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The word fetish conjures up images of Christian Grey, ball gags, stilettos, spankings and more.
But what exactly is a fetish, and how did it come to be tied up (pun intended) with all of the psycho-sexual hullabaloo?
A fetish was a talisman or charm that held religious meaning. From this, we got the expression that it was “something irrationally revered” in the mid-19th century.
Around the same time, it also became synonymous with something that arouses, usually irrationally, sexual desire.
They can range all over the board from light BSDM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism or masochism for the uninitiated) like spanking or silk scarves, to the darkest realms of the human psyche.
And like anything in the sexual arena, what can seem fun to one person is boring and vanilla to another, while another couple (or more) may enjoy something that would be considered torture or deplorable to others.
Because many of the fetish topics are considered taboo, or at least not polite public discourse, those that feel they want to explore a fetish or even discuss it with someone can sometimes find themselves stymied.
Or worse, they are unfairly looked at as weird or gross.
In order to get some straight answers, I spoke with relationship and sexpert Jill Di Donato, author of the novel “Beautiful Garbage” and the forthcoming “52 Weeks of Sex: Diary of a Single Gal.”
If you are in a relationship (of any kind or duration), when do you reveal that you may have a fetish?
“There are different degrees of fetishes, so I’d say when you reveal a fetish to a potential partner is linked to how important exploring the fetish is to who you are as a person, sexual or otherwise,” she said.
“You also have to consider do you want to explore your fetish with your partner, alone or with someone external to the relationship? All of these things need to be discussed eventually. But I’d say you need to establish trust with a person before you reveal anything really meaningful about yourself.”
“All growth and change is
uncomfortable at the beginning.”
If you enjoy the feeling of leather against your genitals, it may be something you feel more comfortable doing by yourself. You won’t feel self-conscious and you can do it to your heart’s content.
While if you feel you like to be submissive, this is something you will probably have to bring up to your partner if you want to delve into that realm.
If you have a sort of fetish for being a “furry” (look it up!) and you’re dating a rather conservative woman, you might not want/need to bring it up.
On the other side, I have a friend who admits that he can’t reach orgasm unless he’s choked. Safety aside, he can’t fully enjoy sex without this, so it is something he has had to bring up at some point in the relationship in order to feel fulfilled.
Also, as Di Donato adds, “Private experimentation and exploration of fetishes is much different from secrecy.”
Don’t feel guilty that you’re hiding it. I don’t cut my toenails or manscape in front of my lady, but it doesn’t make me feel like I have a secret that weighs on me.
OK, so you have a particular fetish and you feel comfortable with the person you are with enough to want to talk about it.
“Again, I think this depends on the fetish. Let’s say your thing is to be owned or dominated in bed (but not in life), you might wait until you are in an intimate situation and say something like, ‘I really enjoy it when you…’ The person should get the hint,” Di Donato said.
“Most new lovers want to please each other to see if they are sexually compatible. No one should ever do anything in bed to please another person that he or she is not comfortable with. But then again, you don’t know how comfortable you’d be unless you give it a try!”
All growth and change is uncomfortable at the beginning because it is new and different. But I’m a very open-minded guy and I would love to know what my lady wanted of or from me. And I’m always up for a new experience!
How about you guys? What are some interesting fetishes you have come across in your explorations?