While most sex shops have a BDSM section replete with whips, nipple clamps, and harnesses, fetishes — and especially those deemed “deviant” or “unusual” by society — can be a taboo topic. Given that, it’s no wonder that daters may initially leave out the fact that they love vomit sex or sucking on toes while in the sack. Or, they may be upfront with it, because, hey, they know what they want.
Taboo or not, fetishes are more common than you might think. A study conducted by a sex toy brand finds more than one third of Americans have secret fetishes and kinks. But what is it like living with a fetish that is both deemed strange and is a large part of your life? These four women and men explain their self-proclaimed “unusual” sexual fetishes and how they navigate the world of dating, relationships, and love while simultaneously fulfilling their desires.
Some girlfriends have done a good job at sating my habit, but I feel as if they would always like me more if I was just ‘normal’ when it comes to sexuality.
Jacob, 27, has a foot fetish.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve had a debilitating foot fetish. To put it mildly, the only feature of the body I can achieve orgasm from is feet. I like everything about them: the look, the smell, the symbolism, the size, and the texture. Other parts of the body do absolutely nothing for me. Breasts and butts aren’t on my radar, so ‘normal’ sex has always been an obstacle. It wasn’t until I was halfway done with high school that I really started to fulfill my fetish. Masturbation [to] erotica and finding any decent video became an addiction. Eventually I would try to date girls and explain to them what I’m into, getting my fill that way.
[Dating] has probably been the hardest part of my fetish. I’ve lost several potential girlfriends to the fact that I am only attracted to feet. The girlfriends I’ve had have made it known that it is hard for them to keep up with my desires. I’ve gotten most every reaction I can think of when it comes to my fetish. Some girls instantly ghosted me, and some have tried to ignore it completely. Some girlfriends have done a good job at sating my habit, but I feel as if they would always like me more if I was just ‘normal’ when it comes to sexuality.
I use Tinder and have used [another app]. I tried going the fetish dating route, but all I’ve ever found is fakes or flakes. I also don’t want a fetish-orientated relationship. If anything, I just want a normal girl who is okay working with me. I don’t want a girl to be into my feet or other people’s feet. I am, however, interested in a girl who is into being dominant and has a fetish for being treated as a goddess.”
Melissa, 33, is a ‘feedee.’
“I have a fetish called feederism. I’m very turned on and sexually motivated by body fat and weight gain, specifically my own. In fetish vernacular, that would make me a ‘feedee.’ Someone who is turned on by body fat and weight gain on another is called a ‘feeder.’ It looks different from person to person, but I am particularly interested in power play, and there’s often a [dominant/subdominant] component to it. The idea of becoming submissive to my feeder and giving into my body is really hot to me. My partner and I often have dirty talk around losing control, letting myself go, and the humiliation that follows. Humiliation is a huge part of it, such as name calling like ‘disgusting fat pig.’
I wouldn’t want to explore my fetish with someone who didn’t have an interest in it already, because it feels too vulnerable.
In more intense times with partners, there was food sex, including hog tying face first into cake, funnel feeding weight gain shakes, and force feeding donuts while being humiliated verbally. Nowadays, it’s mostly a lot of role playing and dirty talk during otherwise normal sex. When I dated, I didn’t really talk about it unless I was dating someone I met through a fetish-related website. My partners who didn’t know just thought I had a really healthy appetite and loved to eat. I wouldn’t want to explore my fetish with someone who didn’t have an interest in it already, because it feels too vulnerable.
If I had to be, I could be happy without it, but I am much happier with it. My fetish has felt isolating and like a prison sometimes. In order to have fulfilling relationships, I had to learn how to indulge the fetish without necessarily having a partner be into it. Folks with niche fetishes often have long distance-relationships in order to find what we need.
I met my current partner on the now-defunct Feederism.net. He’s into my fetish, and we’ve found ways to incorporate it into our lives in a way that’s healthy and makes sense for us.”
Glen, 23, likes vomit sex.
“For the past few years, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy taboo sex. While trying to understand myself and at least tread unexplored territory, I’ve been into puke/vomit sex — mostly oral sex-induced.
I don’t blast this fetish to the world. I browse Fetlife.com, but I haven’t ever actually met with someone [from the site] to engage in the activity. I usually only watch videos or realize it with my girlfriend. It would make things less uncomfortable and controversial if [I met someone who has] come to the conclusion they have the same taboo fetish. I have no interest in imposing it if I can clearly see they’re not kinky to that extreme.”
Daniel, 24, participates in group play.
“I’ve been in several poly/open relationships in the past, which turned me onto this kink of group play. I enjoy being physically intimate with couples especially, but this comes with nuances and complexities. I have participated in one ‘orgy,’ but usually my comfort is in threesome territory. I don’t usually like group play with total strangers, or only strangers. I prefer to be with people I have met or been intimate with beforehand. I assume a more dominant role in these situations since I usually top.
Most of the time, I look around on [apps] for guys who are there for kink play and message them with inquiries. Sometimes I’ve been lucky enough to find people out in public or gay bars who are willing to play, but this is rare and intimidating. In both situations, I have to really be willing to put myself out there and clearly communicate what I want.
I don’t particularly seek out other people with fetishes or kinks. Most of the time, I prioritize true physical intimacy over the less vanilla stuff. However, there are times when some guys hear me mention kinks in passing and want to know more. Usually this is a topic I’m pretty good with talking about, since I’m pretty comfortable with my sex life overall. But for the most part, the way I approach dating is fairly unaffected.
My fetish has definitely never jeopardized a relationship. However, I have had one or two partners who were somewhat shocked or confused when I told them about my group play fetish. Usually these are partners that are more monogamy-minded. But I never have asked a partner if they wanted to do group play or bring in a third. In my experience, holding back and not mentioning it can actually influence your sexual interactions and people may pick up on you wanting something more.”