Why We Want to Bite Our Partners During Sex

An evolutionary side effect called "cute aggression" makes us want to bring out the fangs in bed

May 10, 2022 5:38 am
Parrots biting each other
We can all get a bit nippy from time to time.
Getty Images

Have you ever looked at a partner and thought, You are so fucking sexy and hot. I just want to bite your face off? You’re definitely not the only one. This is actually a super common feeling — one that’s rooted in evolutionary biology.

As it turns out, this urge to nibble is an evolutionary side effect known as “cute aggression.” And, to be clear, it’s not about actually wanting to eat a partner. Rather, “it’s about the urge to bite, squeeze, pinch someone based on experiencing affection towards them, not wanting to harm them,”explains Dr. Nazanin Moali, a clinical psychologist and host of the Sexology podcast.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to sink your gnashers into someone during sex and wondered why, you’ve come to the right place. Here is what you need to know about why we’re into biting — and how to do it safely.

“Cute aggression” and evolution

“Cute aggression” has historically been understood as the urge to bite something we see as “cute” or “adorable.’” For instance, have you ever seen the juiciest, cutest baby in all the land and wanted to take a bite right out of the rolls on their thighs? 

If babies aren’t your thing, maybe you’ve looked at a tiny little puppy with big, happy eyes and wanted to bury your face in their fur and eat them? This is all due to cute aggression.

According to Moali, something called “dimorphous expression” is at the root of these contradictory feelings. Dimorphous expression is when someone who feels a strong emotion expresses the opposite emotion. Meaning, you feel overwhelmed with love and joy towards a cute thing — and you feel the urge to munch down on said cute thing as a way to show said love. The biting is an aggressive expression of affection. Animals (including humans) are wild, man.

Studies show that the manifestation of “cute aggression” might be a form of emotional regulation. The feelings are so strong that we literally do not even know what to do with them. And so, we bite.

But, just to reiterate, it’s not about wanting to actually put a puppy on a kebab and have it for lunch. It’s about feeling aggressive tendencies due to overpowering positive emotion. You would not actually hurt the puppy — you’d snuggle it and pet it a lot until your nervous system calmed the fuck down.

Biting partners in an erotic way

The sexual aggression we feel towards our partners (and the subsequent desire to bite them), is another form of cute aggression. Biting in a sexual way “might demonstrate a sense of playfulness that might be rooted in expressing one’s interest,” Moali says. Basically, passion makes us bite-y.

In studies, animals who were perceived as “cuter” were often subjected to more biting and other playful behaviors by their human (or animal) caretakers — and the same is true of us wiley humans with other humans. Our cute aggression erupts from the intensity of the passion and excitement we feel towards our partners when aroused.

Plus, biting is just plain fun when there’s sex involved. “Biting can feel good because it is an intense experience to be bitten,” says Zachary Zane, sex columnist and sex expert for P.S. Condoms. “So when you alternate between a light touch and biting, it’s a way to heighten arousal and pleasure.” 

Additionally, some people can become sexually aroused  by seeing their teeth marks on their or their partner’s body. “This could reflect some sense of dominance or (playful) ownership, (temporarily) marking their partner’s body,” says Sarah Melancon, Ph.D, a sociologist, clinical sexologist and resident expert at The Sex Toy Collective. “Bite marks may also be seen as ‘evidence’ of their passion and desire, a concrete representation of an inner feeling.”

In short, in a heightened arousal state, pain can often feel like pleasure. Our nerve endings are on high alert. Sexual desire and the overpowering need to tear our partner’s clothes off and sink our teeth into their skin is really just cute aggression amped up on sexual desire.

How to bite your partner in a sexy way

If you want to bite your partner and don’t want to, say, do actual damage because you’re not a monster, there is definitely a good way to go about it.

First things first: Always, always, always get enthusiastic consent before biting someone during sex. “A lot of folks aren’t into being bitten,” says Zane. “While making out, you can simply pause and quickly ask, ‘Do you like being bitten?’ If they say yes, ask, ‘Where?’ and then go ahead and proceed to bite them where they like.” It’s all about getting that “hell yeah” before you sink your teeth in.

It’s always better to start softer before really going for it. You’re not legit trying to take a chunk out of a partner’s mouth-wateringly juicy ass; you’re trying to show passion and increase arousal. Zane suggests going for quicker bites. “Don’t hold your teeth in the other person’s flesh for a while,” he says. “That can get really painful, and not in a fun, sexual way.” Basically, it’s as simple as, “take a bite and move on.”

Additionally, you don’t just want to bite indiscriminately. “In general, more fleshy areas may feel better to the receiver, such as the thighs, butt or breasts, and may be more satisfying to the giver,” Melacon says. “The belly is also fleshy but may be more sensitive, so tread lightly.”

Like most things we’re inclined to do in bed, biting is normal and hot, when done correctly. We’re all just animals trying to get it on, after all.

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