This Filipino Couple Fell In Love Because They Were Both Into BDSM

This is not your typical 'Fifty Shades' story. It's a lot better.

For most of us, much of what we know—or think we know—about BDSM is lacking or plain wrong. Thanks of course to our immediate judgments, preconceived notions, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

It’s easy to judge people who get aroused from feeling pain and inflicting pain. Some of us ask, “Did something in their childhood cause it? Aren’t they just so weird and so sick?”


As for Fifty Shades, where the story is about Ana consenting to BDSM only because she’s afraid to lose Christian, there’s hardly any care and true consent. In the trilogy, Ana doesn’t like the violence at all. She’s forced into doing it to satisfy him. Because she’s submitting without actually being ready and willing, she feels harmed.

BDSM is then something considered deviant and frowned upon in public. To Fifty Shades’ credit, at least people have some vague idea of the practice.

But BDSM as it really is is far from the mainstream perception. Yes, there is pain. One submits, another dominates. But there’s also a whole lot of trust and respect involved. Emma Green of The Atlantic writes that people who are into BDSM follow strict rules on safety and consent because it “can be risky, and because it pushes people’s comfort limits.”

And unlike Fifty Shades’ disappointing and unequal setup, it’s possible to even fall in love while engaging in BDSM. This is the case of Derek* and Nicole*, who are now a couple.

Derek has always been drawn to the kink. He shares that when he was a kid, games like cops and robbers where participants would be helpless or tied “fascinated” him. He’s been drawn to such roles since. For him, there’s a “sense of being weirdly comfortable when rendered helpless, yet still completely safe and secure.”

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With all the stigma that comes with any kind of violence and kink, Derek never really talked about his interest in BDSM. Its also impolite to blatantly ask someone if she’s into it. It was then difficult for Derek to find a person to practice BDSM with; he didn’t know who was into it, too.


As much as Derek doesn’t like Fifty Shades because it gives a wrong impression of BDSM, he does thank it for making it easy now for people to talk about the practice. It’s mainstream, after all. He was introduced to Nicole* last year, and he, wanting to find out if she was into BDSM or simply open to trying it, asked her what she thought of the book and the movie.

Nicole had apparently seen the movie, so Derek began prodding more. He wanted to know what she thought of the steamy scenes, especially the ones involving Ana’s “deprivation of liberty.” From there, Derek was able to pick up that Nicole was into it. He had never until then met anyone else who did BDSM, so you could imagine how ecstatic he was to get to know her more.

They exchanged numbers and contacted each other shortly afterwards. They talked about where they got their props and gears. (Even if he didn’t know BDSM practitioners, Derek practiced the “tricks” alone for a long time just in case he met a potential BDSM partner.) Derek says their conversation “turned into a plan to have a show and tell for each other” at his place. “I showed her a thing or two about ropework, or how to tie the shibari-karada harness.”

“It became a weekly thing, where at first we had rules,” shares Derek. “No sleeping over. Kissing wasn’t really a thing. No emotions. But something…started to click. It might have to do with our chemistry, but BDSM also had a factor in how we got together.”

Although they didn’t kiss and they engaged in BDSM without emotions, Derek and Nicole did hang out. They watched movies after their sessions, and even shared meals together.

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For Derek, it’s pretty much a need that his partner does BDSM, too. “I feel like it spices things up and enlivens the relationship.” He cautions though that for him “BDSM is just an additive of normal sexual relations between two adults.” Other practitioners would rather limit emotional engagement. “The trust is still there, but only up to a BDSM context.” In other words, you can not be buddy-buddies with your BDSM partner.


Emotional maturity, knowing what one’s kinks are, and communication make BDSM safe. There’s a lot of trust involved—it’s actually very crucial—because the submissive ones let themselves be tied up or lashed with a whip. Incidentally, they’re the ones with the power, since they can end or slow down the session anytime they want by saying the safeword.

Since it’s all about trust, respect, and communication, BDSM had its way of strengthening Derek and Nicole’s relationship.

“BDSM always reminds its participants to be sensitive of each other’s needs. It’s now a recreational activity we do as a couple.”

The goal of BDSM is to play, experiment, and explore one’s body and the partner’s. The kink may be best understood through the words of Catharine MacKinnon, an academic and a critic of pornography and feminism. She states, “Only when self-respect is accepted as human does debasement become sexy and female; only when avoidance of pain is accepted as human does torture become sexy and female.” There’s just something about knowing you’re dignified and respectable, then willfully submitting to someone else.

Derek, who switches roles with Nicole, attests to Catharine’s words. “It was through literally putting our fates into each other’s hands that I concretely felt we trusted each other. Completely submitted to the other and helpless, we still felt safe and secure.”

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Not a lot of us practice BDSM, but we can agree that there is something special in trusting someone else who knows your limitations, and whose limits you know as well.

But of course Derek and Nicole are not immune to feeling jealous of other people. Derek shares, “I think we both [feel jealous] sometimes. At the end of the day there’s no difference between couples that practice BDSM and ones that don’t, except that the former has BDSM as an extra recreational activity that they can choose to do. We’re just like other couples.”

* Names have been changed.

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