So you like it when your partner spreads your limbs, ties you to the bedposts and talks dirty to you. If you’ve been wondering, you’re not alone: People are pretty kinky, according to the latest sex research.
There are many different twists out there, and it can be difficult to measure how common they are. But a 2017 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that almost 50% of the general population have tried some form of BDSM in their lives. (Bondage, domination, sadism and masochism are hardly the kinkiest twist out there, but they are one of the most common.)
While there is no general consensus on how often people participate in kinky activities, there is one for how often people fantasize about twists. Much of the fantasy research comes from Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. For his book, Tell me what you’re looking for (now available in paperback), he surveyed 4,175 Americans between the ages of 18-87 about their sexual fantasies, and found out exactly which kinks people dream about the most.
Just because you fantasize about a certain twist, does not mean you actually want to act on it, Lehmiller notes. “If a fantasy is non-consensual or carries an unacceptable risk of harm, it should never be responded to,” he explains. “Keep in mind that fantasy and reality are two different things, and some fantasies are best left as fantasies.”
Below, in his own words, Lehmiller spells out the most common twists and fetishes he encountered in his research.
Slavery / discipline, domination / submissiveness and sadism / masochism (BDSM) are the most fantasized about kink. I have found that 93% of men and 96% of women have previously fantasized about some aspect of BDSM. BDSM, of course, reflects a wide range of behaviors, from soft to wild, and most people are on the lighter side, with fantasies about taking on dominant or submissive roles, of tying or being tied to a partner, and engaging in mild sadomasochism (thinking hit and biting) is the most common.
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People are attracted to BDSM for several reasons. For some, it’s just an escape from the boundaries of traditional gender roles. For others, it is about escaping self-awareness or exploring other aspects of the self. For still others, it’s about the appeal of the taboo, trying something new, or an urge for intense stimulation.
Fetish fantasies involve a focus on specific objects (such as boots or stockings) or non-genital body parts (such as feet or armpits). I found that 45% of my contestants reported having a fetish fantasy before, with men reporting more such fantasies than women.
The single most common fetish fantasy involved feet, with about 1 in 7 adults saying they had previously had a fantasy in which feet or toes played a significant role.
Psychologists believe that most fetishes are learned — through experience we begin to develop associations between certain objects / body parts and sexual arousal. However, there may also be a taboo element with them, as well as an overlap with BDSM, such as when someone fantasizes about another person stepping on or walking over them.
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3. Body fluids
Many people have reported fantasies in which specific body fluids have played a major role. It is not surprising that male and female ejaculation were the most common, with a majority of men and women having fantasized about it before. However, other body fluids also appeared with a certain frequency.
For example, 45% of men and 35% of women had fantasies involving spitting, 31% of men and 14% of women had fantasies about breast milk, 32% of men and 15% of women had fantasies involving urine, and 6% of men. men and 2% of women had fantasies about defecation.
In many of the fantasies involving body fluids, it has been used in an act of domination / submission, so it seems to be a big part of the appeal here.
Fantasies about how someone else pulls out or has sex are very common. In fact, 60% of my contestants reported having fantasized about it before, even though men had more voyeuristic fantasies than women.
Voyeurism is appealing to many because we are very visual beings when it comes to sex — it’s kind of like watching real pornography. However, voyeurism fantasies often involve sneaking around as well, so part of the appeal may be the excitement of doing something you are not supposed to do.
Many people fantasize about putting on a show. Specifically, 42% of my contestants reported having a fantasy of exposing themselves in public or having sex in front of an audience. In my survey, I distinguished between consensual and non-consensual exhibitionism, and the 42% figure refers to cases where there is an assent audience.
About 10% of my contestants fantasized about the non-consensual form, such as when they flash a stranger or masturbate in public.
Consensual exhibitionism fantasies are probably driven by a few things – to intensify the excitement by having spectators and knowing that other people will find you attractive or sexy.
Non-consensual exhibitionism is a totally different thing – it is often driven by a desire to shock or offend someone else.
6. Age game
Some of my contestants fantasized about taking on different roles and ages. For example, 11% fantasized about dressing and / or acting as a child.
I found a lot of overlap between these fantasies and BDSM because they often involved themes of domination / submission and / or humiliation, so these fantasies are often just a variant of deeper BDSM interests.
About 9% of my contestants said they fantasized about dressing up as an animal to have sex.
Hairy fantasies have been linked to a broader tendency to turn yourself into your sexual fantasies, suggesting that these are often psychological escapes. Many of us become different people – and sometimes different beings – in our fantasies because it provides an escape from self-awareness, allowing you to focus more on sex rather than yourself.
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Hairy fantasies, however, can also be attractive to some as a form of novelty and adventure.
8. Sex game
Many cisgender people use their fantasies as a way to explore their gender role and / or expression. For example, I found that about 1 in 4 cis people fantasized about cross-dressing, while about 1 in 3 fantasized about trading bodies with someone of a different gender.
These fantasies are sometimes about a desire to break free from traditional gender roles or to explore the self; however, there was also a lot of overlap with BDSM. Several men, for example, reported what they described as “forced feminization” fantasies, in which a partner “forced” them to dress as a woman.
Fantasies about watching your partner have sex with someone else are very common, especially among men. In fact, I have found that 58% of men and 33% of women have fantasized about this before.
Cuckolding fantasies can be enticing for several reasons. For some, it’s about self-improvement — knowing that other people find their partner hot actually boosts their self-esteem. For others, it’s about wanting to see their partner sexually satisfied — they derive pleasure from their partner’s pleasure. And for still others there is a BDSM element – in many of these fantasies the viewer takes on a submissive role and is sometimes humiliated in the process.
10. Food and sex
It seems that many people have the idea to incorporate food with sex. About 40% of my contestants have fantasized about this before.
Mostly it included things like ice cubes, strawberries and whipped cream.
The attraction to mixing food and sex is partly about novelty, or the desire to try new and different things. But it’s also about adding new sensations, tastes and textures.
However, sometimes there is also a fetishistic element to the use of food, and sometimes a BDSM element — food is sometimes used in a dominant / submissive or humiliating way.
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