10 Common Sexual Fetishes Explained

Whether we’re doing the deed ourselves, or know others who are sexually active, sex impacts us all. But sometimes our sexual interests may be different from others. Sometimes, people develop fixations on objects, body parts, or activities that become a need for sexual stimulation. In everyday terms, we consider these to be fetishes or kinks. This differs from what sex and psychological research define as fetishism, but we’re finding that some fetishes and kinks are more common than you might think.

And with sex becoming something we’re talking about more, understanding a little bit about fetishes and kinks isn’t a bad thing. Some of them are becoming more common and well-known. There might even be some you’ve heard of. So, let’s talk about 10 common sexual fetishes and explain what they are.

Disclaimer: any sexual activity—especially any fetishes or kinks—should be done within a consensual and safe environment. No one has a right to force their own fetish or kink onto you, and any sexual activities that you engage in should be ones that you and your partner both agree to. Again, sex is best enjoyed in a safe and respectful environment.

Additional Disclaimer: If you feel your fetish or kink begins moving to an unsafe level (e.g., where you or your partner are at risk of harm or your fixation becomes unhealthy, etc.), please consider seeking professional help. The purpose of this article is to discuss different sexual fetishes and kinks that are common; it does not address health or safety risks.

Edging

Sometimes called Edge Play or Controlled Orgasm, edging is a kink that involves delaying orgasm to experience more intense pleasure when finally orgasming. If someone is into edging, they might find that as their bodies are reaching that point of orgasm, they stop or slow down to avoid reaching orgasm entirely. When their bodies return to a calmer state, they continue building up the tension until they come close to orgasming again. They may decide to stop or slow down again or allow themselves to orgasm. Some believe edging leads to a more powerful orgasm, and it can be done both with a partner or alone via masturbation.

Group Sex

Group sex usually refers to engaging in sexual activity in groups of at least 3. So, this can mean threesomes are group sex, but that can also extend to multi-person orgies. And it may be something that a couple tries once, just to see how it is, or it can be a typical part of a relationship, such as with couples who swings. But, as with all sexual activity, communication is a big part of the activity—making sure that everyone involved is happy—and there are usually rules set down for any group encounters.

Lingerie

That’s right! Lingerie, or just underwear, can be a kink as well. Remember: fetishes and kinks can be sexual attractions to objects. So, a lingerie kink might involve seeing a partner in a certain kind of lingerie, but it could equally involve just lingerie on its own. So, someone that wants to buy someone else’s previously worn underwear probably has a lingerie kink.

Bondage

Most of us have heard of BDSM, but did you know that the B actually stands for bondage? It may not be part of every BDSM practice, but bondage is a relatively common one. So, what is it? Bondage is simply the act of tying up or restraining your partner. Some people might use handcuffs or silk ties or other types of restraints you can purchase. Sometimes, the B can be accompanied by a D—Discipline—but you can just practice the B on its own. As always, it’s important to talk to your partner about before engaging in any type of restraint-play during sex.

Dominance and Submission

Dominance is usually considered the D in BDSM (and sometimes the S for submission). Dominant and submissive play usually involves one partner who is the dominant—the one who is in control and leads in the bedroom—while another partner acts as the submissive—the one who submits to the dominant, giving into and following their sexual lead. For some, this power play occurs just within the bedroom, and for others, it’s a dynamic that they bring outside the bedroom as well. But remember: as with all these fetishes and kinks, they’re done within a respectful and consensual setting where submissives trust their dominant partner completely.

Sadism/Masochism

The final letters in BDSM, Sadism/Masochism both involve pain. Sadism is sexual pleasure in giving pain to others while masochism is sexual pleasure from receiving pain. This can be anything from light pain to more extreme pain. It may involve objects, such as whipping crops or flogs. But there should always be consent, both by the giver and receiver. The receiver must consent to the pain, but also be advising the amount of pain they wish to receive, and thus must trust that the giver will not break this agreement.

Feet

Fetishes and kinks aren’t just associated with activities and behaviors; sometimes, they’re about objects or body parts. You’ve probably heard about foot fetishes before. This is sexual excitement and arousal felt over feet—whether seeing them or pictures of them or receiving some type of sexual touch with another’s feet. And it’s a relatively common one too. A 2007 study found that feet were the most common among their sample.

Cuckolding

This is a word we’ve been hearing a lot more of these days. But cuckolding is when a man is sexually excited by seeing, knowing, or fantasizing about his partner having sex with another partner. And, yes, there is a female version of this too! If a woman is aroused by seeing, knowing, or fantasizing about her partner having sex with someone else, this is known as “cuckqueaning”.

Tentacles

You read that right. Having a tentacle fetish means someone is sexually excited by the idea of tentacles and sexual activity. For some, this might involve animals that have tentacles or imagining an alien with tentacle appendages. A lot of times, this fantasy might involve being penetrated by multiple tentacles at once. This is a kink that a lot of people joke about, but tentacle fetishes are not super uncommon. But we do not recommend actually engaging in sexual activity with animals!

Fisting

Fisting is the act of inserting one’s fist into either the vagina or anus of one’s partner. Typically, this kink has been considered more common in the gay community, but it can also be practiced in a straight or lesbian partnership as well. However, it’s a kink that can come with a lot of risks. There have been cases where serious injuries have occurred during fisting. As stressed throughout this post, make sure you’re doing plenty of research, communicating with your partner, and stopping if something doesn’t feel right.

Final Thoughts

As we become more open to talking about sex, we’re finding that different fetishes and kinks are not as uncommon as we thought. And as long as we’re practicing them in safe, respectful, and consensual environments, we can be a little more adventurous in our sex lives. But always: do your research, prepare for any risks, and communicate with your partner. Exploring our and our partners’ fetishes should be fun, but not at the risk of harm or anyone’s discomfort.

This post is meant to give readers a brief insight into these kinks. It is not a full list, nor does it describe safety precautions or problems that can occur. This is why researching, being prepared, and communicating with your partner before attempting to engage in any of these is necessary. Be safe and be smart. And do not force any sexual fetish or kinks onto your partner if they are not aware or comfortable with it. Sex should be consensual and safe.

This post also does not address all the complex research regarding sex, its psychology, and fetishism specifically. This is also why it is recommended that people be aware of their own and their partner’s safety around practicing such acts. Any kink or fetish can become dangerous if practiced without proper knowledge or can become an unhealthy practice. Please be aware of yourself and your partner.

References

  • Cappelletti, S., Aromatario, M., Bottoni, E., Fiore, P. A., Fineschi, V., di Luca, N. M., & Ciallella, C. (2016). Variability in findings of anogenital injury in consensual and non-consensual fisting intercourse: A systematic review. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 44, 58-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2016.08.013
  • Damm, C., Dentato, M. P., & Busch, N. (2018). Unravelling intersecting identities: Understanding the lives of people who practice BDSM. Psychology and Sexuality, 9(1), 21-37. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2017.1410854
  • De Neef, N., Coppens, V., Huys, W., & Morrens, M. (2019). Bondage-Discipline, Dominance-Submission and Sadomasochism (BDSM) From an Integrative Biopsychosocial Perspective: A Systematic Review. Sexual Medicine, 7(2), 129–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2019.02.002
  • Harviainen, J. T., & Frank, K. (2018). Group Sex as Play: Rules and Transgression in Shared Non-monogamy. Games and Culture, 13(3), 220–239. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412016659835
  • Holvoet, L., Huys, W., Coppens, V., Seeuws, J., Goethals, K., & Morrens, M. (2017). Fifty shades of belgian gray: The prevalence of BDSM-related fantasies and activities in the general population. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(9), 1152-1159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.07.003
  • Labrecque, F., Potz, A., Larouche, É., & Joyal, C. C. (2021). What is so appealing about being spanked, flogged, dominated, or restrained? answers from practitioners of sexual Masochism/Submission. The Journal of Sex Research, 58(4), 409-423. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2020.1767025
  • Lehmiller, J. J. (2018a). The Psychology of Human Sexuality. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Lehmiller, J.J. (2018b). 4 Uncommon Sexual Fantasies and What They Mean. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-myths-sex/201809/4-uncommon-sexual-fantasies-and-what-they-mean
  • Masuda, K., Ishitobi, Y., Tanaka, Y., & Akiyoshi, J. (2014). Underwear fetishism induced by bilaterally decreased cerebral blood flow in the temporo-occipital lobe. BMJ Case Reports, 2014, bcr2014206019-bcr2014206019. https://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2014-206019
  • Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S., & Jannini, E. A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19(4), 432-437. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijir.3901547

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