October is National Kink Month, so to celebrate, we’re sharing details on ten popular kinks and fetishes. But first, let’s answer the most important question: What’s the difference between a kink and a fetish?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, a fetish is something that a person needs in order to achieve sexual gratification. If that item or element isn’t present, the person cannot achieve sexual fulfillment. A kink is something that arouses the person, but isn’t strictly necessary for them to get off. You may have a long-held fetish, or maybe you’re looking to add a kink to your bedroom play as a way to spice up your sex life.
Below we explore ten popular kinks and fetishes, many of which overlap with the most common sexual fantasies. You may discover a kink or fetish that you want to explore in your own sex life, or one that simply opens your mind to new sensual possibilities.
Foot fetishes are one of the most common fetishes. People with foot fetishes may be attracted to certain shapes or types of feet. They may want to engage in foot/genital play or otherwise incorporate feet into their sex play. This could involve licking a person’s feet, sucking on their toes, stroking their feet while masturbating or being masturbated, seeing someone playing with or adorning their feet, or other variations. Foot fetishists may have specific preferences for footwear, foot upkeep, including nail polish colors and styles, and other types of foot appearance.
Masochism and Sadism
Masochism means the infliction of pain, and sadism means receiving pain, and they make up half the acronym BDSM (bondage, domination/submission, sadism and masochism). Some people are strict masochists, meaning they are aroused by receiving pain, which could take many forms, from having their nipples pinched to their hair pulled. Others are strict sadists, meaning they enjoy giving pain to someone else, such as delivering a spanking or caning. While masochism and sadism officially refer to physical sensations, the overall category of masochism and sadism can include all sorts of activities, from controlling a person’s movements or sexual activities, to bondage, to giving or taking orders and erotic roleplaying. To ensure that masochism and sadism are performed safely, many participants use a safe word, meaning an agreed-upon word, such as “red,” that can be spoken by anyone involved in a given scene to immediately stop the action.
Degradation and Humiliation
Degradation and humiliation are parts of BDSM play that often the mental side of dominance and submission, sometimes with a physical component. They are all about making the bottom in a BDSM scene feel the emotions of being degraded and/or humiliated, which for some people, in the right context, can be an incredible turn-on. This can be as simple as being called names (“what a dirty girl/slut/masochist/glutten for punishment you are”) or being treated in a humiliating manner, such as being made to crawl around, ask for permission to perform basic tasks, or eat on the floor. According to Kinkly, erotic humiliation can entail such acts as insulting a partner or making them display their private parts in front of a group of people.
What’s degrading or humiliating is subjective, so this will look different for every participant. What’s important is that the participants negotiate ahead of time what their limits are so that this kink works for them. You will likely want to employ a safe word with degradation and humiliation play.
Praise kink is simple—it’s a kink for the act of being praised or complimented. Another name for praise kink is “affirmation play.” This can involve any aspect of verbal approval, from something as simple as being told you’re a “good girl” or “good boy” or other praise within the context of sexual activity or roleplaying. A praise kink may be amplified with praise for a specific act, especially one that the person performing the act may have found challenging or that may have involved humiliation or degradation. An example might be someone who takes more spankings than usual, or tries out a new, more complicated form of bondage, being told they’re a “good girl” for getting through it without stopping.
Nipple play involves exactly what it sounds like—playing with a person’s nipples in an erotic way. This can include everything from teasing and stroking to licking to pinching to biting to having hot wax poured on them. Nipple play may also involve using sex toys like nipple clamps, nipple suction cups, or vibration toys. People of any gender may enjoy nipple play, and some may even have orgasms due to nipple stimulation (sometimes called nipplegasms).
People with a hosiery fetish, aka pantyhose fetish, enjoy the look and feel of various types of legwear. They may enjoy wearing the hosiery themselves or looking at someone wearing it. Some may have a specific hosiery fetish, such as only preferring fishnet stockings or sheer pantyhose. According to WebMD, more men than women have hosiery fetishes, and those who have hosiery fetishes “may also feel aroused by watching others put on or take off pantyhose, using pantyhose as bondage restraints and gags, or being forced to wear pantyhose.”
A latex fetish is another fetish, like a hosiery fetish, involving a specific type of fabric, and may also be known as a rubber latex fetish. Many latex fetishists enjoy both the shiny appearance of latex as well as the sleek, tight feel of it. They may enjoy the sensual aspect of polishing their own or a partner’s latex outfits and watching them gleam. Latex fetishists may enjoy wearing latex clothing themselves or looking at and/or touching others who are wearing latex. A related fetish is a PVC fetish, although latex is made of thicker material than PVC.
Cuckolding is a practice where Partner A, usually a woman in a male/female relationship, has outside sexual partners, while Partner B remains sexually faithful to Partner A. The cuckold may watch his wife or partner being sexually intimate with other people, or may hear about it from them afterward. There can be an aspect of the fetish of erotic humiliation to cuckolding, especially if the other partner has larger genitals, is considered more attractive, or otherwise possesses qualities the spouse doesn’t. Cuckolding is different from infidelity because generally the cuckold knows what their partner is doing or plans to do, and may even play a role in facilitating their partner’s flings. In some of these cases, Partner A is known as a hotwife, meaning a wife who has sexual freedom within a marriage to enjoy sex with other partners.
Orgasm control involves controlling another person’s orgasm and it often takes place within the context of a BDSM relationship. Within orgasm control, one person agrees to have the other grant or deny them permission to have an orgasm. The feeling of not being in control of when you’re allowed to climax can be arousing for people with an orgasm control kink. Often, this kink is used between established partners, and may have certain limits or boundaries, such as the person has to ask permission before orgasming. As Joli Hamilton, Ph.D, CSE,- told Elite Daily, “[O]rgasm control is a phenomenal way to experience surrender — an emotional and physical surrender to the authority of a trusted person in a negotiated relationship can feel incredibly powerful.’” In some cases, orgasm control may involve using a device such as a chastity cage to ensure that the person doesn’t have an orgasm unless they’re authorized to by the dominant partner.
Edging is a form of orgasm control and it involves keeping a person on the edge of having an orgasm for a period of time. Many engage in edging as a part of BDSM play, with the dominant partner making the submissive partner edge, or wait, to have an orgasm until the dominant partner allows them to. This can be arousing as well as maddening for the person being made to edge, and can be part of a BSDM scene in which the submissive partner begs to be allowed to orgasm, knowing that ultimately the decision will remain in control of the dominant partner.
Others practice edging by themselves, either to have a more enjoyable or powerful orgasm, or as a way to train themselves to last longer in bed. According to Healthline, there are multiple methods of edging. One is the stop-and-start method, in which you start masturbating and getting close to orgasm, then stop when you’re close to orgasm, denying yourself the release and starting over, then repeating for as long as desired. A variation on edging for people with penises is to pause right before they’re about to orgasm and squeeze the head of the penis to prevent the climax from happening, then repeat the process.