Navigating fetishes in a relationship can be a challenge.
A committed relationship should be a place of comfort and safety for two people to engage with and come back to whilst navigating their individuality in the outside world. Comfort and safety comes with intimacy and that is achieved through vulnerability. And we can all agree that talking about sex and the ideas that go through our minds about it is one of the most scary things one can think of doing. And, exactly because of that, talking about sex can be a door for real vulnerability.
Let's talk about sex?
What Are Sexual Fetishes?
Sexual fetishism can be defined as an attraction to a non-living object or a body part that is not genitalia. It may also include sexual desires or urges considered outside the norm (the norm being what statistically most people - supposedly - do).
Psychologists believe that most fetishes are learned - through experience, we start to develop associations between certain objects/body parts and sexual arousal.
Common fetishes are associated with feet, body piercings, latex, or underwear.
But almost anything can become a sexual fetish.
Fetishes often arise from specific personality traits and life experiences and may be more common than people think.
When practiced in a safe, consensual, and communicative way, fetishes are a healthy component of an intimate ou independent relationship. A sexual fetish can add an exciting element to your love life, help you learn more about your partner and yourself, and deepen your connection. Research shows that talking about sexual preferences can increase satisfaction when it comes to intimacy.
But, some people don’t feel comfortable at all talking about such intimate ideas. They might perceive them as wrong, disgusting, not “normal”.
As Kathy Slaughter, a sex therapist and LCSW in Indianapolis, explains: “We live in a society where fetishes are just one more weird thing to be weird about in this already sex negative framework that makes any sexual expression suspect.”
Some common fetishes:
Feet: people with foot fetishes may be submissive, meaning they have a desire to "worship" at someone's feet ****through kissing and massage or by even giving a pedicure. Other people enjoy an aspect of humiliation and want to be stomped on or have smelly feet on their faces;
Pregnancy: pregnancy fetish is having an intense sexual attraction to some or all aspects of pregnancy. For some people, it might be the round belly, whereas for other, it could be the lactation - whether it’s the actual act of breastfeeding or the breast milk itself;
Nylon: a nylon fetish is someone who needs nylon to feel arousal. This could mean you like the look and feel of nylon or like touching someone's legs in nylon stockings (or like to wear them yourself);
Braids and ponytails;
If you and your partner have discussed the fetish and consented to trying it, it may help to start slow. Try engaging with the new fetish briefly while being intimate, gradually adding more elements over time.
Ideas to remember:
Fetishes could result in a more satisfying sex life;
Consent is a non-negotiable when it comes to all sexual experiences;
Intimacy is often an integral part of a relationship, and sexual fetishes can be an exciting way of fostering that closeness.
If you or your partner have a fetish that you’re interested in exploring, being open and honest with each other may allow you to explore it safely.
As you work to enhance intimacy, navigate relationships, sexuality, or other mental health-related concerns, know that help is available :)