Kinks & Fetishes… What’s The Difference?

kinks & fetishes blog sex with emily
kinks & fetishes blog sex with emily

Photo by Sonny Ravesteijn on Unsplash

Words like kinks & fetishes are thrown around pretty loosely these days, but do you really know the difference between a kink and a fetish?

This is a huge topic in the BDSM/kink/fetish community.

Some use the two terms interchangeably. Others feel it is sexual blasphemy to do so.


The Difference Between Kinks & Fetishes

The terms “kink” and “fetish” have different origins and psychological focus. So, it is important for even the most “lay” person (pun intended) to understand the meaning of each term.

Kink: A “kink” is something that would be considered unconventional in terms of sexual preferences and activities. For example, one of my “kinks” is that I like role play and particularly dom/sub role play. This power dynamic really gets me going in the bedroom, however, I don’t need it in order to be sexually aroused. I enjoy a wide arrange of sexual activities and this dynamic adds to my pleasure.

In this example, there is a clear difference between this being a kink vs a fetish. Which is that my desire for dom/sub role play is not the only way I can get off. Nor is it the only way I can feel sexually stimulated. That is where we move more into a fetish.

Fetish: A fetish is generally a desire that is centered around a particular object or body part, and sometimes centered around a particular activity. It is required in order for arousal, if not in reality, at least with mental stimulation. 

For example, a person with a “foot fetish” has a particularly high sexual interest in feet. In fact, someone with a foot fetish will likely need to involve feet in order to feel sexually aroused. A foot fetish can involve a variety of activities around feet, including foot worship, kissing or licking toes, high heels or shoe wear.



Kink & Fetish Variety

Feet aren’t the only fetish, there are a vast array of kinks and fetishes. It is like a kink cornucopia out there! For example, someone might have a kink that they want to be flogged or tied up. Another kink is enjoying being penetrated from behind while brushing your teeth. (Ok that one is mine).

Although a foot fetish is one of the more popular ones, there are a variety of other fetishes. Such as voyeurism (being aroused by watching others have sex IRL), trichophilia (sexual arousal from another person’s hair, like smelling, touching, or looking at it), or urophilia (sexual arousal to urine, which could include peeing on someone or being peed on).

There’s even a diaper fetish, where some people really are into diapers or underwear. I am personally fascinated by the “breeders” kink. Breeders are sexually aroused by the idea of impregnating or being impregnated.


Do I Have To Like All These?

No! If these descriptions are starting to make you feel weird, that is ok. There is a reason why some of these desires are considered unconventional.


While you don’t have to like them or want to try them, it’s important not to judge or shame people for liking them. “Kink shaming” is when someone shames another person for their particular kink. It’s very frowned upon in this community. 

The important distinction is that each person can decide what kinks and fetishes they have and want to pursue. So long as all activities are safe, sane, consensual, and legal. If they are, people should be free to express themselves.


Is It A Problem? 

As long as you practise your kinks and fetishes in a safe, sane, consensual way, absolutely not. There’s a misperception among “vanilla’s” as we kinksters loving like to call them, that people with fetishes or kinks are psychologically damaged or different than other people. That is not necessarily the case. For example, studies show people who practice BDSM have a higher level of socioeconomic functioning and emotional awareness compared to control groups.


In fact, I would venture to guess that most people have some fantasies or desires that include some “unconventional behavior” that could qualify as a kink. Again, if it is a fetish, it likely has come up by the time you are an adult, as the pull of the fetish is really strong.


Finding Your Own Kinks & Fetishes

I find that a “kink” or “fetish” is a feeling that comes from deep inside you. You can’t teach someone how to be kinky. Those desires are either inside a person or they aren’t. But, some desires just haven’t come out yet. Often, a person won’t know whether they are drawn to a kink or fetish until something comes up to trigger it. In other words, sometimes you don’t know if you like a kink until you try it.

For example, I was never interested in “waterworks” as I like to call it (someone peeing on you). However, when my Dom said he really wanted to do it, I decided to give some boundaries I felt comfortable with (ie, no peeing on certain parts of my body), and try it. To my surprise, there were elements that I really enjoyed that I didn’t predict I would. It’s not on the top shelf of my kinks, but I am so glad I had that experience and would do it again under the right circumstances.


If you are curious as to whether or not you have some kinks or fetishes, I would start by seeing what things might draw you in if you watch porn. What are your search terms? Then, if you find a particular activity enticing (ie, like Power Play or spanking), discuss it with your partner or a sexually open friend whom you trust to share. You can go through this questionnaire and explore some kinks there. A site that is popular for kinks and fetishes and I find a good place to learn is called “Fetlife”.

Explore with an open mind, and see what appeals to you. Maybe your (new/next) kink and/or fetish awaits!



Emily Anne is a bestselling author, sex coach and educator, who specializes in helping people expand their sexual horizons through BDSM and kink. When she’s not obsessively talking about sex, she’s hiking through the Hollywood Hills. Get some sexy education on her Instagram feed
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