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December 6, 2006

You want me to do what to your what?

So your new boyfriend has charmed your parents, won over your friends, and managed to stimulate you intellectually, emotionally, and physically. He is just perfect and you couldn’t be happier. That is until he asks you to change his diaper1 while dressed in a squirrel costume2. You thought you’d found the man of your dreams, but then the other shoe dropped. And it was a four-inch stiletto that he wears to stomp on cockroaches3.

When we come across that too-good-to-be-true perfect guy... the first thought that crosses our minds is “what’s wrong with him?” There has to be something wrong with him or he wouldn’t still be single, right? Well nobody is perfect and that includes us, so in this day and age we could all stand to be a bit more forgiving. It’s not about lowering your standards; so much as it is about having realistic standards. And finding a perfect Prince Charming caricature of a man isn’t realistic. The first question I might ask is “what’s wrong with him?” but the second question is “how can I learn to accept it?”

When “what’s wrong with him” takes the form of a paraphilia or sexual fetish it can be a little harder to accept. That’s not to say that there’s really anything wrong with it, but if it’s not mutual then it can definitely be a problem.

For those of you who aren’t scientifically-minded (like um, us) a paraphilia is an item or scenario that is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification (sometimes called a “sexual deviation” or “perversion”). A fetish is the use of a non-sexual object/body part to gain sexual excitement (for example: foot fetishism, leather fetishism, and yes, there’s actually such a thing as robot fetishism). The term “fetish” is often misused and is, in fact, just one type of many paraphilias.

We found a long list of paraphilias, many of which we never knew were common enough to require names. I wonder how many documented cases of Botulinonia (using a sausage as a dildo) were required before it made the list. If anyone out there has statistics on the frequency of sausage dildo usage, please let us know. We’re always looking for new business ventures and the sausage dildo industry might prove to be quite lucrative.

But I digress. Even though a lot of the names make them sound like infectious diseases (very unsexy), they’re not all so bad. Of course there are the dangerous and/or illegal ones that should be a red flag for most people, such as Necrophilia (sexual arousal from corpses). I think we can all agree that if your boyfriend is into screwing dead people, it’s not closed-minded to call him a freak and get the fuck out of there. But some of them – such as Choreophilia (sexual arousal from dancing) or Amaurophilia (sexual arousal from being blindfolded 4 or otherwise unable to see) – might actually be somewhat appealing to the average white-bread couple.

Then there are the fetishes that are somewhere in between… those that are harmless, but still not something you ever thought of trying. I mean, Oculolinctus (the act of licking someone's eyeball 5 may do nothing for you sexually, but is it a reason to end an otherwise great relationship? And what man wouldn’t be secretly relieved to find out his girlfriend is an Eproctophiliac (one who is aroused by farting)?

So the question is: In the case of innocuous (but perhaps unappetizing) sexual quirks, when do you try to be open-minded and embrace his or her desires… and where do you draw the line? Sometimes it’s a deal breaker, but if he just likes a healthy dose of kink once in a while, are you being closed-minded and selfish if you refuse to even try it?
“I’ve dated a guy who likes when a girl stands on his penis. It is a very clean kind of sex… often without the exchange of body fluids. I think a significant other should try to fulfill their mate’s fetishes, if they are getting something back too.” – S.G.

A Few Basic6 Things to Remember

There is a big difference between liking it and needing it.

“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of the stuff occasionally, but it became too much when he couldn't get off without it.” – S.D.
If he can’t get off without his dog licking his toes7 during sex but you’re allergic… then that’s a relationship that’s doomed to fail (unless of course he has one of those hypoallergenic breeds). There's nothing wrong with a little experimentation or a hearty imagination, but anything that restricts your sexuality that much can't be healthy.

When your sexual preferences are getting in the way of basic hygiene, it’s okay to be a little hesitant.

“I think food should stay in the kitchen.” – J.
One of our friends, age 30, said he indulged his girlfriend’s occasional food play8 but grew annoyed at the growing frequency (and um, stickiness). After an explosive fight over whether the honey bear should be kept on the nightstand or in the kitchen cabinet, he realized they might have a problem.

Opposites don't always attract. Or at least they shouldn't.

Once in a while there will be that perfectly compatible couple, such as the cliché pairing of the sadist and masochist (which gives us sadomasochism9 and BDSM). However, when views conflict too much, it can be a recipe for disaster.

I happen to have a semi-under-control case of hemaphobia10 (fear of blood). It’s a completely illogical fear (which is what makes it a phobia, technically speaking)11 but it’s not to a severe degree. Even though I can discuss and be in the presence of blood a little bit now, I’m still kind of ‘ick’ and also ‘eek’ about blood and anything related to blood (needles, blood-related diseases, okay I’m getting a little queasy so I’ll just leave it at that). I was reeeeeally disturbed when I discovered that a cute guy I met was intovampire fetishism12. Blood fetishist + hemaphobic = not a good match.

Some things are just too… icky.

"If you were interested in someone who was into peeing, I would tell you!" -- H.
Our friend, age 26, had a long term crush on a man who was later revealed to be into watersports14 (and I don't mean snorkleing!) Despite liking everything else about him, she just couldn't bring herself to pee on him. Even though she had no moral issues against it, she just couldn't get past the 'ick factor'. She was also pissed15 at everyone who knew and never told her. And apparently there were a lot of people who knew, which made it even less appealing to her. (I guess one thing worse than peeing on a guy, is someone else knowing you peed on a guy?)

But then again...

All that aside, I'm still a strong believer in the "don't knock it til you've tried it" school16 of thought. So my advice to anyone out there is this: Sometimes expanding your boundaries a little bit can make for some new pleasures you never realized you'd enjoy.

(Or not).


1. Diaper fetish: the desire to wear diapers (often associated with paraphilic infantilism, which is the desire to be treated as a helpless infant or “adult baby”).

2. Transformation fetish: sexual arousal by transformations, usually of people into other beings (furries are transformation fetishists who take on animal “personas”);
Zoophilia: emotional or sexual attraction to animals.

3. Crush fetish: the desire to see others crush inanimate objects or small creatures, such as bugs.

4. Just to avoid any confusion, amaurophilia is not usually associated with donkeys. That's a whole other thing.

5. That scared the hell out of me. Nothing scientific here, just terrified.

6. Basic... and completely arbitrary.

7. Shrimping:
the act of toe-sucking, usually for the purpose of sexual arousal (but is not some kind of shellfish fetish, see #8).

8. Sitophilia: sexual arousal from food.

Sadomasochism: the collective term for sadism (sexual arousal from giving pain) and masochism (sexual arousal from receiving pain/humiliation).

10.Each time I typed “hemaphobia”, the spell-check prompted me to correct it to “homophobia”. I just find that kind of funny. My computer thinks I'm afraid of gay people.

11. Phobia: a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation (despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous).

12. Blood fetish or haematophilia is the arousal by blood, sometimes including the sight of it, licking/drinking it (often through “love bites”).

13. There is no number 13. (Aren't you paying attention!?) Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number thirteen.

14. Urolagnia or urophilia: sexual arousal from urine (such as urinating on or being urinated on by other people; "golden showers").

15. Yeah, that's right. Pun intended. (Better that she be pissed off, than pissed on?)

16. Not to be confused with the School of Hard Knocks

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