Understanding Fetishes and Paraphila
‘Fetish’ is a word commonly used to describe any type of sexual kink. While a fetish is a kink the word doesn’t apply to many of the kinky behaviours it’s applied to. A fetish is defined as a strong sexual obsession with an object, material or body part. ‘Foot Fetish’ is an example of the proper use of the word. ‘Spanking Fetish’ is not because the obsession involves an action instead of an object, material or body part.
Sexual kinks that are mislabeled as fetishes are actually categorized as paraphilia. Paraphilia is defined as a sexual preoccupation and response to unusual, nonsexual stimulus. Therefore a woman who enjoys BDSM play has a BDSM paraphilia, not a BDSM fetish. Fetish is actually a subcategory of paraphilia so for the purposes of this post I’ll use paraphilia to describe both inclinations.
Studies have been done by sexual health experts to try and determine what causes people to be sexually preoccupied with nonsexual objects and behavious, but no definitive answers have been found. Many people believe that paraphilias result from an early childhood experience or trauma but there is no evidence to support that theory. Many people with paraphilias have no idea where their kink originated or why they are sexually aroused by the object of their paraphilia. For some people a paraphilia has emotional benefit while others receive only sexual pleasure from their kink.
Some people with paraphilias must have the object of their obsession present to achieve any kind of sexual gratification. Some men with foot fetishes must be able to see or touch their partner’s feet to reach climax. For others the object of their paraphilia isn’t required at every sexual encounter. The presence of their paraphilia simply makes the encounter more enjoyable and satisfying.
If you have a paraphilia it is important to be upfront and honest with your sexual partners. If you know where your paraphilia originated explain it to them. Describe the attraction you feel toward the object of your compulsion to help them understand your needs. If you need the object present to achieve sexual release be honest about it. Assure your partner that you find them desirable and explain that the object of your paraphilia is just one part of that desire. If your partner understands your inclinations they will be much more likely to accommodate them. Resistance will occur if your partner feels they are less important to you than your paraphilia.
If you are the partner of someone with a paraphilia try to examine the situation with an open mind. Talk with your partner honestly and ask any questions you have about their inclinations. Make an effort to accommodate your partner’s desires into your sexual encounters to ensure that they enjoy the experience as much as you do. If you try it and don’t feel comfortable be honest about your feelings. Regardless of your reaction to the kink remember to speak to your partner without judgment; it takes courage to admit to paraphilia.