FETISH FANTASIES AND BEHAVIORS ARE COMMON
A fetishist is someone who sexually aroused by the erotic use of objects, commonly things like latex, high-heeled boots or shoes that are for the most part non-sexual. But if the internet is any indicator, there is porn for it if it exists, people can fetishize almost anything. Psychologists once thought that fetishes were rare but now found that sexual fetishes are fairly common and not as left of center are you think. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research involving more than 1,000 Canadian adults found that nearly half (44.5 percent) expressed the desire to engage in fetishistic behavior, while just over one-quarter (26.3 percent) had actually done it at some point in the past. Given how common fetish fantasies and behaviors are, sex scientists have begun to devote more attention to them, and this research is starting to challenge some of the most widely held assumptions about their nature.
FETISH OBJECTS ENHANCE SEX NOT REPLACE IT
For example, it has long been thought that, for people with fetishes, their sexual arousal hinges on the presence of a certain object during sexual activity. In other words, fetishists may find it hard to become—or stay—aroused and to enjoy sex unless their desired object is present.
However, a new set of studies published earlier this year in the International Journal of Sexual Health reveals that most fetishists say they still enjoy sex, even without their fetish object. Though they find fetish activities to be more sexually satisfying than non-fetish activities it does not replace “vanilla” sex. In other words, fetishes should be thought of as preferences for specific objects that enhance sex. To be fair, there are some people who do become fixated on their fetish objects; however, they appear to be the exception rather than the rule.
FETISH OBJECTS NOT JUST FOR MASTURBATING ALONE
Another common assumption about fetish objects is that they largely involve solitary sexual activities, such as masturbating while looking at, sniffing, or touching one’s desired object–fetishes have long been thought to center around the interaction between one person and their desired object, with other people not really being necessary to the equation. However, new research published in the journal Psychology and Sexuality challenges this stereotype. In two studies of self-identified fetishists recruited online, researchers found that a majority of them said they had engaged in partnered fetish activities, not just alone, and further, that most of them preferred to engage in such activities with a partner as opposed to doing it alone.
FETISHISTS LIKE ATTRACTIVE SEX PARTNERS
Fetishists appear to have pretty specific preferences for who their partner is, too. People with fetishes don’t seek generic partners; instead, these folks seem to have pretty strong ideas about who they want to practice their desired activities with. Just over 1 in 5 fetishists said their preferred partner is someone they are currently in a romantic relationship with, usually, their wife or girlfriend must be a certain gender, certain age and or level of attractiveness. The importance of having a partner with specific characteristics is highlighted in this quote from one of the participants: “The object and the wearer are NOT entirely disconnected: I mean that household gloves, worn by an ugly woman or girl will have no effect on me. So it’s not just the glove by itself that is attractive to me, the wearer is equally important.” Fetishistic desires can’t necessarily be fulfilled by just anyone. There has to be just the right connection between the fetish object and one’s sex partner.
FETISHISTS HAVE DYNAMIC SEX AND LOVE LIVES
What all of these findings tell us is that much of what we think we know about fetishes is wrong. Having a fetish doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an exclusive attraction to a specific object that prevents you from enjoying partnered activities and non-fetish sex or that makes relationships impossible. In fact, there seems to be an inherently interpersonal component to most fetishes and, most people who have them seem to enjoy a wide range of sexual activities. Bottom line: fetishists have more dynamic sex and love lives than most of us give them credit for.