How to talk to your partner about kinks and fetishes
Talking to your partner about your kinks and fetishes can be scary! This blogpost covers: What are kinks & fetishes, what’s the difference, how do I talk to my partner about my desires, how do I identify my kink or fetish plus an ABC glossary of popular kinks & fetishes.
So you want to talk to your partner about a kink or fetish?
Whether a new partner, long term relationship or anything in between, relationships are seasonal. Particularly in the bedroom.
We begin with the honeymoon phase but soon simmer down to a routine that can often become monotonous.
Or you haven’t found the right moment to tell your partner about your desires.
Or perhaps you’ve only just discovered them for yourself.
Or maybe you and your partner would both like to try something new.
Whatever the reason, there are two people (sometimes more) involved and hence communication is essential.
This is your guide on how to navigate kinky waters and expand your horizons with your partner.
What are kinks and fetishes?
Without delving into the full explanation I firstly want to say that all people have kinks and fetishes no matter how experienced or not, known or yet to be discovered, living openly or for themself and whether ashamed or proud.
At the end of the day, kinks and fetishes are descriptions for what turns you on sexually.
I would like to mention the fact that when people hear kink or fetish they immediately jump to wild BDSM sessions. But did you know, soft fetish is the excitement for soft materials. And I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t say that’s crazy or wild… I love me some soft material on my body.
So let’s take a look at
the meaning of kink/fetish
how to figure yours out
how to talk to your partner about it and finish off with
an ABC of different kinks and fetishes.
What’s the difference between a fetish and a kink?
Originally, most medical sources defined fetishism as a sexual interest in non-living objects, body parts or secretions. *
Fetish: a sexual need.
Kink: a sexual preference.
A kink is normally something considered “not the sexual norm” (The term derives from the idea of a “bend” (a “kink”) in one’s sexual behaviour).
A fetish is something that is neccessary for the person to become aroused.
Kink sexual practices go beyond what are considered conventional sexual practices as a means of heightening the intimacy between sexual partners. Some draw a distinction between kink and fetishism, defining the former as enhancing partner intimacy, and the latter as replacing it.*
Facts and Statistics
“According to a new survey from erotic retailer Ann Summers, of 2,300 people living in the UK and the amount of the kink-lovers may surprise you. According to the survey, 75 percent of people have a fetish— at least one.“
“Fifty-four percent said they acted out more than one at a time.”
Yet 61 percent of those asked felt uncomfortable talking about it.
So it seems we all have some brewing inside us, we just have to discover them (more of this at the end!)
A few messages for you
- Accept that it’s a natural part of your sexual desires.
- Fetishes and kinks are normal ergo you are normal.
- Take precautions to protect yourself and others from STIs.
- Avoid isolation. If your partner is not accepting, find like-minded others (online communities or munches). See the resources below.
- Don’t be ashamed.
- Never force your fetish on anyone else.
- You are not entitled to practice your kink with everyone you meet.
- If you and your partner are uncomfortable talking about your fetish, consider counseling from a sex-positive therapist.
- Should you feel uncomfortable about your fetish, also seek out a therapist.
Fetishes and kink are normal and natural parts of your sexual desires.
Ergo, you are normal!
When to talk to your partner about your kinks & fetishes
Give them forewarning so they know what to expect and aren’t completely blown out of the water. IE “I’d like to talk to you about something that’s important to me and my sexual relationship to you.”
There is no perfect time (day, night etc.) but you can make sure you are both in the right headspace for it (right before bed is perhaps suboptimal if it does take a nosedive).
Be sure both of your basic needs are met before:
- Have you had a wee?
- Are you thirsty? Hungry?
- Is your emotional state right for this talk?
- Can you assure there will be no interruptions?
Having said all that, sometimes you can also just ask what turns them on while sat on the couch. Out of the blue. Either the conversation will take the right direction or you can just withhold what you would like to tell them and try again another time.
How do I prepare to talk to my partner about my fantasies?
- Practise the conversation to anticipate what your partner might say.
- Information!! Information!! Information!!
Know what you’re talking about. If you approach your partner with semi-correct information and insecurities they may be hesitant in asking questions. And you want them to ask questions!!
Perhaps you want to prepare some information to show/read to them (excerpts to better describe what you’re saying, videos to demonstrate etc.). I’m not saying go full powerpoint presentation with them but sometimes words don’t explain as much as pictures can.
- Personal feelings of shame or internal struggles:
please be sure to speak to someone if you yourself are having difficulties accepting this part of yourself. Internalised sexual shame can be debilitating when trying to live full versions of ourselves.
Talking about this with your partner will be healthier than keeping it locked up, which will inevitably lead to bigger problems in the long run.
What if my partner thinks I’m crazy/disgusting etc.?
Be aware that their past may attribute negative associations to your desire and this is perhaps not their fault but due to social configurations and beliefs in their family or circle of friends.
It may take time to adjust to the idea: information is key here!
Also, be sure to evaluate the situation for yourself. If they are unable to accept this integral part of you and your personality then perhaps it’s time to move on.
How do I tell my partner I am not sexually satisfied?
Don’t say “I’m not sexually satisfied!”: this should be a no-brainer but don’t slate your partner’s contribution to your sex life. You want to ADD a level, not squash what you already have.
Use positive affirmations: “I love our sex life, I want to try some other things too if you would like to talk about it?” and involve them: “Is there something you would like to try?”
There’s no I in team | pleasure for all:
you are on the same page!
These should be your mottos to keep in mind.
It’s not about you pushing your kink on your partner.
It’s about voicing your desires.
You both want pleasure at the end of the day and if you are willing to meet in the middle, then you’ll both get your happy ending!
Characteristics of a good conversation:
Here are a few pointers in how to lead a fruitful and mutually beneficial conversation. This is especially relevant when talking about such a sensitive subject.
- It’s a two way road:
be sure to be just as open to their possible revelations.
- Listen and be listened to:
take time to really hear their feelings and vice versa.
- No judgement or shame:
kink shaming is real and it’s horrible. We are all adults with needs and wants and desires. If you feel you are not comfortable, say it. But never shame a person for their desires and feelings. If you must, move on.
- Express yourself openly and honestly:
Use “I” statements to describe your feelings. Tell them how it would make you feel. Take a breath before you respond, particularly if it evokes big emotions in you.
- Don’t rush!
If the first conversation is difficult, don’t show frustration. Perhaps your partner needs some time to think about how they feel. Maybe they are too ashamed to admit they might like it too. Give them space and ask to find another time to approach the topic again.
- Check understanding:
if your partner has not said much or replied, either you really have stumped them or they haven’t understood. Be sure to ask them if they understand.
- Be vulnerable!
Show your partner how it makes you feel. The more they understand you, the more you can connect.
- Deep breaths:
it can be incredibly daunting and embarrassing coming out with one’s kink or fetish and we can quickly get caught in wonderfully British, Bridget-Jones-like enunciation, pronunciation and sentence structure (think “I, erm, would you, uh. I’d really like it if, er, can I do you up the bum? Yeah, er, thanks. What do you think?”). I reckon we’ll all agree that’s not the style we want to go for so perhaps try writing the sentences down if you struggle with nerves. Or deep breaths!
Sex is a conversation, not a monologue.
What’s the next step if my partner is interested in exploring my kink and/or fetish?
Congratulations! What a wonderful new world you can now explore.
Firstly, you want to make sure you are both on the same page before you enter the sessions. Perhaps you want to inform yourselves together (read further below my diverse sources of information available to you).
Secondly, perhaps plan a little date. It might be daunting for both of you so ensure your intimacy is at peak level and you are both comfortable and relaxed.
Thirdly, communicate! Ask questions, watch their body language, take your time! They might change their mind in the middle of it or feel uncomfortable. Stay aware and empathetic.
There is no “good” sex, only your sex.
Fourth, giggle! It’s never meant to be dead serious (unless you’re into BDSM but see my additional info regarding BDSM RACK & SSC). Stay light-hearted so you are both at ease to speak your mind.
Finally: thank your partner for sharing this experience with you. Not just the session itself but the conversation and trust. Talking about your kinks and fetishes was just the beginning.
Tips for safe and happy BDSM
(or other kinky, consensual) sex
Risk Aware Consensual Kink, describes a philosophical view that is generally permissive of certain risky sexual behaviors, as long as the participants are fully aware of the risks.
A credo used by some BDSM practitioners to determine the appropriateness of BDSM play which focuses on making sure that everything is based on safe activities, that all participants are of sufficiently sound mind to consent, and that all participants do consent.
The practice of BDSM is under the umbrella of “hurt not harm” so it is essential to have a safeword to signal stop/no when it becomes harmful (if the partner is not aware). This should be something other than no/stop and perhaps rather random (like flamingo or puddle). Some like to use a traffic light system: Green means “Go ahead,” yellow means “Proceed but with caution” and red means “Stop.” Source: Bad Girls Bible
Be ok with someone saying no:
I’m not just talking about “no means no”, I’m saying for you both to be able to say no without hard feelings or shame/judgement.
Never with drugs/alcohol (under the influence):
Because kinks and fetishes often use a form of pain or objects etc. it is crucial you are both sober, aware and conscious of how your partner is feeling.
Orgasm isn’t always the goal:
Don’t be too focussed on orgasms (like, ever). Especially when exploring something new we can get too carried away with reaching a goal. It is about exploring and figuring out what you like and less achieving orgasm!
Talk to each other afterwards. Discuss what made you feel good but also what you didn’t like or made you feel uncomfortable. More aftercare tips on my anal sex guide (check the table of contents).
Kink & fetish resources for you to explore
a quick google search will give you results. Examples are: Fetish.com or KinkTalk
Exploring BDSM: A Workbook for Couples (or More!) Discovering Kink is a good place to start and here is an abundance more from goop (Books about Sex and Intimacy)
this may be a german webpage but it gives you all the Instagram handles – Deviance Top Influencer
Fetlife (the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community) & Deviance (The get-to-know-you platform for BDSM and fetish enthusiasts in Germany)
- SEX SHOPS:
do a quick google search on maps 😉
The Story of O. (Just Jaeckin) and Steven Shaineberg’s Secretary give you a good insight to BDSM: the fantasies related to submission and domination. Otherwise the classics: the secretary, eyes wide shut, nymphomaniac and here are some more: IMDB
there are numerous publications with diverse interests covered. Some PVC, latex ones are AtomAge, Dressing for Pleasure, Marquis, «O», Shiny International, and Skin Two.
such as Coupleness, Kindu or Coral aim to improve intimacy and communication. Here is a list of free ones to try: Frugal Confessions
Tools and aids to facilitate the conversation and exploration
a favourite of mine “KnK Play Games create a safe environment to explore your fantasies, discover each other’s kinks and turn-ons, and build your ideal sex play scenarios. It’s a simple yet playful way to get you engaged and introduce the art of sexual power play into your intimate life.“
More infos about this in my libido in long-term relationships blogpost here.
Listening to sexy stories might awaken kinks, desires and fantasies in your partner too. So head on over to my short stories (or check out CHEEX down below).
this is a beautiful list for you to complete (both of you) to make you think about what you enjoy and then share it with each other.
If two intelligent, loving and happily married people couldn't be honest with each other about their most hidden sexual desires, then who could?”
― Nikki Sex
watching something saucy together is a wonderful way to learn and become more comfortable talking about all things sex.
There are also platforms that include workshops; getcheex.com for example.
CHEEX is a sexual wellness platform that offers inspiring and educational erotic content in video, audio, and blog format.
All the elements that make pornography off-putting for many: ads, banners, and personals are not there! The brand presence is confident, sex positive and fresh, without having to use common clichés.
Additionally, every two weeks they have Workshops! From current workshops such as How to eat Pussy to How to striptease – they are incredible!
If you sign up for the annual subscription with my code PLEASEPINCHMEHARD (118.80 EUR per year / 9.90 EUR per month) you’ll get a 14 day trial period (during which you can cancel anytime).
If ever there was a time to freshen up our self-love rituals and bedroom action it is now!
… and finally:
A short guide on how to identify a kink or fetish
… if you haven’t already!
Often considered obscene and instantly tainted with the stigma of porn, dirty talk can actually be a wonderful facilitator to explore our deepest desires. Check out our extensive article on this: How to talk dirty without embarrassing yourself
Questions, questions, questions: what do you really like?
I’m such a fan of asking questions. Ask yourself questions
If you feel you’ve not really found your kink or fetish yet here are some questions to ask yourself (and your partner). Here’s a great worksheet for you: by @stellaerotica
By reading about different kinks and fetishes and browsing forums or going in sex toy / fetish shops you will get a good feel for it and maybe one will spark your fancy!
“Repress the natural and it comes back even stronger: not everyone can be a fetishist” ― Philippe Lejeune
There are many daunting steps in all of this: recognizing you have a kink, dealing with it internally, feeling brave enough to share it with your partner, finding others who share this kink and so many more emotional challenges!
But just know, there are so many likeminded people out there, you are not alone! Reach out and talk to us all. We’re here to help!
How to talk to your partner about kinks and fetishes is just the beginning of your wonderful empowering sexual journey!
ABC Glossary of common kinks you should know about
Age play: is a form of roleplaying in which an individual acts or treats another as if they were a different age.
Anal play: or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person’s anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure.
Bondage (incl. Japanese bondage: Shibari): is the use of restraints for the sexual pleasure of the parties involved.
Crossdressing: is the act of wearing items of clothing not commonly associated with one’s sex. See also fetish fashion.
Cuckolding: is a fetish or kink in which a person gets turned on by their partner having sex with someone else.
Femdom: The word comes from the ingenious merge of the word female and domination.
Fetish fashion: is any style or appearance in the form of a type of clothing or accessory, created to be extreme or provocative in a fetishistic manner. This can be latex, leather, PVC, footwear, underwear (including swimwear), nylons, uniforms, heels, corsets, collars, catsuits, crotchless underwear, diapers, garters, locks, rings, zippers, eyewear, handcuffs, and stylized costumes based on more traditional outfits (see also crossdressing).
Food play: is the act of bringing foods into the bedroom that can elevate your senses and heighten your arousal.
Foot fetish: is a pronounced sexual interest in feet.
Gagging: can refer to lightly choking on an object (like a penis) or being choked slightly by the hand of your partner. Another form of gagging is using a ball gag to gag somebody so they can no longer speak.
Humiliation: Erotic humiliation is the consensual use of psychological humiliation in a sexual context, whereby one person gains arousal or erotic excitement from the mixed and powerful emotions of being humiliated and demeaned.
Impact Play: Part of sensation play, dealing with impacts such as those from whips, riding crops, paddles, floggers, etc.
Nipple Play: is the practice of touching, rubbing, or sucking on nipples during sex. It can lead to a nipple orgasm.
Objectum sexuality: the attraction to inanimate objects: also know as sexual fetishism or more specific paraphilias.
Pet Play: is a BDSM kink where people act like an animal. The submissive is generally the animal while the dominant one is called a Trainer or Owner.
Submission/Domination: (also called D/s) is a set of behaviours, customs, and rituals involving the submission of one person to another in an erotic episode or lifestyle. It is a subset of BDSM.
Discipline: is the practice in which the dominant sets rules which the submissive is expected to obey. When rules of expected behaviour are broken, punishment is often used as a means of disciplining.
Role-Play: may involve a fantasy based on any social role and could incorporate any kind of sexual fetish desired by the participants. Besides the usual such as Doctor/Patient · Boss/Secretary etc there is also more unusual Roleplay Fetishes include Slave/Master · Animal/Owner or handler · Gender reversal · Ageplay
Sensation play: is a class of activities meant to impart physical sensations upon a partner, as opposed to mental forms of erotic play. It can include impact (spanking or striking with an implement), pressure, pain, temperature, restraint, scent, taste, sight, and sound.
Paraphilias: are persistent and recurrent sexual interests, urges, fantasies, or behaviors of marked intensity involving objects, activities, or even situations that are atypical in nature. Some examples are Klismaphilia (Enemas, arousal and enjoyment in receiving, administering, or both), Quirofilia (A specific fetish for hands), Urophilia (or Urolagnia: watersports, golden showers, wee play.)
Voyeurism: the practice of gaining sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.
Wax play: is a form of temperature play, in which wax from a candle is dripped onto a person’s naked skin, in order to introduce a slight burning sensation to the skin. This is considered a moderately advanced form of play.
For a full list, check out this webpage (it’s got many kinks with a lovely short abbreviation): BadGirlsBible