Could kink-shame be affecting your relationship?

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It’s official: Brits are having less sex. Is technology and stress really to blame, or is our lack of self-acceptance at the core of our problems?

Could kink-shame be affecting your relationship?

It’s not something we really talk about, but let’s be honest: sex is great, isn’t it? It’s good for your heart, acts as a stress buster, and keeps tension at bay – what’s not to love? Yet according to findings published in the British Medical Journal, nearly a third of us haven’t had sex in the past month. That’s… not so great.

We’re at a point in history where it feels like, for the most part, we’ve got more freedom to be open about what (and who) we love than ever before. Yet for some of us, getting over that first hurdle – accepting ourselves, and what we enjoy – feels like the hardest.

Despite kink-based novels and films making mainstream headlines for nearly a decade, many of us can still struggle with our desires. Love it or hate it, Fifty Shades of Grey sparked debate, and brought rarely-discussed sexual desires into the eye of mainstream commentary. Yet beneath the best-sellers and star-studded cast, and past mainstream publications focusing on ‘weird extreme’ fetishes, sits actual individuals facing a whole host of issues and worries.

Recognising you have sexual urges outside of what society considers ‘normal’ is just the first step. Sure, there may be a community, ready and waiting with open arms – but self-acceptance isn’t always that easy. Do you ‘come out’ as kinky, or keep things firmly behind closed doors? How do you balance sharing with oversharing? Do you risk shutting loved ones out of an entire part of your life by keeping your desires secret?

Sounds complicated. We asked members of the fetish community to share their thoughts on how they came to accept their inner desires.

Coming out as kinky

Will, a programmer approaching his mid-30s, shares his experiences with us as an ‘out and proud’ member of the fetish community. First realising his fetishes as a teen, Will spent years going through binge and purge cycles with his desires, before he felt ready to open up and speak out.

“I struggled with my attractions. Many in the community describe binge and purge cycles before they found acceptance. Because an inclination to kink is often considered perverse, I feel it can naturally make people hide this part of themselves.

“I remember throwing everything away, furiously deleting my internet history and bookmarks, only to start buying kinky items and browsing the same forums a few months later. It was only after many years of this that I decided to take the plunge and meet people.

“Speaking with people face-to-face, actually talking about and understanding their nonchalant attitudes to their kinks, allowed me to accept mine, and accept this part of myself. I struggled most with hiding parts of my life from close friends and family. I developed a real fear of what would happen if they found out.

“While I’ve not told them specific details, I’ve explained that I’m openly part of the community, that I’m happy and safe. Although many don’t truly understand what that means, I

Could Applying Kink-Principles to 'Vanilla' Relationships Make You Happier?

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The 50 Shades phenomenon has been and gone. But are there underlying principles used within the fetish community that could benefit our romantic relationships?

Could Applying Kink-Principles to 'Vanilla' Relationships Make You Happier?

Sex. It’s not something we talk about, is it? As a nation, we tend to leave what happens between the sheets well and truly behind closed doors. But why is that, when studies have shown the physical and psychological benefits sex and loving relationships can have on our wellbeing?

According to research, arousal can have the same benefits as light exercise, a good hug can help lower blood pressure and release tension, while hormones released during orgasm help us achieve a better night’s sleep.

Research also suggests that sex can benefit our mental health. Reducing our overall levels of stress and anxiety whilst boosting happiness, we feel more satisfied and are better able to identify emotions when we regularly have sex with our partners.

With so many benefits, shouldn’t we be shouting it from the rooftops? Yet, despite the many benefits, our romantic relationships may not be as rosy as they first appear. Relationship charity Relate revealed that over half of us try to make our relationship appear happier than it really is. 42% of us use social media to give the impression of a ‘perfect relationship’ - even though a staggering 33% of Brits are in a relationship that has experienced infidelity.

It’s time we started looking at what can really help us have a more fulfilling, long-lasting relationship. Could the fetish community already have the answers?

Could Applying Kink-Principles to 'Vanilla' Relationships Make You Happier?

RACK, SSC and wellbeing within the kink community

Communication is key. It’s a simple concept, yet research suggests an overwhelming 91% of us feel we would benefit from being more open about our relationship issues.

If you’ve ever ventured beyond the fluffy handcuffs and copies of 50 Shades of Grey at your local Ann Summers, and into the welcoming arms of your local or online communities, you’ve likely encountered the terms SSC and RACK. These two main principles underpin many of the interactions within the kink community.

Standing for Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) and Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), each acts as a basic structure for negotiating relationships, scenes, and interactions (both sexual and non-sexual).

SSC, often considered the more introductory, reminds participants to keep their safety and wellbeing at the forefron

What to do when you're angry at the state of the world

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It can be hard to know what to do with pent-up anger over worldwide events, especially when it feels like you have little control. Here we explore ways to cope with this anger

What to do when you're angry at the state of the world

There is a lot happening in the world right now. For some of us, the events unfolding are giving rise to some serious anger. Why isn’t more being done? What does our future look like? Why is change taking so long?

I spent a few minutes on Twitter this morning (ironically looking for article ideas) and, within a few minutes, I felt a familiar fire creeping up my torso (anger, not indigestion). This type of anger is difficult to handle. It’s broad and aimed at multiple people, systems and events. While a few calming breaths may take the edge off the intensity, it doesn’t quell it entirely. There’s also a lack of control fueling this anger, giving it a hopeless edge that sits heavy in your heart.

So, what can we do with this anger? What can we do when we’re not in a position to make the changes we want to see? I’m not going to claim to have all the answers, but I have some ideas to try. They might not eradicate the anger, but I hope they can help us channel it in a way that’s helpful, not harmful.


Allow yourself to feel the anger

We have to start by acknowledging our anger. It’s tempting to want to push it down, smothering it with positivity. But anger only grows when left unchecked. Instead, try to give yourself some space and time to look at the anger. This may be through a cathartic journaling session, or perhaps speaking to a friend, family member or therapist. Cry those tears of frustration.

Do you know what I really want to try? Going to a rage room. A space where you can smash stuff up and let that anger flow through your veins in a safe way.

However you do it, try not to fear this anger. It’s a human response and one we can experience and process in healthy ways. By giving it space, we let it move through us and dissipate, so we can think clearly and make our next move.


Take action

Remember that lack of control I mentioned? Something that can soften this edge is taking some sort of action. Of course, this will depend on what you’re feeling angry about, but there may be petitions you can sign, protests to attend or charities to donate to, fighting for change. And if you’re over the age of 18? Vote. Vote in local elections, vote in general elections - just make sure your voice is heard.

In this video, I chat to counsellor Carol-Anne Cowie about inequality, its effect on mental health and what more needs to be done.

Connect with your community

When we’re angry, we might feel a pull to isolate ourselves from others. Reaching out to others, however, is a helpful way of regaining a sense of peace and hope. Being around people we know and love can lead to laughs, smiles and deeper connections. Meeting new people can remind us of the good in the world and open our eyes to new perspectives.

Louise Pentland: “You have to live twice as hard now…”

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Author and content creator Louise Pentland joins Happiful's podcast to talk about adulting, boundaries and grief

Louise Pentland: “You have to live twice as hard now…”

Author of Time After Time Louise Pentland brings a beautiful energy to the opening episode of our new season of I am. I have, as well as a ton of talk about continuing to learn, boundaries, her thoughts on grief and what she hopes the future will look like…

Our full interview with Louise can be read in Issue 66 of Happiful Magazine.
Find out more about getting your copy

Louise on

Learning

Just when I think I've got the knack of things, whether that's Motherhood, my job, friendships or just adulting, I learn something new or I learn that I don't know something, because you don't know what you don't know.

In terms of relationships, I'm still learning that the impacts of those, how they can affect you, how things you've said to people can affect you too and how to make peace with that, as well as how to validate your children's feelings.

8 must-read subreddits if you’re struggling financially

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Hailed as the ‘front page of the internet,’ Reddit is so much more than a place to enjoy funny cat memes and keep up with the latest gaming, movie, and TV news. We share eight subreddit communities to help you better understand your finances, create a workable food budget, and expand your skills to help take the edge off of growing financial worries

8 must-read subreddits if you’re struggling financially

I love Reddit. Despite not being their target demographic (around 70% of the site’s users are American, with 18-29s making up 64% of their user base), Reddit is one of those sites where you can find a community for everything. Literally.

Want nothing but cute photos that make you go aww? There’s a subreddit for that (r/aww). Need a good laugh, but tired of the same old memes? r/BirdsWithArms has nothing but bird videos with hilarious clipart-drawn arms and expressions. Want to find a supportive community, filled with others who are sharing their lived mental health experiences, and experts highlighting advice and guidance? Well, there are dozens of dedicated mental health and wellbeing subreddits to help you feel accepted and connected.

When it comes to talking about our finances, things can feel tough. Research from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed that 42% of us who have borrowed money and are struggling choose to ignore lenders’ attempts to contact us, due to feeling ashamed. A lack of knowledge is also causing us unnecessary stress and strain, as 40% who are struggling financially incorrectly believe that talking to a debt advisor will have a negative impact on their credit file.

Over half (52%) of us wait more than a month to seek help when we are struggling financially. New data from Financial Capability revealed that over 20.3 million adults (39%) in the UK don’t feel confident managing their money and over 11.5 million of us have less than £100 is savings. With nearly 9 million in serious debt, and only a third receiving help, things are only set to get worse over the coming months, as prices continue to rise.

We’re not saying online communities are the answer to all of our money problems. But talking about our struggles, reaching out to others, and sharing tips and tricks to make our money stretch further can all have a significant, positive impact on how we feel.

Feeling anxious or stressed about talking money with your partner? Counselling Directory explains more about how you can get the conversation started.


Feel more confident managing your finances


Financial literacy (having the skills and knowledge to make informed, effective decisions about your financial resources) is an area that is so important, yet many of us feel we lack the tools to understand

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