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What's the Difference Between a Kink and a Fetish?

Indulge in your wildest fantasies.

What's the Difference Between a Kink and a Fetish?

We as a culture are beginning to dismantle shame around the bits of us we’ve been traumatized into hating and hiding. From body acceptance to eradicating gender norms, the narrative around punishing yourself for who you truly are is gradually (and thankfully) melting away. This also rings true for kink-shaming.

Research shows that about half of us are sexually curious and enjoy dipping outside the lines of confinement. As long as your desires are not illegal nor harmful to anyone involved, sex positivity looks like shedding the weight of taboo and letting the truth about your pleasure be expressed. But while many of us own vibrators and nipple tassles, the difference between a kink and a fetish can confuse even the most seasoned sexual veteran.

What is a Fetish?

A fetish is a sexual desire or act outside of the mainstream that one must indulge in in order to experience arousal. This can manifest as a literal act (like having sex in public) or an object (like sexualizing feet). 

The most commonly-known fetish is the foot fetish, which has supplemented some pretty impressive passive income for those sharing theirs on foot fetish sites. PornHub’s Year In Review also proves that with certain categories booming, we’re a society built by an eclectic range of turn-ons. Last year, trans porn rose 75% in overall searches to become the U.S.’s third most popular PornHub category. From BDSM to MILF, it’s simple: we like what we like.

What is a Kink?

A kink can be defined as something sexual you enjoy doing by yourself or consensually with a partner that is considered outside of the mainstream. That, of course, is relative: what is categorized as kinky to some may be vanilla to others. This is all dependent on factors like your sexual history and cultural environment.

A list of most common kinks include:

  • Using sex toys
  • Roleplaying
  • Wearing costumes
  • Having sex outdoors
  • Blindfolded sex
  • Shooting DIY porn
  • Bondage
  • Food play
  • Anal sex
  • Spanking
  • Having threesomes
  • Using rubber, latex, or leather

Some of these can be thrown into everyday intercourse and not necessarily be a kink, like spanking. However, if you particularly enjoy a particular act and want to do it often, that’s indicative of a kink. You don't need to have an anal kink or fetish to engage in anal sex, unless you specifically get off on butt stuff.


What’s the Difference Between a Fetish and a Kink?

Many use these two terms interchangeably, but that isn’t all the way accurate. While the two are certainly similar, there’s a notable difference that makes these concepts distinct. While a kink is something someone likes to do, a fetish is something someone has to do in order to feel sexual pleasure at all.

Though less exciting, you can certainly enjoy a sexual encounter without employing any of your kinks. However, if you have a fetish, it’d be impossible to achieve sexual arousal without at the very least fantasizing about your fetish. Think of it this way: If someone's kink is bondage, they probably get excited when they're tied up. If someone has a bondage fetish, however, their entire sexuality may revolve around restraint.


How To Indulge in Your Own Fantasies

Many affairs (or the dissolution of a relationship) happen when partners aren’t open and willing to indulge in their counterparts’ kinks or fetishes. This isn’t to say that one should ever participate in a sexual act they don’t desire, but rather, that more open dialogue around kinks should be considered. Feeling rejected because of a sexual preference can lead to internalized shame, and it’s important more couples speak to each other and others about navigating sex.

Once you’ve found a partner that consents to or shares your desires, safety planning is most important. From tying knots to choking, not knowing enough about how to properly and safely execute your kink can almost certainly kill the mood. There are plenty of platforms that offer products, educators, and well-developed research in all areas of kink and fetish. Joining a community to learn more about how to safely explore kinks and fetishes has also proved to be helpful.

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