Why I’m a Masochist

I’m not sure exactly when I realized I was a masochist but I always knew that I had an unusually high tolerance for pain. I was that kid that poked my bruises, licked my cuts and liked Indian burns a little bit too much. But my pleasure in pain didn’t become sexual until college. My boyfriend and I experimented with rope, light bondage and fumbling attempts at rougher play. It’s funny to think that I felt so daring when in reality I was barely dipping my toe into that delicious pool of torture and torment, but back then I felt exhilarated.

That sense of fear, release and ecstasy all at once made me feel alive in a way I didn’t really understand. But I kept seeking it out despite the confused looks or reluctance partners would show when I asked them to spank, slap or choke me. My masochistic ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment finally came when I realized that I wanted so much more than my (99% vanilla) partners were willing to give.

Pain as Catharsis

The disparity in how I thought about pain versus how those partners did was a wake up call. To them, pain was to be avoided at all costs and the very idea of inflicting it on someone they loved was mostly unfathomable. Pain to me was a way of breaking down my walls, washing away the everyday bullshit and connecting on a more intimate level. It was cathartic, and I firmly believe that pain can be profoundly healing (when experienced with trust and clear boundaries), but I didn’t have the self-awareness or the words to express that at the time. Then I discovered kink…

Pain and Kink

I remember the first self-proclaimed Dom I met vividly. We met at a coffee shop and talked about what we were looking for, hard limits, kinks. All the while I pretended I knew what the hell I was talking about because I was still clueless, even after all my research (I’m a nerd at heart).

I was so nervous that I looked demurely at my hands or the motel-type art on the walls as I talked, my palms starting to sweat. I’m a pretty introverted person so explaining my most intimate desires to a total stranger was a tad difficult, and I do what I normally do in those situations: I put up a wall, construct a version of myself that’s calm and collected while I’m quaking behind the gates. We agreed on a date for a scene and I left with very specific instructions.

The First Scene

When the day finally came it was like I was on autopilot. I was so nervous that I couldn’t think about what was to come so I went about my day in the automatic way I do too often, busying myself with errands and walking around only to realize that I hadn’t really seen anything or been aware of my surroundings because I was too self-absorbed. Somehow I arrived at the appointed spot. With the kind of blind courage reserved for those moments too anxiety-inducing to really tune in, I opened the front door.

I said hello and walked across the room to stand in front of him and was greeted with an ear-ringing slap across the face. Immediately my anxiety and fear dissolved as I felt endorphins flood my body. (That whole “instant subspace from a face slap thing?” Yeah, it’s real.) I won’t go into further detail — I’ll let your your pervy minds run wild with the rest — but that day I felt more alive than I had in awhile.

I began my study of the nuances of different kinds of pain: the fiery bite of a whip, the cruel sting of a cane, the slow burn of a paddle, the massaging, thumpy pain of a flogger. All of it was a shock to my system, a welcome relief, a realization and embodiment of my humanness. I was hooked.

Learning and Experimenting with Masochism

I continued experimenting and learning which kinds of pain I liked and which I didn’t. I’ve learned there is no right or wrong, and it’s not a competition amongst masochists (or with yourself) to see who can take the most. What feels unbearable to me could be dandy as candy to someone else and that’s fine. Most importantly I learned that there is no one way to be a masochist. My pain tolerance and preferences change depending on the partner, setting, emotional state and intention.

Knowing your emotional state is a matter of self-reflection, assessing what you need in that moment and how much pain you want to endure. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed by the world and want just enough pain to let go of all those pent up anxieties, while sometimes I’m feeling fiery and want a heavy dose to fan the flames of that passion. Intention is your end goal and every kinky, cruel device is a tool to get you there. Sadists just have to pick the right one for the job.

Sadism and Masochism

There’s a lot more to sadism though. Anyone can hit you with a stick, but it takes artfulness and attentiveness to make you like it. It wasn’t until I met my beloved Master that I learned the depths of intimacy that pain could fathom, and the connection it could forge. As He put it, touch is so intimate because you don’t touch just anybody, and the ways that you do touch with those people close to you speaks to the type of relationship.

I know what you’re thinking…what does it say about a relationship if a large part of it consists of cruel touch? But I like to think of it differently. Impact play can be dangerous and so a Dom/sadist has to be hyper aware of the body and attuned to his/her victim’s reactions and a sub/masochist has to be extremely, even overly, communicative. In this way impact play is representative of an unshakeable trust that only grows deeper with every crack of the whip. For me, that kind of communion creates a shared energy that makes the rest of the world and its troubles fade away for a bit.

So why am I a masochist? Because I’m a hedonist, because it makes me feel empowered and electric, because I desire a deeper connection to my love than I’ve found possible in more traditional amorous adventures, because I long for release and expression in a society that eschews displays of raw emotion. Oh, and because the marks my Master leaves are just so damned pretty.


epona is a writer and horseback rider, masochist and Manera fan, lover of old sci-fi and classic video games. As a sapiosexual her writing explores the psychology behind kink and how she can use BDSM as a tool for personal growth and connection, both for herself (hedonist that she is) and for her beloved Master.

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