What are Sexual Fetishes & Why Do People Have Them?

What Is a Sexual Fetish?

A sexual fetish is an unusually strong sexual attraction to an object, activity or body part.  Someone who has a sexual fetish will feel an intense sexual desire or need for their particular fetish. It’s important to recognize that sexual fetishes can be part of a healthy relationship. Fetishes are often shown in the media to go hand-in-hand with deviance or mental disorders. However, a sexual fetish is not considered a disorder on its own. However, it can develop into a disorder if it causes distress and endangers others.

Types of Sexual Fetishes

There are many different types of sexual fetishes. In fact, some people say that people can, and have, fetishize anything. Below, we will go over some of the most common categories and types of fetishes:

Body Part Fetishes

  • Foot fetish – By far one of the most well-known and popular sexual fetishes.
  • Plus Size fetish – Strong feelings of sexual desire focused on people who are overweight specifically because of their size.
  • Piercing/tattoo fetish

Clothing/Material Fetishes

  • Stocking/skirt fetish – The most common type of clothing fetish.
  • Footwear fetish – The most common type is towards high heels; the person could feel intense desire towards someone wearing them or towards the objects.
  • Underwear fetish – Could be caused by someone wearing it or the object itself.
  • Leather/rubber – The most common type of material fetish, it could be feeling a need to feel and wear it, or a need to see others wear it.

Activity Fetishes

  • Voyeurism – The desire to see others naked or watch them have sex.
  • Anal sex – Someone who has this fetish derives intense pleasure from participating in anal sex.
  • Role-playing – Someone with a role-playing fetish feels strong desire when they are pretending to be someone else, such as doctor-patient role-play.

What Makes Someone Have Sexual Fetishes?

As mentioned above, a sexual fetish alone is not an indicator of mental illness. So, why do people develop sexual fetishes? Unfortunately, we don’t have a definitive answer.  However, there are a few factors that may lead to someone developing a fetish. These include:

  • Sexual diversity – A large variety of sexual interests could lead to a variety in fetishes; there are also people who get more easily aroused, which could mean they are more open to develop a fetish.
  • Personality – A person’s personality could have an effect on the kind of fetish they develop.
  • Early sexual experiences – Because of the influential nature of teenagers and young adults, sexual experiences around puberty can lead to fetishes. If a certain object caused pleasure during one of these early experiences, it could become something that the person associates with sex.


Someone who has a sexual fetish feels strong, intense desire and need for a certain object/body part/activity. There are many different types of fetishes; likely too many to count. They generally tend to revolve around certain objects, body parts or activities. Some of the most common types are foot and footwear fetishes. Experts are not entirely sure why people have sexual fetishes, though they do have an idea of some things that might make it more likely someone will develop a fetish.  These include sexual diversity, personality and having sexual experiences around puberty.

Having a sexual fetish is not a bad thing and should not be alarming. People live happy, healthy lives and have healthy relationships with their fetish. It does not mean they are mentally disturbed or they are a sexual deviant. That being said, if a fetish is causing someone distress or endangering them or others around them, it is important that they seek professional help.

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