Are Kinks Hereditary? Unpacking Genetics and Fetishes

by Robyn Robyn
Are Kinks Hereditary

Sexual preferences and desires have long been a controversial topic. But, recently there has been a viral conversation (sparked by a TikTok video) about a very specific aspect of sexuality – are kinks hereditary? This has led to an avalanche in Google searches and discussions on every social media platform you can think of.

In this blog post, we will explore what started this conversation, what people are chiming in with, the latest scientific research on the topic, and what the experts are saying. So, buckle up and get ready to delve into the world of kinks and fetishes.

What’s the Difference?


First, for any of you vanilla people out there you might be wondering what the difference between a kink and a fetish is, a kink is a sexual interest that might be considered that doesn’t lay within the bounds of conventional sex. These can also include things that aren’t necessarily sexual – interesting yeah? Here’s a list of a bunch of them if you’re curious.

Meanwhile, a fetish would fall under the kink umbrella. It can also be used interchangeably with fetish sometimes – but that’s just a colloquial thing. But, in general, it’s a sexual attraction to a specific object situation non-genital body part that a person usually can’t get aroused without.  Fetishes also have a sensory component such as field taste smell or look that someone is drawn to.

 “All fetishes are kinks, but not all kinks are fetishes.”

Dr. Lehmiller

So for example, a kinky person could put on a pair of sexy shoes for playtime but a fetishist would absolutely need them in some way shape, or form. But please keep in mind this all comes in various degrees across the spectrum of how strongly someone needs a connection to an object  – but it is always a preference that is narrow and fixed.  As for interactions, sometimes just fantasizing is enough.

Are Kinks Hereditary? How Did This Conversation Explode?


Generally, people aren’t interested in reading about scientific developments in papers because they are the equivalent of Xanax. But if you see an interesting fact pop up on TikTok, especially if it makes you wonder if kinks are passed down from your grandparents, then yes, the conversation will turn into a tsunami of inquiring minds.

 But we can’t just go by one line of text on somebody’s video. Obviously, we actually have to look at what the experts have to say.

Let’s start with the fact that there’s not a lot of research out there on this topic. This isn’t surprising because most professionals have their nose to the grindstone to try and figure out larger problems – things like cancer, pollution, or whatever current crisis we’re dealing with.

What The Experts Are Saying


  • Psychologist Barbara Santini, a sex advisor says any studies in this area as extremely scarce and we cannot make definitive conclusions at this moment.
  • Emme Witt, a BDSM educator also agrees that there’s limited research that fetishes are inherited. However, for him, it’s not such a far-fetched idea. There’s already evidence saying that some people can develop Kinks very early in life

“I’ve spoken to quite a few people in the BDSM community who seem to have developed an interest in kink from a young age,” says Witt, adding that many of those folks report having early fantasies—though not necessarily sexual ones—about things that later evolved into kinks, such as being tied up. For example, “They watch a superhero movie and wish they were the victim instead of the hero, being kidnapped and bound in ropes.”

Emme Witt

That being said there is some limited evidence that genetics can be associated with certain personality traits and other conditions. This can in turn be connected to kinks and fetishes. But then we also have the undeniable media connection.

This really just means you don’t know about your freaky preference until you see it in porn, on television, in a movie, or in a book like – and I hate this example – Fifty Shades of Gray.

So while there isn’t any research to back up hereditary kinks there is a lot of documentation about traits running through families. So biologically are genetic factors in predispositions, unique brain chemistry, and the ways our body our bodies are laid out, there are lots of scientific connections that could be made for this idea.

One example in another article said that if you were born with incredibly sensitive nipples that could become a fetish for you and that physical trait could be hereditary.

Other Studies That Are Worth A Look


are kinks hereditary

Here is some fascinating information from an article from the University of Toronto’s newspaper.

“Anthropologist Katharine Gates theorizes that some fetishes are a result of simulation of the brain circuit involving smell and memory. Since the olfactory, memory, and emotion centers of the brain are tightly connected, a certain smell could become a trigger that connects with emotional contents and memories. This theory may explain air freshener fetishes, as well.” — thevarsity.ca

“Further, neuroscientist Vilayanaur Ramachandran provides a neurological explanation for foot fetishes. In the brain, sensory information from the feet is processed adjacent to sensory information from the genitals. In this regard, there may be some “neural crosstalk” between these two brain areas. Fetishization is less likely to occur for body parts whose cortical representations are far from that of the genitals”  — thevarsity.ca

Are Kinks Hereditary? Conclusion


I know we readers would like this answer wrapped up nicely in a box with a pretty little bow. But sadly there just isn’t enough evidence to really make that Tick Tock statement an absolute truth. Although it did probably get her a lot of views.

However, considering all the other things that are hereditary it wouldn’t be huge to imagine fetishes and kinks possibly being passed down through the generations – with a little bit of nurture as opposed to Nature thrown in there as well.

So if there are any Brilliant Minds out there with fancy scientific degrees who would like to take on this interesting sexual question, it’s right for the taking. Because I know there are plenty of people out there who would love to see the look on their parents’ faces when they say, “My vampire fetish is probably because of you Dad.”

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