I’m in a relationship with a very sweet and sensitive man. He told me once that he gets turned on by the idea of death, I found that odd, but we didn’t really talk much about it. I was fixing his computer for him this week and was surprised to find lots of videos and pictures of women (mostly from movies and videogames) suffering violent deaths. (By the way, i didn’t mean to invade his privacy, i just opened some folder by chance and the imagery was there). I’m very open minded about sex, i think that as long as one isn’t hurting anyone, every fantasy and desire should be fine and respected. But to be honest, the thought of him being aroused by women under violence, makes me uncomfortable. He is not violent at all in daily life. I don`t think he would hurt a woman in real life either. He was kind of an outcast in high school and faced many rejections from women; he told me he had his first girlfriend in his mid twenties. I’m guessing the fantasies might have been his way of coping with rejection. What would be the best way to address the subject, without making him feel judged or threatened? I really love him and even though I’m somewhat disturbed by this fetish, I would like to better understand what he thinks and feels about it. Also, from the beginning I’ve had the feeling that when we have sex his mind is somewhere else. He seems to have a hard time getting turned on and it takes him a while to be ready for intercourse. Could this fetish be the reason for that? Am I right by trying to take this lightly or should I be worried?
A: I think you have basically answered your own question by simply stating that you would like to better understand what he thinks and feels about this topic. The only way to understand him better is to talk with him directly. I could make lots of educated guesses and list lots of relevant diagnoses, but the only way for you to truly understand your boyfriend is to talk to him.
I agree that having specific sexual fantasies can be quite harmless and sometimes can be incorporated into a couple’s sex life. However, when the fantasies have to do with death and violence, the lines get a little blurry. Sexual disorders are classified under paraphilias, and a fetish typically involves being aroused by an inanimate object (like a piece of clothing) or a non-sexual body part (like a foot). Sexual sadism disorder involves becoming sexually aroused by the physical or psychological suffering of another person. However, to technically be defined as a “psychological disorder” the individual would need to be experiencing distress or impairment. Even though you find his fantasies distressing, your boyfriend may not.
It’s hard to say where his sexual associations with death may have begun and how ingrained they may be. If you really feel that he has not and is not likely to act on the violent urges, I would first encourage you to speak with him yourself. Just let him know that you were a little concerned by what he has told you and what you accidentally stumbled upon on his computer. Reassure him that you just want to understand him better to improve your relationship. If, however, you feel you need more support or you aren’t sure how to do this on your own, I’d suggest finding a therapist in your area who specializes in sexual dysfunctions. Many couples are able to work through sexual issues in a few sessions and it tends to improve communication in general. I hope this information helps.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 May 2014
Counts, H. (2014). Boyfriend Has a Death Fetish. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/05/15/boyfriend-has-death-fetish/