What is a Fetish? and Other Kink Questions

These fetish definitions and commonly asked questions should give you a better understanding of sexual fetishism.

And perhaps we can settle the Kink vs Fetish debate as well.

What is a Fetish?

Sexual fetishism is a form of paraphilia.


Simply put, paraphilia refers to unusual sexual interests. This includes sexual arousal to atypical objects, activities, fantasies, situations, and body parts.

Paraphilia can be further defined as recurrent and intense sexual urges and fantasies, often to the point where sexual gratification isn’t possible without the object or behavior.


In technical terms, fetishism is sexual arousal to an object or non-genital body part, and falls within paraphilia.

Erotic fetishism can range from something being considered an arousal aid, to a medical disorder.

Medically, the term is restricted to objects and body parts, but more generally it is used to also include fixation with specific behaviours and situations.

Want an example? I’ll give you 120:

Big List of Fetishes: ALL the Kinks

What is Kink?

The definition of kink is much more broad. Kink generally refers to non-normative, or unconventional sexual practices and fantasies, and is considered by many as a playful means of increasing intimacy between partners.

What is or is not considered kinky can vary widely.

As a noun, the term is sometimes used interchangeably with fetishism.

fetish vs kink
Do you indulge your partner’s fetish?

Is Sexual Fetishism a Disorder?

A fetishist need only consider their kink a disorder if it disrupts their functioning and negatively affects important aspects of their life, or causes them psychological distress.

The listing of fetishes and other paraphilias in diagnostic manuals has changed over the years, and their classification as disorder in the first place is not without debate.

Read: How to Know if Your Fetish Is Unhealthy

What Causes Fetishes?

There really isn’t any consensus on the cause of fetishism.

Explanations and theories abound, from classical conditioning, to childhood imprinting, to neurological differences. Most likely the cause of a person’s fetish is due to one or more of these in conjunction.

Every fetishist is different and there is no single reason for development of a fetish that applies to everyone.

If you enjoy your fetish, are not harming anyone, and are not distressed by it – by all means continue and enjoy.

For some the biggest difficulty with having a fetish is finding a partner who will either indulge your kink, or better yet embrace it fully.

To meet like-minded fetish lovers online see our article:

Best Fetish Dating Sites for Every Kink