Sex Question Friday: Are Some People Born With Fetishes?

Sex Question Friday: Are Some People Born With Fetishes?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who was curious about the origin of sexual fetishes:

“Are we born with fetishes or are they things that we learn and develop throughout our lives?”

Good question! Over the years, I have heard many people claim that fetishes and other unusual sexual interests must be inborn because these urges tend to emerge very early in life and people feel that they do not have any choice or conscious control in the matter (much like sexual orientation). However, I personally don’t buy the idea that people are “born with” very specific and highly unique sexual interests in things like rubber, pantyhose, or feet, and I’m not aware of any research to suggest that this is likely to be the case. Scientists have not identified a foot fetish gene, or a gene for any other fetish for that matter--and although I can't say with any certainty if they ever will, I wouldn't hold my breath. Instead, I would argue that a person is more likely to be born with a generalized predisposition to developing fetishes, as opposed to being born with a specific fetish. Also, regardless of one’s predispositions, some research suggests that fetishes can potentially be learned by just about anyone under the right circumstances.

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