Savage Love: Foreign Affairs 

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I’m 25, I’m virgin, and I find it quite difficult to relate with girls. My main problem is I can’t accept my sexuality. I’m into fetish SM. But it seems like there are two parts of me. The first part of me wants to lick women’s feet and be humiliated. The second part of me can’t accept the first part and only wants to love and be loved by a girl. I would say there was nothing wrong if I could just lick feet to get the relationship a bit more “spicy,” but the problem is that I think I can’t excite myself the “traditional way.” I had a few girlfriends in the past, and when it was the time to penetrate, I got instantly limp. I’m going to a therapist now. In my past, there were issues with parents divorced in a horrible way and a violent father. My therapist said there is an Oedipus complex and I could be freed if we work on this. So this is why I hope going away from home will make things get better. Fetishists are considered perverted and are mocked in the country where I live, so it’s really difficult to find girls interested in this stuff to try to explore.
–Fetishist Exposes Erotic Troubles

You can accept your sexuality, FEET, but for a host of reasons—shame and fear being the likeliest culprits—you refuse to. By choosing to view your desire for kink and your desire for love as mutually exclusive—someone can love you or they can humiliate you, but they can’t love and humiliate you—you have succeeded in creating a crippling case of performance anxiety.

And now you’re working with a Freudian therapist—they still make those?—who believes kinks can be cured with couch time and moving vans. Your therapist is wrong. Jesse Bering is a research psychologist, a science writer, the author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, and one of my go-to guest experts. Here’s what he told the dad of a teenager with a far rarer kink than yours: “If it’s true that Pokémon lights this boy’s fire… there’s not much [this dad] can do about his son’s ‘pathetic’ orientation. By age 17, his son’s singular erotic profile is pretty much fixed, like it or not… Nobody knows why some people are more prone to developing unusual patterns of attraction than others. But whether it’s a penchant for Pokémon, feet, underwear, or spiders, the best available evidence suggests that some people—mostly males—have a genetic predisposition for being ‘sexually imprinted’ during development.”

So, FEET, at some point during your sexual development, you imprinted on feet and erotic humiliation. You can pathologize your kinks by viewing them as rooted in the violence you were exposed to as a child, or you can take comfort in the fact that there’s no proven link between abuse and kinks. The violence you witnessed/suffered at home as a child may be an unpleasant coincidence, not a root cause, and either way, it shouldn’t prevent you from reconciling the two parts of your adult self—the guy who wants a woman to love him and the guy who wants a woman to order him to lick her feet.

And here’s how you’re going to do that: You’re going to get online and find the kink personal ads in your country, and you’re going to post ads and respond to ads. I know kink personals exist where you live, FEET, because I managed to find some in two minutes. If the fetish scene in your country isn’t big enough, or if you’re worried about exposure and mockery, get your ass to London or Berlin and explore the booming hetero fetish scenes in those cities. Want to gain some experience and some confidence? Find a nice pro-Domme where you live and become a regular. A business relationship with a pro-Domme is unlikely to blossom into love, FEET, but a few sessions with a pro-Domme you like—and who likes you back—will help you see that affection and SM can go together.

Finally, FEET, I don’t know what your financial/work situation looks like, but spending a few months in a city with a large kink community—a summer in New York or Berlin or Seattle—could be a transformative experience. Throw yourself into the kink scene, go to the munches and parties, and you’ll meet kinksters who are open, unashamed, and capable of loving their partners even as they humiliate or are humiliated by them, aka “role models.”

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