"I would never date a fetishist. That stuff is sick!" Sadly, this is something people say far too often. The misguided idea is that if someone has a sexual interest or proclivity that we don't, that any thoughts of romance are doomed from the start. But does it really have to be that way? Probably not. Before we talk about this in earnest, let's define our terms.

Succinctly, a kink is when someone has a non-traditional sexual craving or ideation that enhances sexual pleasure or intimacy for them.

A fetish is when that thing is necessary to engage in fulfilling sex.

Open and Honest Communication Is a Must

Fantasizing about a kink is popular, if not universal. Many times, a kink is explored once or twice and then never again. A fetish is more likely to become a habit because the person may be unable to achieve arousal or climax without specific stimuli. For our purposes, we're talking about people who require some representation of their fetish in order to engage in enjoyable sex. Dating a fetishist requires plenty of open, honest, non-judgmental communication on both sides. If this already seems like too much for you, you probably shouldn't date a fetishist.

Fetishes vary widely. Each one has specific requirements that a partner will have to be aware of to make the relationship work. Let's look at some of the most common fetishes and what it might take to incorporate them into your bedroom activities. Note: I'll be using hetero-normative language for the sake of convenience. Fetishes know no gender. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list of fetishes.

Foot or Shoe Fetish

Foot fetishes are so common, they may not even qualify as unusual anymore. Foot fetishists may like to masturbate with or onto feet. Some like to have sex with open toed shoes. The sight - and often the smell - of feet is arousing to a foot fetishist. They may also want to photograph your feet or use photos of feet as sexual aids.

If you find yourself dating someone with this fetish, you'll want to be highly confident with your own feet. This may mean avoiding blisters and calluses or maybe eschewing restrictive or heavy footwear that might beat up your feet. Dating a foot fetishist may also necessitate regular pedicures. The good news? You'll also be in for foot rubs ... lots and lots of foot rubs.


Believe it or not, plenty of straight men are into cross-dressing. To deal with the emotional social stigma, some men prefer that they be "forced" into it by a dominant partner. Others are downright gleeful about doing it on their own. Cross-dressing can translate to a wide array of behaviors. It may take place only in the bedroom or it could be done out in public. Your cross-dressing fella may buy his own lingerie, hosiery, or other items for his own use. Or he may occasionally raid your closet and drawers (pun intended).

Navigating this fetish may require firm boundaries. For example, borrowing a dress might be fine, but stretching out an expensive bra may not. You may also need to discuss where and when dressing up is OK with you. Entertaining friends may be fine, but dinner with the parents may demand traditional attire.

Golden Showers or Scat

Urinating on a partner, or having your partner urinate on you is, in fact, a popular fetish. The brown stuff (scat) is less so, but fans still exist. These fetishes get into tricky territory. Unlike feet or cross-dressing, there are those who find urine and feces to be profoundly unsexy to an extent that no amount of communication will change. If this sounds like you, it's imperative that you be up front with your partner about this. Hopefully, you can discuss it in a way that's not shaming or judgmental.

If you decide to give bathroom fetishes like this a whirl, remember: safety first. Plastic or vinyl sheets can keep mattresses from being ruined. Better yet, try these activities in the shower (at home or a specialty motel - not a gym, rented hot tub, or the local pool, please).

Zoophilia and Furries

Sexual attraction to animals, or to the idea of having sex with animals, is more tricky territory. This fetish doesn't necessarily mean that a person literally wants to get their giggity on with a dog, horse, or other literal animal. So, it's important to talk with your partner frankly about what this fetish means to them and how they act on it. Furry refers specifically to people who dress up as animals (and may even self-identify as animals), or as a person who wants to engage in sex acts with those who do.

To say you'll need a love of animals to date a zoophile or furry is to oversimplify. You'll need an open mind, a vivid imagination, and probably a costume or two. These can be rented but if you're in it for the long haul, you might want to buy one or have one custom made. Sure, that's an investment, but it's an investment in a healthy sex life!

Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

There are people whose fetish involves either watching others have sex (voyeurism) or having sexy times in places where they are or could be viewed by others (exhibitionism). Obviously, legalities play a part here. You don't want to be peeping in the windows of strangers or having sex in a public park during the day. This fetish can be as mild as not wearing underwear under your skirt or as bold as sexual acts in a public place during business hours.

Like any other fetish play, discussing boundaries is critical. If you decide to partake, venturing outside your comfort zone may be in order. Caveats may include getting caught by strangers, seeing things you can't unsee, and getting arrested. This fetish may even get you on a sex offender registry if the indiscretion is serious enough, so proceed with caution.

You may be unsure of whether or not you want to invite a fetishist into your life. I'd argue that dismissing one as a potential partner without discussion means you could be cheating yourself out of a fun relationship with a fine person. Whatever you decide should be a choice based on information rather than presumption.