If Sexual Fetishes are Ruining your Relationship

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Sex is not simply a physical act of release – there are a whole lot of other aspects to it like emotions, senses, hormones, perceptions and so on. Thus it is no wonder that different things turn on different individuals. However a specific turn-on this can go to an extreme and turn into a fetish with a potential for inducing sexual incompatibility and eventually a breakup. So if a sexual fetish is creating problems in your relationship, here are a few things you can do.

Know what it means

Before you accuse a partner of having a sexual fetish which you think is ruining your relationship, it is necessary to understand what the terms means exactly. This is for two reasons - firstly so that you do not mistakenly accuse anyone of a sexual fetish and secondly so that you can differentiate between a potentially harmful fetish and a mere sexual preference which is relatively harmless.

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The guide of psychologists, the DSM 1V, defines a fetish as a sexual attraction or response to a non living object. Examples of fetishes are such things as a male having a sexual response to women's shoes, stockings, panties, bras and other types of similar objects. For a variety of complex reasons, such a male individual experiences a type of sexual conflict in which his sexual urges and/or need to masturbate can only be aroused when the objects are present. Sometimes a sexual response to women’s feet or breast is also loosely described as a sexual fetish. More correctly though, a sexual response to a living part of the body is referred to as paraphillia. In this a man may have a strong sexual response only in relation to feet, breasts, arm pits and similar parts of the body. The major point here is that in case of both fetish and paraphilia, a subject simply needs the relevant object or body part to be present – the entire woman or the woman wearing the object of the fetish ceases to be important to the subject.

Is it potentially destructive?

It is not necessary that a partner with a fetish means the end of a relationship. In order to be potentially harmful to a relationship, a fetish must fulfill the following conditions:

It causes distress to the partner. If the partner of the man or woman with a fetish does not mind the sexual quirk of the latter and is comfortable satisfying the particular fetish of the subject, then there is no reason why the relationship should fail. For instance if a man has a fetish for stiletto heels and his partner likes wearing and parading them for him, the two can have a mutually fulfilling relationship. It is only when the fetish instigates the subject to inflict physical or mental harm to his partner then the relationship becomes shaky. This harm could be in the form of physical injury, getting hooked to pornography or engaging in infidelity as a way of satisfying this fetish through other women.
 

It is illegal. If the fetish is outlawed in the society, then it is sure to cause trouble not only to the relationship but to the subject as well. On the other hand there are fetishes like feathers or even smoking which are not illegal in a private context unless it involves danger to others and ropes in minors.
 

The individual with the fetish cannot function socially. This is a far more complex situation in that a subject with a fetish may not be causing distress to his partner or doing something illegal but if his social functioning impaired due to his sexual issues then his relationship is also likely to be doomed.


What can be done?

Now that you know what sexual fetishes are and how they can ruin a relationship, you are in a position to judge whether you need to take steps to address the issue. If you genuinely believe that the sexual fetish is ruining your relationship you can start by having a discussion on your respective sexual likes and dislikes. Before discussing the sexual fetish  with your partner, sit down in a calm frame of mind and get the facts right yourself. Think clearly whether you don’t like the very idea of participating in the fetish it or whether you find the act physically uncomfortable. Allow your partner some time to think about what you have said. Sexual communication is an ongoing process and it does not help to rush about someone. Make an effort to listen carefully to what your partner has to say and respond only when he/she has finished. Equally important is to respect difference in sexual interest – agree not to judge, belittle or otherwise laugh at each other’s sexual wants. Yet another important ground rule for having a discussion on sexual likes and dislikes is to be as specific as possible. Avoid making generalized or absolute statements like “you always do this” or “I can never agree to this” which are neither accurate nor helpful. Rather point out a specific aspect of a sexual act, here the fetish, which you find uncomfortable. On the other hand if you find your partner making vague or sweeping statements, ask specific questions to clarify the issue and find out the exact problem.

If you are the one with the fetish, you can take some steps to train your mind to stop feeling about an object or body part in a sexually charged way. While this may be easier said than done, certain techniques like meditation, keeping yourself busy, having a large social network may help. In an intimate setting, steel yourself to stop the habit completely, all at once. It doesn't mean you have to stay away from having intercourse completely, just from the fetish acts.  One crucial part of breaking the habit is making sure you stay away from all things that remind you of it. Purge your space of anything that reminds you of your fetish. If you've got a stiletto fetish, take out all your partners’ stilettos that you keep in your room and also get rid of pornographic materials like videos and magazines, since these can also remind you of your fetish.

Seek help

However if you have tried discussion with your partner or failed to get rid of the sexual fetish on your own, the only way left might be to see a counselor, preferably together. A counselor will listen carefully to the problem at hand and not only help your relationship to survive sexual incompatibility but also suggest the right treatment for the person suffering from the sexual fetish. This in turn will both help the subject to have a wholesome sexual life and make the relationship mutually satisfying as well.