Kink vs. fetish: what’s the difference? (Is there a difference?)

It’s 2022, which means people are all about learning how to get freaky in the sheets. One of the most commonly discussed topics around the bedroom is kinks. When people say they get “kinky,” it can range from anything like light spanking to something really wild. Most people assume that kinks and fetish play are the same thing, but are they? The answer might surprise you. 

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Whether or not kinks and fetishes are the same depends on the semantics you’re using.

In common language and casual chats, people use the word “kink” and “fetish” interchangeably. When people hear someone is kinky, they know it may involve something that’s a little racy—maybe flogging, maybe bondage, or maybe even something like swinging. 

However, things change when you’re talking about the psychological aspect of sex. Therein lies the nuance that people often forget about or don’t even realize exists: Medically, a kink is just a kink, while a fetish is considered a paraphilia.

What’s the difference between a kink and a fetish?

A kink is something you enjoy casually that doesn’t cause harm to your life or the lives of others around you. Kinks are definitely more of an optional addition to your bedroom behavior as well--  If you're into it, great, but if not, it isn't critical to satisfying sex life. These are things that people do in a safe, sane, and consensual manner. 

The same cannot be said about the connotations of a fetish. To many psychologists, fetishism tends to connote a paraphilia or fetishistic disorder. A paraphilia basically means a sexual craving outside the norm. In other words, when paraphilia becomes disruptive, it becomes a fetishistic disorder. 

Still, the word fetish exists primarily as a medical term, while kink" is not a medical term nor is it a term that psychologists will use in a diagnosis (unless they are describing the kink community and an event that happened there). Kink is more of a social term than anything else.

What is Fetishistic Disorder?

Fetishistic disorder is a legitimate medical diagnosis involving sexual attraction to objects, body parts, or similar things that cause severe disruption in one’s life. It’s not a normal kink: It’s one that has, for lack of a better term, “taken a life of its own.”

People who have a medically-defined fetish disorder don’t enjoy the fact that they’re into what they’re into. Their fetishes cause serious damage, such as:

  • Obsessive thoughts about the fetish in question. Some won’t be able to get aroused or even connect with people without this fetish. 
  • Significant distress is caused to people around them. This would include things like having a fetish for cheating on your wife with women who wear leather or being unable to find people attractive if they don’t have a certain type of hair.
  • Being unable to keep a job, continue going to school, or socialize normally. Many people who are on the sex offender registry have this disorder—and their offenses were a result of it. 

    Should you be worried if you have a kink or a fetish?

    Most of the time, a kink or a fetish will not be a big problem. As long as it’s not a serious issue in your relationship or your job, there is no reason to feel worried or shame over it. Most people have at least one or two kinks that they enjoy doing while they’re in the bedroom.

    Kinks are actually fairly commonplace, and it’s something that can seriously spice up your bedroom life.

    If you have a kink, there’s nothing wrong with giving certain fantasies a try. The truth is that kinks can provide a wonderful way to grow closer to your partner and also boost your thrills in the bedroom. 

    Not sure if you are ready to make the leap from “vanilla” to kinky? Bido can help you get in the mood and relax into the world of sensuality. If you are nervous about getting into kink, having a boost of vitamins and aminos can help. Give Bido a shot!