10 of the Most Popular Sexual Fetishes

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The definition of a sexual fetish is the need for an object, body part or material to achieve an elevated state of sexual arousal. Technically, some of the list might fall under kinks or preferences and not the specific category of fetish, but it seems these days it’s all gray area. Suffice to say, the list covers some of the most popular of them. Also, for many people, these are things that enhance their sexual experiences but aren’t necessarily required to achieve arousal. A true fetishist must always have their individual kink present to reach a state of sexual satisfaction.

Realistically anything can be turned into a fetish; it just depends on a person’s desires and preferences. What starts a fetish? It’s a complicated issue to dissect, but according to Barnaby Barratt, Ph.D., a sexy therapist and President of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, “experts theorize that an experience with masturbation as a young child – often one that has long been forgotten – could develop into a fetish for an object or scene that serves as a reminder.”

Is having a fetish harmful? Most experts agree that as long as you aren’t placing yourself or anyone else in danger, or breaking the law, that it’s harmless to indulge in a fetish to achieve release. On the other hand, if a true fetishist needs his or her obsession every single time they have sex to achieve an orgasm, it may not be very practical. Depending on what the fetish is, it may be a real obstacle to developing any real intimacy with another person. Society places a stigma on most fetishes although as a whole we’ve become more accepting of individual preferences. Most people are embarrassed about their fetish and don’t necessarily discuss it outside of a specific circle that may be dedicated to it such as a club or group they belong to. What’s most popular these days on the sexual fetish menu?  Let’s take a look.

10. Adult Babies

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Adult babies are those individuals that enjoy being a baby again. They may enjoy regressing partially or completely, participating in the act of wearing diapers, being fed by an adult, sucking on a baby bottle or pacifier, dressing up in baby clothes, crawling instead of walking and speaking in “baby” talk. Individuals interested in infantilism most likely enjoy the nurturing aspect. They may be seeking attention or have too many responsibilities in their daily lives, which they wish to escape from.

9. Swinging and Group Sex

Swinging refers to the act of a committed, usually married couple indulging in sex with another couple or individual with the full consent of both partners. The idea of swinging or experimentation with group sex is usually driven by the male in the relationship, research showing over 75 percent of the time. This particular preference presents many challenges to a relationship including possible feelings of jealousy, low self-esteem, and issues with trust. Some couples, however, report that the act of swinging or indulging in group sex does the opposite for them, increasing the women’s confidence and allowing husbands to see their wives in a new light, strengthening their commitment to one another. It all depends on the couple and their reasons for participating.

8. Water Sports 

Part of what is termed “Water Sports” in the sexual arena is Urolagnia, a more common fetish than you might think. Urolagnia is the act of being aroused by urine, whether it is the feel or smell of it. It may involve the consummation or act of bathing in urine as well.  Common types of Urolagnia include: wetting one’s self or the observation of another person wetting themselves while fully clothed, watching the act of someone relieving themselves in the bathroom or even acting as a human urinal, also known as receiving or giving a “golden shower”. It may involve the desire to urinate in public or watch someone else do so. What causes this type of fetish? No one really knows what causes these associations and needs to become lodged in our brains, but individuals that are into this type of fetish describe feelings of liberation when urinating in public and regression to childhood where they feel “loved” when they wet themselves or watch another, “helpless” person. It also involves some elements of control and humiliation, especially when someone enjoys relieving themselves on someone else.

7. Cross-Dressing

Individuals that cross-dress wear clothing and accessories of the “opposite sex.” Cross-dressing is more common than you might think, predominantly affecting heterosexual and gay men. There are a variety of reasons for cross-dressing; it may be that the individual does not feel the gender they were born into fits who they are as a person. It may be that they are aroused by the radical idea of wearing something “forbidden” to them. It may be that they simply enjoy the different aspect of fashion not usually available to them in society. Cross-dressing has become more accepted by society in the last 10–15 years with shops and internet boutiques marketing specifically to cross-dressers. Cross-dressing has found its way into popular movies and TV shows as well including Some Like It Hot, Hairspray, Bosom Buddies, etc.

6. Foot Worship

Foot fetishism is surprisingly common. It is the most common fetish of the non-genital body parts and non-sexual objects. Sigmund Freud offered the explanation that people develop this fetish due to the fact that the human foot resembles a penis. No matter what the reason, foot worshiping is a popular fetish with 90 percent of the fetishists being male. It can involve the foot alone or feet, shoes and socks or stockings. Perhaps it has to do with how we are wired, with our brains reacting to different pleasure centers on our bodies.  Even individuals that are not into this fetish may enjoy having their toes sucked once in a while.

5. Spanking

Why do people like being spanked? It has more to do with just the feeling of pain one feels. The area of the buttocks that meets the back of the thigh is considered an erogenous zone and if contact is made with the right amount of pressure and frequency, it can result in arousal for many people. Spanking though elicits a whole array of psychological responses as well. It can take us back to our childhood, make us feel loved or humiliated, which many people find a turn on. It can also be a part of domination and submission with the partner administering the spankings taking total control. Whatever it is that we enjoy about spanking, it’s a common fetish, making it number five on the list.

4. Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

According to researchers at the Carolina Institute, one out of three individuals enjoys watching sex or exposing themselves in public. Studies show that men are more voyeuristic than women with 12 percent of men being aroused while watching sexual acts compared to 4 percent of women. As demonstrated by the adult entertainment industry, 80 percent of their audience is men. Exhibitionism is a different story though. How many of us have worn revealing clothing at some point or another or showed our bodies off a bit at the gym or beach? There may be a bit of exhibitionist in all of us. Although exposing yourself and having sex in public is illegal, as a society, we seem to almost encourage it with the existence of nude beaches, fetish clubs, and even certain festivals such as Mardi Gras, where women are encouraged to flash their breasts for beads and trinkets.

3. Rubber/Latex/Leather

This fetish relates to those that gain sexual enjoyment by wearing or having their partner wear rubber, latex or leather material. They refer to themselves as “rubberists”. The tight material acts as a type of sexual bondage. For some, the smell of rubber/latex/leather may also be a turn on. The fetish can range from wearing the more conventional types of items such as a cat suit to something more unusual such as a gas mask.

2. Sexual Role-play

Sexual role-play involves two or more individuals acting out different roles in a sexual scenario. It can be any type of sexual fantasy. It may be as involved as the participating individuals wish. Couples could choose to act the role-play out at a specific location, dressing up in detailed costumes or using different props. It may involve individuals assuming a participating role or that of a spectator. Technology has now brought about the possibility of sexual role-playing on the Internet as well, which many individuals and couples indulge in. Not quite the same as the real thing, but it allows someone with a specific fantasy fetish to indulge with a degree of anonymity.

1. Domination and Submission

Domination and submission is a part of an acronym most people may be familiar with called BDSM. It stands for bondage, domination and submission, sadism and masochism.  The dictionary defines domination and submission as “a set of behaviors, customs, and rituals involving the giving by one individual to another individual control over them”. It involves the power exchange between two consenting adults. This can be in the form of a one-time occurrence, a specific part time situation or a full time arrangement. The submissive does what the dominant requires of her within their agreed boundaries of comfort.

According to Debby Herbenick, a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute and author of Sex Made Easy, “BDSM is a huge umbrella term for a wide range of activities, from fuzzy handcuffs you can buy at a women-oriented sex boutique to the more extreme sexual dungeon set-up.” Interestingly enough BDSM has become more mainstream within the last 20 years as evidenced by the very popular 50 Shades of Grey novel. More than you might think have a penchant for these behaviors, which is why it makes the number one spot on our list. Next time you are in the grocery store waiting in line, take a look around. You never know who might be enjoying this particular “fetish or kink.”