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Study: Bondage May Make Men Happier

Bondage and discipline may actually make men happier, according to the first national survey of Australians' fetish habits.

The new sex study has revealed that 2 percent of Australian men and 1.4 percent of women admit to enjoying dominance, submission and sadomasochism-type sex in the past year.

But researchers involved in the phone survey of 20,000 people say they expect many more Australians to be engaging in the practice but unwilling to label it BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination and submission).

“There will definitely be more men and women who have sexual tastes in this direction but won't call it this,” said Dr. Juliet Richters, of the University of New South Wales.

“They might not like sex magazines but they just happen to like being tied up and spanked as part of foreplay.

“Ask them if they're into BDSM they'll say 'Yuck, no'.”

The survey results, to be presented at the World Association of Sexual Health congress in Sydney this week, give the first snapshot of Australians involved in bondage behaviour.

These fetishes were most common among gay, lesbian and bisexual people and heterosexuals who are “bi-interested”, said Dr. Richters, the lead researcher.

In women, BDSM was most popular among under 20-year-olds and those who had a partner they didn't live with. There were no age or relationship trends in men, she said.

People who engaged in the habit were more likely to be sexually adventurous in other ways, like trying anal sex and phone sex, looking at internet pornography or using sex toys.

“These are people for whom sex is a hobby,” Dr Richters said.

They were no more likely to have suffered sexual difficulties, sexual abuse or coercion or anxiety than other Australians.

In fact, says Dr. Richters, men into BDSM scored significantly better on a scale of psychological wellbeing than other men.

“This seems to imply that these men are actually happier as a result of their behaviour, though we're not sure why,” she said.

“It might just be that they're more in harmony with themselves because they're into something unusual and are comfortable with that.

“There's a lot to be said for accepting who you are.”

At the other end of the spectrum – least happy – were men who reported being attracted to men but had never acted on their desire and didn't regard themselves as gay.

Researchers said the study helps break down the reigning stereotype that people into bondage and discipline were damaged as children and were therefore “dysfunctional”.

“We really found that BDSM is simply a sexual interest or subculture attractive to a minority, not a pathological symptom of past abuse or difficulty with 'normal' sex,” Dr. Richters said.

“They've just got a broader and more unusual sexual repertoire than most.”