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Just a List of 26 Kinks, Fetishes, and Terms You Should Absolutely Know

Whether you realize it or not, kinks and fetishes play a pretty big role in mainstream sexuality. If Fifty Shades‘s “red room” didn’t cue you in, songs like Rihanna’s “S&M” and Netflix’s show Sex/Love are examples enough.

But before we dive into the specifics of what these look like, let’s break down what it means to have a kink or fetish.

According to Merriam Webster, a kink is “unconventional sexual taste or behavior.” In other words, this is anything that goes above and beyond strictly vanilla sex. It’s used to indicate something that gives you pleasure and isn’t a run-of-the-mill interaction sort of thing, says sex therapist Liz Powell, PhD.

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This could mean the thought of using handcuffs, trying a butt plug, and/or feeling a leather flogger on your booty turns you on.

Keep in mind that a kink is different than a fetish though. A fetish is “an extreme amount of interest in a person, a thing, or a non-sexual body part,” says sexuality professional and mental health clinician Shanae Adams. (Basically, a kink is something that turns you on whereas a fetish is something you need in order to get turned on.)

If someone has a foot fetish for example, it means that they would need to receive or give some sort of foot stimulation in order to experience an orgasm.

Now regardless of whether you have a kink, a fetish, a few sexual interests, or just prefer vanilla sex, the key element is the same: consent. As long as everything’s consensual, there’s really no right or wrong way to have sex. Especially since sexual interests vary from person to person and there are tons out there to learn about and explore.

So for your pleasure, here’s a list of the most common kinks, fetishes, and sexual terms to get well-acquainted with.

1. Role Play

Role-playing is one of the most common kinks and involves playing characters outside of your day-to-day lives, usually as part of a sex scene. This can range from tossing on a tie and pretending to be the boss of your partner, channeling your favorite TV character, or even creating a whole, character-filled scenario.

2. Objectification

Whether it’s a kink or a fetish, objectification means “arousal by being dehumanized,” explains Rogue. For example, someone who wants to be used as a sex doll or as a sex object would have an objectification kink (or fetish, if that’s the only way they can get off). It’s important to note this is different than an objectum kink or fetish. People with objectum fantasies have sexual relationships (or attraction to) inanimate objects.

3. Pregnancy Fetish

As the name suggests, a pregnancy fetish is having an intense sexual attraction to some or all aspects of pregnancy. For some people, it might be the round belly, whereas for other, it could be the lactation—whether it’s the actual act of breastfeeding or the milk itself—explains Adams.

4. Exhibitionism

In a sexual context, “exhibitionism is a sexual kink in which the person feels sexual arousal at the idea or reality of being seen naked or engaged in sexual activities by others,” clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon previously told Cosmopolitan. If you’re into the thought of someone watching you masturbate or change or get it on, this one’s for you.

5. Voyeurism

      Voyeurism is getting sexual excitement from watching others when they are naked or engaging in sex acts,” says Jill McDevitt, PhD, CalExotics sexologist. And while the pleasure is most commonly derived from watching others, the fetish could also include hearing others engage in sexual acts or even being told about other people’s sexual experiences.

      6. Foot Fetish

      According to Dr. Powell, foot fetishes are “shockingly common,” and usually seen in people with penises. People with foot fetishes may be submissives, meaning they have a desire to “worship” at someone’s feet through kissing and massage or by even giving a pedicure, Dr. Powell explains. Other people enjoy an aspect of humiliation and want to be stomped on or have smelly feet on their faces.

      7. Nylon Fetish

      Going hand-in-hand with foot fetishes, a nylon fetish is—you guessed it—someone who needs nylons to feel arousal. This could mean you like the look and feel of them or like touching someone’s legs in nylon stockings (or like to wear them yourself). Like with most fetishes, this could also be a kink if it’s something you don’t need, but kinda like. Either way, get yourself some stockings and get to playing.

      8. Breath Play

      Okay, so breath play refers to the BDSM practice of having your breathing restricted during sexual activity—but it’s not exactly safe (for obvious reasons). A healthier, better alternative: Holding your own breath. Not only do you get to experience breath play, but you’re completely in control of when you choose or not to breathe. The excitement of the action, plus the excitement of the power exchange, is a great alternative, suggests Good Vibrations sexologist Carol Queen, PhD.

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      9. BDSM

      BDSM is a catch-all acronym for several different aspects of the kink community,” Dr. Powell explains. “The B and D are for bondage and discipline, the D and S are for domination and submission, and the S and M are for sadism and masochism.” All BDSM involves a consensual power exchange, which means a submissive partner consents to letting the dominant power take control through various scenes.

      10. Scene or scene play

      A “scene” is a term for the time period in which the kinky play goes down. While you might refer to a night of sex as simply a hook-up, those within the kink community often referred to planned time with partners, in which they engage in their shared kinks, as “scenes.”

      11. Dominant and submissive

      A dominant is someone who enjoys dominating their partner through various kinky activities. These can be physical—like choking—or mental—like calling someone names. The submissive partner enjoys being dominated, and being the one who is consensually tied up, slapped, or humiliated.

      “Usually when we hear people use terms like ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’ to describe themselves, these are more identity-based than action-based,” Cameron Glover, sex educator and Sex Ed in Color podcast host, explains. “But these don’t have to be set in stone—there are people that use these terms interchangeably.”

      12. Switch

      A switch is someone, who as Glover mentions above, “switches” between dominant and submissive roles.

      13. Sadism and masochism

      A sadist is someone who (consensually) derives sexual pleasure out of inflicting physical pain or psychological humiliation on their partner. Masochism, or someone who identifies as a masochist, is someone who derives sexual pleasure out of receiving pain or humiliation. If this feels similar to the dominant and submissive dynamic, that’s because it is. But not all dominants identify as sadists, and the same goes for submissives and masochists.

      14. Golden showers and piss play

      Golden showers are a form of piss play (which, yes, is any play involving urine). Golden showers specifically refer to peeing on a partner, as Glover explains. “So beyond golden showers, piss play (also called ‘urophilia’) can include peeing on or in different body parts, clothes wetting, or making a partner hold in their pee as part of the scene play,” Glover says.

      15. Edge Play

      “Edge play in kink is any kind of activity that is further out there and considered more dangerous,” Dr. Powell says. What qualifies as edge play is different for everyone. It could mean anything that involves blood or breaking the skin with certain whips, and there are others who enjoy knife and needle play. For some, golden showers may be a regular part of their routine, but for others, that counts as edge play. Dr. Powell says that anything involving intense physical pain is typically considered edge play, but sometimes in kink, the most intense scenes involve only psychological edge play.

      16. RACK

      RACK is not a kink, even though it sounds like one. It stands for “risk aware consensual kink,” and is the most common guideline kinksters live by to make sure all parties are safe. There’s another acronym, SSC, which stands for safe, sane, and consensual, but RACK is used more commonly, since what’s considered “sane” varies so drastically from one person to the next.

      The idea of RACK is not that you find a way to eliminate all risks, but that you consider holistically all of the risks that might come up or be involved, Dr. Powell explains, and “then decide how you want to manage those and if that is a risk that feels good for you.”

      17. Erotic humiliation

      Like most kinks, erotic humiliation exists on a spectrum. It can mean a dominant partner consensually calling their submissive partner names like “slut” during sex. It can also be as extreme as someone being consensually “forced” to watch their partner have sex with someone else in front of them.

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      18. Cuckolding

      Cuckolding is a form of the aforementioned erotic humiliation of watching your partner have sex with someone else. And yes, it’s where the term “cuck” came from. A cuck is a submissive who identities as male and gets off on his partner having sex with someone else, usually a more “traditionally” masculine person. Sometimes the cuck will watch from the corner of the room. Sometimes the cuck will be verbally mocked for having a smaller penis while their partner has sex with someone else, and sometimes the cuck is forced to stay at home, getting off on the knowledge that their partner is out having sex with someone bigger and stronger than them.

      19. Aftercare

      Aftercare isn’t technically a kink, but it’s another word that anyone engaging in kinky play needs to know. It’s basically a fancy word for checking in with one another after a scene to make sure all parties feel happy and comfortable with what happened. “It can include cleaning up the space you were in, putting away any toys that were used, and checking in on each other’s mental space,” Dr. Powell says. If anything about the scene felt off or you didn’t like, it’s also a great time to discuss that and make sure the next time is better.

      20. CBT

      Most people hear “CBT” and think of cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of therapy that focuses on regulating emotional responses and developing helpful coping mechanisms. But in the world of kink, CBT refers to cock and ball torture. It’s fairly self-explanatory, and usually involves a dominatrix inflicting consensual pain on a submissive’s genitals: think stepping on testicles while wearing heels, punching and slapping the penis, or “forcing” penis-having submissives to wear an uncomfortable chastity device.

      21. Impact play

      Usually done by a dominant to a submissive, impact play refers to hitting or spanking a partner’s body. Spanking is a common form of impact play, and others enjoy using toys like crops, paddles, or whips. During impact play, To keep impact play safe and comfortable, most partners decide on a “safe word” to stop at any time, agree to only hit fatty areas (like the butt or thighs) to lessen pain, agree to be communicative about any discomfort or unwanted pain, and communicate during the scene to make sure the submissive is okay with the pain level.

      22. 24/7

      While people may generally identify as a submissive or dominant, some partners take it to the next level and enter a 24/7 arrangement, meaning that the consensual power exchange occurs full time, often while living together. The dominant and submissive roles are not only taken on for a scene, which may last just a few hours, but literally full time, on a 24/7 basis.

      23. Age play

      This is just a concise term for a form of role-playing in which two consenting adults enter a scene that involves taking on roles and ages that aren’t their own. This can simply mean a submissive enjoying a partner who takes care of them and who they call “mommy” or “daddy,” but it can go as far as playing an adult baby and indulging in diaper play.

      24. Rope bondage

      Rope bondage is when a partner (usually the “top” or dominant partner) restrains another (typically the submissive) using rope. It can be as simple as using rope to tie a partner’s arms together, or as intricate as shibari, which is a form of Japanese rope tying and involves intricate knots and patterns and is considered an art form.

      25. Fisting

      The act of inserting an entire hand, or fist, into a bodily orifice—like the vagina or rectum—is called fisting. Please use a lot of lube.

      26. Orgasm control

      A scene in which the submissive partner allows the dominant partner to decide when they get to come is a form of orgasm control. This could entail a penis-having sub wearing a chastity device, or a sub being restrained, brought to the brink of orgasm, at which point stimulation is stopped. The dominant may repeat for as long as the scene lasts. The latter is also referred to as “edging.”

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