10 Common Kinks & Fetishes (& What They Mean)

man wearing red sexy fluffy handcuffs in her wrists

Ever wondered if you’re kinkier than you realize?

There’s a good chance you are. One-third of American men say they’re more sexually experimental now than they were pre-Covid. Thirty six percent of Americans say they have a secret kink or fetish. And nearly two thirds of women 60+ say intercourse isn’t even necessary for a satisfying sexual experience. Are we getting more creative in bed? 

It appears that we are. As society gets more sexually liberated, our progress shows up in the bedroom. When we feel permission to explore unique sexual acts, we get more curious about our individual turn ons – and word spreads about sexual acts that are fun to try. Enter kinks…as well as fetishes.

You can think of kinks and fetishes as two points on a spectrum. A kink boosts arousal, while a fetish is integral to arousal. Take feet (as a very common example): if you’ve got a foot kink, you might feel a charge when your lover takes off their shoes. But if you’ve got a foot fetish, feet must be present and sexualized (whatever that looks like to you) to get turned on. 

So let’s take a look at 10 common kinks and fetishes, and what they mean. Because if you’ve ever wondered “is anyone else into that?” rest assured – the answer’s yes. 

1. Age Gap 

As with most kinks and fetishes, there’s a whole world of sexual play here…and you may have done it already. Calling someone “baby” in bed, for example. After that, DDLG, or daddy Dom little girl, is probably the most common form of this kink. The dominant partner, aka “Daddy,” calls the shots while the “little girl” (or “baby” or “good girl” or “good boy” – it needn’t be gendered) is submissive…and perhaps bratty. On the more extreme end is diaper play, where a partner dresses up like a baby and is regarded as such. If everyone is into it, it’s totally OK. 

2. Pain Play 

Whether it’s fingernails on the back, spanking, temperature play or even whipping and flogging, pain play is super common (and beloved). The reason? It lights up your nervous system for arousal. If you enjoy this kink/fetish, communication and trust are obviously crucial. I’d argue that trust and direct communication deepens enjoyment, because the person providing the pain is checking in – and consideration is always sexy. 

3. Discipline

Putting the “D” in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism), discipline in sex is highly subjective. It can look like “don’t come until I say so,” it can look like pinning your partner’s wrists down to restrain their movements, or it could involve a system of rewards and punishments. And it’s popular for a reason: when one partner provides the structure, the other partner is free to let go. 

4. Voyeurism 

Watching people have sex: a kink as old as time. On the lite end we’ve got porn-viewing, and on the deeper end we’ve got cuckolding, which may involve watching your partner have sex with someone else…or seeing photos, or hearing about it later on. Again, if everyone’s consented, watching others have sex is completely alright. 

5. Exhibitionism

The flip side of voyeurism is exhibitionism, where you’re the one people are looking at. Exhibitionism has all kinds of iterations, from french kiss PDA to cam girl/boy set-ups – as well as group sex, and sex in public. The appeal is multifaceted, whether it’s the thrill of getting caught in the act, feeling like an object of lust and desire, or enjoying total liberation with your body. 

6. Bondage

If you like feeling helpless in bed, you may have a bondage kink or fetish. But like everything on this list, bondage can be expressed in different ways. It can look wrist or ankle restraints, leg spreaders, or a yoke restraint across someone’s back and shoulders. The appeal here is the feeling that you can’t: you can’t touch them back, you can’t use a part of your body, you can’t dictate the next move. And for a lot of us, that’s very exciting.  

7. Tickling

Tickling triggers a fear response, and that’s evolutionary. When we’re aware of something crawling on our skin, we jump to brush it off – and thus, the psychological link between tickles and caution. But for some people, tickling is highly pleasurable, likely for the same reason consensual pain is: it’s incredibly arousing

8. Body Odor

Does your lover’s BO turn you on? From ye olde t-shirt test to TikTok-approved horniness, tons of us love smelling our partner’s natural scent. And turns out, we might even have a higher sex drive

9. Wearing Clothes During Sex

The technical term is “endytophilia,” and although it’s a fancy word, its expression is mainstream. The urge to have sex with just your pants pulled down or skirt hiked up? How about stockings and thigh highs – a staple of Big Lingerie? The suggestive nature of clothes during sex, like you just couldn’t wait to do it or you’re transgressing the rules of polite, clothed society, is potent.  

10. Giantess

Now we have one of the most interesting kinks/fetishes to emerge from 2023, and it’s the giantess: images and videos online of giant women towering over mere mortals (typically men). On track to reach 1 billion views on TikTok, the tag #giantess isn’t just a social media trend, it’s a real desire. According to Clips4Sale, an online kink and fetish content distributor, giantess became the #1 fetish search term globally in 2023, and the third-highest grossing category among content sold. In fact, it’s been on a steady rise since 2017. 

How about you? Do the kinks and fetishes on this list get your imagination going? I’d love to hear what’s boosting your arousal these days. Come find me on Instagram @sexwithemily, and let’s talk. 

Want more? Sign up for my newsletter and get sex secrets on the regular.