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What To Know If *Feet* Turn You On (Yes, It's Totally Normal!)

Why exactly do feet turn people on?
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK
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When it comes to turn ons, everyone has their thing. For some people, it's neck kisses and candlelit dinners. For others, it's the entire first season of Bridgerton. Whatever it is, there's probably something super specific that gets you feeling some type of way—and yes, that could be feet.

It's called a foot fetish, and in the same way watching Regé-Jean Page suck on a spoon makes my nipples hard, toes/heels/feet/whatever could incite that same steamy reaction for some people.

So whether you love looking at your partner's toes, come close to orgasming every time you get a pedi, or are just curious about what it means to have a foot fetish, you've come to the right place. Let's dive into it shall we?

What is a foot fetish?

To put it simply, a foot fetish is a sexual interest in feet. This means a person can be aroused by touching, licking, rubbing, kissing, sucking, and massaging any part of the foot—from the soles to the arches to the toes to the nails, explains polyamorous activist and co-founder of The Sex Work Survival Guide Tiana GlittersaurusRex.

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It's important to note, however, that when you're casually talking about a foot fetish, you might not actually be thinking of a true clinical fetish.

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"When someone has a clinical fetish, they require the object (in this case, feet) to get turned on and orgasm," says sex therapist and resident sexologist for Adam & Eve, Jenni Skyler, PhD. In most cases, a "foot fetish is casually (though clinically incorrectly) used to define someone who has a sexual preference from mild to strong toward feet."

So unless you need to see someone's foot (or some variation of this) every time you masturbate, you don't technically have a foot fetish.

And while the technical term for foot fetishism is podophilia, Dr. Skyler says a more accurate description for a love of feet would be called foot partialism or foot worship.

Related terms:

    • Foot job
    • Hand job
    • Foreplay
    • Fingering
    • Masturbation
    • Dom Sub

      Why are people attracted to feet?

      First, let me start off by saying that so long as everything is consensual and not rooted in coercion or manipulation, you don't have to be ashamed of what you are or aren't attracted to—even if it is feet. And given that someone will experience attraction differently than how another person will, there's no need to justify why you are into something.

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      But while there's no cut-and-dry reason why people are attracted to toes and feet (and, again, there's no need for one!), psychologists do have some theories:

      Sigmund Freud has said feet are sexualized because they resemble penises.

      Sofiya Alexandra, co-founder of the Private Parts Unknown podcast, says it could have to do with how vulnerable and intimate feet are. "Since they’re usually concealed, just like our sexual organs, there's a certain draw to that which is usually not seen in public," she says.

      Dr. Skyler adds that since feet are somewhat of a taboo for people, incorporating them in sex can be an exciting way to safely lean into someone's personal interpretation of what it means to be naughty.

          There also may be a biological explanation for why people connect feet with sexual pleasure. Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at UC San Diego V.S. Ramachandran suggested in his book Phantoms in the Brain that a foot fetish can possibly result from some cross-wiring in the brain, since he believes the areas that control the genitalia and feet exist in close proximity in the somatosensory cortex.

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          istockphoto Mixi Ignacio

          Is foot worship different than a foot fetish?

          For some people, an interest in feet centers around power, explains Dr. Skyler. "The person worshiping the foot is typically in a submissive position, and the person being worshipped is in the dominant position." It could even be seen as an act of humility.

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          This power-play and humiliation dynamic can be a very arousing factor for foot fetishists. In fact for some people, their foot fetish or worship actually falls under the BDSM umbrella.

          Is liking feet normal?

          Yes, very. Of the many sexual fetishes that exist, foot fetishes are by far the most common, according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine. "The beauty of human sexuality is its diversity," says Dr. Skyler. "No matter your turn on—conventional or unconventional—it's still normal. All parts of you are welcome and normal."

          As long as what you're doing is between consenting adults, then leaning into your love of feet is not only okay, but it's actually pretty commonplace. Chances are, you have a friend or two who also has a thing for feet.

          How do you dip your toe into feet play?

          If you think you might have a thing for feet, start with a little self-exploration. "Enjoy some foot-focused porn to set the mood and get creative ideas or search foot-related hashtags on social media to like and support creators," suggests GlittersaurusRex.

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          Since so many people are into feet, there's a wide variety of content out there (like WikiFeet), notes Courtney Kocak, co-founder and co-host of the Private Parts Unknown podcast.

          When you're ready to integrate foot play into your sex life, you need to make sure your partner is interested and willing to explore with you. Consent is key, says sex educator and activist Carol Queen. She recommends starting slow by adding it to your fantasy repertoire first. "Narrate a fantasy like it was a story or movie plot and add mentions of feet and toes into erotic talk," she suggests. In fact, just talking about how sexy or beautiful you find your partner’s feet are is a great first step.

          If you want to move into actual physical contact and sensation, try experimenting with some traditionally nonsexual activities. Queen recommends “helping your partner (or requesting help) with a pedicure, foot massage, and foot-washing or other grooming, which all let you get sensuous and in contact with feet.”

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          How do you talk to your partner about your interest in feet?

          As with anything sexual, communication is key—but that doesn’t mean it has to be super serious. "Personally, I don’t think this is a 'brace yourself' sit-down kind of a convo," says Alexandra. "I’d just start being enthusiastic about my partner’s feet and show them extra attention."

          Think about it: Not only do foot massages enhance blood flow and feelings of arousal, but lots of people would be thrilled to get their toes rubbed after a long day.

          But if you're feeling nervous about the whole thing, remember it's easier to communicate anything vulnerable when it comes from a place of self-acceptance and understanding, says GlittersaurusRex. Ask your partner what they're comfortable with and have an open convo. "Education can help people understand and relate, which helps destigmatize the fetish," she says.

          Put an emphasis on making them feel good, and make sure to check in often to ensure they're comfortable and consenting. If physical contact on the foot is inaccessible for whatever reason, consider taking pictures of your lover's foot, looking at pictures together, and/or rubbing feet together instead.

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          If your partner just isn’t a “foot person,” you can always do the PG version and a get a pedicure. Pay for the extra massage and you’re basically getting a foot job.

          What are some different foot play variations?

          If your partner's onboard and you're both horned-up and ready to go, there's a wide world of sexually explicit foot activities to experiment with. You can try “shrimping,” which is sucking someone’s toes or getting your toes sucked.

          GlittersaurusRex also recommends using toys (like vibrators or lubricants) on your feet to switch up the sensations. Even utilizing other kinks like temperature or wax play can elevate the experience. For a more advanced move, Queen suggests “using feet and toes to stimulate the genitals" (which is called a "foot job").

          Are there any safety concerns with foot play?

          One of the major perks of being into feet is that it's pretty safe. If you're inserting your toes or using them to stimulate your partner's genitals or mouth, you'll want to ensure they're clean and that your toenails are clipped and filed.

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          Additionally, take note if you or your partner have calluses or rough spots. Some people don't mind, whereas others find the sensation too rough. If you don't want to file down your rougher skin, incorporate some lotion or lube to keep things silky and slippery (just be careful when you walk to the shower post-play).

          Additionally, as with any kink play, GlittersaurusRex recommends using a safeword (or the stoplight system) to make communication easier in the moment.

          What are some tips and tricks for better foot play?

          The best thing about feet is that they're easy to play with and easy to get creative with. "Many people like to play in the bathtub facing each other so there's plenty of access to feet. Also [it's] a way to clean it off (which may be important for beginners)," says Dr. Skyler.

          "If you are the one with the foot preference or fetish, you may be surprised by how much your lover likes being worshipping. There are tons of nerve endings in the foot, so sucking toes, or massaging feet can feel great."

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          Another idea: Try casually rubbing your partner's feet when you're at dinner or playing footsie under the table.

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          This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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