Primal play, according to Kinkly, is a type of BDSM play that focuses on raw feelings and actions that are evoked by natural impulses and urges. While this sounds pretty simple, it has a lot of different meanings because natural impulses and urges are different for everyone.
In this type of play, the goal is to let social norms, niceties, and inhibitions slip away until you’re overcome by your most basic and instinctive urges. From happiness and silliness to aggression and even sadness, primal play can look like many different things and can be a unique experience each and every time you engage in it.
There will always be misconceptions surrounding kinks and sex. Always. That’s something that will never change, because (as with most things) - unless you experience them (or at least are very open to learning about them), you will always have some kind of preconceived notion about what it’s really like.
Here are the top three misconceptions surrounding the primal play fetish...
Animal play is a specific type of role play where one or more people take on the role of an animal. The submissive “animal” (or partner) is often humiliated by their dominant master or alpha animal. This can be similar to pet play but isn’t always the same. With pet play, sometimes only one person takes on the persona of a pet and the other remains a human master in the scenario.
Primal play, on the other hand, is about tapping into your basic, primal - and yes, sometimes animalistic - urges. It doesn’t always have participants acting like animals, though - which is the key difference.
The idea here is that something primal removes emotions and just leaves raw, basic instinct, and desire. While that is sometimes the case, many people in loving relationships of all kinds incorporate primal play into their sex lives. While there can be a meaningless, “let’s just tear each other apart” undertone to it, engaging in primal play with a partner doesn’t mean your feelings automatically disappear. While some people may experience this kind of emotional disconnect (where they think and feel nothing but their most basic urges), not everyone becomes detached like this.
In reality, when you connect with your most primal self, you could be at your most vulnerable. Allowing someone to interact with you in a sexual way when you’re at your most unfiltered and basic level of sexual need and desire can create an empowering and intense connection.
When you think about “acting on basic instinct” many people assume that there’s some kind of forced acting part of this (as if you’re playing a part in a play.) While this is a type of roleplay, as with most other kinds of sexual roleplays, it’s entirely possible to really lose yourself in the role. It’s all about acting on instinct, which can be a very powerful and erotic thing.
Instead of being concerned with acting a certain way or pleasing your partner in a certain way, when you engage in primal sex, your motions just become fluid and you just do what feels natural and good. Often, when we stop trying to be sexy is when we’re at our sexiest, and primal play is no different. Instead of trying to be quiet and make soft noises we consider to be sexy, someone during primal play might just let themselves make whatever noises feel natural at the moment (which can often be intense, aggressive, and primal-sounding).
As with most kinks and fetishes, terms matter here. A lot, actually. So let’s talk about some of the most common terms used with this type of play.
This is a “hunter” mentality, where the top (or dominant) is the predator and the submissive (or bottom) is the prey.
Another term used to describe the top/dominant/predator in a primal play scenario.
This term is usually used to describe a group of people who identify as Primals or Alphas (we’ll discuss that identification more below).
An Alpha is a prime dominant person in a BDSM scene/pairing.
Someone with who you have formed a bond with through primal play or BDSM play.
Pet (not exclusive to primal play, as we’ve mentioned)
Someone who is a pet or owned submissive to their human/dominant owner. This person would not yet have “earned” the title of “mate” if you use pet play during primal play.
Furry (not exclusive to primal play, as we’ve mentioned)
Someone who enjoys giving emotions and feelings to animals with human-like tendencies, someone who takes on a non-human persona (or fursona). For more information on Furries, click here.
During any type of BDSM play, a person may talk about what role they identify with. Common roles (which I discuss in-depth in this article) include: dominant, submissive, and switch.
While being “primal” may not be one of the more common roles to define with, people who identify strongly with this type of play may label themselves as such. This simply means that they typically enjoy sex with little-to-no restraint. It is a choice that they make, not to have certain restraints or rules in place when they have sex. The more intense the primal urges are, the more intense the play can be, and they love that.
This can appeal to some people because primal/rough sex can involve a bit of pain (scratches, bruises, bites, cuts, etc), which can appeal to sadomasochists. It can also involve a high tension D/s dynamic, which can appeal to both dominants and submissives alike.
When we’re talking about losing inhibitions and going with your most primal instincts, it’s a fair question to ask: what about safety and consent? As with any type of BDSM play, you can put safewords, gestures and basic guidelines into effect for when you engage in primal play.
Consent: the most important thing you can have in any type of BDSM relationship is trust. How do you start to trust your partner? Knowing that they put your consent and happiness above their own, even during things like primal play, where inhibitions are stripped away. This type of play may not be something that’s easily done by casual partners, as it requires a lot of discussion and trust in each other. To learn more about consent, click here..
Safewords: choosing a safeword that you and/or your partner can use at any time to immediately and completely stop all sexual activity is the best way to ensure things remain safe and consensual, even during primal play. If you’re interested in choosing a new safe word, I’ve got a whole list of them here!
Safe gestures: sometimes your mouth is full or occupied, and speaking isn’t quite possible - so coming up with additional safe “gestures” is also a good idea. This can be something like tapping the bed, holding up to fingers, or pinching your partner in a certain spot to let them know you need a break.
Basic guidelines and hard lines: while the point of primal play is to be at your most primal and let the mood carry you where it will, safety and consent still need to remain a focal point. How can you have the best of both? Putting down basic, hard-stop rules before you begin. This should be things that are discussed at length before you and your partner engage in sexual activity. For this type of play, I suggest you make a list full of “hard lines” - these are things that cannot be tried during play, they can only be discussed after to see if they are possibilities to add to the next session. For example, if your partner says no anal sex during this time, that needs to be a hard line that you aren’t even thinking about during your session. After your play session, you can ask your partner how they would feel if you added this into the mix next time.
While some may not understand what primal play is, there’s a chance that you’ve felt it (or been on the fringes of it) without even realizing. This chance is more likely, in my opinion, if you’re a dominant individual that is able to experience quite intense D/s sessions with a partner.
When you look at the words associated with primal play, you will see “alpha”, “predator”, “hunter”...naturally, “dominant” is close behind. In principle, the predator is the dominant and the prey is the submissive.
Experiencing primality during D/s power plays: in a “typical” BDSM scene, when you’re exploring the D/s dynamic, perhaps there is a power play ensuing. Perhaps your submissive is talking back, pushing all the right buttons and waiting for their dom/me to step up and put them back in their place. The more they push, the faster your heart races. Your breathing may get deeper and more level and you may enter domspace, the intense, altered headspace of a dominant person during an intense BDSM roleplay.
In domspace, it’s very likely that you begin to feel more in tune with your most basic and natural urges - your voice may become more of a growl, your body language changes, your movements are deliberate...this could very well be the beginning stages of primal play.
Absolutely not. The parallels I draw between dominance and primality are merely because it’s possible to become primal when you’re in domspace. As Lovense explains, “it’s common in this kind of play for a natural Dominant and submissive energy to form. However, that’s doesn’t have to be the crux. It can also be expected state of being rather than defeating or controlling someone.”
Fear is one of the most primal, unhinged, unpredictable emotions we can experience as humans. How our bodies instinctively react to perceived threats (real or planned during BDSM scenes) can enhance sexual pleasure. Primal play often features things like rough body play (choking, slapping, spanking, restraining) as well as fear play (verbal threats, physical restraints, etc). As BDSM Wiki points out, it’s important to note that including fear play in any BDSM scene and intentionally evoking raw and unfiltered emotions like this can often lead to increased safety risks.
What our bodies do in “fight or flight mode” often is unexpected and can add some elements of surprise (not the good kind, either) to play. Because of this, some people may even consider primal play to be a form of edgy BDSM play.
To ensure the safety of everyone, safe words should be utilized if things start to escalate too far beyond each person’s control.
While the point of primal play is to act as your most natural self, it doesn’t mean you can’t nudge that along with some planning. If you’re anything like me, talking about sex, kinks, fetishes and planning your next BDSM play session are some of your favourite pastimes.
How can you incorporate primal play into your sex life?
The most important thing you can do: talk about it! While “hey, I want to f*ck you like an animal - what do you think about that?” may seem like a strange dinner-time conversation with your partner, sometimes it’s these conversations that lead to the best play sessions later.
Discussing your desires with your partner and explaining that you want to experience primal, urgent sex with them can also be a kind of foreplay. Planning, coming up with guidelines and discussing all the intense, erotic details of primal sex will not only keep everyone safe and happy but will also serve as really hot dirty talk over dinner.
During your discussions, while it’s fun to get turned on by the idea of ravaging your partner in the most primal way possible, setting hard limits and discussing the rules of the game are definitely essential. Ensuring your partner feelings comfortable with this idea and knows how to stop the play if it becomes too much can help them feel more comfortable, which can actually help the moment feel that much more natural and exciting.
Have you ever had particularly rough or intense solo play sessions? Those times where you just can’t keep from moaning or groaning as you vigorously reach climax? We’ve all been there...and maybe you can try to push yourself a bit more. Experiencing this kind of primality during solo play can help you become familiar with the sensations and feelings of being in touch with your primal and basic urges. This can help you feel more confident and more in control when it comes to being that primal with a partner.
An extra hot tip: record audio of yourself playing during solo time and listen back to it or even play it for your partner to give them a little taste of what’s in store.
I’ve talked about this before - trigger words are wonderful things. For me, as a submissive, trigger words (such as “little slut”, especially when used in combination with ownership language like “mine”) can alter my mood and almost immediately push me towards subspace. This, naturally, strips me of inhibitions and allows me to act naturally and instinctually.
While submissives may become more suggestible in this state, dominants can become more aggressive and primal. Certain trigger words or behaviors from your submissive can impact your mood, making it easier to get more in tune with your most primal, natural instincts and urges. Have fun with this and add some dirty talk into your next play session - take note of how certain phrases make you feel.
While it’s natural to think about restraints, whips and chains during rough sex, the whole point of primality is so break yourselves down to the most basic, instinctive, primal beings. This means toys are very rarely incorporated. Instead, as Lovesense explains, you’ll most likely be using your hands, fingernails, teeth, mouths, and muscles in order to have fun.
Primal play is at it’s best when you’re with someone where the trust and communication flows naturally. Sometimes this can be fabricated, worked on and built - but most often, especially in the BDSM scene, you will just encounter people where this kind of connection exists as soon as you get to know each other. Experimenting with primal play is all about finding that connection and using it to stretch and push your boundaries together (within reason, of course).
That connection, as Medium puts it, is all about acting on your instincts. So much of the time, during sex, we try to dull our instincts. We try to sound more appealing, to move certain ways and to please our partners in ways we’ve read about online. Overthinking is a very common thing that often takes away from the primal act of sex. Once you strip away the overthinking and what you think you should do, you will be surprised how natural your movements and processes become.
Primal play, like most other things, is simply a form of sexual play. The term “fetish” is often interchangably used with the term “kink”, and both of these are sometimes mixed up with things we just really enjoy doing or experiencing during sex.
School of Squirt explains it like this: “Primal [fetish] isn’t technically a fetish as it’s not dependent on a specific object or behavior. Instead, being primal is more of a style or a state of mind that means being ‘animalistic’, or releasing one’s primal self when sexually aroused or during sex, whenever or wherever that may be.”
It can be. Caution needs to be exercised when engaging in primal play due to the fact that inhibitions are lowered and you’re acting on pure basic instinct, which means your movements may be more aggressive than you anticipate.
This one is up for debate. While some may say that primal play is a form of BDSM play, others suggest there are some key differences that highlight just how separate these two things are.
During primal play, for example, there would be little-to-no toy use and primal play includes terms like “mates” and “pets”, which traditional BDSM terminology leaves out. Additionally, although some primal play may feature a D/s dynamic, this isn’t always the case. In primal play, there could be a dom vs sub dynamic between the predator and prey, but there can also be a predator vs predator type of dynamic, which is far less likely to happen during BDSM roleplays.
There are many reasons to try tapping into your primal side with your partner - intimacy, exploring boundaries, increasing physical pleasure, getting in tune with yourself, honing your instincts or just experimenting. Primal play has benefits and exciting things for anyone who decides it’s something they’d like to try.
For some people, it’s biting, scratching, wrestling and hair pulling. For others, it’s laughter, giggling, or licking each other’s bodies. Primality looks so different for everyone, which is what makes experiencing it during sex all the more fun.
If you’re interested in experiencing more primal sessions with your partner, why not ask them how they feel about exploring that part of yourselves, together? If you’re looking for more information on primal play, School of Squirt has a great in-depth guide available here.