A fetish involves arousal to an inanimate object or a specific target, says Dr Ashton.
“Usually a body part that’s not a genital, or an object.”
As opposed to a preference for something, like clean sheets or chocolate ice cream, a fetish has a stronger connection to sexual arousal.
“There is more reinforcement between the parts of our brain that are involved in arousal and orgasm, and the object or target that you’re talking about,” Dr Ashton says.
“If you’re talking about a preference, then the connection would be weaker.”
Dr Ashton commonly hears about fetishes related to clothing, like shoes and stockings, or textures, like PVC and latex.
But she says the list is long: “If you can think of it, then people probably have a fetish of it.”
A comprehensive study from 2007 on the prevalence of different fetishes found preferences for body parts or features and for objects usually associated with the body were most common (33 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively).
That was followed by preferences for other people’s behaviour (18 per cent), own behaviour (7 per cent), social behaviour (7 per cent) and objects unrelated to the body (5 per cent).
Feet and objects associated with feet were the most common target.
What causes fetishes?
Staying with feet for a moment, why are they such a common fetish target?
Anisa Varasteh, a clinical sexologist based in Adelaide, says that’s difficult to determine.
She says fetishes are multi-sensory experiences. And because there are so many different reasons people find certain fetishes arousing (for example, one person might like feet for the visual element, another for what they represent to them) it’s hard to say what the origin might be.
“One study [on this theory] showed heterosexual men images of boots followed by pictures of naked women,” Ms Varasteh says.
“Repeating this process over time, the men showed sexual arousal by just being shown pictures of the boots.”
Dr Ashton says fetishes can also be linked to experiences someone has had early in life.
“Because people might first experience some form of arousal early on in their childhood and they are small people, they might be close to feet and there might be some random association between their experience of arousal and feet.”
Neen has been into various forms of kink, and the bondage and discipline parts of BDSM for 30 years.
They have a fetish for shoes, which they first noticed at a kink show.
“My first attraction was the costuming, the corsets and the shoes,” the 50-year-old says.
“An incredible heel on an attractive person, but non-binary, cisgendered or not, or trans, does something to the shape of a person’s body and the way that they stand and how they hold themselves.”
For Neen, it’s also about the quality and shape of the shoe.
They experienced abuse as a child and used to wonder if this played a role in their fetish.
“I’ve had moments where I’ve been really uncomfortable within myself, as to why I might like something.
“[But] as I’ve grown older and understood myself more, I’ve understood where the majority of my sexual preference and sexual fetish comes from, or where it’s anchored, and I’m really comfortable with it now.”
How fetishes can improve sex
Nadia doesn’t always ask her sexual partners to wear a backwards cap. But it does intensify sex for her.
“I don’t want to say that the baseball cap is not negotiable. For me the idea of the cap is something I like to include, because I find that for me, for whatever reason, it sparks a higher sex drive.
“I’ll find that most times it’ll be something that can kind of heighten the process. So when I find that I’m really in that moment, I will ask them to wear it just because I think for me it adds another level of intensity.”
Some partners have quizzed Nadia on her fetish, while others wear the cap without question.
“They’ll see the change in me and they’ll kind of get excited by that — even though they don’t understand it.”
Ms Varasteh says embracing parts of ourselves that we might otherwise push away due to feelings of shame is the first step to integrating them into our lives and “being more functional”.
Is it OK to have a fetish?
Fetishes are only harmful if they cause distress to the individual.
That could be classed as fetishistic disorder under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
If there are other individuals involved, it’s important fetishes are only acted upon with their enthusiastic consent.
Dr Ashton says if it’s causing harm to you or other people, you might want support from a sexual health professional to reduce or redirect the arousal.
“For example, if someone has a fetish for denim, and every time they see someone wearing a pair of jeans when they’re walking around in public, they become aroused.
“Depending on whether or not you have a vulva or a penis … that could be pretty distressing.”
But otherwise, fetishes are healthy and we should encourage people to explore what feels good for them in a way that is safe, says Dr Ashton.
“We live in a culture that doesn’t really speak much about fetish and that tends to shame anything that’s outside of the spectrum of what is perceived as normal.
“But really what we know about sex and sexuality and things that people find arousing is that there’s just so much diversity.”
I’ll never forget the first time I saw balloon porn and thought to myself for the first time, “Well, I guess there’s something for everyone.”
Balloon porn is exactly what it sounds like, if you’re wondering.
Men and women frolicking around in a room full of balloons, bopping them around each other, sitting on them, putting them between their legs and even breasts, popping them and looking like they’re filled with ecstasy at the sound…
This was also around the time I learned about furries and their special kink, dressing up as animals and fooling around for their sexual pleasure.
Then, I started reading more and more erotica, and the kinks kept getting stranger.
Did you know there is a thing called Spectrophilia? Glamour describes it as:
a sexual attraction, relationships, or sexual encounters with ghosts who come and have hot sex with them at night.
There’s more Spectrophilia out there than you’d imagine, but there’s even more tentacle sex.
Yes, some women (and men) really, really get off on the idea of being tentacle raped either by an octopus, squid, or otherwise tentacled monster.
And then there are the monsters!
There’s certainly no shortage of shifter porn and erotica out there, along with sexual hunts for Bigfoot, erotic encounters with aliens, and even a whole lot with step-siblings and step-parents.
The point is, whatever your kink is, there is some porn out there for you — and if there’s porn out there for you, it must mean your kink isn’t as taboo as you think it is.
But why are we so afraid to share our kinks?
Without the validation that there are people out there who share our kinks, sometimes sharing them is the scariest thing in the world to do.
I still sometimes cringe at the thought that I shared my love of pee play, for fear of facing judgement like ‘Omg, she’s gross, she likes that?!’
In reality, the outcome of sharing wasn’t a bad thing, and even led me to a new friend on Twitter that I can talk to and share this kink with openly, and that’s made me feel a lot better than just reveling in the fact that if there is THAT MUCH pee porn on the internet, it must be a pretty common kink that no one is talking about but many enjoy.
But, if you don’t have that sort of validation from someone else who shares your kink, you might be feeling pretty lonely, and that may be when you should reach out and find someone to share it with.
I’m not saying you should hook up with the first person you find who shares your kink, but making a FetLife profile and just dipping your toe in the waters to see what’s out there isn’t a bad idea.
You never know if you’ll find someone local who wants to share in adventures with you, and you never will know if you don’t try.
So what does your kink say about you, really?
That you’re a sexual being, is what — nothing more, and nothing less.
That you get turned on by things that some might seem strange, weird, or gross, but to others seem totally hot.
And as I’ve said before and will say again like so many others before me:
Your kink may not be my kink but your kink is okay.
I’m of the mind now that you shouldn’t be ashamed of your kink at all, but embrace it for what it is and what it brings into your life.
Maybe you won’t get to share it with someone the way you really want to, but if you’re lucky you’ll at least accept it as a part of yourself and not be ashamed for what you turns you on.
So get out there and be kinky… and remind yourself that it’s always okay to love your kink even if nobody else you know does.
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The term “fetish” may evoke images of black bodysuits and complicated sexual contraptions, but you may already be acting out some of the most common examples, such as spanking. What defines a fetish, though, isn’t what the activity or object of desire is so much as the role it plays in someone’s life. “A fetish is typically referred to as a behavior that someone cannot get sexually aroused without. Fetishes can also be a term people use to describe a sexual arousal that is coupled with a typically non-sexual object,” says sexologist and psychologist Dense Renye.
While people use the terms “fetish” and “kink” interchangeably, a kink means an activity or behavior that someone enjoys that exists outside the “norm” of “traditional” sex. Someone’s kink may be bondage, and they may be incredibly excited when they’re tied up…or someone may have a bondage fetish, and their entire sexuality may revolve around restraint. Meanwhile, a turn-on may be something that simply arouses a person. It’s crucial to remember that people of all gender identities and orientations can be kinky, and what’s kinky to one person may be considered vanilla by another. And while being kinky still comes with social stigmas, Stephanie*, a 25-year-old woman involved in the New York City kink scene, says kinks are increasingly viewed as mainstream. “I always thought you couldn’t have an unconventional lifestyle and fall into success. Now I know you can live a kinky lifestyle and still be successful,” Stephanie says.
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When we think of kink, we often think of BDSM, which involves an erotic power exchange through dominance and submission. BDSM is kinky, but not all kinks fall under the BDSM umbrella. Renye adds that people often have more than one kink or one fetish, and there is often overlap: For instance, someone may engage in spanking as part of a role-playing scenario in which one partner is dressed up as a schoolgirl and the other like a professor. In such an instance, the scenario would involve role play, impact play, and even age play.
Curious to know what these terms mean? Read on to read about common fetishes and what they entail. Research suggests that perhaps half of us are interested in sexual activities outside the “norm,” so if you’re interested in trying any of the following, rest assured you’re not alone. And of course, with any type of sex, acting on fetishes or kinks should always involve enthusiastic consent from all parties and safer sex practices, such as the use of condoms, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
1. Impact Play
Impact play means spanking, flogging, paddling, and other forms of consensual striking. Spanking is often an easy and safe BDSM entry point that leads to exploring more, such as purchasing a crop to use with a partner. Impact play can range from a light slap on the bum to a crack of the whip.
As with any kink or fetish, it’s important to negotiate boundaries beforehand. “Safety and comfort are the most important aspects of kink,” Renye says. Do your homework before practicing impact play. Discuss the level of intensity you enjoy (or your partner enjoys), choose a safe word to shut down the action on a dime if need be, and learn what parts of the body are safe to impact. Stick with the meaty areas, like the ass and thighs, and avoid less protected areas where organs live, like the lower back. For both financial savings and safety, it’s a good idea to start out simply using your hand before investing in bigger and badder impact play toys, for example a whip or paddle.
You don’t have to stop playing make-believe when you grow up. Role-playing means acting out a sexual fantasy with your partner(s), either once or as part of an ongoing fantasy, Renye says. While it can be a fetish or kink within itself, it’s also a healthy way to act out other fantasies. For instance, if you have a medical fantasy, and are aroused by doctors, you probably don’t actually want your doctor to get sexy with you because that would be creepy and abusive. The beauty of role-playing is that you can have your partner dress up as a doctor and indulge your fantasy consensually in your own home.Most Popular
Role-playing scenarios range from classic schoolgirl-and-professor scenes to the more taboo, such as daddy dom and little girl. “There’s a huge stigma on daddy and brat/princess play, but I love it. I can’t have sex without calling someone daddy,” Stephanie says. Such role-playing can involve both age play, in which one partner pretends or both partners pretend to be an age other than their own, and incest fantasies. It’s not unusual for a fetish to overlap into one or more categories.
3. Foot Fetish
A foot fetish involves a desire to worship feet through acts such as massage, kissing, and smelling. As professional dominatrix Goddess Aviva told Allure, it’s an extremely common fetish. If your partner shares that they have a foot fetish, it may be initially jarring, but it’s an opportunity for you to discuss a potentially exciting new part of your sex life together. (And, if you’re into it, just think of all the foot massages headed your way!)
4. Anal Sex
You don’t need to have an anal fetish to engage in anal sex, but plenty of people of people do specifically get off on butt stuff. Anal play can range from adding a finger in the ass during penetrative vaginal sex to using butt plugs to having anal sex with a penis or a dildo. In a recent study, 37 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they had engaged in anal sex (in which women received and men gave).
Stephanie says that she’s observed anal play become more socially acceptable since she began exploring kink in college, and she credits mainstream media for helping to destigmatize the act (think of the infamous rimming scene in Girls, where Marnie gets her ass eaten, or the epic Broad City episode where Jeremy asks Ilana to peg him). Since the butthole is not self-lubricating and harbors bacteria that can lead to infection when transferred to the vagina, it’s important to stock up on lube and read up on ass etiquette before engaging in anal play. That includes safer sex precautions such as condom use.
Renye says that one of the most common fetishes centers on something that may be sitting inside your dresser right now: lingerie. “[This] may show up in sexual play between and among individuals who may not even consider themselves kinky or to have a fetish (or two or three),” she says. Again, while many people get aroused by sexy underwear, lingerie becomes a fetish when someone needs it to be present in a sexual scenario in order to fully engage or get off. A common lingerie fetish involves stockings, a fetish that can overlap with a love of feet. Lingerie is an example of the lesser-used definition of a fetish: an attraction to an object. (Try Harry Potter underwear to explore both role-playing and lingerie.)
6. Group Sex
Group sex is getting it on with more than one person. If you’ve ever swiped on Tinder, you’re likely aware that many couples are searching for a third, although group sex can mean more than just a threesome. An orgy is when a group of people of all genders have sex, while a gangbang typically refers to one person having sex with more than two members of another gender (while the term has past violent connotations, it’s used in the kink community to refer to consensual scenarios). The most talked-about type of gangbang is a woman being penetrated by multiple penises. However, men can be gangbanged by multiple women, while with strap-ons, anyone can play out a penetrative gangbang. If you have a group sex fetish or kink but realistically only want to have sex with one other person, try using porn, dirty talk, or role-playing with the use of sex toys to explore within your current relationship.
7. Sensation Play
Sensation play can refer to a huge range of activities based on the receiving or withholding of different stimuli. For instance, one partner may blindfold the other to deprive them of their sense of sight, a form of sensory deprivation, or they may drag an ice cube along their skin, a form of sensation play known as temperature play. When it comes to giving sensation, think of everything from tickling a partner with your hands or a feather to biting them. Impact play is sometimes placed under the category of sensation play.
8. Orgasm Control
Orgasm control is part of BDSM, as it involves an element of dominance and submission. Edging, in which the submissive partner is brought to the brink of climax and then forced to stop — often done repeatedly — is an example of orgasm control. The idea here is that for as long as you like, you let your partner take the reins and determine when and how you come. As with all of the activities here, anyone can engage in orgasm control regardless of their genitalia.
Bondage is when one partner restrains the other. It’s usually a form of dominance and submission and falls under the BDSM umbrella. You can bind your partner using objects you already have around, such as a belt, or purchase specialty kink items like handcuffs. To engage in restraint play safely, establish boundaries and a safe word, emphasize consent and communication at every step, and start slow. (And take care not to cut off anyone’s circulation!) Books such as sex educator Tristan Taormino’s The Ultimate Guide to Kink can help you get started.
10. Psychological Play
While physical actions, such as spanking, are often the most discussed kinks and fetishes, some of the most intense sexual play takes place in the mind. Renye refers to psychological power play as “mind control,” and it’s a type of BDSM. Psychological play involves implementing a sexual power exchange: Humiliation play, for example, might involve a submissive partner getting off on being called names. Consensual threats are an example of psychological play; one example is a domme warning a male submissive with a foot fetish that he’ll have to lick her feet if he doesn’t fall in line and do exactly as she says.
A study on fetishes published in the Journal of Sex Research found voyeurism — or obtaining sexual pleasure from watching others who are naked or having sex — to be one of the most common fetishes. Of course, as with every other fetish, engage in voyeurism consensually, for example at a sex party where a couple has given you permission to watch; watching someone without their permission is never acceptable. The flip side of voyeurism is exhibitionism, which means achieving sexual pleasure by allowing others to watch you. (A sex party is a great setting in which to do this, too.)
Remember, regardless of your fetish or kink, consent is paramount. “Kinks and fetishes are fertile grounds for misunderstandings if consent is not explicit,” Renye says. Once you obtain consent, expressing your sexual desires is one of the healthiest things you can do for your sex life: Fetishes that are repressed rather than expressed can take their toll on both individuals and relationships. As long as the desire is safe and based on consent from everyone involved, everyone deserves to pursue theirs.
Although kinks and fetishes are becoming more mainstream, they can still feel taboo. Secretly scouring the internet for a list of kinks to try with your partner can feel subversive—and hot.
For the uninitiated, learning about kinks and fetishes may feel intimidating. First things first, understand what is a kink and what is a fetish? A kink is defined as a sexual activity that falls outside of sex that society traditionally considers “acceptable.” That can include everything from role-playing to bondage to whips. A fetish technically refers to an attraction to an inanimate object, although this includes body parts, such as feet (like a foot fetish). So a fetish is a type of kink.
No matter what you’re into, kink is about consent, communication, and compromise. Before trying any new sex act, obtaining enthusiastic, continuous consent from all parties involved is a must. Your kinks may not perfectly align with your partner’s, and that’s okay. “Just because you want it doesn’t mean that someone has to do it,” says sex educator Tina Horn, host of the podcast Why Are People Into That?!. As you explore, what you’re okay with and what you’re not will likely change, so it’s important to keep a running dialogue about your limits (for more on that, see “L” on this list).
To better orient yourself in the world of kink, check out this list of kinks Glamour created—one for each letter of the alphabet. Who knows? Maybe one (or more!) of them will be something you want to explore.
A Is for Age Play
Age play is a form of role play in which one or both partners pretend to be (and get off on being) an age other than their own. Chances are you’ve already experienced what could be considered ultra-lite age play if you’ve ever called a partner “baby” in bed. Another common example is the “daddy dominant–baby girl” setup. If you’re calling someone “daddy” in bed you’re engaging in light age play. A more “extreme” and less common example of age play is full-on role-playing where one partner is turned on by wearing a diaper and acting like a baby. Calling someone “baby” or dressing up like one is totally okay if everyone involved is into it. “It involves consent of all involved,” explains sex therapist David Ortmann, author of Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities. If age play turns you on, start out slow by using words like baby or daddy next time you and your partner are getting frisky.
B Is for Bondage
Bondage is a form of restraint—pretty self-explanatory. It’s a sex act that falls within the BDSM umbrella, which is an acronym for “bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism” and a group of common sexual fantasies. Some people enjoy being tied up, while some enjoy tying up their partner, and others like both. Someone who enjoys both the dominant and submissive role is referred to as a “switch.” Typically bondage uses kinky sex toys such as handcuffs or rope but it can also be as tame as you using a scarf, tie or t-shirt to restrain your partner’s wrists when you’re getting it on. To get into it, you can tie someone up to a bed frame using a tie or scarf or, if your bed frame isn’t kink-compatible, you could start by simply binding the arms together. To up the ante, you can purchase shackle mounts or suspension bars.
C Is for Cuckolding
“Traditionally, cuckolding is when a heterosexual couple agrees to both explore the turn-on of the female sleeping with other men and humiliate her male partner about the fact that she’s sleeping with someone else,” says Horn. The male partner need not be present—perhaps he gets off on the mere thought of his partner having sex with someone else. For others, there’s an element of voyerism to the cuckolding as well. This kink isn’t just for heterosexual couples—people of all genders and orientations can enjoy cuckolding varieties. If you’re turned on by the idea of your partner sleeping with others, yet don’t necessarily want to go through the emotional tax and risk of them literally having sex with others, you can explore this kink through dirty talk or virtual sex with a third party.
D Is for Dominance
Dominance is one half of the DS (dominance and submission) in BDSM and is all about a consensual power exchange. With this particular kink, the dominant partner derives sexual pleasure from taking control. The submissive partner allows their dominant partner to, well, dominate them à la 50 Shades of Grey. Important note: Though the books and movies did help make BDSM kinks more mainstream, they’re not totally accurate. Despite what the movie would have you believe, there’s no research that suggests dominants enjoy D/S activities, such as spanking their partner, due to childhood trauma. And nope, you do not have to sign any sort of contract—all you need is enthusiastic consent from all parties involved.
E is for Electrostimulation
Electrostimulation involves using the power of electricity—aka getting an electric shock—for kinky, sexy fun. Obviously, getting shocked can be dangerous, so electrostimulation begins to get into another type of kink called “edge play,” which refers to risky BDSM behavior that runs the potential of doing actual bodily harm. Electrostimulation is part of CBT (“cock and ball torture”) sessions in which a domme shocks her sub’s genitals by rigging them to electrical contraptions—typically either a wand (see “Z” on this list) or a system that stimulates nerve endings called a “transcutaneous electrical nerve endings stimulation” unit—that can be purchased from specialty kink shops. This is one of those preferences for which you need to be extremely careful to take the correct safety precautions, use an ironclad safe word, and obtain continuous, enthusiastic consent.
F Is for Foot Fetishism
Foot fetishes are one of the most common fetishes out there, especially for heterosexual men. Someone with a foot fetish is literally turned on by feet—thinking about them, touching them, seeing them—and could potentially get off on everything feet. They often want to engage in foot worship, in which they treat their partner’s foot like a holy object: kissing, caressing, and massaging it. So even if you don’t have a foot fetish, having a partner with one can be extremely enjoyable as it means there are potentially foot massages galore in store for you. But like all kinks, foot fetishes exist on a spectrum. Humiliation can also play a strong role in a foot fetish: The fetishist may want feet shoved in their face and mouth, or to have their partner walk all over them, touting how filthy their feet are and how pathetic the fetishist is to enjoy such an activity. Other foot fetish activities include giving pedicures and smelling the feet or shoes that said feet reside in throughout the day.
G Is for Gagging
Gagging refers to lightly choking on an object to the point of making gagging sounds. Often people with penises will get off on their partner gagging on them—and the knowledge that they’re big enough to induce gagging noises. Likewise, the partner going downtown may enjoy having something thrust far enough down their throat that they start to gag. It doesn’t necessarily take a giant object to induce gagging—something smaller can do the trick too. However, if gagging becomes uncomfortable or if you feel like you’re going to throw up (if that’s not something you want to do), you should stop at any point you feel even a little bit off. Remember, kink is all about continuous consent and what makes you feel your sexiest.
H Is for Humiliation
Not all BDSM acts are physical. “Intense language as a use of force can be just as intense, or even more intense, as consensually degrading physical sensations, such as impact play,” Horn says. A common example of humiliation is name-calling and verbal abuse. One of the most common misconceptions about humiliation play is that it’s antifeminist. But the truth is, many feminists enjoy being called names such as “bitch,” “slut,” or “whore” in bed—your kinks are not your values. In a patriarchal world where women have long been told sex is not for pleasure, addressing what gets you off—especially if it’s nontraditional like humiliation—and then engaging it can be a powerful way to take control of your sexuality. As always, discuss humiliation beforehand and keep it consensual. Your partner may be okay with being called a “slut” but not a “bitch” so be sure to define your boundaries.
I Is for Impact Play
Impact play refers to the use of hands, paddles, whips, or whatever you have around your house (spatulas work great) to hit the body. If you’ve ever playfully spanked your partner during sex, that’s impact play. More than anything else, impact play requires consent and communication. A good rule to keep in mind: If you’re the one providing the impact, stick to areas that are fatty, such as the side of the butt or thighs, and avoid anywhere organs reside, such as the kidneys (lower back) or rib cage. Like any new kink, start small, slow, and choose a safeword. Impact play can be done alone, yet also pairs well with other kinks, such as name-calling and age play. If you’re new to the idea, start with your hands and some good old-fashioned spanking before spending money on more heavy-duty whips and floggers. If anything becomes uncomfortable (and not in a good way), implement your safeword immediately.
J Is for Japanese Bondage
Japanese bondage is one variety of bondage that is typically done with rope. “Kinbaku” translates to “the beauty of tight binding” and “Shibari,” which is a bit more mainstream translates to “decoratively tie.” “Decoratively” is right: Japanese bondage such as Shibari is an art form in addition to a form of bondage (there’s even an entire Shibari section on Etsy). Some of the best Shibari artists, such as Garth Knight, hold high-art showcases in which their subjects are tied up and transformed into trees. If you’re interested in exploring Japanese bondage, More Shibari You Can Use: Passionate Rope Bondage and Intimate Connection by Lee Harrington and Rigger Jay is perfect for beginners. Just don’t forget your safety shears!
K Is for Klismaphilia
Klismaphilia is a glamorous Greek word that means “arousal by enemas.” If you’re not familiar, an enema is a medical device that squirts water slightly warmer than body temperature into your anus. It’s used by hospitals to relieve people of constipation or to prep for certain medical procedures. (Not quite as glamorous as the Greek word makes it sound.) This particular kink generally refers to receiving pleasure from receiving an enema, although there are those who get off on administering enemas as well. The anus is an erogenous zone, after all, which helps explain why kinky folks have been using enemas for pleasure forever. This kink can also be quite practical—it’s a way to clean and prep the rectum for anal sex.
L Is for Limits
Consent is paramount in kink. If you’re just getting started, or want to slowly introduce BDSM into an existing relationship, both you and your partner should make a list of your soft and hard limits. A soft limit is something that you’re curious about yet unsure if it’s right for you, such as name-calling. A hard limit is something that you are certain is off-limits, such as electrostimulation. Writing out your hard and soft limits with a partner is a wonderful way to get to know another side of each other. Along with implementing limits, it’s important to choose a safeword that is not “no” or “stop,” because some couples use such language as a part of their role play. Your hard and soft limits will likely evolve the more you explore, so it’s important to keep having these conversations with your partner.
M Is for Masochism
“Masochism is deriving pleasure from the high sensation most often referred to as pain, be that physical or emotional,” Ortmann says. So, if you enjoy being spanked, humiliated or spit on, you might be a masochist. The term is named for Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, a nineteenth-century Austrian author who wrote the book Venus in Furs, which details what’s now considered a typical BDSM “master-slave” relationship (he allegedly was the “slave” in his own such arrangement with his mistress). The flip side of masochism is sadism (named after an eighteenth-century French nobleman), in which someone derives pleasure from inflicting pain of a physical or emotional nature.
N Is for Nylons
A nylon fetish—yep as in tights—often accompanies a foot fetish. One with a nylon fetish may enjoy the look and feeling of toes, feet, and legs wrapped tightly in nylon stockings. They may want to smell the nylons, or have them shoved in their mouth. if you want to try it, start by wearing nylons next time you get frisky (assuming you don’t mind tearing them), or have your partner tie you up with them or use them as a blindfold for sensory deprivation. (Side note: While bondage is a kink, using nylons for bondage is separate than having a nylon fetish, in which the nylons themselves produce the sexual arousal, rather than their usage.)
O Is for Objectum Sexuality
Objectum sexuality—aka a “fetish”—refers to a sexual relationship (or attraction to) an inanimate object. The media frequently portray objectum sexuals as freaks and weirdos falling in love with things such as the Eiffel Tower, a boat, or their couch. However, such an understanding of objectum sexuality is limited. By literal definition, a fetish—any fetish—is an attraction to an inanimate object. This includes lingerie, feet, and sex toys so if you’ve ever fantasized about your vibrator, welcome to the world of fetish. In fact, in the age of rapidly advancing sex doll technology, we may all soon be a little bit engaged in objectum sexuality. Such perspective is crucial because it helps us understand and empathize with those who do catch feelings for more “out there” objects, because kink shaming sucks.
P Is for Pregnancy Fetishism
Aside from the fact that orgasms and having sex near a due date may help induce labor, there are also those with outright pregnancy fetishes: sexual attraction to a pregnant person. Some partners may indeed discover they have one when their partner is expecting, but others are attracted to the rotund pregnant belly regardless of whose body or baby it is. Since, by that same strict definition mentioned before, a fetish is attraction to an object or body part, pregnancy fetishists go wild for the sight of a swollen, round belly. The attraction may also include an interest in lactation, or other symptoms of pregnancy, but such is not required.
Q Is for Quirofilia
A specific fetish for hands is referred to as quirofilia, which may manifest as an attraction to fingers, a great manicure, or simply some smoking hot hands. Hands are sexy. They’re used for myriad sexy things, like the underrated hand job, fingering, and back massages. While quirofilia can absolutely use hand jobs, fisting, or fingering (use of hands to directly create sexual pleasure) some hand fetishists might get off on hands doing mundane tasks, such as picking up groceries or doing chores. While fetishes are inherently sexual, many times the activity or object the fetishist is interested in may present itself as nonsexual in nature. What’s one person’s chore, such as washing dishes, is a hand fetishist’s wet dream.
R Is for Role Play
Role playing is another common kink, which involve people taking on characters outside of their day-to-day lives as part of a sex scene. This can be as simple as putting on a nurse’s outfit and as elaborate as constructing an entire scene complete with character development. Common examples include doctor and patient (medical role play), boss and secretary, pool boy and rich housewife or college student and professor? While role playing often comes with costumes and is a fabulous excuse to dress up, an extensive wardrobe is not required. Scenes can be created through dirty talk and pure imagination.
S Is for Spectrophilia
Especially if you’re a straight woman, it’s been a tough year to get into humans. Those with spectrophilia report a sexual attraction, relationships, or sexual encounters with ghosts who come and have hot sex with them at night. A succubus is a ghost in lady form that, in folklore (or a spectrophilia fantasy), visits her object of desire at night for some hot human-ghost lovemaking. An incubus is the male variety (and also that band). Though the actual existence of ghosts is up for debate (and for excellent Halloween movie marathons), the sexual attraction that spectrophiles report feeling is as real as any other fetish. Kind of puts a whole new twist on the term “friendly ghost,” though, right?
T Is for Tentacles
First let’s get one thing straight: you can’t have sex with an actual octopus or octopuslike monster—octopuses are animals and therefore cannot give consent. But octopuslike monsters totally exist in tentacle porn, which you can absolutely watch and get off on. It’s hot, not only because it’s so foreign and forbidden but, according to some experts, because it fulfills some pretty classic other fantasy tropes, like bondage and multiple penetration. And if your ideal penis is actually a giant blue tentacle, the sex toy manufacturer Bad Dragon just may help you fulfill your monster fantasies.
U Is for Urophilia
Urophilia is a fancy name for watersports, golden showers, or the more direct name, pee play. With this kink, people find urination sexually arousing. There are lots of things you can do with urine, though the most common way to enjoy pee play is to give or receive golden showers. If you don’t remember the reports of that unverified dossier detailing that President Trump engaged in the act, a golden shower is, well, letting someone shower you (or vice versa) with their pee. If you want to try it out, start in the actual shower.
V Is for Voyeurism
A voyeur is someone who derives sexual pleasure from watching others get it on. When we speak about voyeurism from a kink perspective, we’re talking about consensual voyeurism. Very important distinction! Exhibitionists enjoy being watched, and voyeurs enjoy watching, which makes these two kinks a common item on the menu at sex parties or kink events. Things become more confusing in everyday life, because observing someone without their knowledge or consent is absolutely not okay. If you have voyeuristic fantasies, make sure you’re indulging them consensually with willing exhibitionists. That way everyone wins (and gets off).
W Is for Whip
“Whip” is commonly used as an umbrella term for all impact play tools, though it technically refers to an item with a thinner body that produces more of a “stingy” sensation. (You’ll often hear BDSM practitioners refer to sensations as either “stingy” or “thuddy”—the latter describing a toy like a paddle.) The most advanced whip on the market is the single-tail, which looks like a snake and can create a cracking noise when used correctly. Single-tails break the skin and can wrap around the body, injuring areas where organs reside and should only be used by professional dominatrices with years of experience. Even some pro dominatrices will use them only for intimidation, rather than actually impacting their submissive’s body. If you want to try a whip, opt for a beginner-friendly option.
X Is for Wax Play
Candlelight is fantastic mood lighting, but you can also use the melted wax for painfully good sexual pleasure. Of course, playing with fire (and wax) is dangerous, so it’s a good thing the sex toy industry has our backs here. There are candles that exist to burn at a temperature perfect for bodies, so you don’t have to worry about accidental burns. Massage candles also exist. These come in delightful scents such as bourbon or dark vanilla. As the candle burns, the wax turns into massage oil. Enjoy.
Y Is for Yoni Egg
A yoni egg is an egg-shaped device worn inside of the vagina typically as part of pelvic floor exercises. A yoni egg is inserted inside the vagina as the pelvic floor muscles tighten their grip to hold the egg in place. They can be quite beautiful—the sexual wellness company Chakrubs sells them in crystals such as rose quartz, jade, and black obsidian. There’s also a spiritual element involved for many yoni egg users, particularly since they involve crystals. There’s some debate over whether there are health risks associated, so make sure you read up on whether this is something you want to incorporate as part of your Kegel routine.
Z Is for Zappers
A “zapper” is a cute nickname for an electro-wand that is used as part of electrostimulation. They typically look like a magic wand that Harry Potter would use, except they’re used to send shocks to the body. Zappers are frequently used as part of DS play in which the dominant shocks the submissive. Though it sounds scary, zappers feel like a little sting. Still it is 100% okay if they’re on your hard-no limit list. You can still be kinky and cool without zappers—I’d be shocked (shocked!) if they didn’t scare you a teeny bit.