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Fetish Sex

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Updated February 28, 2011

Definition:

Fetish sex isn't a clinical term, psychiatrists and sex researchers who are studying what they believe to be deviant behavior wouldn't use the term fetish sex (they'd be more likely to talk about paraphilias and sexual expression). Fetish sex is a term used in popular culture, both by people who are interested in it and by those who believe it to be unhealthy, sinful, or otherwise wrong. As such, the term fetish sex may mean pretty much whatever a person wants it to mean, there is no universal definition. Which means if you're having a conversation about fetish sex, you should make sure you and the people you are talking to mean the same thing by it.

Generally speaking, fetish sex refers to the use or exploitation of a fetish during sex play. Because a fetish refers not to an activity but to a focus, interest, or desire, a fetish may be sexual, but it doesn't always mean engaging in a sexual activity. Fetish sex, on the other hand, is used to describe someone integrating their fetish in sexual behaviors, either alone or with a partner.

Examples of Fetish Sex
There is great diversity in human fetishes. All one needs to do is search online communities for fetish sex and you'll get a glimpse at the range of sexual fetishes. Despite being easy to find online, most people are not comfortable disclosing their fetish in real life using their real name, and so it has been very difficult for researchers to get a sense of how common fetishes are, and which are the most common.

Fetishes may focus on a part of the human body (for example, foot fetish), on a seemingly non-sexual activity that someone else does (smoking fetish is one common example), as well as supposedly non-sexual objects, roles, and activities that the individual themselves engage in (medical fetish is one example). There are hundreds, probably thousands, of other fetishes, some with names, some yet to be named.

Is Fetish Sex Bad for Me or My Sex Life?
Unsurprisingly, there isn't one answer to this question. The idea that a fetish is bad because it dehumanizes sex, or leads to compartmentalizing may be common, but it's a value statement not a statement of fact. If you're worried about your fetish and the effect it may be having on your sex life, here are a few questions to ask yourself, and some ideas on what to do next.

How Can I Tell My Partner About My Fetish?
Telling a partner about a fetish can be nerve wracking. We all feel shame about some aspect of our sexuality, and shame often leads to silence. Exposing our desires isn't something we're encouraged to do, and the lack of practice along with social taboos about sex can result in some people never revealing their fetishes to partners. If you are thinking you'd like to tell your partner about your fetish, whether that means you want them involved in it or not, here are a few tips to consider before, during, and after the first conversation.

Can You Get Rid of a Fetish?
Is it possible to get rid of a fetish? The answer to that depends on many things, not least of which is, what is the "it" you want to get rid of? Keep reading for ideas on how therapy may or may not help, and alternative ways of thinking through your worries about fetishes.

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