What Are Fetishes All About?

by Lovehoney

on Jan 27, 2022

Explore what are fetishes and why people have fetishes in this helpful intro to the wonderful world of kinks and fetishes.


Are you fetish curious?

Join the crowd. Since Fifty Shades of Grey, more and more people are curious about fetish, asking 'What is a fetish?', 'What does a fetish mean?', and 'Why do people have fetishes?'.

For a great poddy about fetish meaning, check out our Sexual Happiness Podcast: What are Fetishes All About?

The Sexual Happiness Podcast: What Are Fetishes All About?

This week, Sam and Nick are joined by Lovehoney newbie Violet as they dig into the topic of fetishes , answer your questions and share their sex facts.

Got a question or topic you want us to cover? Email us at podcast@lovehoney.com.

You can find us on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify. Subscribe to keep up.

What is a fetish?

A fetish is usually an object or body part (other than the sex organs) that gives a person sexual pleasure. More to the point, they have a strong desire, even an obsessive interest in it, and their sexual gratification depends on it.

What is the difference between a fetish and a kink?

A kink is an unconventional sexual taste or behaviour. If we said conventional sex was ‘straight’, a kink reflects a ‘bent’ perspective. It may be non-traditional sexual behaviour, but it is consensual and includes:

  • BDSM
  • fantasy and role play
  • fetishes
  • voyeurism
  • group sex.

A helpful distinction is this: a kink is something that turns you on, a preference or taste - while a fetish is something you need in order to get turned on.

What are the most popular fetishes?

Some men famously get turned on by women’s feet and shoes, including celebrities like Jay Leno, Quentin Tarantino and Andy Warhol. This can be very specific - you like red-painted toenails, for example, or black high heels. Or you might love the smell of feet or shoes.

Travelling further up the leg, some people have a nylon fetish. Others get off on underwear.

Smell is a big turn-on for some fetishists, so it could be leather clothes, car seats or bicycle seats. Or perfume. There are oodles of armpit devotees.

There are people who love belly buttons. Another body part that delivers a massive turn-on is the humble ear. Nibbling and licking lobes is all some people need for sexual deliverance.

Other folks love hair. Some love hands. There’s a fetish for every body part - something for everyone.

Why do people have fetishes?

At Lovehoney, we’re all about sexual happiness, so it’s important to say up front that we don’t agree with ‘kink-shaming’. As long as your fetish or kink doesn’t hurt you or others, it is safe to indulge. What turns you on is very personal.

Psychologists believe that fetishes and kinks are part of our sexual development and identity development. These often begin in childhood in self-play and broaden out as we develop into finding and exploring with like-minded others as adults.

Just as some people love redheads, others fall for tall people, or humans with green eyes, or cleft chins, or dark skin. The infinite variability of our sexual interest is out there for all to see. Kinks and fetishes are no different, other than they are often under-the-radar.

I have a secret fetish - how do I tell my partner?

Carefully. If they’re short and skinny, for example, and your fetish is for tall and fat people, that message is going to be a lead balloon.

Some peeps reckon it’s best to bring it up early in a relationship. Honesty is a great policy. It puts the two of you on a foundation of openness and trust.

It’s ideal to find a time when neither of you are vulnerable - just before or after sex, say. You can start the topic slowly and build up. Expressing an interest in leather is a gentler intro than bluntly declaring that belts are the only thing that really turns you on.

10 sexual fetishes we reckon you've never heard of

Different strokes for different folks, right? While a foot fetish is fairly well-known, check out these fetishes to marvel at the creative diversity of sexuality.

You may be reassured by reading this that many others in the world have distinct sexual interests, and whatever yours might be are fine and dandy. Fetish meaning and behaviour is both universal and particular.

1. Sploshing

‘Wet and messy’ play devotees become aroused when a sloppy substance is applied to their face, naked body or clothing.

Cake sitting is a sub-fetish. Physically, the unique sensation of smushing a cake with your butt is a massive turn-on and psychologically, the taboo nature of it adds to the thrill.

2. Balloons

Lovers of balloons refer to themselves as ‘looners’. They love the texture, the way balloons tend to strain under pressure, even the sound they make when squeezed.

Looners get hot under the collar for balloons.

3. Quicksand

During the 1950s, Hollywood movies featured a ton of quicksand scenes, and by the 1960s it appeared in one out of every 35 films. Why?

Studios could tip-toe past the censors and sneak in serious sexual tension. Quicksand allowed a man and a woman to get close, sweaty and bothered. One of the most infamous scenes was in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle.

For some fetishists, watching someone struggle in quicksand is also voyeuristic and titillating.

4. Macrophilia

Macrophilia means ‘lover of large’. Peeps with that fetish fantasise about having sex with someone who towers about them in size. (Speaking of Hollywood, the 1958 film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman confirms they are always secretly addressing fetishes in one way or another.)

The macrophilia community lust after giants and giantesses - and they use photoshop and virtual reality programs to play with this idea. Sexperts believe this fetish revolves around feelings of domination and vulnerability.

5. Agalmatophilia

Agalmatophilia involves a sexual obsession with statutes, dolls or mannequins. It can be a fantasy or it can involve real sex - that’s where sex dolls come in handy.

6. Tentacles

A fetish for tentacles has a long history. Katsushika Hokusai, the artist responsible for the iconic The Great Wave off Kanagawa, produced the first piece of tentacle erotica in 1831. If you’re all about this fetish, the Lovehoney Tentacle Glass Dildo is for you.

7. Forniphilia

Forniphilia is a subset of bondage - where the submissive partner enjoys being used as a piece of furniture.

The active or dominant partner may use the sub as a footstool, a non-functioning lamp or as a table. Add a food fetish and you can serve dinner on your kinky companion.

8. Mechanophilia

A mechanophile is someone who is sexually attracted to cars, motorbikes, helicopters - essentially any form of machinery that can be used for transportation. This might explain some fascination with Top Gear and the Fast & Furious franchise, not to mention James Bond and his Aston Martins.

9. Nebulophilia

Nebulophilia is a sexual attraction to smoke and fog, and nebulophiles can use smoke machines and dry ice for their thrills. Or they might watch music videos or films that feature dry ice and smoke effects, like film noir.

10. Waders

Waders are feet-to-waist, all-in-one rubber garment that fishers wear to wade waist-deep in water.

Waders are a sub-fetish of the more well-known fetish for latex, and while Lovehoney doesn’t stock any ‘fishing attire’, we have Latex Clothing & Fetish Wear galore!

Some Recommended Fetish Gear


Written by Lovehoney. For collaborative posts between Lovehoney team members and guest authors
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Originally published on Jan 27, 2022. Updated on Jan 27, 2022