What’s the Difference Between a Kink and a Fetish?

What’s the Difference Between a Kink and a Fetish?

Nowadays, it seems like everybody with even a tiny proclivity for anything uses the terms "kink" and "fetish" carelessly.

After dating two tall guys in succession, someone can confess, "I guess I have a tall boy fetish."

After indulging in two dairy desserts, some would confess, "I have an ice cream kink for sure."

Unfortunately, as these terms have gained use, their meanings have become murkier.

For that reason, we created this dictionary of kinks and fetish terms. Read on for clarification on the differences between kinks and fetishes and tips on investigating possible kinks and fetishes.

What is a kink?

A kink is both stimulating and deviates from what society has defined as "normal" sexual behavior.

What constitutes a kink depends on what your social circle deems acceptable. Hence it depends heavily on many variables, such as:

Time social circle media exposure to your partner's sexual history as well as your sexual history (s)
An example of someone who would think of their pleasure of anal sex as an anal kink would be someone who mostly listens to country music, which doesn't include many languages about anal. On the other hand, someone who considers their love of anal to be a preference would consider "Truffle Butter" to be their favorite song.

To understand what someone means when they claim they are kinky, you would need to ask for clarification. Of course, you shouldn't pose a personal question to "just anybody."

The three kinks represented by the letters BDSM—dominance and submission, bondage, and sadomasochism—are perhaps the most prevalent.

Additional common kinks include:

  • virtual sex
  • orgasm control
  • age play
  • role play
  • bodily fluids

What is a fetish?

Fetish has a few recognized definitions. The definition of a fetish that is most often used is that it is anything that:

Falls outside of what society has traditionally seen as "normal" sexual behavior is appealing and must be present for someone to feel pleasure.
This concept essentially characterizes fetish as a sexual urge (while a kink is a sexual preference).

Less often now do sex educators identify fetishes as something that must be included in sex. A more recent definition describes fetishes as objects that are erotic superchargers.

For instance, a redhead fetishist may be able to engage in (and perhaps enjoy!) sex with a non-redhead. However, red hair is still unique and allows us to sense eroticism more strongly than when it isn't.

Typical fetishes include:

  • feet
  • latex
  • nylon
  • high heels
  • balloons
  • uniforms
  • suits
  • leather
  • piercing

How to tell the difference? 

There is overlap. Thus it might be difficult to tell the difference apart.

The contrast between a need (fetish) and a preference is sometimes used to describe it (kink).

A high-heel kink is when a person finds it enticing to wear high heels while engaging in sexual activity. However, a high-heel fetish is when someone NEEDS high heels worn during sex to be aroused.

The contrast between being especially aroused by a specific sex act, location, or sexual dynamic (kink), and is particularly aroused by a specific item, substance, or nongenital body part, is often used to describe it (fetish).

If you're attempting to identify whether something is a kink or a fetish, you may ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the source of my arousal a thing or an action?
  • Does it have to be there for me to feel aroused?
  • Can you have sex by yourself without this?


Is it OK if you relate to both?

Absolutely. You could have a fetish or kink. Or combinations of both. You may have one or more things that, on some days, feel like a kink and, on others, like a fetish.

They don't vary all that much. Exploring both requires being open to erotic adventure, being truthful about what you value and discovering a turn-on, sometimes overcoming guilt for being different, and being upfront with possible partners about the significance of these in your life and sexuality.

How to start?

Some people's obsessions and kinks are rather clear. For instance, you could realize you're interested in feet if, as a teenager, you can't help but notice everyone's feet in sandals and become quite sexually aroused just by looking at them.

Others, on the other hand, may find their kinks or fetishes by discovering new things, such as porn, movies, or a new partner who introduces them to something new. You may learn a lot about what you enjoy and dislike when trying something new.

These suggestions might be useful if you fall into the latter category and wish to learn more about your quirks and obsessions.

Take a BDSM quiz

You may learn more about the kinks that intrigue you by taking a free online test called the BDSM Test. It's an excellent place to begin.

Set up a "Yes-No-Maybe" list

A "Yes-No-Maybe" list may assist you in determining the things that excite your body by asking you to sort a variety of actions, arrangements, positions, and items into columns according to your interest in trying them out.

Online, several Yes-No-Maybe lists are available. But one with a bank at the bottom, like this one from Bex Talks, is excellent for determining your quirks and obsessions.

Sparks advises updating this list every few years and bringing it back.

Things and circumstances change, as with every human experience. Sometimes what once sparked your interest in your 20s loses its allure. But since humans are naturally curious, we look for new experiences as we learn more about our bodies and desires.

Visit fetish and kink communities online

The internet is full of options to learn more about your quirks and obsessions, from written erotica to video porn, online forums to chat platforms.

You may see your kinks in action by going to sites with porn kinks, such as Royal Fetish Films. FetLife, a fetish and kink social networking site, is another kink website. Numerous people that share your interests in learning, gaining experience, or mentoring may be found there.

Through these websites, you may read their testimonies and perhaps pose a quick query to the group moderators about your kinks or how they came to know about theirs.

Evaluate your own boundaries

You could better understand your sexual idiosyncrasies and obsessions by meditating on your comfort and discomfort zones.

As an example, you may have a wax kink. Nonetheless, you don't want it on your nipples.

By understanding your limitations, you can better determine what you're interested in researching and what you're not.

Some inquiries you may have for yourself are:

What areas of the body am I most at ease enjoying? What circumstances?
What topics do I like to explore alone vs. with a partner(s)?
To explore my sexuality in a manner that seems secure to me, what conditions must be met?

Learn more!

The specifics of what you'll discover will change depending on the particular "thing" you're interested in investigating. However, it is an absolute MUST.

Education must come before experience, particularly when it comes to activities that entail significant power struggles, physical suffering, forced servitude, or other potentially harmful activities. This information is crucial for maintaining the physical, emotional, and mental safety of both you and your partner(s).

He advises seeing a sex expert, such as a sex worker, sex educator, sex therapist, or sex hacker, for this learning.

What safety precautions should I take into account?

Risks associated with various sex practices vary.

Some activities, including impact play, may carry a larger physical risk than others.

Nevertheless, it's crucial to:

Learn about the possible dangers of engaging in certain sex practices so you can take steps to reduce those dangers.
Consider carefully who you explore those sex activities with.
A sex worker will have extensive expertise in all areas, making them a fantastic choice for first-time kink or fetish exploration.

Professionals may be so much more knowledgeable about different fetishes and so friendlier and simpler to interact with that it may be like a laboratory examining your sexuality.

She advises picking a partner with whom you feel comfortable conversing if you'd want to explore with someone else.

Even before engaging in various forms of sexual activity, you may tell whether someone is a good match by seeing how at ease they appear to be with sex, how straightforward they are to communicate with, and if they display judgment about other people's sexual preferences.

Additionally, choosing a partner who is typically aware of your body language (and vice versa) and is prepared to do the necessary research with you is preferable.

The Bottom Line

In the end, it doesn't really matter if your sexual interests fall under the kink, fetish, or neither category. It is, nevertheless, possible to discover what makes you happy in a manner that is enjoyable, secure, and free.