The world is full of different kinks and fetishes, some more and some less elaborate.

Whole online and offline communities exist that evolve around their particular fetishes but those who aren’t familiar with them often have a wrong or incorrect perception of them.

In this guide, we will look more into what fetishes are, how they differ from kinks or other sexual fantasies, and how to practice them safely.

What is a fetish?

By definition, a fetish refers to a typically non-sexual object, body part, or behavior that a person needs to get sexually aroused or satisfied. Fetishes are involuntary and often uncontrollable similar to sexual orientation and typically more common in men.

There are many different fetishes out there and research shows they are more prominent and common in men than women.

As with all sexual tendencies, some experience their fetishes stronger than others, and there is a fine line between when something is simply a strong sexual desire and when it is an actual fetish.

A true fetish is usually such a strong and involuntary fixation on the object or behavior of interest that other sexual tendencies might get neglected over it. The person’s entire sexuality might evolve around it and they are unable to enjoy sex or masturbation without it.

This can also become a problem for some in their personal relationships when a partner does not share or even resents that particular fetish.

Human pets during Christopher Street Day parade on leash
Smile and say “fetish“!

Fetish vs Kink

People often mistake kinks for fetishes and vice versa, but they are very different.

A kink refers to an interest in sexual activities and behaviors outside the “norm” like spanking, getting choked, or wearing a latex suit. It stimulates the person but is not required for sexual gratification.

A person with a fetish fantasizes about the object, behavior, or body part, and without it, they are often unable to feel sexual arousal. Their entire sexuality may evolve around their fetish and they are not able to control this desire.

For example:

You like to see your partner in nice leather, over-knee boots during sex and are turned on when s/he wears them.

On the other hand, a person with a shoe fetish will want to touch, smell, or otherwise engage with shoes in order to be turned on…and won’t be if it isn’t present. They might also use a shoe during masturbation or fantasize about it when they are alone.

How do I know if I have a fetish?

To find out whether you have a fetish yourself, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do I regularly fantasize about inherently non-sexual items like clothing parts, tools, or other inanimate objects?
  • Am I drawn more to another person’s “non-sexual” parts like feet, hands, or armpits than their primary sexual organs?
  • Do I have problems getting aroused, an erection, or an orgasm when my particular object of interest is not involved?
  • When another person shows a certain non-sexual behavior, am I aroused by it, regardless of their sex, gender, look, or personal connection to me?
  • During sex, is engaging with the object or body part more important or satisfying to me than the actual intercourse?
  • Has my sexual desire caused problems within my personal relationships due to my fixation on it?
  • Have I spent unusually large amounts of money on an object in order to find new stimulation in it?

If you answer yes to several of them, there is a chance that you have a fetish.

Of course, there are also more subtle signs of fetishes and you can also consult a psychiatrist or doctor to find out if your kink is, in fact, a fetish.

A fetish is not “bad”

Having a fetish does not make you a bad person, as long as you are still able to engage in healthy interpersonal relationships and a satisfying sex life.

It is also important to note that not all fetishes are super noticeable or interfere with your sex life.

If you have a fetish for feeling pain and are in a BDSM relationship that incorporates regular S&M or impact play you would not even be able to tell the difference between a kink and fetish.

List of Common Fetishes

There are hundreds of fetishes out there and technically, anything can be a fetishized item or activity.

However, here are some of the most common and widespread fetishes:

  • Body parts (feet, armpits, hair)
  • Clothing (Shoes, underwear, stockings)
  • Materials (Latex, leather, rubber, fleece)
  • Animals (Dogs, cats, horses)
  • Sadomasochism (Inflicting or receiving pain)
  • Urophilia (urin and golden showers)
  • Diapers
  • Cuckolding (husband watching wife have sex with others)
  • Voyeurism (watching others)
  • Exhibitionism (exposing yourself to others)

There are countless more but these are some that relatively many people engage in.

Woman's feet in fishnet stockings
Many people have a foot fetish.


This concludes our guide to fetishes and related kinks.

Hopefully, you learned something and can now tell the difference between a kink and a fetish, and know if you have one yourself.

Remember, having a fetish is not bad, as long as you can enjoy a healthy, consensual sex life!

Now go out and be kinky!