Today, we are talking about fetishes. Have you ever been attracted to something weird or uncommon? Have you ever wondered if it's okay to pursue that sexually with another person? In this episode, you will learn what a sexual fetish is and what you should do if you have one. Personally, I'm super passionate about this because I struggled with a sexual fetish for 10 years and never understood it. And I had so much confusion and self-hatred for myself for what I was specifically sexually attracted to. And at this point with my healing journey so far, I've actually become an expert in this area. And I have clients who come to me specifically because I specialize in helping them unpack their sexual fantasies and fetishes. So imagine how awesome would it be if your sexual fetishes and fantasies had no power over you anymore? Not just that you were done with pursuing them, but that they didn't even appeal to you anymore. Would that be awesome? That's what I get to see in clients, in my coaching program. And that's what I want for you. So let's dive in. What is a sexual fetish? A Sexual fetish, formerly known as sexual deviation or perversion is a type of paraphilia. P A R A P H I L I A. And that is a compound word para meaning "beside" and philia, meaning "love". So love beside. Loving something different. Loving something apart from a complete whole human being. A sexual fetish is often focused on a specific body part or an item or an object that produces intense arousal. So here's a concise definition. Paraphilia is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals. That is what we're talking about today.
So what should you do if you have a sexual fetish, one sentence, if you take away nothing else from this broadcast, I want to say, if you have a sexual fetish, begin with curiosity, don't assume, you know what it means, where it comes from. Don't assume that it's random. Don't assume that it's only tied to one event in your life or to one storyline. Here's what I want you to do. Begin with curiosity and look for reenactment. Reenactment is a big word, but basically it means that an experience in your life is being repeated and as is often the case with sexual fetishes, it's being reversed. In other words, if you have a sexual fetish, it didn't just come out of nowhere. There's a story behind it. And so I want you to begin to get curious about the story behind your specific sexual fetish. You need to get into the soil of your story because there are always particular. The one that I have struggled with the most is specifically for orthodontics and braces. I have a client who has a smoking fetish, where he is particularly drawn to cigarettes and women holding cigarettes, especially if they're in some kind of helping profession, a nurse or a teacher. I have another client who has struggled with what's called Vore porn, where people are literally swallowing one another, and this is disturbing to him. And yet it is incredibly arousing at the same time. Other clients of mine are specifically drawn to gay porn, others, lesbian porn, for many of us, it's a mix. The point is there's always a reason. So when you begin with curiosity, looking at your sexual fetishes, you're asking the question, what makes this make sense?
There's an assumption that there is a coherent narrative that this is not just an image, this is not just a video, this is not just an object, but that this is a character in a very specific story. And that story is my life. The problem is it's hard to read that story because sexual fetishes are very commonly visual. I mean, it's not like you're attracted to words on a page. You're attracted to something in your imagination, the way something makes you feel. And that is a little bit harder to read. It's like we're looking at the Egyptian hieroglyphics, or we're looking into a mirror, and not really knowing what we see. In the Harry Potter series and the first Harry Potter book. Harry discovers the mirror of Erised, and Erised is "desire" spelled backwards. And when Harry looks into it, he sees his parents. His parents died when he was a baby. And when he looks into the mirror of desire, he sees himself together again with his parents alive. It's a reenactment of some of his earliest memories. It's reversing what happened in the past when his parents died. When Ron Weasley, his friend looks into the mirror of desire, he sees something different. He sees himself as a chess champion. Ron grew up with brothers who overshadowed him and he felt like he didn't belong in this family and like, there was nothing that he was really good at. So being a chess champion was a reenactment of his own childhood experiences. And it was reversing that experience of failure and incompetence, reversing that feeling of inadequacy. So when you look into your sexual fetish, if you have one, when you look into your sexual fantasies, you're looking at a mirror of what you deeply desire. It's telling a story, but in order to read that story, in order to understand this reenactment, you have to be able to decode the symbolism.
Here's another key concept. Sexual fetishes are ultimately symbols. Just like when I look at my name Drew, it starts with the letter D that is a straight line with a semicircle around it. That's a symbol for a sound. And that symbol is meaningless apart from the meaning I attach to it. So the thing is with a sexual fetish, there's a specific meaning attached to it. And our task with curiosity with excavating the terrain of our lives is to discover, okay, what does it mean? What does it symbolizing? And usually it's symbolizing something very specific, you know, like for Harry, like for Ron. I'll tell you an example of what this has looked like for me. So for my specific fetish for orthodontics, when I'm asking myself, okay, when have I seen this before? What might this be repeating? It takes me back to those middle school years when everybody had braces of some kind. And in those middle school years, I experienced unbelievable trauma. I was moving from Canada to Texas. I was going from a small all boys school to a large public school. I was going from a place where I had friends. I was feeling like I was successful. I was enjoying life to a place where I hated life, where I wanted to escape life and a place where my sexual development got stunted. And in that place, in this large public school, surrounded by scantily clad young girls, my development stunted, and what I wanted more than anything was to have my first kiss. So there was an oral fascination there, and that actually goes back to trauma, intrusive sexual touch. So mouths were a huge part of my arousal template. In other words, my frame, your arousal template is a cocktail of all the sensations and attractions that are specifically powerful for you. And so when I think back to those days, what was so important for me was the experience of another girl and at that time they all had braces. There was also kind of an element of humiliation there with the sexual intrusion that I experienced on my face and also the sexual intrusion that I wanted to have with one of these girls. And when I began to read the story of my life more deeply, here's what I discovered. For me, the braces thing, symbolized, acceptance, it symbolized access, it symbolized connection, and being desired, being delighted in by the very people by whom I felt so rejected, it felt shut out by, and it's symbolized me getting the kind of power that I wanted and then I felt like I didn't have. It was a repetition of some trauma that I experienced with one of my parents. And it was a reversal of the trauma that I experienced at school in middle school. And so here, here's what I discovered was the really the core desire. The core attraction for me was to have this first kiss, this magical experience, which for me, symbolized innocence and adventure, an innocent discovery of the other, an adventure of romance and those desires are ultimately good. And when I was able to interpret the story of my sexual fetish, all of a sudden, I could validate it. All of a sudden, I didn't hate myself for it anymore. I was able to see this little boy who needed love, who didn't get it. And later on, understand that part of that came from sexual abuse that I endured in my body. Wow.
So now let me tell you what this actually looks like in my relationship with my wife. You know, do I try to force her into this fetish? Do I want to make this a part of our bedroom activities? Not in the specifics, but in the symbolism. Now that I've done this work of getting curious, now that I've understood the reenactments at play, and I've actually learned to read this mirror, understand the data, all the stories in this microchip of my sexual fetish. Now, I'm free to ask her for what I really want, which is an experience of acceptance. That's really what turns me on. What really turns me on is the innocent discovery, the adventure, the playfulness that I felt like I lacked, that was robbed from me. And when I asked for this and when I pursue this with her, it's actually honoring to her. It's actually very attractive to both of us. And this is a way that I've learned that, is it okay to ask my wife to accommodate my sexual fetish? Well, for you specifically, if you're wondering about that question, I want you to begin doing the work, to understand the symbolism and also to consider your style of relating. Is it self-centered? Or is it self-giving? Is it just trying to take from her or is it honoring her and respecting her boundaries? That was a question I got from a listener was, okay, well, what can I ask my wife to do? Or what's okay sexually if I have this fetish, ultimately it comes down to getting into the soil of your story, the specifics, because the power is in the particularity and then being able to pursue what that meant to you, the meaning you attached to it in a healthy way. I could talk about some of my other clients and what their specific fetishes have symbolized for them. Sometimes, it's something very specific that was denied to them. Sometimes, it's something very specific that they were fascinated by. Sometimes it's, uh, it's the opposite of what they got. For somebody who is more drawn towards same sex pornography, I would wonder, well, how did they experience men in their lives or the absence of men and how did they experience women? And I would want to know something very specific before this broadcast, Scott Cone asked me a question about a client of his, who is specifically struggling with a sexual fetish about burping. So I would begin with curiosity and wonder, where has he experienced burping? Who has burped? What are some of the stories around burping in his life? And then really getting into the specifics, going to the particularities, who was burping, what did that mean to him? And what did that come to symbolize in his imagination? That's a starting point. And once you get some headings, then you can experience the beauty of being able to let that curiosity turn into compassion because in the end it does make sense you can appreciate the heart, even behind your most twisted fantasies, when you see the story behind it, when you see the little boy who needed love, when you see what was firing up his imagination, where perhaps it was being dampened or invalidated elsewhere. I had another question which came up, which was how do we disconnect the sexual arousal we're experiencing from the object of a sexual fetish? And that really comes down to the symbolism. This object is symbolizing something. And when you can learn to you read the story behind it, see through it, then you can find out what it was for you. For me, it was innocent discovery, adventure, acceptance, and I'm sure I'll discover more. As I continue to excavate the soil of my own life story.
Before we continue, I just want to say this is not easy material. So I appreciate you sticking with me through, and I wonder what's coming up for you right now. I wonder what sexual fetishes or fantasies you might find disturbing where you could be invited on a journey of discovery. There is so much grace for us in our sexuality that God gives, that we can give to each other. And my prayer for Husband Material is that this would be a safe space where we can enter each other's stories with curiosity, with compassion, break the power of self-hatred and become sexually healthy men of God. If you want to get a little bit more training about how to understand your sexual fantasies and fetishes go to "sexualfantasyframework.com" for a free course I put together on this with Jay stringer, an amazing Christian psychotherapist who also specializes in healing unwanted sexual behavior.
Guys, I'm going to open up for questions right now. The floor is open. What questions do you have about sexual fetishes in general or something specific? Craig is asking. What if the fetish happens before puberty. Craig is saying I experienced it around six or seven when I woke up with an erection. There's a story there very specific narrative. I would want to know what happened the night before, what happened the rest of the morning. I would want to know more about the specific item, object, particular person in order to be able to access more. The power of this work is in the particularity. The more detailed you can get about what is specifically attractive to you, what is specifically arousing is significant, and this is the opposite of what we tend to do in our sexual accountability groups and in our purity prayer partners. We will talk about all the ways we are avoiding sexual activity or not. Very rarely will we actually get specific about, okay, what did you enter into the search bar when you were searching for porn? What specific aspect of this video was most pleasuring to you or most fascinating? When did this begin? What was happening in your life at that time? These questions are not optional. They are foundational if you want to actually get free from the battle of fighting against your sexuality. Part of what makes porn so hard to quit is that you can't avoid this battle as long as you're fighting it. The only way to actually get free from the stress and the strain of sexual recovery is to do this work of going into your specific story and uncovering the symbolism behind the specific types of images, videos, and sexual experiences that appeal to you. And when you do that, it is such a breath of fresh air. It's such a relief and it's redemptive because the very desires that you thought disqualified you from being worthy of love are now occasions for receiving the grace of God, the compassion of other people, and this good work of growing up into a sexually healthy man of God. William asks, how do you bring up your fetishes or sexual needs with your partner? Is there better or worse language that might help them to understand and to empathize? Ultimately, this will change depending on the stage of that relationship. You definitely will not want to bring up your specific fetishes with your girlfriend of two months. When I got engaged to my wife, I told her that there were certain sexual desires that I had, that I was ashamed of and that she didn't know about. So she knew that I had them, but she didn't know the specifics. I waited until after we got married. And after we were able to establish some sexual interactions, it took me over seven months after I got married to have full unbridled sexual intercourse. And in that journey around two months in, I told my wife some of the specifics of the orthodontics fetish, and she looked at me with compassion and love and we continued to work through. If I had told her that before we got married, I imagine some of that would have been on her mind and it would have clouded over our initial discovery of one another. And she probably would have been thinking about that in a way that was unhealthy and unhelpful. So you need to do this incrementally depending on the state age of the relationship. And also it's all, it is helpful to be able to situate the specific fetish within its context. So after you've gone into the soul of your specific life story, you don't have to start that conversation with, Hey, I'm attracted to blank. You can say, Hey, when I was 10 years old, this happened to me. And that contributed to some of my sexual attractions. Some of the stuff that I don't like about myself, but it still turns me on. And then you can talk about how that's affected you. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance intimacy. And we do that with incrementality. We do that with intentionality and the more you do your own work, the more comfortable you will be inviting someone else to join you in this place of healing, in this journey of redemption that God's taking you on.
Scott says, what do we know about the propensity of males versus females to have fetishes? I found the exact same thing that Scott told me earlier, which was that earlier in a comment, Scott said that some research has shown that men are more likely to have specific sexual fetishes than women, which makes sense because men tend to be sexually stimulated, more visually, more physically, and transactionally than women for whom it's more emotional, it's more relational. It's more contextual. Part of the reality of a fetish is that it's something removed from its context. It's been separated from the whole. It has been isolated and fixated upon, which is more of a male tendency in general. It's easier for our brains to compartmentalize. It's easier for our brains to fixate. And hyper-focus apart from the background of a given scenario, one guest is saying my fetish exclusively involves men. There's a reason for that. And I want to be really careful here not to say that any kind of sexual preference and attraction has roots in your life experiences. This is not a blanket statement saying, I am certain that if you struggle with same-sex attraction, you were traumatized as a child. Not saying that. So the fact that you might like boys, you might like girls. This is, this is not necessarily the result of wounding childhood experiences. I've talked about how my specific sexual fetish has been discovered to involve traumatic contributors. And I'm not going to say that the trauma caused the fetish. I will say that it was a strong contributor and that's one posture that we need to have when we are going through this work of processing. Our past is not to blame it on anyone in particular, but to be able to name it with all of the people and all of the past events that have made us who we are today, and some of those events involve pleasure. Some of those events involve pain. And oftentimes there's a kind of fascination and fixation that is mixed with disgust and the interruption of normal development. When we have an experience of being overwhelmed, of being helpless, being betrayed, or of experiencing intense pleasure and pain at the same time, there's a strong likelihood that it's going to affect what we are sexually aroused by. There is so much research that has shown our brains can change. I'm not saying if you have a sexual fetish, you need to go to repairative therapy, where if you are attracted to other men, all of a sudden in the end, you'll be attracted to women. What I am saying is that what you find to be arousing and what you find to be incredibly sexually stimulating is not static. It's not rigid. You can think of sexual fantasies with a few different metaphors. In this episode, I've talked about the mirror of Erised. The mirror of desire. You can see it as a mirror showing you what you want most deeply based on the unmet needs you had as a child. You can also understand your sexual fantasies as knot, this is something I got from Nick's Dumbo, from pure desire ministries. He said that your arousal template, the specific cocktail, sexual images, videos, particular people, and things that turn you on, it's kind of like this big ball of yarn, and it's really tight. And as you begin to pull out the threads of the stories that are connected to it, it can loosen up a little bit. You can actually maybe see through it to what's on the other side, and you can work with it. More flexibly. There is so much room for us to grow and for our little knots and twisted puzzles of sexual desire to loosen up and begin to move so that we can work with them and lead them in the direction that we want to go.
Ultimately, if you are actively struggling with a sexual fetish, I want you to know that this healing process requires relationship. We were wounded in relationship. We experience arousal in relationship. And so we also need to experience healing in relationship. And you can do that with allies, you can do that with guides, you can do that with experts. You can do that in our Husband Material Facebook group. You can do that in some of our group coaching that's available. You can also do that in individual coaching, or you can find a therapist who specializes in this area.
William says, I think most people find it embarrassing to bring up, especially for the first time. A huge, huge step in this journey is simply admitting to yourself what is actually attractive to you. No matter how disgusting or disturbing it may be. And then an even bigger step is to admit to one safe person who you trust that this is actually what you're attracted to. And then it's an even bigger step, like what I'm taking to share about it publicly. And once again, the key here is incrementality and intentionality. Don't force yourself to do something that feels frightening. That might actually re-traumatize you. Take baby steps, even just listening to this podcast, even just watching this live episode is a step. So I want to honor and celebrate you for that. This is embarrassing. This is laid in with shame and the enemy has capitalized on that. He loves it when we are silent about these topics, because then he is the only voice in our ears. So we need another voice saying that our sexuality is good and beautiful and that our desires, however twisted, however corrupted, are ultimately and fundamentally from God. And when we can discover the symbolism behind her sexual fetishes, we can embrace that not just intellectually, but emotionally, and truly feel that the fetish, the fantasy is ultimately an invitation from him to pursue what our hearts truly desire in the end.
And I'm continuing to do these live broadcasts once a month in the husband material Facebook group, I look forward to seeing you all next month in August for our next live broadcast. You can join the group at "husbandmaterialmen.com". Always remember my friend, you are God's beloved son, in you, He is well-pleased.