to become perfect. Just agree on realistic expectations to prevent disappointment.



LETTING GO OF SHAME 

 You could say that’s the mantra of the whole kink realm….. The BDSM kink community is a place to explore your sensual desires, and let go of the sense of “should” or “failure” that can plague a neurodivergent person.  So develop phrases like, “I lost my place would you repeat that?” Ask partners to respond with patience and without exasperation, so you can share your true experience. Let them know it’s important to praise your skills and strengths. If you are the partner of an ADHD person, do these things without them asking for it. Communicate openly, set joint expectations, and celebrate things that make different brains different. Sharing our differences is the biggest, hottest intimacy builder of all. 


Happy kinking! 

By Adora Horrible

AKA Shira Behal, LCPC, AT




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