3 Non-Vanilla Sex Acts That Are Actually Good For You, According to Science

Society says no, but science says yes.
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Society says no, but science says yes.
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

A lot of people spend their time worrying whether or not their sexual desires and practices fit in with what society deems “normal.” Well, fret not my friends, because that's a hot load of garbage. Some of the allegedly "taboo" sex acts society savagely judges and looks down upon are actually really, really good for your relationships and mental health, and the ones labeled “normal” are the ones that, well, kinda suck. We dug deep into three sexy topics that might be secret to happiness. Enjoy.

BDSM.
Contrary to popular belief, freaky sex is good for you. Seriously.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, people who like who like bondage, hot wax, and other Fifty Shades of Grey-style kinks scored significantly higher on various mental health tests than their one-position-lights-off counterparts. That may be hard to believe, considering how nipple clamps don't always seem that sane, but you can’t argue with science.

In that study, 902 BDSM lovers, and 434 non-kinky people were surveyed on their personalities, overall well-being, attachment style, and sensitivity to rejection. Analysis of the questionnaires revealed that those who embraced the kink were less neurotic, more secure in relationships, had a better time dealing with rejection, and were generally mentally healthier than the vanilla participants.

Interestingly enough, BDSM is listed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a.k.a. the psychiatrist’s bible, meaning kinky people are thought to have some sort of mental abnormality. I think we can categorically call bullshit on that one, because people who love so-called "boring" sex are statistically crazier than kinky people. Who knew.

Lead author of the study, Andreas Wismeijer, told LiveScience that BDSM aficionados probably scored higher on the mental health questionnaires because they’re more aware of their sexual desires, and they don’t feel the need hide anything from their partners. We already know that bottling up emotions of any kind, including sexual ones, takes a huge toll on mental health, so it only makes sense that kinky people would have better mental health than those who are potentially sexually frustrated.

Casual sex.
According to a study of 371 college students conducted by researchers at NYU and Cornell University, those who admitted to sleeping around reported better general well-being, lower stress levels, and higher self-esteem compared to those who follow the relationship-sex-only rule. Who would have known that being promiscuous could make you so, so happy?

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that casual sex only makes you a happy camper if you do it for the right reasons. If you’re having sex with any rando that crosses your path because you want to rebound after a shitty breakup, or to numb your lack of self-worth, you’re going to end up feeling even worse about yourself, so don’t do it. If you’re sleeping around because you’re always horny and absolutely love sampling as many vaginas as humanly possible, go for it.

Open relationships and polyamory.
Most people frown upon polyamory, but little do they know that couples who are in open relationships are way, way happier, and more fulfilled than the naysayers. If honestly and openly dating more than one person at a time is your cup of tea, this pertains to you.

One of the secret ingredients to a successful relationship is communication, which is where a lot of traditional couples fall short. Polyamorous couples have a relationship built on honesty, trust, and obviously, openness, so there is no lying or sneaking around. Unlike cheating monogamous people.

If polyamorous Ken really hits it off with polyamorous Stacie, he talks about it with his girlfriend, polyamorous Barbie, who is also dating polyamorous Todd at the same time. Barbie is okay with Stacie, Ken is okay with Todd, and everyone is happy. The end.

So there you have it. There's more to life than just "man + woman + relationship = sex." Get out there and taste some new flavors. It's good for your health.