I am a 23-year-old male who has been in a relationship with a great woman for four years now. She is an amazing person, and we oftentimes talk about marriage. The issue is this: I have a foot fetish and she is fully aware of it. She doesn't like the idea of me kissing her feet or indulging my fetish in any way. We have sex quite often, and I've always let it slide that she doesn't want any part of my fetish. I don't know what to do, because I'm at a stage in my sexual growth where I need to experience my fetish. I'm getting mixed advice from different people and I just want a straight answer. The sex we have is amazing, but I would enjoy it so much more if I could act on my desires once in a while.

Sexually Frustrated Fetishist

Here's a straight answer: Your amazing girlfriend is an amazingly selfish lover, and I'm amazed that you've put up with her bullshit for as long as you have. A foot fetish is not uncommon or outrageous; as fetishes go, SFF, yours is the least taxing for a nonkinky partner. It's not like you're into shit or choking or Christian side hugs. Any amazing woman who truly loved you would regard indulging you as a no-brainer.

Share time: I have a good friend who's not kinky at all—unless you count being gay—and he's a runner who goes for long runs. When he gets home form a run on the weekend, he handcuffs his boyfriend to a chair in his kitchen, duct-tapes one of his sweaty sneakers over the boyfriend's face, and leaves him there while he has breakfast. Then he jerks his boyfriend off. My friend—who came to me for advice when his boyfriend confessed his fetish—isn't really into guys with sneakers duct-taped to their faces. But it gets his lover off... and isn't that what lovers are for?

Your lover has had things—she's had you—on her terms for four years, SFF, which means you're going to have to play the breakup card. It's the only leverage you have. Tell her that if she can indulge your fetish—happily and regularly—and take some pleasure in giving you pleasure, she might be "the one." If she can't or won't, she obviously isn't. (Not that "the one" is anything other than a destructive myth, but for the sake of winning this argument, go ahead and use it.)

Finally, SFF, don't let the girlfriend—or anyone else—tell you that you're threatening to end this relationship over something trivial. Sexual fulfillment is important, particularly if your relationship is exclusive. And the "triviality" of your kink cuts both ways: If your kink is so trivial, why not just indulge you then? And in a long-term relationship—or a marriage—one partner's sexual selfishness and another's sexual frustration rarely prove trivial over the long haul. They're more often grounds for divorce.

Could you wax philosophical for a paragraph or two, Dan, about a column from a few weeks ago? I want to know what makes Sexually Frustrated Fetishist's preference to involve feet in sex morally preferable to his partner's preference not to do so? Why is her insistence on her preference "selfish" while his insistence merely reflects his "sexual fulfillment"? More generally, what's the reason for your tendency to side with the person who wants to do x, even to the point of encouraging infidelity, over the person who doesn't want to do x, when the more intuitive answer might be "Gee, maybe you guys just aren't sexually compatible?"

Skeptical Erotic Compromises

I don't always side with the kinksters, SEC. I've sided with women who didn't want to cuckold their husbands and with straight guys who didn't want to have same-sex contact during a threesome. I encourage people to be good, giving, and game (GGG), which only requires us, as I've explained, to consider our partner's reasonable sexual requests. I've never suggested that any and all sexual requests must be fulfilled.

I'll wax now: The odds that any one of us will wind up with a partner whose sexual interests align perfectly with our own are essentially zero. Since no two people are a perfect fit sexually, SEC, both partners must engage in a good-faith give-and-take to craft a mutually satisfying sexual repertoire that doesn't leave either person feeling resentful or badly used. Does everyone get everything they want? Nope. But each of us has a right to put our needs out there and a concurrent responsibility to meet our partner's needs if at all possible. And each of us should have the sense to pull the plug when the sexual disconnect is too great.

As to what makes SFF's request reasonable and his girlfriend's refusal unreasonable, SEC, it comes down to just what is being asked of the nonkinky partner. All SFF is asking is for his girlfriend to kick off her shoes and allow him to treat her feet the way another man might treat his girlfriend's breasts. It's not too much to ask, and an unselfish lover wouldn't regard it as too much to give.

Letter from Sexually Frustrated Fetishist originally published December 10, 2009. Followup question from Skeptical Erotic Compromises originally published on January 7, 2010.


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