Dear Dame: How Do I Discuss My Fetish with a New Partner?

Dear Dame: How Do I Discuss My Fetish with a New Partner?

Created on 17/05/2023
Updated on 17/05/2023
Dear Dame is a weekly sex-positive and judgment-free advice column answered by our panel of sexperts. Submit your questions here.


Dear Dame, 

I am head over heels for my boyfriend. We’re a great match in a lot of ways and our connection is undeniable, but there’s a little hang up - I think we both have some “interests” in the bedroom that we’re not sure about bringing up. (Not to put words in his mouth but that’s definitely the case with me!) It’s a “non-traditional” kind of fetish that’s repelled some partners before. I absolutely love him and would love to try this with him (if he consents of course!) and I want to make him comfortable enough to tell me what he likes but I’m absolutely terrified to bring it up. How do I start this conversation? 

— Worried in Wyoming

Dear Worried in Wyoming, 

Fetishes are a normal part of human sexuality and can be a source of pleasure and excitement for many people. But talking about a fetish with a new partner can be a challenging and delicate task. It can also be incredibly fun and liberating, depending on how you approach it. 

The first step in talking about a fetish with someone else is to examine your own feelings and potential shame surrounding it. Kamil Lewis, sex therapist and writer for Swell, writes “Pleasure is creative, and it’s your right to explore what feels good to you and turns you on. Consider masturbating to images, videos, or fantasy about your kink, and notice how good you feel when you let yourself experience it.” It will be much easier to approach a conversation with a new partner once you have normalized and embraced your desires for yourself. 

Once you’ve worked through your own potential internalized shame or discomfort, you can begin having regular conversations about sex with your new partner. Normalizing sex and pleasure in general allows for a more expansive pleasurable experience where you can introduce kink into your conversations more comfortably. 

When you’re ready, be honest and open with your partner about your fetish. Express your desires and interests in a clear and concise way, using language that is respectful and non-judgmental. It can be helpful to frame it as an exciting opportunity to discuss this, rather than a heavy burden of disclosing a secret. This is where getting rid of that shame comes in. 

“When you frame it as something exciting rather than something you have to disclose or burden them with, your conversation about sex becomes even more expansive. Your partners may have questions about what it means, which is an excellent opportunity to share more with them,” says Lewis. 

It is also important to listen to your partner's response and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Be patient and understanding, and remember that not everyone will share your fetish. Once you both feel comfortable having discussed your desires, you don’t necessarily have to jump into play right away. You can keep the conversation going by discussing specific aspects of your fetish that you find most exciting, and asking them to share their fantasies with you as well. 

While your partner may not share all or any aspects of your fetish, it’s entirely possible you can create something pleasurable and new together. 

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