DO YOU LIKE being tied up and spanked until there’s no tomorrow? Or maybe you’re more of a “climb-into-a-vat-of-Jell-O-for-sexual-gratification” kind of person? No? Is putting on a collar and getting walked about like a good boy more your thing?
Honestly, whatever you’re into, it’s completely normal. The list of kinks and fetishes that exist out here in this great, wide world are limitless. If your mind can imagine it, someone has made a kink out of it.
Kinks and fetishes are a natural part of being a curious human being—and they are actually quite common. Science backs this up. In research conducted by social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a member of the Men’s Health advisory panel, over 90 percent of Americans reported having a fantasy about BDSM—an umbrella term encompassing bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism, and masochism. An earlier study from 2017 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that nearly 50% of the general population has tried BDSM in some form or fashion.
Lehmiller’s research shows that almost all of us have thought about or considered having a sexual experience that would be considered “taboo.” This includes things like role playing, using food during sex, and having sex in the great outdoors.
Kinks and Fetishes: What’s the Difference?
Before we get into our list of popular kinks and fetishes, let’s break down the difference between a kink and fetish, because knowing the difference can be a key part in your own self-discovery. “There’s not what I’d call a bright-line difference between the two,” says Carol Queen, Ph.D., Good Vibrations staff sexologist and co-author (with Shar Rednour) of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone.
Queen defines a kink as any erotic or sexual interest that deviates from the socially prescribed “norm.” A kink can be part of a person’s overall sexual makeup (i.e., you occasionally like to be spanked, you’re here for a bit of latex), or very much the focus of a person’s eroticism (i.e., you want to get spanked every time you have sex).
A fetish, Queen says, usually involves an object or a specific body part (or its function) that is the focus of a person’s sexual interest. It’s a NEED that is required in order to reach full sexual satisfaction. Some fetishes are more “intense” than others. Some folks may require a fetish act or object to be a part of an experience to become aroused at all. Others may not need it to have a good sexual experience, but they do require it to have their peak sexual experience. It basically boils down to how much a certain act or object is needed to enjoy an erotic encounter.
Before you venture out to explore a new kink or fetish, it’s really important to resource yourself and do your research, especially if it involves risk (like blood play and breath play). Take classes, read online articles, and proceed with the utmost caution. “Turn to the BDSM world first; find out who the people are in your community or region who participate (and are well-regarded) in these kinds of play (or any advanced play you might be interested in),” Queen recommends. “Some of these folks will do classes or arrange teaching time with interested people.” We highly recommend kink educator Julieta Julieta Chiara’s kink classes for beginners. She also teaches Shibari workshops, if rope tying is more your jam. Queen also recommends reading Playing Well With Others.
A List of Kinks and Fetishes
Since kinks and fetishes vary from person to person, here’s a list of them to consider. Remember that human sexual interests are highly varied, and it’s important not to yuck anyone else’s yum. Just because you might not be into something doesn’t make it wrong or weird. We’re all entitled to enjoy the things we enjoy, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.
Age play is an umbrella term for a kink that involves someone roleplaying at a younger age than they actually are. Think a baby, child, or toddler. These relationships can range from platonic to more sexual and BDSM-oriented, like in a DD/LG dynamic. Like many kinks and fetishes, the exact definition of this term varies widely from person to person.
Are you sexually aroused by the look, shape, and/or feel of balloons? You may be a “looner.” Whether you get off on popping it (or not—these folks are called “non-poppers”), rubbing it, or blowing it up, this is a highly personal fetish. How you interact with the material is up to you.
Blood play refers to the act of using blood during sex. A person may be sexually aroused by the scent, sight, taste, or feel of blood. It plays out in myriad ways—from period sex to using medical instruments to draw blood. This type of play is incredibly risky, with the potential to result in serious injury or death. “Even when it’s done in a focused way (needles, rather than blades, say), it can introduce bacteria into the body,” Queen says. “Aa scrupulous clean practice must be learned for anyone who does this sort of play.”
Bondage, by definition, means the act of tying up or restraining a sexual partner. Whether it entails rope, handcuffs, a spreader bar, or a blindfold, bondage combines psychological and physiological stimuli, making it appealing. Want to learn more? Dig into Seductive Art of Japanese Bondageand Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink by Midori.
Erotic asphyxiation (otherwise known as “breath play”) is a dangerous sexual act that eroticises limited oxygen. “Many types of kink play can carry danger or the risk of harm, but breath play is among the most potentially dangerous (as is choking, which makes it especially dismaying to see it in porn and see that it is becoming normalised),” Queen. People participating in breath play must have a solid understanding of the neck and anatomy. “You need to know what you are affecting, and how, re: brain oxygenation and more,” Queen says. “This is 1000%, not a beginner activity.”
A breeding kink is the desire to be “bred.” This can include: A kink for getting pregnant and/or a kink for having someone ejaculate inside of you. This kink is rooted in fantasy and usually does not involve someone really trying to get pregnant. Proper safety precautions should always be taken when engaging in this kink.
A breeding kink can also look like a HuCow (aka: Human Cow) fetish. This is when a submissive partner acts as a “cow” and the dominant partner acts as a bull or farmer. The bull/farmer “breeds” the cow by mounting them and ejaculating inside of them. HuCow intersects with both the kink around breeding and animal roleplay. HuCow may involve the Dom and sub only, or it may involve a larger group sex scene.
Cock and Ball Torture, also known as CBT, is a sexual activity in which the male genitals are subjected to pain. This can range from mild constriction to the misery of testicle crushing (which can occur via the squeeze of a hand, a swift kick, or a clamp to the scrotum). Wax play, penis flogging, penis trampling, testicle stretching, urethra play, and erotic electrostimulation also fall under this kink.
This is a sexual attraction to tight places. There can be a cocoon-like feeling to being in tight and confined spaces. You may also enjoy the fear element of being closed in. Fear has actually been shown to produce a sexual response in some people, which is why people sometimes get horny after scary movies or roller coasters. This kink can also manifest as a mummy kink, wherein a person is wrapped in either sheets or latex. There can be something trance-like about being wrapped up this way; the feeling is very similar to being in subspace.
Clothed female/naked male (CFNM)
The CFNM acronym stands for Clothed Female Naked Male, which basically sums up the straightforward nature of the fetish. In this dynamic, a clothed, dominant female typically objectifies and wields her sexual power over a naked man.
A clown fetish is when you’re drawn to or are interested in dressing up as a clown during sexual, intimate, or kink play. Officially known as coulrophilia, the appeal is likely rooted in the childlike nature of clowns, the silliness of the clown character, and the bright outfits and makeup that come with dressing up like a clown. This kink can involve elements of BDSM and power play, as well as role-play.
This term is tied closely to BDSM since it overlaps with domination, submission, and humiliation. Basically, cuckolding is a kink or fetish where a guy gets hot, bothered, and humiliated by his spouse or partner getting it on with someone else.
Dominance and submission
D/s is one facet of the umbrella term BDSM (or Bondage and Disciple, Dominance and Submission, and Sadomasochism). D/s is generally about power dynamics, a situation where one person dominates or has power or control over another. The other person submits or gives over their rights and desires to another. But, how D/s is defined depends upon the people who practice it.
Also known as erotic e-stim, this sexual practice involves using specially designed power sources to stimulate the nerves of the body—primarily, the genitals—for sexual pleasure. Think EMS, TENS, violet wands, and made-for-play units. E-stim is often associated with BDSM play and should be explored cautiously, as it can be dangerous if not done correctly.
When a person experiences sexual excitement from the idea of being naked, engaged, and observed in a sexual activity, they’re into exhibitionism. This consensual kink should not be confused with mental health conditions that involve sexual arousal without consent.
Podophilia, the technical term for a foot fetish, is one of the world’s most common fetishes. One study found that fetishes related to human body parts were the most prevalent fetishes. Foot fetishes, or podophilia, accounted for almost 50% of the preferences of this group. A quick Google search for “food fetishes” returns more than 15 million results. Foot fetishes can be specific to size, shape, adornment (think jewellery or nail polish), sensory features, and the type of interaction. For example, some fetishists are super into footwear instead of the actual feet.
Gender bending is exactly what it sounds like: playing with gender. This can look like a cis gender male or masc person wearing sexy lingerie, panty hose, or other traditionally “femme” attire. Likewise, it can look like a cisgender woman or femme person dressing in traditionally masc clothing. It may also involve a more traditionally “dominant” partner taking on a submissive role during sexual play. Basically, the idea is to take prescribed gender roles and inverse or play with them in unexpected ways.
If you’re aroused by women who take an au natural approach to grooming and let their (leg, armpit, and pubic) hair down, you may have a hirsute fetish. This fetish is pretty straightforward: a sexual attraction to female body hair. Despite societal pressures to be clean shaved, a 2021 YouGov Body Image Study showed that 35% of Americans prefer if women shave, while 7% said they should not shave.
“Hotwifing” is a closely related kink to cuckolding, where people offer up their significant other to outside partners as a matter of pride (instead of humiliation).
For some folks, humiliation is their fast track to sexual pleasure. They may like to be degraded, embarrassed, insulted, or humiliated during sex. Some forms of humiliation are verbal, while others are more physical. Some combine the two. Before you delve into this sort of play, get a read on your partner’s wants, limits, and desires since this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. And if this kink isn’t something you’re comfortable with, that’s OK too.
If the thought of striking your partner with a hand, toy, or object for sexual gratification seems extreme, it doesn’t have to be. This sort of sensation play can range from sweet love taps to smacks that leave a mark for days. This power exchange extends far beyond spanking. The idea is to strike safe erogenous zones (butt, upper thighs, etc.) that trigger an endorphin high. It’s not all about pain (but it can be, depending upon what both people want) and more about the psychological elements.
Knismolagnia is a fetish where people derive sexual pleasure from the sensation of being tickled, tickling others, or simply watching someone get tickled. It’s basically a fancy term for arousal by tickling. Often, with this fetish, no sexual activity is involved, and people can orgasm from tickling alone.
The attraction to latex and rubber can be fetishistic. Wearing garments made of these skintight materials is closely linked with the S&M community. Some people also find sexual appeal in the actual material, whether they wear it or not. For others, the smell of rubber is enough to spark arousal.
Masochism makes up the “M” in BDSM. This kink centres on pain and can range from light hair-pulling g to extreme cock and ball and torture. It’s a fairly common kink: A 2017 survey found that 10% of respondents were somewhat or very interested in exploring pain in the bedroom.
Often described as “edging” or “peaking,” this kink involves putting the brakes on an orgasm right before the point of release. Sure, it takes some mental and physical practice to control your orgasms. But once you get the hang of it, the ebbs and flows of pleasure leading up to climax feel pretty damn good. A similar “stop-start method” involving stimulating the penis until just before orgasm and then stopping until the urge to ejaculate goes away has been used for decades to treat premature ejaculation.
People (usually men) drawn to this fetish experience sexual excitement by wearing pantyhose, admiring those who wear pantyhose, or some combination of sight and tactile sensations. They may also get off on handling worn pantyhose.
Rope bondage, or shibari, is a Japanese form of sex play using rope restraint methods. Such play can be rough sexual or soft, and sensual (and everything in between). It really depends on what dynamic the top and bottom desire. (A “top” is the person tying; a “bottom” is the person being restrained.) Want to learn more? The authority on the topic is The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori. As for rope, Twisted Monk has been the gold standard since 2004; the site also has several helpful how-to videos on everything from how to select the right rope to basic ties.
If the idea of inflicting pain on others excites you, you may be a sadist. From biting and bondage to hot wax and handcuffs, this type of play encompasses a variety of physical and psychological power exchanges. Sure, some people are into more extreme activities; still, a Reader Survey by Lehmiller indicates that most people who practice S&M are into “safe, sane, and consensual” play.
Sploshing is the sexual interest in messy, wet, and jelly-like substances. It is also known as a “wet and messy” fetish. This can include things like sitting in a giant vat of Jell-O, cake sitting, and playing with shaving cream. Sploshing boils down to getting a lot of sexual enjoyment from copious amounts of wet messiness during sexual play, whether you’re actually having sex or not.
This play is rooted in sensory play, as these substances come with a certain feel, smell, and taste. The appeal seems to be the tactile feeling of the substance and in the case of food, also the tasting of things. It’s about being turned on by messiness, slipperiness, and all that other sloshy goodness.
Voyeurism is the act of deriving sexual pleasure through watching someone else—or multiple people—engage in sexual activities. The legality of the kink depends upon consent. From an ethical standpoint, voyeurism is only a kink if all parties consent. You can 100% create scenarios that feel non-consensual—if everyone is on board and agrees. However, shooting an up-skirt video or recording someone without permission is a punishable crime.
Wax play is a kink in which hot wax, usually from a candle, is dripped or poured onto a partner. It falls under “temperature play” in the kink world. It is not something you want to happen without preparation and communication. Sure, it can be used in a BDSM context to create fear and sensation in an intimate setting. But lower-temperature liquids, like massage candles, can be used for straight-up sensual scenarios free of power dynamics.
This Story originally appeared on Men’s Health US