How old are you?
Woman A: Twenty-seven.
Woman B: Twenty-three.
Woman C: Thirty-four.
What do you consider rough sex?
Woman A: Anything that involves a little bit of danger and experimentation. For me, it usually involves some uncomfortable effects afterward such as soreness or completely losing your voice after giving an earth-shattering blow job.
Woman B: I think it can basically revolve around pretty aggressive/hard sex, but mainly I think of rough sex as incorporating things like spanking, choking, gagging, hair pulling, or being pinned down or pushed.
Woman C: Hmm, I guess being held down, told what to do, hard thrusting, etc.
What do you think is the difference between rough sex and BDSM?
Woman A: I feel like BDSM is more planned out while rough sex is a "whatever happens, happens" encounter.
Woman B: I'm still not totally sure. The way I see it, rough sex is sort of ramping up to BDSM, but rough sex is also under the umbrella of BDSM. For me, I realized I liked it a little rougher, then became more comfortable with testing the waters in bondage and more pronounced dominance/submissiveness.
Woman C: Well, I don't wear costumes or have a master or anything, which is what I think of when I think of BDSM.
How did you realise you preferred rough sex?
Woman A: I was aware of my now-ex's wild ways, but we never tried anything daring during our relationship. Years later, we reconnected and, knowing he wanted to take things to a different level sexually, I agreed to be game for whatever he had in mind. Hearing his voice demand me to perform specific acts was a major and surprising turn on for me. The raw emotion and roughness became something I craved.
Woman B: A partner started teasing me by telling me things he wanted to do to me and it got me thinking about actually giving it a try. When we had rough(er) sex for the first time and started getting into choking, spanking, hair pulling, etc., I realised it was what I'd been wanting for a while. I'd just been having run-of-the-mill sex with guys and feeling like it could've been better if it had been taken up a notch.
Woman C: I realised it by having boring sex previously. It's more fun. I will have sweeter sex too, but we always wind up getting faster and harder by the end.
What specific acts do you prefer?
Woman A: Giving deep-throat blow jobs in positions that allow the man to have control of me. My hands are tied and I have no control of how deep he goes. Another favourite is having both my hands and ankles tied up with the guy inserting anal vibrators and thrusting his penis inside me while he pulls my hair. My boyfriend loved using a belt all over my body and I immediately took a liking to the sensation.
Woman B: Spanking, choking, hair pulling, bondage/being pinned down, and gagging/mouth covering.
Woman C: I like spanking and being held down.
How do you make sure it's safe?
Woman A: The danger is always part of the fun, but providing my own sex toys and using common sense makes things smooth. I know what my limits are and when I need to tell the other person to stop. I won't put myself in danger just because my man is enjoying it.
Woman B: We try to make sure there's always an out strategy. Safe words, or if there's gagging involved, just tapping or head shaking with eye contact.
Woman C: I just tell them "no choking" because I don't like that.
Do you always clearly define boundaries beforehand? Do those boundaries ever change?
Woman A: I identify my boundaries beforehand so everything goes smoothly. I learned my lesson early on that you have to be pretty specific when it comes to what you aren't comfortable with. Nothing ruins the moment like having to stop and give a lecture on why you aren't into what the guy wants to do. If something didn't go well during the last round, like maybe he used the belt a little too hard or he hurt my neck the way he pulled my hair, that's when I say we have to take it down a notch next time, so I go by that.
Woman B: I think it depends. I really trust my current boyfriend with our boundaries. He and I are comfortable talking about the "hard pass" items and what things we'd consider something to try eventually. Some days are different than others and I'll straight-up say, "No, I don't want to do that." I think it'd be different if it was someone else.
Woman C: I definitely tell them when I don't like something or feel uncomfortable, but it's usually during sex, not before.
Have you ever been injured, or injured a partner?
Woman A: Once a blow job got a little too deep while I was positioned upside down on my bed. I felt like I couldn't breathe with his body was on top of mine and I needed to get my head up, but he was just about to finish. I was struggling and my head going in different positions. I ultimately cut his penis with my tooth. There was also one instance where we've bumped our heads together or someone's foot will jab the other in the eye. I've thrown up on a guy all over his stomach and lower body as I was performing oral and he told me to keep going even though there was vomit everywhere. I was covered in vomit and felt the opposite of sexy, but he was about to finish so I kept going.
I feel like mishaps are bound to happen. When you are so caught up in the moment, you don't dwell about something gross or something that hurt. You just keep going. There's too much excitement, passion, and fast-paced action not to.
Woman B: Nothing more than a rogue elbow to the ribs. If we're ever getting into risky territory (ahem, anal), he's always super respectful and makes sure we're communicating and trusting each other.
Woman C: Nope.
How do you ask for rough sex with new partners?
Woman A: If a guy doesn't take the lead in the bedroom, I know I usually have my work cut for me. I make the first move by doing something that he probably wasn't expecting, like a deep, all-the-way-down-my-throat blow job. I try to be encouraging and tell them what I like, like hair pulling. If it's not rough enough, and usually it's not in the beginning, I tell them that I want them to be rougher or to do something harder.
Woman B: I've had conversations outside the bedroom about it to test the waters, asking him things like, "What do you think about this or that?" and gauging his response. If it's just something like spanking though, I feel comfortable enough asking for it during sex if it seems like he won't freak out.
Woman C: Honestly, I don't usually bring it up.
What kind of response do you usually get?
Woman A: One guy told me that he's never done anything crazy and said he wouldn't know what to do with any of my sex toys. The idea of rougher sex intrigued him though. He slowly began trying little things, and soon he was asking if he could tie me up and have his way with me. I was impressed.
Woman B: I never explicitly asked for rough sex, I just tested the waters around it to see if they were into it. One guy went on and on about how not into it he was and he would never be comfortable being rough with a woman, so I never asked for it.
Woman C: A lot of guys are into it.
How do you ask them to be gentler or rougher if you're not getting what you want?
Woman A: I try to be straightforward and just tell them it's too gentle or too rough. There have been times when things have became a little too crazy and I have to say, "I love what you are doing to me, but you are going to have to take it down a notch."
Woman B: There's been no issue having to "opt out" if things get too rough, but if a guy is too gentle, I sort of take it as a sign that he's not as into it and don't push it further.
Woman C: The only thing I don't like choking, so I tell them that.
Have you ever had partners who refused rough sex?
Woman A: Not yet. And if they did, then I don't know if our relationship would work out.
Woman B: Because I never explicitly asked, I just never got that extra oomph I was looking for if he wasn't into it.
Woman C: That hasn't happened yet.
In your experience, what percentage of your partners have been into it and what percentage haven't been?
Woman A: Seventy-five percent have and 25 percent haven't.
Woman B: Twenty percent were totally open/into it, 40 percent seemed into it and too timid to act on it, 40 percent were not into it.
Woman C: I'd say 100 percent are into it.
Have you ever had someone judge you for preferring rough sex?
Woman A: I showed my best friend my collection of sex gadgets, and she was shocked when I told her about all of the things my ex and I did. In conversations with other friends though, it's completely normal.
Woman B: Yes. A close friend of mine was appalled when I told her about some of the rougher things that my boyfriend and I were getting into, and she basically told me to dump him because he was "a creep" and he was "forcing" me to do those things. I of course defended him and told her it was something I was interested in and just got a look in return, that "uh, ew, OK" look.
Woman C: Actually, most of my friends also prefer rough sex, so I don't think so.
What do you think is the biggest misconceptions about women who like rough sex?
Woman A: Probably that women are demanding. For me, it's about pleasing the other person. It's not about me controlling the man.
Woman B: That we're slutty or easy or have "issues" that drive us to want these things.
Woman C: That they're trashy or slutty.
What do you think people should know before they try rough sex?
Woman A: Don't be afraid to try it! I never imagined that I would be someone who enjoyed rough sex, but it takes your relationship to another level. Also, don't worry about your appearance because at the end of the round you'll probably shed your sex-goddess-with-perfect-makeup look and end up being a hot sweaty mess covered in all kinds of bodily fluids. And just start with one or two rougher things, and see what works well between you and your partner. Most importantly, don't be afraid to ask your partner for what you want or to speak up if things get too weird!
Woman B: Don't be afraid to talk and ask for what you want. Talking through what things you are and aren't into, and establishing boundaries at the beginning may seem daunting, but it'll be worth it. Also, if you have that conversation and give rough sex a try but things aren't feeling right, don't force it. Tell him it's not working for you right away.
Woman C: You should always trust who you're doing it with.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan