Hard, Soft, or Something in Between: What Is Rough Sex?

Rough sex might seem taboo, but a little spank here and a nibble there's much more popular than you think.

A 2019 study found that as many as 70% of people enjoy some form of rough sex or sex that involves some power dynamic. But what exactly does rough sex mean? Is it just fantasy? And is rough sex as rough as the term implies?

Rough sex tends to be fantasy-based, with urges of dominance and submission typically fueling it. But it's also driven by the desire for more vigorous, the physical intensity with a partner. Either way, wanting rough sex is a perfectly normal exploration of human sexuality.

Ready to step away from your comfort zone and explore the pleasures of rough sex? This guide will help you turn up the heat a few notches. 

What is Rough Sex? 

Rough sex isn't a category. It's a broad spectrum ranging from hardcore slapping, restraints, and bondage to hair pulling, grabbing, pushing, and hard thrusting.

Power dynamics rule rough sex — an interplay between dominance and submission. While BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, and Masochism) can be considered rough sex, so can ripping your partner's clothes off in the lead-up to sex.

Any sexual act can get a little rough — from butt slapping to a BDSM punishment scene — but it has to be consensual for it to be considered rough sex. No matter how rough or forceful the sex gets, consent must always be given. It should never be assumed. 

Is It Normal to Want Rough Sex? 

So. A 2008 study by the University of North Texas found that 57% of sexually active women were turned on by the thought of rough or forceful sex. Experts say this reaction is a regular expression of sexuality. No matter your preferences or kinks, there are thousands — even millions — of people with that same interest.

rough sex

Why does the idea of rough sex get them hot? The reason might be biological, stemming from an innate desire to be desired, which is integral to satisfying sex life. The frequency and intensity of the orgasms both men and women experience during rough sex might also do with it. Women, in particular, have reported orgasming much faster during rough sex.

How To Let Your Partner Know You're Interested in Rough Sex 

Before you tear your partner's clothes off and hit the sheets, let them know what you're thinking ahead of time, preferably while you're both fully clothed.

Broaching the subject may be a little nerve-wracking, but your partner probably has a few things on their sex bucket list they'd like to try, too. Initiate the conversation with a simple but honest question, like: 

  • I think I might like having my hair pulled during sex. Is that something you might be willing to try?
  • I liked when we had sex from behind. When we do it again, could you try spanking me simultaneously?
  • I had a dream last night where we got a little rougher during sex, and it turned me on. Is that something that might turn you on, too? 
  • I found an article about sex positions for deep penetration, which turned me on. Can I share it with you? ‌‌

How Can Partners Explore Rough Sex Safely?

No matter what, always communicate with your partner. Before you get it on, talk about your concerns, set the boundaries, and create a list of dos and don'ts together. Go over all the ground rules, and don't leave out any graphic details — like letting them know exactly how hard you want your hair pulled or how comfortable you are with hard thrusting.

Also, decide on a safe word before you start. This is the trigger word that, when spoken, brings the action to a grinding halt. 

Safety Concerns and Special Considerations‌

You've got your partner's consent, set the rules and boundaries, and chose a safe word. Now, you're ready to get that rough sex on. It's easy to get caught up in the act, but try to stay mindful of your partner's needs by checking in with them to make sure they're as engaged, enthusiastic, and excited as you are.

Wife Rough Sex

Be careful if you're practicing any advanced BDSM techniques, like bondage, gagging, choking, or whipping. Improper use of kink tools and techniques could lead to injury.

Also, rough sex puts an additional strain on condoms because of the high intensity. Always use thicker, stronger condoms when engaging in more vigorous sexual acts.

When it's all over, and the adrenaline drops, you and your partner need a little emotional fulfillment. That's when you might want to practice some aftercare, like: 

  • Taking care of any minor scratches or bruises
  • Rehydrating and refueling 
  • Watching a movie or engaging in another relaxing activity together
  • Getting some comforting skin-to-skin contact by cuddling or massaging each other

‌Sex Toys and Accessories

rough sex with toys

Rough sex is hands-on, visceral, and raw. Toys and accessories can help enhance the experience. Here are a few suggestions. 

  1. Stimulating Lube. These liquids warm upon contact, increasing excitement and adding another level to the sensations down there.

  2. BlindfoldsCovering your eyes can heighten your senses, enhancing the thrilling anticipation of what's next.

  3. Gags. From ball gags to spider mouth gags, these toys are a great way to take your dominance and submission in the bedroom to the next level.

  4. Collars and Leashes. Whether you're roleplaying or want to explore a sense of ownership over your partner, nothing says dominance quite like a collar or leash.

  5. Crops.‌ If a slap to the ass isn't enough, take a dip into the BDSM world with a more advanced silicone crop. These tools offer pleasure and punishment with every swing.

  6. Bedroom Bondage. Turn your lair into the ultimate bondage room with a restraint kit you can manually adjust, allowing you to explore new positions and possibilities for light bondage play.

  7. Restraints. Experience the thrill of being tied up in new positions by your partner — or try your hand at tying them up instead.

  8. Nipple Clamps. If you want to up your power play game, nipple clamps can offer that perfect pinch of both pain and pleasure.

  9. Sex Swings. Experience thrilling weightlessness and try out sexual positions you never imagined, unlocking new levels of pleasure.

  10. Spreader Bars‌. These bars lock tight around ankles or wrists, spreading them far apart and in perfect position.  

‌Exploring Rough Sex the Right Way 

If you're ready to explore rough sex with your partner, do your homework first. There are tons of books and articles by sex experts that offer communication tips, safety considerations, and advice on positions and techniques. You can also join a few trusted online communities that provide lots of good advice for free.

Done right, rough sex can introduce you explore a whole new world of pleasure. Browse our shop to find your next sexual obsession, from vibrators to butt plugs to fetish accessories. 


Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission and Sadomasochism (BDSM) From an Integrative Biopsychosocial Perspective: A Systematic Review. (June 2019). The Journal of Sexual Medicine

What is BDSM? An expert guide to BDSM sex for beginners. (February 2021). Cosmopolitan. 

Women's Erotic Rape Fantasies. (August 2008). University of North Texas. 

A Beginner's Guide to Rough Sex. (August 2016). Women's Health Magazine. 

The Rough Stuff: Understanding Aggressive Consensual Sex. (April 2019). Evolutionary Psychological Science

Everything to Know About BDSM Aftercare—and 10 Ways to Do It After Sex. (December 2020). Men's Health Magazine.