What is a kink? What is a fetish? Is there a difference?
A kink is a broad term that covers any and all sexual interests, behavior, and preferences that are thought to be unconventional or non-mainstream.
For many, unconventional refers to using props, other body parts, or incorporating non-sexual activity into the sexual experience. Props are things like whips, ropes, costumes, leather, spanking, and handcuffs. There’s nothing wrong with being kinky, but some people regard some kinks as perverse.
Actually, kinks can add to the experience of sexual intimacy. They are the things that you can do to spice things up in the bedroom.
A fetish is a kink that is perceived as explicitly necessary for sexual gratification.
The fixation on a specific kink to the extent that its absence may interfere with complete sexual expression is what turns a kink into a fetish.
All fetishes are kinks, but not all kinks are fetishes.
There is a bottomless well of sexual kinks and fetishes. There are many theories on why people have them or how they develop. However, on this post, we are not going to focus on the reasons why some people have certain kinks and fetishes. We are simply going to describe some of them here to begin demystifying them. The hope is to de-stigmatize kinks and fetishes. We do not suggest that you should engage in them (unless you want to). We wish to offer a path to wellness for those who might feel shame or were ostracized for their unusual or rare sexual expressions.
Whatever your sexual interests are, we suggest that you engage in them only if you can ensure the safety of all those involved. Establish consent and enthusiastic agreement with your partner(s). Check in with each other often. Be prepared to immediately stop at any time and for any reason. Use safewords.
Sex is a natural part of the human experience. Keep it respectful, healthy, and fun for everyone.
Here are 45 kinks and festishes (arranged alphabetically):
Sexual arousal towards amputees, or the sites of amputations on the body. There is a hierarchy of preferences, with leg amputations being the most desirable. A preference was also shown for amputations that left a stump due to the phallic nature of the remaining limb. People with this fetish are known as devotees and, in some instances, other disabilities or assistive devices are also included in the fetish.
There are also those who are aroused by the idea of becoming an amputee themselves, known as apotemnophilia.
Both acrotomophilia and apotemnophilia are thought to be rare.
Ethical concerns: Some amputees may be happy to participate but most do not. There is a great risk of fetishizing individuals or whole groups of people. And for people whose fetish extends to wanting their own limbs amputated, medical ethicists argue about patient autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and “right to happiness.”
Sexual attraction to statues or “statue syndrome.” Recall the Greek myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor king who fell in love with a statue of his own creation.
Agalmatophilia, in its traditional definition, exists largely in literature of the past century making it more of a fantasy.
It has been expanded to encompass mannequins and dolls. Sex dolls are widely available today and have become more lifelike.
3. Age Play
Paraphilic or age role playing. Partners act as if they are different ages than what they actually are.
A common combination is a parent and a child, “Daddy’s girl.”
Age play is a fetish that involves an exchange of power. It is a form of dominance and submission play, where the partner playing the younger person is often submissive (i.e., sissification of a man to act like a submissive boy).
Paraphilic infantilism. Sexual pleasure derived from dressing up as, or acting like, a baby. Often, there’s a mommy or daddy figure. Maybe they’re nursing, or changing a diaper, or engaging in other infantile behaviors. Some take great interest in the baby bottle especially when filled with real breastmilk.
The power dynamics of a parent/infant relationship lends itself to dominant and submissive roles, and certain elements of a baby costume (namely the diaper) may aid in sexual humiliation.
Arousal derived from restraints. An activity where one partner is restrained with rope, tape, or cuffs
Bondage is an exercise in trust. It can enhance other sexual activities (intercourse) and other kinks (spanking).
Like some kinks, bondage may be non-sexual such as shibari or Japanese bondage, which is aesthetically beautiful and alluring.
Caution: Restraints can cause nerve damage when improperly performed. Schooling on safe restraining techniques is essential. Conversation regarding boundaries is important. Use safeword method to signal that the activity needs to end immediately.
Arousal derived from semen. This activity often involves ejaculation or having cum inside one partner. The semen can be real or artificial. It usually uses dirty talk about pregnancy, like “Put a baby in me.”
Like many kinks, this isn’t necessarily literal. It can even apply to performing sex acts that don’t lead to pregnancy, like anal sex or male pregnancy (“Mpreg”).
As with all fantasies and dirty talk, this is not a kink to spring on a partner when things are getting hot and heavy. Before engaging in breeding, clearly negotiate what words and phrases are acceptable, and draw clear boundaries between dirty talk proposing a life-altering choice.
7. Consensual Non-consent
Consensual non-consent (CNC) is “an umbrella term that refers to any type of BDSM play or relationship dynamic when ignoring someone’s ‘no’ is part of the consensual role play.
But “because ‘no’ can mean ‘yes’ in CNC, thorough negotiation and the use of safewords are paramount. Consent, mutual respect, and ongoing communication are cornerstones of this type of play. Aftercare and trigger plans are also important—because of the higher degree of emotional risk, even the most well-planned scenes can go wrong.
Why are some people into such a risky form of play? This type of play provides a consensual safe container that allows for the exploration of intense emotions and sensations, one’s own limits, and even societal norms. Elements of distress, control, and surrender, combined with the trust and communication that’s required in CNC scenarios, can create a heightened sense of arousal and catharsis.
But CNC isn’t just for hardcore BDSM enthusiasts. It can also encompass gentler scenarios like light-hearted power-play, cheeky banter or resistance, playful bets, and brat play. But regardless of the intensity, communication, negotiation, and enthusiastic consent should always be prioritized.
Sexual attraction to clowns, or to clownlike characters, such as jesters or mimes. And like a few of the fetishes on this list, it’s a pretty niche sexual interest.
For some, the appeal of this fetish may be the very thing that makes clowns scary to others: the clown makeup and costumes. Coulrophilia is usually not just interest in clowns, but dressing up as a clown oneself. So, it may be a form of roleplay, in which there are elements of both sexual arousal and psychological escape. For others, the appeal of clown play lies in the taboo. Many of us grew up with clowns being a form of wholesome family entertainment, so there may be a subversive element to sexualizing them.
In BDSM and power play, this act calls for one person to watch their partner have sex with someone else or listen to stories about their partner having sex with someone else. The goal here is often sexual humiliation. The person watching or listening is turned on by their partner desiring someone else over them. They may also enjoy the stimulation of “being cheated on” and experimenting with an act that’s considered taboo.
And while it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, cuckolding typically involves a man whose woman partner, whether that’s a wife or girlfriend, has sex with another man and cosplays desiring the other man over her husband or boyfriend.
The practice of approaching orgasm and then backing off. As opposed to rushing over the finish line, those that edge like to keep it in view, dance up to it, and then back away. “The journey is more important than the destination.” How long does an edging session usually last? It varies. Dedicated practitioners sometimes engage in edging sessions that can last for multiple days or even longer.\
So why delay orgasm? Edging enthusiasts engage in the practice for a multitude of reasons, such as staying in a sexual headspace longer, working to counteract premature ejaculation, or to expand their sensuality options.
But edging isn’t all about enjoying the process. Many fans find that if there’s an eventual orgasm, it can be a great deal more intense than an orgasm that’s achieved right away.
Edging doesn’t work for everyone and some find that by repeatedly putting off an orgasm, eventually they lose it. If lost orgasms are something that frustrates you, edging might not be the best technique for you to explore.
Considered a subset of sensation play, electrostimulation involves creating arousal through a sensation of electric shock. Electricity play uses toys/devices that issue a mild shock or sometimes a zappy-feeling pulse. This is different from vibration and can feel fairly intense. Additionally, most toys or devices are below-the-waist only, because it’s important to keep electricity away from the heart.
Before delving into this kind of play, it’s important to learn the ropes since using the wrong tools can be dangerous. Newbies shouldn’t use intense-shocking tools like tasers, for example. Those aren’t beginner-level at all and require quite a bit of know-how to avoid damage.
Although it's extremely rare, emetophilia—or attraction to vomit—is real. This can mean being attracted to one’s own vomit or someone else's; turned on by watching and listening to the vomit, or doing the vomiting themselves.
There's only been one major scientific investigation into "erotic vomiting," in 1982. Knowledge on emetophilia is scant, but the themes of dominance, submission, and humiliation is evident within this fetish.
13. Erotic Humiliation
Engaging in playful and consensual forms of humiliation that involve lighthearted teasing, playful name-calling, or consensual embarrassment. A submissive being made to wear a silly outfit or perform a humorous task, for instance, is a valid option for fun and enjoyable humiliation play. Somes may enjoy bullying roleplay. Erotic humiliation doesn’t have to be mean-spirited, extreme, emotionally hurtful, and push boundaries. The submissive doesn’t necessarily need to be emotionally torn down with cruel insults. Consensual humiliation has many degrees or flavors.
Those who enjoy this kink find that being consensually teased, controlled, or embarrassed taps into power dynamics, vulnerability, and intense emotion in a way that’s deeply arousing and pleasurable. Erotic humiliation requires open communication, trust, and explicit consent. Detailed negotiation is necessary for establishing boundaries and determining the type of humiliation that’s comfortable for everyone. Be mindful that emotional triggers can happen in any form of humiliation, so it's essential to incorporate frequent check-ins and ongoing negotiation.
Consensual exhibitionism is erotic interest in being seen/observed and/or exhibiting yourself and your body or sexuality. This kink can encompass things like preferring sex with lights on and eyes open; liking to dress in a sexy fashion; and liking to have sex at a play party even better than liking it at home. Exhibitionism can be a real antidote for sexual shame and feeling unsexy. It can also be performative, giving people permission to let go of their inhibitions and go big with their sexual expression. Exhibitionism's appeal relates to the way being seen might make someone feel affirmed in their sexiness and sexuality.
15. Food Play
Food can be incredibly sensual. People might find bringing food play in the bedroom hot because of the sensory stimulation. Mixing food with sexual pleasure oftentimes results in arousal for both parties involved. Many have tried a little whipped cream or chocolate syrup in the bedroom without being fetishists. Ordinary items such as jelly or peanut butter are lathered on the body and licked off by a partner. Sometimes food play is not messy at all. Hand-feeding a partner berries or grapes can also be a sensual experience.
16. Foot Fetish
Sexual arousal by feet also referred to as foot partialism. People with foot fetishes may be attracted to seeing feet in certain footwear, such as high heels. They might enjoy interactions with feet, including massaging or toe-sucking. Some may prefer embellishments on the feet, like a fresh pedicure or a tattoo. In certain cases, a person may appreciate the feet more than the person they're attached to.
Considered by some to be a subset of zoophilia, formicophilia involves arousal dependent upon small insects or creatures crawling on the body, especially the genital area, sometimes biting or stinging in the process. It involves ants, cockroaches, snails, and bees as possible sources of erotic pleasure.
Sexual kinks like gagging can fall under the umbrella of dominant/submission play. It is a vehicle for increasing the helplessness of the sub by making them drool, unable to speak, and humiliated.
The practice of gagging should involve consent and communication. Approaching a partner with a desire to explore a kink together should be clear, respectful, and with a sense of curiosity, instead of demands. Emotional risk is present in kink practices.
19. Impact Play
Impact play encompasses a wide variety of activities, including spanking, flogging, paddling, and even whipping—with or without toys. Exploring different bodily sensations introduced through impact can be exciting for some and can lead to emotional catharsis or physical relief of tension in the body.
Other mental benefits: Learning how one's body responds to impact can foster a sense of pride or accomplishment. People who enjoy receiving impact often develop a strong preference between “stingy” vs. “thudded” impact. A whip, for example, delivers more of a stinging sensation, while a heavy flogger delivers more of a thud.
Impact play doesn’t necessarily require fancy equipment, a bare, open palm spanking a butt, for example. The dominant partner needs to be careful to avoid bones and internal organs, as well as vulnerable areas of the body, like the face, especially with a harder or heavier hitting implement.
There are classes and literature available to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved. Clear negotiation and enthusiastic consent are a must with impact play. It is essential to have a plan for how to slow down or stop the encounter if something isn't going right for either person.
Sexual arousal by watching oneself in sexual situations reflected in a mirror(s). Thos who like this kind of play may have a mirror by their bed, or masturbate to their own mirror image. As always consent is necessary. Some planning is involved to strategically place the mirror to catch the best glimpses of those involved.
Sexual arousal by an enema(s). Pleasure is experienced from relieving oneself while using an enema, meaning they enjoy the pressurized feeling. For others, it's the feeling or knowledge of having their bowels cleaned. And in other cases, it's all about giving someone an enema or preparing the body for an enema.
Sexual arousal from watching a woman breast feeding or lactating. Some will suckle in a “nursing roleplay” or consume breastmilk from a baby bottle.
Fascination and sexual arousal with latex garments or accessories. Some wear whole or partial outfits made of latex. The material is often skin tight or cling to the body. Some shine the material with specialized lubricants. Those who enjoy latex find them sexy on themselves and seeing it on others. Enthusiasts love the silky feel of latex condoms, gloves, and dental dams for oral sex. Some folks have latex allergies. Some play parties ban them.
Sexual arousal by lingerie or underwear. As a kink is not unusual. However, this starts to take on fetish qualities when lingerie becomes essential to arousal—when one may not be able to become aroused or fully aroused without the presence of the lingerie. Lingerie is specifically designed to be eye-pleasing with lace or sheer fabric. Lingerie fetishist might have very particular interests—from nylons with the seam up the back to specific styles of underwear.
Sexual attraction to giants or giantesses. Particular niches include: Being squished against a giant's breasts, being crushed by a giant, being dominated by a giant, or being physically harmed by a giant. Some macrophiles may be attracted to people that are just a few feet taller than them. Some macrophiles are drawn to animation, virtual reality, CGI porn, etc. to imagine and fantasize about being vulnerable, small, and powerless against a giant.
Sexual arousal by having sexual contact with a corpse. Some people have a hard time meeting live partners which leads them to being interested in a dead body. Some are aroused by the fact that a corpse can’t fight back or consent to sexual activity. Necrophiliacs might hire a sex worker to lie inert during intercourse, safely mimicking a dead body, or explore the world of freezable sex toys designed to simulate the experience of sex with the dead (or undead, as the case may be, since some of these products have zombie or vampire themes).
Sexual arousal to someone wearing nylons, putting them on or touching the material. Some cisgender heterosexual men enjoy the feeling of putting nylons on or peeling them off.
28. Pet Play
Pet play is a form of sexual roleplay in which an individual is aroused by the idea of adopting the appearance and/or mannerisms of a non-human animal, such as a dog also known as puppy play. For some, it’s a form of distraction and psychological escape—a way to change your headspace and be in the moment. For others, it’s about a broader interest in BDSM, in which dominant/submissive elements are expressed.
Sexual arousal from receiving praise or a compliment especially during sex. Language is used to build someone up with positive affirmations. Though this kink may seem harmless, it's still important and necessary to negotiate what is acceptable praise during play. There may be misgendering terms or features that one partner does not want comment. It is important to ask what they want to be called (like baby, honey, mister, mommy). Some like to be praise for their prowess and effort.
Arousal by pregnant people. For some, it's the "glow" pregnant people have. For others, it's seeing a large round belly (the bigger the better) and heavy breasts filled with milk. Still for others, it's the fact that having sex with a pregnant person seems taboo—though expecting parents can, and do, have sex throughout their pregnancy.
31. Public Sex
Sexual arousal by having sex in a public. Some get off on the thrill of the potential of being seen such as on a rooftop or in a public bathroom. This makes public sex a potential favorite of exhibitionists. Public sex should be approached with caution. Being seen by people who didn’t sign up for it is a problem. And while that may be part of the thrill for some, it’s important that it remains a theoretical thrill only. It illegal to expose yourself in public. The best way to engage in this fetish is at play parties, sex club, bath house, or other adult sexual event where people know that sex is occurring around them. Exhibitionists are aroused by being watched, and voyeurs are aroused by watching others. Public sex can be extremely arousing and exhilarating because it breaks societal taboos that tend to promote limitations around sex as being private and between two people. It also can lead to group sex.
Sexual arousal by fingers or hands or hand partialism. Some fantasize about having hands all over their bodies. Some are attracted to certain parts of the hands, manicures or certain acts performed by the hands, from penile masturbation to vaginal or anal insertion or something non-sexual like washing dishes.
Arousal at the thought of causing or receiving pain. Pain or intense sensation in kink communities refers to spanking, whipping, pinching, piercing or other BDSM activity. Pain releases a rush of endorphins similar to a runner’s high. Sadists in this context play the dominant role or giver. Masochists play the submissive role or receiver.
34. Scene Play
Many sexual kinks and fetishes can fall under the umbrella of scene play. Many in the BDSM community center their kinky activities within a scene. A scene is a preplanned story including roles that each partner commits to during foreplay and/or actual sex. Think: school teacher and naughty student.
"Going into scene" means partners have talked about what they want to do. Those involved in scene play often negotiate what their desires and limits are or use signifying titles such as 'mistress' or 'sir.'
Scene play is a contained activity, so it doesn't necessarily mean that partners continue to play out their roles out in the real world. Within the scene, they may act very differently than they do outside the scene, and 'the scene' contains it." The scene often ends when both partners are satisfied, someone uses a safeword.
35. Sensation Play
Focus on the body and the many sensate experiences a person can have, so flogging, massage, temperature play involving ice cubes or massage candles, tickling, and other kinky play can all fall under the category of sensation play. Sensation play engages parts of the body that are not normally thought of as erogenous zones, like the back. It is erotic play that includes the whole body, not just the genitals.
36. Sensory Deprivation
Sexual stimulation by taking away one or more of the senses or the ability to move. Some use a blindfold or noise canceling headphones or some kind of mask with only nostril holes. Without sight or sound, some enjoy focusing more on what is happening in the present and makes it easier to drop their outside stressors. Some will float in tank for the ultimate sensory deprivation. Responses are difficult to predict. Care needs to be taken and consent needs to be established. A blindfold or other binding, without establishing consent beforehand, can trigger deep panic and distrust.
Arousal from a person who is asleep or unconscious, sometimes referred to as sleeping beauty syndrome. This kind of fetish also involves an exchange of power, where the person awake is in a dominant position. It should always be approached with informed consent. When power dynamics are at play, everyone should be sober and know what to expect. There should be an agreement that the play can be stopped at any time and for any reason.
38. Temperature Play
Sexual stimulation using hot or cold temperatures. Mild temperature play includes running an ice cube along the skin or cooling down the mouth with an ice cube before oral sex. Neuroreceptors in the skin, affected by various temperatures, can peak sexual desire. Metal or glass toys that can be safely warmed or cooled are sometimes used. Caution to test the toy on one’s hand or wrist before applying it on more sensitive tissues.
Water sports. Sexual arousal from urine, either giving or receiving. In BDSM, the person getting peed on is submissive to the other, and having someone's pee drip down their body might also evoke some feelings of humiliation.
Sexual fantasy of one’s “first time.” This is not necessarily an attraction to virgins or wanting to take someone’s virginity. This is more about the desire to “re-do” or “do-over” their first sexual encounter. 40% of women and 30% of men fantasize about becoming virgins again.
“Vore” for short, entails fantasies about eating someone or watching someone being eaten, chewed, or swallowed whole. This cannibalism-influenced sexual interest involves getting eaten alive usually being consumed whole and live by a much larger person or stronger creature. There's often also a BDSM element to this interest as in predator/prey or dominance/submission scenario. People might indulge in this inclination through roleplay or through watching (simulated) live-action or animated vore porn.
Voyeurism involves consensually observing others undress, have sex or engage in other sexual acts. This is not spying on people without their consent, which is definitely illegal and inappropriate. In this scenario, the person being observed enjoys being watched or putting on a show. Some like to watch their partner masturbate, going to a strip club, or watching live cam videos. Consensual voyeurism can also typically take place at a swinger’s party or play party.
43. Wax Play
Sexual arousal from dripping candle wax onto or from another. The appropriate candle is a must. Some burn too hot (i.e., scented candles) and can burn the skin. There are massage candles Shop carry candles that don’t instantly harden when poured on the body or massage candles that slowly pool wax as they burn and don't instantly harden when poured onto the body—then the wax can be moved around before it stiffens. Wax from a candle held further from the skin will feel cooler than from a candle held closer to the skin.
Sexual stimulation from whipping, either giving or receiving. Consensual consent and agreement are a must. This is another form of power play that can get dangerous and painful very quickly. The receiving partner should identify which body part they’d like whipped, avoiding areas where a bone or internal organ might be injured. A pain scale can also be established (i.e., 1 to 10, with 10 being the most painful). Safewords are a useful tool to ensure that the play stops at any time and for any reason.
Sexual relationship with an animal. It differs from bestiality in that it relies on an emotional investment and, often, the idea that a human-animal relationship is mutually loving. Malcolm Brenner chronicled his romantic relationship with a dolphin in the 1970s. He worked at a theme park in Florida where he claimed the relationship was initiated by the dolphin. Zoophilia is more common among people who grew up on farms and among people who have social interaction difficulties who might gravitate toward an animal instead of a human partner.