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Two Sense: To Slap or Not to Slap?

Several months ago I started dating a gorgeous, professional, and very loving woman. Our sex is great, but recently she’s been asking me to slap her—and not on the arse but a full face slap. My initial reaction was that she must have had some weird childhood experience that made her want to do this. But I’ve hung out with her friends and recently met her entire family at a dinner and they all seem relatively normal. I’ve tried it a few times and it’s getting less awkward each time, but I’m worried we could lose or miss some important connection if we continue with this.

He Said: A well-timed and executed face slap can literally be a head rush, jolting the brain with a shot of adrenaline. It’s a similar but more natural stimulant than meth, coke, or whatever other brain scramble people snort to make sex hotter. If you two have an otherwise loving and healthy relationship, an occasional slap during sex could add some spice. That said, slapping is also violent and carries deep connotations of anger, disapproval, fear, and disconnection, which is why it naturally feels awkward to do it.

The biggest danger to making any hitting acceptable is taking it outside the bedroom during fights. Arguments are often a necessary forum for a close relationship; they can be a healthy method to take burn up frustration and allow conflicts to be negotiated and resolved. Unfortunately, if you two find yourselves in a heated argument, which then leads to slapping, which then leads to hot sex, you may be heading down a darker trail than is healthy, one where there is an incentive to fight. There are couples who make this work, but it can take a lot of effort to keep these interactions healthy. We men are lazy enough in relationship maintenance without adding the extra burden of making sure our slaps are stimulating but not degrading. Bottom line: Slap her all she wants in bed, never outside of it.

She Said: I don't think these slaps will follow you outside the bedroom. In fact I'd venture to say the more you slap each other in bed, the less likely you'll be slapping each other outside of it. This isn't a long enough forum to go into the winding pathways of love and desire, by turns beautiful, ugly, light, dark, gentle, and violent. Love and sexual desire are mysteries, and I'm happy to leave them at that. The simple reality is that you are two consenting adults and she is, quite literally, asking for it. You might want to do some reading on BDSM—bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism—which encompasses a whole spectrum of activities, many of which make slapping look like a Disney movie. There are simple methods you can use such as "safe words" to put a boundary around your sex play and make you both more comfortable. Here in town, Good Vibrations has lots of resources, as does Babeland online.

By the way, your assumption that some traumatic childhood event caused your girlfriend to want a slap is naive. Research has shown that people who practice BDSM have no greater occurrence of childhood trauma than the non-BDSM population. Likewise, your assumption that because her family "seems relatively normal" it's unlikely such trauma occurred is equally naive. A lot of trouble can hide beneath the facade of normality, just like a lot of functional and healthy psychology can exist beneath the scary-seeming desire to be slapped.