“If you think of a fetish that’s a 10-out-of-10 level of intensity—someone in chains on an iron cross in their basement—it might seem really strange and uncommon,” says Scott Jacobey, Ph.D., a sex therapist who specializes in alternative sexual behaviors.
“But if you take the same fetish down to a level 2—a partner saying, ‘Why don’t you tie my wrists to the bedpost?’—it seems really realistic and ordinary.”
Translation: Having a fetish doesn’t necessarily mean wanting to wear adult diapers or a furry costume.
You just have to find a normally non-sexual object or action arousing—an association you probably formed in childhood, says Samantha Leigh Allen, who studies sexual fetishism at Emory University.
And in these cases, “most people with fetishes are able to integrate it into their life,” Jacobey says.