Have you ever wondered if the fantasies, kinks and fetishes that get you off are so abnormal that you should be going to therapy? Or wondered if you are the only one that gets turned on by the particular freaky things you like to do in bed? Highly unlikely. It turns out that, behind closed doors, lots of other people are doing the same things you are. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that right now, your boss is having a fantasy that’s way kinkier than you imagine. And that sweet kindergarten teacher you met may spend her nights in full latex, whip in hand…possibly with your boss on the receiving end.
No really, we didn’t just make that up. Except maybe that bit about your boss. Research conducted by Professor Christian Joyal says the majority of sexual interests that society might have made you think are weird “are more common than people might think, not only in terms of fantasies but also in terms of desire and behavior.” In other words, not only are many people you know having the same wild ideas you are, they’re also acting on those kinks and fetishes.
We’ve examined research on sexual fantasies and sexual activities from across the English-speaking world. We dusted off papers from academic sources like the Kinsey Institute and the Journal of Sex Research. We read studies by businesses with a serious interest in your kinks and fetishes such as Durex and OK Cupid. And then we did even more research.
In the end, the challenge wasn’t finding a source on whether these 10 fetishes are normal. It was pruning this list down to just the ultimate top 10.
1. Group Sex
Who knew that if you didn’t fantasize about group sex you were in the minority? Only 5% of men and 13% of women say they’ve never had this kind of a fantasy. Just what majority does your group sex fantasy put you in? According to Kinsey Institute researcher Dr. Justin Lehmiller, 89% of people reported fantasizing about threesomes, 74% about orgies and 61% about gangbangs.
Next time you sit down in a movie theater or conference room, look around. Statistically speaking, about every third person has tied someone up or been tied up. (If you’re intrigued by bondage but haven’t yet tried it, make sure to read our First Time Bondage Safety Tips.) In nearly every survey we found, light bondage is the top sexual kink that people actually act on. According to Durex’s survey, 36% of people use blindfolds or bondage as part of their sex play.
3. Exhibitionism with a Partner
It turns out we are much more interested in being seen naked in public with another “crazy but willing” participant. The stereotypical image of exhibitionists often involves someone flashing unsuspecting citizens on the street. But between sex parties and swingers’ clubs, you can satisfy your exhibitionist kink in a way that is more consensual and less arrest-worthy. In a 2014 Canadian study, the idea of exhibitionism with a partner ranked much higher than solo exhibitionism, which didn’t make it into the top 10.
We love a man or woman in uniform. Uniforms are such a common kink that researchers now study which uniforms are most likely to turn people on. For the record: heterosexual women and gay men are most turned on by firefighter, soldier and police uniforms; straight men have the hots for women dressed as cheerleaders and schoolgirls; and, unfortunately, no one’s done research on which uniforms lesbians have a fetish for.
5. Dominance and Submission
Will your next holiday family dinner feel more or less awkward when you remember that, statistically speaking, at least one out of every two adults at the table has fantasized about dominance and submission? According to that Canadian study, 64.6 percent of women and 53.3 percent of men fantasize about being sexually submissive, while 46.7 percent of women and 59.6 percent of men fantasize about sexual dominance. (If you’ve had these fantasies but aren’t sure how to get started, here’s a handy Beginner’s Guide to Domination.)
It seems we love a good spanking about as much as we love posting our selfies on Insta. Nearly 32% of Americans in a recent study said they had participated in spanking in the past year, which is about the same percentage of Americans that own guns or use Instagram.
7. Filming Yourself in the Act
Speaking of selfies, the younger you are, the more likely you are to take selfies…and to film yourself having sex. In a recent study, 54% of college students said they either would film themselves having sex or were open to it. So if you’re a Boomer or Xer and your partner thinks it’s unusual that you want to make a sex tape, just show them this stat and tell them it means you’re young at heart.
8. Rubber, Latex or Leather
If gray is the new black then latex is the new leather. Leather is so normalized now that even British Prime Minister Theresa May has been photographed in leather pants. (Don’t worry, your leather collar is still safely kinky!) And the Kardashians’ many rubber and latex photo shoots mean that both fabrics are barely eyebrow-raising anymore.
9. Foot Fetishism
It’s alleged that celebrities like Elvis and Andy Warhol had foot fetishes. It’s so common that there are many specific foot fetish niches: high heels, bare feet, dirty feet, feet wearing jewelry, flat feet and toe sucking, just for starters. A study from the International Journal of Impotence Research on fetishes found that 47% of people who are sexually interested in a specific body part are interested in feet.
They say a good top is hard to find, and it turns out for good reason. Notice that masochism appears on the list, but not sadism? It turns out that most people are more interested in receiving pain than inflicting it. According to a study about kink and paraphilias published in the Journal of Sex Research, 23.8% of people are interested in masochism while only 7.1% are interested in sadism.
So what if your flavor of kink didn’t make this list? Whether it’s frotteurism, voyeurism, fur suits or something else, many people are interested in almost every “deviant” desire (outside of those involving children, animals, or unwilling participants). Joyal’s research uncovered that 57% of people have desires that are defined as “abnormal” in the DSM-5. When the majority of people are defined as “abnormal,” it’s time to update our definition of what “normal” is.