Kink vs Fetish: Differences, Boundaries, Where do they come from
Oct 14, 2023
Do you consider yourself kinky? Would you say you have a fetish? Before you go anywhere too quickly, let’s do a quick crash course on kinks vs fetishes, why people have fetishes and the best ways to explore yours. Sometimes these two words are used interchangeably because most people don’t know the difference between them. But, for good reason since the difference is.
What is a kink?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a kink is, “an unconventional sexual taste or behaviour.” Let’s keep in mind that the word “unconventional” is used lightly here since it’s subjective to everyone – some people may think BDSM is unconventional, others may think anything outside of missionary is. While this is the “academic” definition of the word, kinks are things you add to the sexual intimacy between two people. That means you can explore kinks during sex or have kinky sex without having a fetish for it. It also means you don’t need the kink to be present for you to experience sexual pleasure.
What is a fetish?
So what sets it apart from a fetish? The two words are similar because fetishes are a type of kink. But first, let’s start with the definition of fetish:
“An object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression.”
This means a kink can become a fetish, if someone becomes dependent on it to be aroused. Are you following? Here’s an example: you can explore a spanking kink during sex, but also enjoy sex without it. But, if you have a spank fetish, you would need spanking to be part of sex overall to get aroused, and sometimes your fetish is enough to replace sexual intimacy altogether.
Examples of kinks and fetishes
While there isn’t a way to differentiate specific kinks and fetishes here are a list of common ones that are handy to know:
This refers to any sort of hitting or spanking on your partner’s body. It’s a great way to get started and sometimes even includes props like paddles or whips. But it’s important to exercise caution and communicate with your partner about what feels okay and what doesn’t.
Using rope to restrain your partner is a form of bondage play. It can range from just their hands all the way to Japanese shibari, which is considered a form of art.
Choking or restricting breath during sex is a form of breath play. However, since it’s not exactly the safest kink, an alternative would include holding your own breath to simulate this.
This is as straightforward as it sounds – your partner gets off on asking for explicit positive reinforcement like being called a “good girl.”
Also known as amaurophilia, this is the preference to have sex with someone while blindfolded or in complete darkness. The sensory deprivation can be arousing because it heightens other senses and requires an element of trust between you and your partner. It can also be helpful if you feel anxious about or during sex
One of the more commonly cited fetishes are foot fetishes. Some people say it’s because looking at feet lets them fantasize about legs which inevitably lead up to more intimate parts.
Dressing up or pretending to be in a different scenario can help people loosen up and also immerse themselves completely during sex.
Voyeurs are people who experience arousal when they watch other people in sexual acts.
People that are exhibitionists feel aroused when having sex in public or risky places because of the adrenaline of potentially getting caught.
This is another kink that is more “fetish-specific” where people are aroused seeing women in nylons. Some people say it reminds them of early memories of being held on their mother’s lap and feeling the nylon against their legs.
Where do fetishes come from?
There’s a lot we still don’t understand about fetishes and thus no specific way to pinpoint where a person’s fetish or kink comes from but it can be attributed to a couple of things: conditioning, early childhood experiences, or unique biology. An example of conditioning is smelling your partner’s cologne, kissing them, and becoming aroused. It’s a Pavlovian effect where in the future, when you smell this scent, you’ll become aroused even without your partner. Childhood experiences is similar to the nylon example above where people can remember non-sexual experiences and become aroused by them.
Stigma around fetishes and kinks
It’s easy to feel ashamed in regards to sex but there’s nothing inherently wrong with you or a kink/fetish that you may have. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad, deviant, or perverse person – although that’s what some people may want to tell you. It’s important to understand the parts of yourself that you feel ashamed about and speaking to a sex therapist may help you cope with stigma and come to terms with it.
How to explore fetishes and kinks safely?
Exploration starts with curiosity. If you’re feeling shame or guilt about your kinks then it’s important to have someone you can speak to about it. Once you are comfortable and ready to dip your toes in, you can start by yourself through fantasy or adult entertainment. If you want to explore with someone else there are online forums and sites that can facilitate safe meet ups – but be very careful with these, and maybe start out using them as a support group. If you have a partner, bring up the topic when you’re not in the middle of having sex so they can give it some serious consideration on whether they wanna explore or not.
So, that’s kind of a quick rundown of the basics between kinks and fetishes. Remember that at the center of this is curiosity, mutual respect and consent. There’s no better way to understand yourself and your sexuality than with an open mind and heart. You can start small and begin exploring today with Fonder’s range of intimate devices and hygiene products.