How to Tell Your Partner About Your Fetish, Without Making It Weird

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50 Shades of Grey, the movie every fetish fan loves to hatePhoto: Focus Features

Every night I sleep with an eye mask, ear plugs, lavender essential oil, and a teddy bear. All four can be used for kink, but I don’t lead with that.

After some time with my husband, though, I can’t resist broaching the topic. “Would it be weird if I wore my blindfold when we have sex sometime?”

“Totally weird,” he responded. “Where is it?”

We all have a gift, and this is mine: Saying things others might be too shy to ever bring up, and helping others to do the same. I love the conversational space between discomfort and ease, and I’m fascinated by how the taboo can take that quarter-turn into the normal with the right window dressing.

In broaching the blindfold with my husband, I used one of my favorite tricks in the book: Acknowledging something diffuses potential awkwardness instantly. How can someone shame you when you address the potential shame monster first? It’s an ancient secret employed by popular girls and scandal-ridden CEOs everywhere.

No.1: Suggest that you and your partner take a questionnaire to test your “sexual adventurousness.”

Don’t worry: You only see what both of you are willing to do, and there are two popular sites to explore: Mojoupgrade (the better site IMO) and Sexionnaire.

Be prepared for activities that will definitely gross you out, but that’s part of the truth-or-dare-style fun of it. In an age when not much is shocking anymore, it’s nice to be reminded that some things still are.

I’ll even give you the line to use. “So I heard about this cool site where a couple can privately reveal what they’d be willing to do sexually, and if we both take it, it will only show both of us the responses where we have a sexual desire in common. I was really curious so I took the quiz, and I was hoping you would too. Sounds like fun, right?”

Plus, you’ll be forced to Google “Gorean sex slave.”

No. 2: Stumble upon the “Human Sex Map” (hey, you read about it in this article!) and wonder aloud about it until your partner asks you.

That’s exactly what I did with my husband when I found this make-believe map, which includes the entire range of human sexuality, thanks to the wonders of Reddit. It includes not only the comical “Vanilla Sea” and “Land of Mundania,” but also the nightmarish imaginary lands of “Bestiality,” “Necrophilia,” and “Snuff Films.”

“Have you ever heard of coprophagia?” I ask.

“Is that like a police fetish?” he asks.

“Oh, no. It’s eating poop,” I say. “Wait, what about figging? Have you ever heard of that?”

“I’ve never even seen a fig,” he responds.

“Figging is when you insert a piece of skinned ginger root into the anus or vagina,” I tell him as I pull up the unpleasant definition.

Finally, he takes the bait.

“What are you looking at?” he asks.

I show him, and, voilà, look at that: We’re now talking fetishes.

No. 3: Have a dream.

I have a friend whose thing is sexy nuns. Another friend is into forced smoking during sex and blow jobs. I’ve met several folks who can’t orgasm without some form of breath restriction. It’s embarrassing for all of them to bring up their kinks when they date, but here’s one of their golden secrets: Wake up and start talking.

“Just have a daydream when you wake up,” my friend Julie tells me. “Then pretty soon after getting out of bed, you say, ’Oh, I had this dream I have to tell you about. I was held hostage by a sexy nun and forced to smoke cigarettes while I blew you. Actually, it was super hot. I’m really turned on right now.’”

Chances are the person will care about getting you off and will get excited the more that you do.

One word of caution if your tastes are more extreme, though: Whatever you do, don’t “surprise” the person by just proceeding with your kink without floating it verbally first.

No. 4: Make a joke that’s not a joke but that you can turn into a joke if need be.

God bless humor. It can help you out of (and into) situations you might otherwise need a marriage counselor to navigate. I know a very submissive girl who was able to bring up wanting to wear a collar and bark like a puppy just by phrasing it the right way.

“It’s kind of hot when you boss me around like I’m your little pet,” she said. “Maybe I should wear a collar sometime and I can bark and play fetch?” Her boyfriend looked at her like she had just confessed to murder. No problem. She just pivoted. “I’m kidding! Oh my God, can you imagine?” They both had a good laugh and moved on.

Here’s a more successful version of the old “half-joking” strategy from another girl I know. She told her guy the following tale: “My friend told me that her boyfriend peed on her. At first I was grossed out, but then I got kind of excited thinking about it …” Needless to say, she sold it more sexy than funny, and she and her boyfriend went on to enjoy some light experimentation with the art of urophilia.

Speaking of which, be sure to use “I saw this crazy thing on the internet” if you ever need just the right segue. Consider memetic internet Rule No. 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.”

P.S. Don’t know what your kink is yet? Look to your childhood. There will be clues.

No. 5: Talk about how ridiculous 50 Shades is. Or figure out another pop-culture peg you might actually like.

I’m merely a kink dabbler, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that people of every sexual preference love to criticize this franchise. Apparently, the cable zip ties used could cause nerve damage, for one thing, and the dom and sub don’t mutually decide on the rules.

But one thing that movie is good for is laughing at while you get into whatever shade of sex you do enjoy.

Try saying something like: “Is this a Home Depot ad for rope or an erotic movie? Ha, I mean, shouldn’t it end with a visit to the ER? I mean a little bit of kink is great, don’t get me wrong. Like, I could maybe get into a whip or two every now and then …”

And finally, use this article. I had never filled out either of those online sexual-fantasy questionnaires with my husband before, and I used this as an excuse to do it. Email this column to your partner and say, “I’m game if you are.”

What do you have to lose?

You were totally joking anyway.