Is Feet Tickling a Kink or a Fetish?
When people hear "feet" and "fetish" in the same sentence, a punchline is usually close behind, but mockery shouldn't expel a feet-tickling kink from the bedroom.
For anyone who wants to introduce feet tickling into their boudoir toolbox, here's how to do it without getting kicked in the face—unless you're into that, of course.
Is it a kink or a fetish?
"Kink is a broad term that encompasses any form of sexual, sensual or intimate behaviors or activities that fall outside of the 'norm,'" said sex and kink educator Emerson Karsh, who lives in the United States.
"Kink often is used as an umbrella term to address a wide range of 'nonnormative' interests, practices and identities, whereas a fetish is an attraction or arousal to/from specific sensory stimuli, including specific body parts or inanimate objects," Karsh said.
Fetishes often involve a strong attraction to certain objects, such as clothing or balloons, and/or body parts, including feet, that are not typically seen as sexual. These objects of desire are usually a necessity for sexual arousal.
While all fetishes are kinks because they fall outside "normative" sex, not all kinks are fetishes. Both feet and tickling can be kinks and fetishes, so combining them can be defined as a kink or a fetish depending on how necessary they are for arousal.
The root of a kink or fetish is hard to pinpoint, but like most idiosyncrasies we deal with in adult life, they often originate from our childhood years.
"I think that people who are into having their feet tickled are often nostalgic for their first experience with the opposite sex," said Emme Witt, a writer, sex expert and dominatrix in Los Angeles. "They may have had their feet tickled by the babysitter or by a peer. The activity wasn't supposed to be sexual, but because they were being touched by the opposite sex, it sparked sexual feelings."
Figuring out what you like
"We view our feet as a thing to get us from place to place but not often as a point of pleasure," Karsh said. "With the amount of nerve endings the foot has, tickling is a great way to engage those often-forgotten-about nerves. The act of tickling also elicits lots of brain stimulation, nervous system reactions and release of chemicals."
The first step to accessing this pleasure is figuring out what you do and do not like. First, how ticklish are you?
If you're extremely sensitive, build up your tickling tolerance slowly in case the act is too overwhelming. Plus, greater tolerance can protect your partner from getting kicked in the face.
For people with a stronger constitution, explore intense sensations but be mindful of doing too much too soon. When we tap into an undiscovered kink, the excitement makes it easy to dive in and throw caution to the wind. Communicate with your partner and intensify the experience one tickle at a time.
Establishing safe words and limits is also crucial, as Witt outlined.
"Once you've found someone who you trust, choose a safe word," she said. "If you feel uncomfortable with the activity at any time, just speak up and/or use your safe word. Your partner should respect your desire to stop."
A practical approach
Before any filthy fun, make sure you are in an open space where nothing can get knocked over. Tickling is guaranteed to make your body move in unexpected ways, so prep your space first.
If parts of your feet are overly sensitive, exclude them from the play area and check that your feet are free of any cuts or other wounds.
To start tickling, use your fingers to gently caress and tease the feet. Teasingly trail your fingers over the soles and tops of the feet until you are ready to begin, then start tickling your partner at the ball or heel of the foot.
The most sensitive part of the foot is the arch, so you want to save this area for the end. Before getting too intense, hold on to your partner's ankles to keep them in place. Then move your hands to the center of the feet and tickle your partner with abandon, oscillating between gentler tickles and high-intensity sensations.
Avoid overstimulating your partner by taking regular breaks and then rebuilding the pressure slowly with the teasing and stimulation of other erogenous zones. To take your tickling to the next level, bondage is an option.
"Binding the body spread-eagle gives access to the armpits and the feet at the same time," Witt advised. "The armpits are also highly ticklish, as is the area above the hips and the backs of the knees. Move beyond the fingertips and use other implements to tickle: a feather or a very soft cat-o'-nine-tails are great to experiment with."
Even the wildest kinks get old with overuse, so avoid a rut by trying roleplaying games or introducing other psychological elements, such as overstimulation or pleasure denial, into play to keep things fresh.
Lastly, remember that aftercare is a must in any kinky play, especially for a fetish that induces such a strong physical reaction. Establish what you and your partner both need for aftercare before you play and follow through afterward.
"Tickling feet elicits a lot of brain and nervous system reactions, so allow yourself time for your brain and body to steadily come down from those 'rushes,'" Karsh said. "Things like drinking water, cuddling and talking can help regulate your brain and body."