A primal is someone who enjoys primal play or identifies as having a primal fetish or primal kink. Primal play involves getting into a primal state of being or mind, where a person tends to behave in a rough or animalistic way. A primal fetish is a desire or preference for sexual activity that allows the participants to connect with their most animalistic or primal selves. It is a style of BDSM that focuses on raw feelings and actions that are evoked by natural impulses and urges. Because the primal state is purely instinctual, primals say it can be triggered by rough sex, which is how some people find out they are primals.
Those who enjoy primal play may describe it as very passionate and sensual, as well as exhilarating. Some things a primal might do include scratching, biting, hair-pulling, vocalizing with grunts and growls, wrestling, and using force and strength with their partner. Primals release themselves from the inhibitions of our world to allow themselves a headspace that is instinctual and reactive to their base impulses and desires.
In a general BDSM sense, primals can identify as dominants or submissives but may choose to use alternate terms, such as hunter and prey. Although less common, primal couplings can also include two dominant primals, both of whom will seek to dominate the other. Anyone can participate in any role in primal play; it is not limited by gender or sexual orientation. Some primals may also associate themselves with animals, such as wolves or bears.
Because of its animalistic nature, primal play often involves a heightened use of senses. A primal scene may resemble a hunt or a mating ritual, where listening and scent are crucial to finding and connecting with a potential sex partner. As it is a form of power play, primal sex can often be rough, so it is typically considered edgeplay in the BDSM community.
Although primal play is not new, it experienced a bit of a "moment" in 2021 when people on TikTok began sharing their interest in primal sex play as well as some of their primal fantasies.