Everyone has a thing. I want to get that out there before we go any further. Everyone, in bed our out, has a thing they like to do that maybe isn’t a thing a whole bunch of other people like to do. Or maybe a bunch of people like to do it but it isn’t “normal” or something like that. But at some point you will need to reveal this thing to another person. I mean, you don’t need to; you could hide it forever and become overwhelmed by anxiety and then start expressing yourself in dangerous and destructive ways. But that’s not very nice, is it? No, let’s tell someone.
As with most practices of etiquette (and this is one!), it’s all about making other people feel comfortable while at the same time not sacrificing your own needs. Just as there’s a way to ensure a guest will RSVP or a way to properly thank someone for a gift, there’s a way to reveal your innermost desires in a way that makes your partner feel safe and trusted.
When to Bring It Up
The trick of when to reveal a fetish is weighing the “normalcy” (I really hate that term but can we just go with it? And you can all know that I don’t want to shame anyone? Ok.) of what you want to do against how necessary it is for you to indulge in it. It looks something like this.
Generally, the closer to blue, the earlier you want to mention it, and the closer to orange, the later you can wait. Let’s go through four hypothetical scenarios to illustrate this a bit more.
Common and Unnecessary: This is where your fetish is something that’s known to the general “vanilla” (ugh, that term) world, and is not something you need to indulge in all the time. For instance, if you enjoy getting blindfolded, but you don’t need it to enjoy yourself, this is your category. This can really be brought up as early or as late in the sexual relationship as you want, depending on the others involved and your comfort with them.
Common and Necessary: This is where you have a similar fetish as above, but you need it to happen often or every time. If you need to use a vibrator every time you have sex, this should be talked about earlier, ideally before you have sex but after it’s been established that you’re both interested. This could be any time from dinner that night to while you’re already in bed, but it should be mentioned explicitly, so your partner doesn’t start getting confused about why you’re pulling out this toy every time you’re together.
Uncommon and Unnecessary: This would be a situation where your fetish is something a little off the beaten path, or maybe isn’t even a fetish at all, but just something you’d like to try. Maybe you want someone to learn a really elaborate knot system and tie you up. Maybe you’ve, on occassion, enjoyed being in a latex body bag . Maybe you like sitting naked in pies. I’ve seen Real Sex, I know what’s up. Anyway, if it’s something you’re casually into, it might be best to test this out later on. Wait until you’re already sexually comfortable with your partner and test it out
Uncommon and Necessary: If you need to have someone cover you in chocolate pudding and then run a knife over your stomach every time you have sex, I’m gonna guess your dating needs are best served within a specific community and not on OK Cupid. Use the internet, find that community, and go nuts. But if you do happen to meet someone in a bar you absolutely need to have sex with, then it’s best to bring this up before you get to the bedroom.
How To Bring It Up
Ideally, you will just totally own whatever fetish you have like the badass you are. I actually love Dan Savage’s idea that it’s best to share your kinks as if they were “added bonuses,” but here are a few tips on how to mention it.
1. Make sure that’s actually part of the conversation. It shouldn’t be “Hey, how do you like your spaghetti?” “It’s great, and I also need to eat it during sex.” If need be, make it part of the conversation. Once you’ve established you’re attracted to each other and interested in sex, ask your date what they’re into, and then you can bring yourself up.
2. Don’t be ashamed! There was this part in one of Helen Gurley Brown’s books about how to reveal to your date that you’re wearing a wig (and hey, maybe wearing a wig all the time turns you on, whatever!). You’re just supposed to flat out say “hey, you may be surprised to hear this, but I’m wearing a wig!” and then you take off your wig and if your date runs away then it’s their loss. Don’t let anyone shame you.
3. If you’re in Quadrants 2 and 4, bring “suggestions” of your fetish into your normal sex routine. I found this advice on lots of fetish blogs. If you have a foot fetish, touch your partner’s feet during sex before launching into full-on foot play. If you enjoy bondage, test the waters with blindfolding. That way, if your true fetish lies in the more “uncommon” territory, it won’t come as such a shock later.
So now, go forth and do your thing! And if you have any other tips, let’s talk about them!