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Saturday, May 6, 2023

Are You Curious About Exploring Fetishes With Your Partner?

In a prior article, I explored the differences between a fetish and a kink (see my article: What's the Difference Between a Fetish and a Kink?).

Many people are curious about exploring fetishes, but they don't know how to do it or where to start, I'll explore some possibilities about how to start exploring fetishes with your partner in a non-intimidating way and what you can do if your partner isn't into your particular fetish (see my article: What is Eroticism?).

What is a Fetish?
As a recap from my prior articleA fetish is similar to a kink, but the important difference is that many people who are into a fetish often need it to get sexually aroused.  

A Common Fetish: Feet

Fetishes include:
  • A particular body part
  • An object
  • A sexual act
See the list below.

For instance, with regard to body parts, some people get sexually aroused by feet.  They are foot fetishists.  This is the most common fetish.  For foot fetishes the sight, smell, taste or touch of feet get them turned on.  

Other people are turned on by other body parts, like breasts, hips, butts, legs, long hair, ears, and navels, to name just a few.  

For some people just fantasizing about their particular fetish is enough to get them sexually turned on without even having the fetish.

Common Fetishes: Feet, Fishnet Stockings, High Heels and Gloves

The fetish can also be an object, like something made of leather (jacket, pants, harness, etc), silk, latex, or vinyl.  It can also include high heels, stockings, underwear or other objects.

A fetish can include engaging in certain sexual acts, like having sex in public, like car sex, where there is a risk of getting caught since this is considered taboo (see my article: A Cornerstone of Eroticism: Violating Sexual Prohibitions).

Violating Sexual Prohibitions in Public: Car Sex

What Are Some of the Most Common Fetishes?
Just about anything can be eroticized, especially during or around puberty.  Depending upon a person's experience, an object or body part can become sexually charged which can lead to it becoming a fetish.  

Some of the most common fetishes include:
  • Feet - Also known as podophilia is the most common fetish
  • Hair
  • Navel
  • Ears
  • Body piercings
  • Tattoos
  • Latex
  • Leather
  • Silk
  • Vinyl
  • Gloves
  • Stockings/hosiery
  • Shoes
  • Boots
  • Underwear
  • Adult diapers
  • Balloons
  • Sneezing
  • Tickling
  • Smell - Including rose petals, gasoline, matches
  • Food - Including ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and so on
  • Sex in public (e.g., car sex on a dark street or sex in a park)
  • Cuckolding
  • Threesomes
  • Power and Submission
How to Explore a Fetish With Your Partner
At one time, fetishes were considered psychologically unhealthy. However, fetishes are no longer considered unhealthy unless they are a significant interference in your life (e.g., causing problems for you at work because you're so fixated on your fetish that you're not doing your work because you're watch porn at work).  

Talking to a partner about a fetish you would like to incorporate in your sex life together can be anxiety provoking if you don't know how your partner will react or you anticipate your partner won't react well. So, it might be helpful to do the following:
  • Go Slowly, Communicate and Be Patient: If you're not comfortable talking to your partner about your fetish because you're not sure how they would respond, you can start by talking about a sexual fantasy involving your fetish to see how they respond.  If your partner is inexperienced with fetishes, you can explain why your particular fetish turns you on sexually and see if they're interested. Keep the discussion light and fun.
  • Offer Your Partner More Information: You can provide your partner with more information about your fetish through Kink Academy which has articles and videos about fetishes and kinks.  You can also provide your partner with any one of the many books that are written about fetishes depending upon your particular fetish.  There are also many podcasts that explore relationships and fetishes, including the Sexology podcast with Dr. Moali.  In particular, she hosted an episode specifically about fetishes.
  • Consider Starting With a Role Play: Assuming your partner enthusiastically consents to exploring your fetish or is, at least, curious, you could start with a role play where you each become different characters (even if all you do is change your names).  By getting creative and using your imagination, doing a role play can feel safer and easier because you're both pretending to be someone else instead of being yourselves. Remember that it might not go so smoothly if this is the first time you're trying it, so be patient.
  • Have a Safe Word: Be prepared that either you or your partner can stop what. you're doing at any point once the safe word has been used.

A Role Play With Leather Fetish

  • Be Respectful of Your Partner's Feelings: If your partner enjoys the fetish as much as you do, that's great. But if your partner isn't into it, be respectful of your partner's feelings and choice because fetishes are particular to each person, so they might not like what you like.
  • Try to Be Open to Their Fetish: If your partner has a particular fetish they like or they would like to explore, try to keep an open mind. This doesn't mean that anyone should do anything they're not comfortable doing. But if you're curious about it, be generous with your partner.

What If Your Partner Isn't Interested in Even Exploring Your Fetish?
Everyone has their own particular interests when it comes to sex, kink and fetishes so don't be surprised if your partner isn't open to exploring your fetish.  Hopefully, your partner is respectful enough not to be critical (see my article: Don't Yuk Anybody's Yum).

Talking About Fetishes With Your Partner

But if your partner isn't at all interested in incorporating your fetish into your sexual activities together, remember that all sex must be consensual. So, don't get angry with them, don't reject them or try to pressure them into it.  This will only backfire and can ruin your relationship.  

If everything else is going well in your relationship, chances are your partner's refusal to participate isn't a rejection of you--it's probably a personal choice about the fetish--not about you.  It's important not to take their refusal as a personal rejection (see my article: Coping With a Sexual Rejection in Your Relationship).  This is also another reason why it's important for the two of you to talk openly about sex.
  • Talk to Your Partner About the Possibility of Exploring a Fetish-Related Fantasy: If your partner is open to engaging with the fetish, find out if they would be willing to talk about the fetish (without actually using actually the fetish) in terms of a fantasy--one that you won't actually act out.  Talking about the fantasy might be enough of a sexual turn-on for you.  
  • Explore Your Fetish on Your Own By Yourself: If your partner isn't interested in your fetish, you might be able explore it by yourself without your partner--depending upon what it is.  For instance, if you like the feel and smell of leather, you can find many ways to enjoy wearing leather, including wearing leather gloves, a leather jacket, leather pants, and so on. You can also use your imagination to fantasize about an attractive person who is wearing leather in whatever situation you find sexually appealing in a fantasy.
  • Explore Your Fetish Through a Community: Before you find a kink and fetish community that appeals to you, talk to your partner first. Some people, who aren't into particular fetishes or kinks, are comfortable with consenting for their partner to explore their fetish with others. But some partners definitely are not. It's important for you to be completely honest and transparent with your partner in an open discussion about what you might want to do with others and get their approval or you can ruin your relationship.  If your partner has no problems with your finding a fetish/kink community, you can find either online or in-person alternatives.
  • Seek Help in Sex Therapy: It's common for individuals in a relationship to have different sexual interests.  If you and your partner can't agree about what to do about your particular fetish and it's having a negative impact on your relationship, seek help in sex therapy.
Getting Help in Sex Therapy
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy for individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

There is no nudity, physical exam or sex during sex therapy sessions (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy).

Getting Help in Sex Therapy

Individual adults and couples seek help in sex therapy for many different reasons.  Make sure that when you call a sex therapist for a consultation who works with the topics of kinks and fetishes (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a skilled sex therapist who is familiar with your issues.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City sex positive psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.