Kink & BDSM

What You Think You Know About Sexual Fetishes Is Probably Wrong

October 16, 2017 by Justin Lehmiller

People can develop sexual fetishes for virtually anything. For example, some people are turned on by feeding others or watching them eat, others are turned on by drinking or coming into contact with various bodily fluids (such as breast milk), and yet others are turned on by wearing or using diapers.

I’ve received countless questions about these and other fetishes from readers. In fact, fetishes are one of the more common topics people ask me about. As I’ve listened to all these questions over the years, I’ve noticed that folks seem to hold a lot of pre-conceived notions about fetishists. For example, people largely assume that it’s impossible for fetishists to enjoy “normal” (translation: non-fetish) sex and, further, that they’re incapable of having healthy relationships. As it turns out, however, these stereotypes just don’t hold up when you look at the research.

This is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC. In it, I explore the results of two new papers published earlier this year by researchers from The Kinsey Institute. Each paper includes two studies in which self-identified fetishists described their sexual practices, as well as how they feel about both fetish and non-fetish sex.

The results reveal that fetishists don’t necessarily need to have their fetish object present to enjoy sexual activity. In other words, most fetishists can and do enjoy non-fetish sex, too (though they do enjoy sex more when it incorporates their fetish).

Another key finding from the research was that most fetishists were currently in relationships, and most had practiced their fetish with a romantic partner before. This tells us that fetishes don’t necessarily interfere with one’s ability to have a healthy relationship.

Check out the full article for more findings from these studies. And check out this video to learn more about where fetishes come from in the first place.

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Image Source: 123RF/Chris Titze

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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