Home KINK & BDSM Understanding BDSM Terminology – Fetish vs Kink

Understanding BDSM Terminology – Fetish vs Kink

by Robyn

This is a question I hear a lot – it’s also one that I’ve had personal bumps in hookups or relationships as a result of the terms being confused or not understood. If you’re more a vanilla person, this might not be something that you have to ever deal with, but if you’re looking to explore or spice up your sex life even a little, it’s important to know what’s going on.

First, the terms might have overlap in practice, but in meaning, they are totally different.

The difference is also simple enough…

“A kink becomes a fetish when it becomes the primary source of pleasure.”

WHAT IS A KINK?


A kink is something you like to do (or have done to you) during sex that is considered “unconventional”.

But let’s look at that last word – just like “beauty” it can mean different things for different people. For one person, getting into something other than missionary can be “dirty” while for a different person, leather, flogging, and bondage could be considered out of the ordinary to outsiders.

It really is subjective to people and cultures.

WHAT IS A FETISH?


One dictionary defines it as “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.”

I’m not sure I like the use of the word “abnormal” (remembering that everything is subjective), but let’s focus on two other words … linked gratification.

Fetishes are, in essence, something you NEED during sex in order to reach whatever peak you require (emotional, physical, etc.)

HOW DO THEY OVERLAP?


Absolutely – which is why there’s so much confusion around the term.

You can have someone who wants their partner to wear high heels during sex but also needs them in order to feel pleasure. They are a kinky fetishist.

But remember, fetishes aren’t always linked to sex items or sexualized body parts. Maybe someone MUST have eye contact to feel intimacy or arousal. Eye contact wouldn’t be considered a kink, but for some, it can be a fetish.

ARE THERE DANGERS?


Yes – but that’s with anything in life. Eating too much, or the wrong thing is also dangerous. If someone has a need for extreme violence, then it can totally become dangerous. Or, if someone has zero idea about BDSM, SSC rules, and/or uses the kink scene as an excuse to be an abuser.

CONFUSION


As I mentioned before, I’ve had my own personal hiccups with people who didn’t understand their own sexuality. One insisted he was a submissive who loved foot play, but upon meeting up and having a few light sessions, I noticed that he was entirely about feet … and for his own pleasure and wanted nothing to do with submission (at least not in the degree he had advertised).

It ended up more me serving him and getting nothing in return (as the earlier conversation had implied otherwise). He was there for his own orgasms. I suggested that he should change his online tag to “fetishist” instead. Sadly, I still see “submissive” next to his name in social media circles.

BE CLEAR AND UNASHAMED


My biggest advice, when it comes to using these terms on yourself … be honest about it. Don’t be ashamed that you have a fetish for legs or chocolate pudding. As long as play is safe, sane, and consensual, there’s nothing wrong with anyone’s desires. They are part of you and, therefore, valid and important.

What you should NOT do is claim to be something else because you think it will be easier to find play partners or find acceptance in whatever scene you find yourself. While BDSM “titles” are only guidelines, it’s still important to use the right ones so you can find compatible partners easier, have enjoyable play, and no one’s time is wasted.

Also, if you want more useful or interesting articles, you might like these…

Any more insights about kinks vs fetishes you want to add? Share in the comments!

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