In the decade that I’ve been experimenting in kink, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve moved a particular activity from the “maybe,” “I guess,” or “I honestly have no idea” categories in my brain over to the “hell yes!” column. What I have not experienced often, however, is the near-sudden migration of a hard limit into constant fantasy fodder.

Face slapping was one such rarity.

Despite discovering my masochist side early on in my kink journey and spending the intervening years pushing those desires further, the thought of being slapped in the face always turned me off. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I would venture a guess that it’s due at least in part to the representations of the act in media. The concept of impact play, particularly spanking, has permeated mainstream culture, but the only times we really see people being slapped across the face on screen are in cheesy melodramas (often accompanied by a thrown drink) or in depictions of intimate partner violence. It was too closely related to actual abuse in my mind to think of it as sexy, save perhaps for a light tap on the cheek by a partner as a way to get me to re-focus during sex, if I’m getting too subspacey.

It’s funny how quickly things can change when you start playing with a sadist.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was taken with the idea of being slapped hard in the face, usually as “punishment” for being bratty. It was like a switch had flipped in my brain, and this turn-off became very much a turn-on, practically overnight. My fantasies became consumed with thoughts of strong fingers gripping my cheeks, a stern voice telling me that I was too mouthy for my own good, the release of the fingers before their hand struck my cheek, the exquisite sting.

However, the sadist and I didn’t have much opportunity to experiment with this particular act IRL, aside from some pre-planned, very light slaps at the beginning of our weekend hotel tryst. But as our kink dynamic ended and we shifted to being purely platonic friends, my fascination with face-slapping remained.

Over the holidays, he was back in town visiting his family, and we caught up over lunch one day. Naturally, some reminiscing of our sordid adventures occurred, and as we hugged goodbye, he gripped my throat and lightly tapped my cheek with his palm. He wasn’t able to give me what I’d been craving, but it was within his power to nudge me toward asking the person who could.

I’ve been with my current partner for 5 months now, so we’re still in the mushy NRE stage. Our sex life is stellar, but we’re taking the kink stuff pretty slowly, as much of it is new for him. I have been hesitant about asking for pain in particular, because I’m an anxious submissive and I feared I’d overwhelm him. But this need had taken hold, and it was not going to go away on its own, so I told him that I was in a mood for pain and really wanted him to slap me. To his credit, he didn’t freak out, merely nodded and said he was game to try.

Later, as we were standing by his bed and making out furiously, my shirt already off, he pulled away and gave me a Look. (I had been trying to undo his belt, and every time I got near it, he pinned my arms to my sides. It was a game we’d played before, a bratty teasing, an unspoken push and pull.) Then he said, “I’m going to slap you in the face now, especially since you seem to be trying to give me a reason.”

I inhaled sharply, nodded, and locked eyes with his as his arm pulled back. His aim was true, his palm landing square on my cheek. Immediately, the sting flushed through me, and I gasped. It wasn’t a particularly hard slap, but it exhilarated me in a way I didn’t expect, even after dreaming about it for so long. After I nodded my assent, he did it again.

This one was harder, and the combined pain and pleasure of it sent a jolt through my entire body.

I’d endured, often relished, pain with other partners. I’d been spanked, flogged, clamped, paddled, whipped, and cropped – but this was different. It was so…intimate. Romantic. The trust we’d cultivated in such a short time was astonishing, and it was then that I realized I had never been as intuitively sexually connected with anyone in my life as I was with this man.

My face must have at least hinted at the flood of emotions coursing through me, because he stopped and asked if I was okay, concern filling his kind eyes.

I nodded again. Okay? I was more than okay; I was floating. I wanted more, so much more…but ultimately, my rational side prevailed, deciding to end our first foray into face-slapping there. I dared not push it, for either of us. I wanted to preserve the moment, perfect in its newness, its vulnerability, its thrill.

We moved onto other things, mouths and hands and limbs everywhere, but the delicious pain of his hand on my cheek stayed with me.

It’s with me still, even now.

I can’t look at his fingers without remembering how they felt, caressing the warm, pink flesh of my cheek. I never dreamed that being slapped in the face would be one of the most romantic moments in our relationship – or any of my relationships – but here I am, swooning at the thought.

Kink is funny that way.