Fetishes and Kinks – What is Considered a Fetish?

persons hand on white textile

Fetishes and kinks can be healthy parts of sexual experiences, as long as they involve a safe environment and consent. They are also not considered a disorder unless they cause distress and interfere with daily activities.

Sexual medicine experts don’t know exactly why fetishes exist, but they think that some people gain positive associations with objects or body parts during their adolescence.


The most common fetishes are those that involve body parts such as feet, breasts, genitals, and hair. Other objects can also trigger fetish excitement, but the object must meet certain criteria to be considered a fetish. For example, it cannot be clothing that you use for cross dressing or a stimulation device like a vibrator. Those types of things are more like kinks than fetishes.

In addition, a fetish must be something that you can hold in your hand, smell or touch. You can masturbate or fantasize about the object or ask your partner to wear it during sex or sexual intercourse – This information is the result of the service’s editorial investigations SexXmoi. In the past, it was thought that fetishes were a form of paraphilias, but the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders no longer lists them as such.

There are many areas of overlap between kinks and fetishes, and some people don’t know the difference between them. For some, a fetish is more than a sexual interest; it’s an addiction that keeps them from feeling normal and happy. It’s important to understand what fetishes are so that you can get help and find treatment for your condition. You can also seek couples therapy or relationship counseling to improve communication about a fetish that you and your partner share and work together to limit the amount of time you spend engaging in this activity.

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Body Parts

A fetish can be focused on a non-living object such as a pair of shoes or boots or it could focus on a specific part of the body that is not normally considered to be erotic such as the feet, buttocks, breast or hair. It can also be focused on a particular material such as rubber, leather or latex. Typically fetishes are organised into three categories – media, form and animate. Media fetishes are those focused on a specific material such as latex or rubber, form fetishes are those that have an intrinsic shape and animate fetishes are those that are alive.

Most people have fetishes and this is normal. However, it is important that fetishes are only engaged with consensually and do not cause distress or harm to others. When fetishes become a problem, they can be classified as Fetishistic Disorder.

The criteria for Fetishistic Disorder include that the individual has experienced sexual fantasies, urges or behaviours involving non-genital or erogenous body parts or inanimate objects over a six month period and this causes them significant distress or impairment to their daily functioning. This is different to Paraphilias which are not considered a medical disorder and can be referred for clinical management. These can include things such as cross dressing, the use of vibrators or a desire to touch and smell women’s clothing.

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Fetishes can be based on feelings as well as objects or body parts. A fetish can be sexually or nonsexually oriented, but it’s usually a fixation that has to do with one’s internal world. Sigmund Freud attributed these obsessions to castration anxiety during the oedipal phase of development, which starts around ages 5-7 in boys.

Some examples of fetishes that are based on feelings are voyeurism, arousal from watching others, and masturbation. Some fetishes are also kinks, a form of play that can add pleasure to sex life.

While fetishes can be dangerous, they’re not considered disorders. A person’s fetishes must cause significant distress and interfere with daily functioning to be classified as a disorder. They must also last more than six months to be diagnosed.

If you have a fetish or kink, it’s best to seek help from a therapist, particularly a specialized sex therapist. These providers will understand your needs and help you explore your past to improve self-awareness. They can also teach you to moderate your fetishes and kinks so they aren’t harmful to you or others. For example, they can teach you to use a safe word during sex that lets your partner know it’s time to stop. To find a sex therapist, visit BetterHelp. Their brief questionnaire helps match you with the right therapist for your needs.

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Fetishes and kinks can overlap, but the difference lies in whether the object or behavior is necessary for sexual arousal. Kinks are more about experimentation and variety, whereas fetishes involve a specific object or behavior that one cannot get aroused without. Animate or inanimate objects can be the object of a fetish. For example, a person with a foot fetish is obsessed with feet. The type of feet can vary, but typically are a particular material such as rubber or leather. Other fetishes can be based on form, such as stiletto heels or lingerie.

For some people, fetishes can add excitement and intrigue to their sexual experience. However, it is important to note that fetishes should be explored with care and caution. One of the best ways to explore a fetish is to find an open and honest relationship with a partner who is willing to participate in this type of experimentation. This will foster trust and intimacy, while allowing the fetish to be incorporated into a sexual experience that can be safe and satisfying for both partners.

If you are interested in exploring fetishes, consider reaching out to a therapist who specializes in this area of interest. BetterHelp makes it easy for you to start therapy, and with our telehealth options, you can work with a therapist who is experienced in working with sexual disorders and fetishes.

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