Narratives of the Origins of Kinky Sexual Desire Held by Users of a Kink-Oriented Social Networking Website

J Sex Res. 2022 Mar-Apr;59(3):360-371. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2020.1840495. Epub 2020 Nov 12.


Empirical research on the origins of kinky erotic desires (e.g., sadomasochism, bondage, domination/submission, roleplaying, sexual fetishism, etc.) has been limited and rarely rooted in the narratives of kinky people themselves. Among a sample of 260 self-identified kinky users of a kink-oriented social networking website living in 21 countries, we examined self-reported narratives of the origins of kink desires. An inductive coding process by four independent coders yielded 20 categories of responses, organized into five broad discourses about the origins of kinky desires: identity (e.g., personality, personal taste, and role exploration; 72.7% of responses), nurture (e.g., both traumatic and non-traumatic life experiences; 38.1% of responses), negation (e.g., disavowing or doubting a particular idea about the origins of their kink interests; 24.6% of responses), nature (e.g., biology and genetics; 22.7% of responses), and uncertainty (e.g., not being able to identify an origin of kinky desires; 10.4% of responses). Fewer than 19% of participants mentioned any kind of trauma in their responses. We discuss implications for scientific understandings of kinky sexual desire within the umbrella of sexual diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Libido*
  • Masochism*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Networking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires