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What is Vanilla Sex and Why Does it Get a Bad Rap?


what is vanilla sex? couples choose the type of sex that works for them

Most people want to have an empowering, fulfilling sex life. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know what that looks like for them. For some, it might look like being dominated while wearing a ball gag. For others, it might look like missionary style sex sex. Keep reading to find how to know which kind of sex is right for you.


What is Vanilla Sex?


There are many different ways to define the term vanilla sex, and many of the definitions vary by culture. The most common result on Urban Dictionary defines it as a type of sex that does not include elements of BDSM, kink, or fetish. It is also commonly interpreted as conventional sex in the context of one’s culture.


It’s important to note that culture can describe many groups of people: organized religion, groups of friends, students at a particular college, etc. This means one group may define vanilla sex as only having sex in a missionary position whereas other groups may include oral sex and anal sex as actions that constitute vanilla sex.


The definition of vanilla sex considers what is deemed “typical” during a specific time and within a specific group of people.


Why Does Vanilla Sex Get a Bad Rap?


BDSM and the kink community, while still stigmatized, have gained significant interest in recent years. One explanation is likely related to the release of the fifty shades of grey trilogy. Even though people within the BDSM community have revealed the inaccuracies within the books and films – such as how consent wasn’t a top priority (which it ALWAYS is in BDSM) – the triology still helped to initiate conversations about kink.


Another possible explanation for why vanilla sex gets a bad rap is because of porn. Pornography, whether labelled kinky or not, often depicts some type of power-exchange relationship. Since porn is, unfortunately, one of the main sources of sex education among young adults, it’s no surprise that they have been taught to believe that rough, kinky sex is the type of sex that “everybody” is having.


This rise in popularity of kink play has potentially convinced some people that vanilla sex is boring and not worth having. Perhaps because the term “vanilla” might conflate with mediocre or plain for some people, the same way some people find vanilla ice cream boring amongst all the flavors available.


In reality, vanilla sex can be incredibly satisfying and just as great a way to deepen intimacy between partners as kink can be. It typically includes slower movements, deep kissing, and expressions of love. All of which are behaviors that have been found by a recent study to help close the orgasm gap.


Finding the Right Type of Sex for Your Sex Life


Finding the right type of sex for your sex life might require some trial and error. Fortunately, you’re allowed to enjoy multiple types of sex, and it can look different every time you have it.


Discuss your sexual likes and dislikes with a sex therapist


Working with a sex therapist can help you better understand the type(s) of sexual activity that feels empowering for you. Once you’ve identified some of your likes and dislikes, it can be a good idea to communicate those with any sexual partners.


If you are curious about BDSM & kink, you can safely incorporate some kinkiness into your sexual repertoire.


You might consider incorporating a blindfold, beginner sex toys, or subtle role playing with a trusted partner, for example. Be sure to have a safe word and discuss any boundaries beforehand.


Use solo sex and self pleasure to see what kinds of stimulation you enjoy.


Even if you can’t engage in specific acts you’re interested in alone, you can use porn to gauge your interest in that act.


Don’t yuck your own yum!


Don’t force yourself to like or dislike certain sexual acts. There are no “shoulds” in sexual pleasure. If you enjoy something, you enjoy it!


You don’t need to label the sex you enjoy


Finally, there’s no need to label what feels good for you. If you really enjoy having sex only in the missionary position but vanilla sex doesn’t resonate with you, you don’t have to identify with it.


Sex looks and feels different for everyone. Feeling sexually fulfilled is a personal experience that only you get to define.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Jessie is the Digital Media Coordinator at Modern Intimacy. A recent graduate of the University of Miami (FL), with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Psychology, she hopes to become a clinical psychologist and a certified sex therapist. She is passionate about empowering women to speak up in a professional and a personal setting.



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