Sadist vs. Masochist vs. Sadomasochism – Difference & Definition

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Sadist, masochist, and sadomasochism are words that aren’t three terms you see used every day. But if you do plan to use them in speech or writing, it’s very important you understand what the distinct differences are.

Sadist vs. Masochist vs. Sadomasochism

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They’re all related to the concept of BDSM, which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism. Not exactly light terms and each definitely comes with heavy meanings and usage.

I know these terms from being a romance author. While I don’t write books with this sort of content, I do have plenty of author friends in my community that do.

What Does Sadist Mean?

A sadist is someone who literally gets pleasure from causing pain or discomfort to others. This pleasure can be either physical, emotional, or psychological, or all three at once.

Sadists often enjoy obscure activities such as spanking, whipping, or other forms of BDSM play that involve inflicting pain or discomfort on their partners.

They may also enjoy watching others suffer or being in control of others. Personally, I feel this leans more toward how a serial killer would behave rather than a consenting partner.

What Is a Masochist Person?

A masochist, on the other hand, is a person who gets pleasure when they experience pain or discomfort themselves. Like sadism, this pleasure can also be physical, emotional, or psychological.

Masochists often enjoy activities such as being spanked, whipped, or humiliated. They may also enjoy being in submissive roles and giving up control over others.

It can also be used in the context of talking about someone who seems to love self-destructing or someone who’s their “own worst enemy.” I always think of the movie Twilight when I hear the word masochist and the scene where the vampire Edward says he’s a masochist for falling in love with Bella, who’s a human.

What Is Sadomasochism?

Now, this is a complex term. Sadomasochism is the combination of both sadism and masochism, if you can believe it. It’s the act of deriving pleasure from both causing and experiencing pain or discomfort.

Fun Fact: While some people may identify as sadists or masochists, others may not identify with any specific label but still enjoy certain aspects of BDSM.

Also, for some people, sadomasochistic desires can be as simple as a fetish, something that they enjoy in addition to more “vanilla” sexual activities. Just think of Annastacia in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

Yes, sadism and masochism are often associated with BDSM, but they can also exist outside of that context. For example, someone may enjoy inflicting pain on others in a non-consensual or abusive way, which is not BDSM; it’s abuse.

Let’s Look at Some Sentence Examples with the Word Sadist

  • Her abuser was a sadist who enjoyed causing pain to his victims.
  • My neighbor was found guilty of sadistic acts of violence against his victims.
  • My teacher was fired for sadistic behavior toward her students.
  • His case was diagnosed as a sadistic personality disorder.
  • The protagonist of my new novel is revealed to be a sadist who enjoys tormenting others.
  • The police are investigating a sadistic serial killer who tortured his victims.
  • Your psychologist warned you that you had sadistic tendencies and posed a danger to society.
  • The movie’s villain was a sadist who took pleasure in causing others to suffer.

Examples of the Word Masochist in a Sentence

  • Her case was diagnosed as a masochistic personality disorder.
  • My ex-boyfriend turned out to be a masochist who enjoyed suffering.
  • My daughter’s teacher was fired for masochistic behavior toward the students.
  • The abuser was a masochist who enjoyed experiencing pain.
  • The movie’s villain was a masochist who took pleasure in experiencing suffering.
  • Our investigation revealed that the victim was a masochist who enjoyed the thrill of danger.

Using the Word Sadomasochism in a Sentence

  • We engaged in sadomasochistic acts as part of our consensual sexual relationship.
  • Careful, that book explores the theme of sadomasochism in the context of a BDSM relationship.
  • It has a plot that revolves around a sadomasochistic relationship between the main characters.
  • My therapist specializes in counseling individuals and couples who engage in sadomasochistic practices.
  • The workshop was designed to teach participants about the safe and consensual practices of sadomasochism.

Don’t Be a Sadist, and Use the Right Words!

Now that we’ve broken down the true meanings and proper usage of these three sensitive terms, you should feel confident moving forward and using them in your writing. If you’re ever unsure about words such as these, don’t hesitate to do a bit of research.