Explained: What is a Fetish?

In the simplest terms a fetish is defined as a recurrent and intense urge, sexual fantasy or behavior that incorporates seeing, touching or smelling a physical object. The individual is frequently sexually aroused by the physical objects or role playing. Many couples or individuals frequently incorporate a fetish object or act to add a little spice into their sexual lives. Others are sexually aroused by fetishistic behavior, without which the individual or the couple is not sexually aroused. For some people the fetish is absolutely necessary to achieve sexual arousal and for others, it is only mildly important.

A fetish is all about your preferences for sexual arousal- as simple as that.

The majority of sexual fetishes are harmless and involve role playing, like a male asking the female to dress like a nurse with a short skirt. However, some fetishes are not only dangerous, but may be illegal and downright crazy. For example breaking into someone’s home and stealing only their dirty pink undies is always pathological and illegal.

Some of the most common sexual fetishes include the following:

1. Looking, feeling, touching and licking stilettos, thongs, certain pieces of lingerie. In fact there are some men who prefer to sleep with a shoe rather than a female partner. When they do have sex they frequently ask their partner do leave the stilettos on.

2. Sexual behavior that utilizes sexual toys like cock rings, dildos, nipple clamps, etc.

3. Having an intense attraction to a specific body part like the feet, nipples, penis, ear, neck or hands. Foot fetish is very common among men. Men with this fetish will frequently incorporate a foot massage or licking of the foot as part of foreplay.

4. Performing very specific sexual acts that may involve humiliation, pain or physical suffering of one’s self or the partner (S & M). Another very common fetish is voyeurism. Surveys reveal that many men like to watch other people having sex and in fact, some husbands love to have watch their wives ("hotwifes") having sex with a stranger(s). To some surprisingly, there are also some women who like to have their husband have sex with another female/male while they watch.

Other rare sexual fetishes include touching, smelling or licking feces, urination, cross-dressing, verbal humiliation, worship of the foot, touching denim or leather, certain perfumes, use of cigar, exhibitionism or fortterism.

Why do people develop a fetish?

No one knows why people develop a fetish but some psychiatrists feel that they probably evolved from an event in childhood. Sometimes a fetish may develop from seeing inappropriate sexual behavior at a young age or following sexual abuse.

Is having a fetish a psychological problem?

While most fetishes are harmless, sometimes the intensity of the fetish can cause distress to the individual or the partner. As long as the person involved in the fetish is happy with it, not harming others and not forcing them into the activity, there is nothing wrong with it.

However, when the fetish preoccupies a persons life and the behavior is no longer fun or causes distress, or one becomes compulsive about seeking the particular fetish like stealing panties at the gym, then this is not normal. When the fetish intrudes on other people’s live without consent, then it becomes a legal problem. The majority of people with a fetish who come to the attention of law enforcement do that when the fetish is out of control. For example, some people spend endless hours on the subway or in the mall to take images on their smartphone of a female’s undergarments.

A number of the people with a strong fetish simply are not able to have a meaningful sexual relationship with others. They may have a request which the partner find odd or disturbing and this often leads to break up. Wanting the partner to wear stilettos during sex is not a big deal, but asking to eat feces of a partner may not jive well with most people.

Is fetish a men thing?

Fetishes can affect any person irrespective of education, culture or ethnicity. Having a fetish is not only a men’s thing, but also is common in women. Many females do exhibit strong sexual fetishes like leather bondage, S & M and submissive behavior. Some surveys indicate that at least 5-10 percent of adult Americans engage in some type of sadomasochism behavior regularly to derive sexual pleasure. In most cases the scenarios are staged but in some cases, the activity does get out of control and pain or suffering is induced.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a fetish- it is just one type of sexual activity that lies outside the ‘sexual bell’ curve. It is not considered a crime as long as the activity is between two mutually consenting adults. With the advent of the internet, we now know that many people have fetishes. There is an almost endless amount of websites devoted to the different types of fetishes. Today, almost every fetish can be experienced virtually via the internet. Cyberspace eroticism includes everything from glove-fetish to extreme pornography. More important there are many support groups that meet and share their fetishes, and in some cases even meet to participate in this activity. No longer do people feel that they are freaks of nature- they just have a different pattern of sexual arousal.

Which fetish is pathological?

Most experts believe that a fetish is just another variant of normal behavior. Plus, with time society has become very liberal in accepting different types of sexual behavior. As long as there is no harm done, most sexual behavior confined to the bedroom is not considered pathological.

However there are of course several illegal and disturbing pathological fetishes like pedophilia and bestiality.

Is there a treatment for problematic fetishes?

There is no great treatment for a fetish. Behavior therapists and psychiatrists may offer medications or talk therapy but in most cases, there is no cure. The majority of people with a fetish who run into legal problems also tend to have other mental problems that include anger, impulsivity, borderline personality, volatility and sadistic personality. These people often are medically treated and sent to prison when they harm others because of their fetish.

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