Disclaimer: I’m not any kind of credentialed expert and psychology is a soft science at best. That said, I’m probably the best you’ve got. Anyway, it wouldn’t be da blergh without occasional masturbation-posting.
On Godcast 208 at timestamp 1:25:22 an e-mailer asked for advice on dealing with his fat fetish. The tl;dr is he has normal tastes in women for the most part and has dated normal-sized girls in the past and enjoyed it, but morbid obesity (specifically morbid obesity) is also a strong turn-on. SuperLutheran suggests trying to go halfway on it, maybe by marrying a halfway obese girl or a powerlifter or something. This is bad advice and requires correction. The e-mailer should trust his moral instinct here that he should not indulge these urges.
It stems from a common misunderstanding about how fetishes work. For example, on another recent TRS podcast (can’t remember which unfortunately) they express frustration with Zoomers complaining about having a breeding fetish, because to paraphrase “breeding is literally the only thing that by definition can never be a fetish”. This is an incorrect understanding that can be chalked up to literalism about definitions over the reality of the thing, because if you were to look into breeding fetishism-type porn you would be able to say with certainty “This is pathological.” It doesn’t matter if you can’t explain exactly why, when it’s in your face it’s undeniable. That will remain true whether the explanation I offer next is any good.
There are two aspects to a paraphilia: the thing itself and a person’s connection to the thing. The thing itself could be dysfunctional by definition by being physically impossible, like giantess fantasies, or by being dangerous and unhealthy, like gay sex, and so on. There’s no healthy expression of giantess fantasies. Everybody basically understands this. Fat women are like a less serious case of gay men where it’s very unhealthy but not quite as dangerous in the short term (figure they die at 50 rather than 30). On the other hand, there are things that can be good or neutral where a paraphiliac has an unhealthy relationship with it. If your wife isn’t into handcuffs and you’re so fixated on them that it ruins your marriage, then it doesn’t really doesn’t matter if there’s a healthy or neutral version of the thing, it’s still pathological. This is where fetishism is a serious problem, and SuperLutheran’s advice could be compared to encouraging a struggling alcoholic to find a woman who drinks a bit more than average. This requires a bit of explaining about the nature of fetishes versus kinks and ordinary sexual playfulness.
Consider vanilla, Puritan sexual activity to be something like baseline procreative behavior, i.e. you don’t even technically need to see boob. On top of that baseline, there are sexual desires so normal and natural that even though they’re technically unnecessary we wouldn’t dare to call them paraphilias, such as the desire to see and touch secondary sexual characteristics or actually like your spouse as a person. On top of that, there are all sorts of associated activities couples can do that can make sex more interesting through simple novelty or by changing the flavor (adding adrenaline with public sex is a common one). That still falls within the realm of ordinary sexuality because it isn’t overly particular, it could be compared to adding various spices to your food or going to different restaurants. Lots of people like Mexican food just fine but they could also go their entire lives without it and not miss it.
Kinks are where individuals are very particular about these associated activities for whatever reason (nature, nurture, probably falls on a spectrum). This is where they don’t simply enjoy public sex, it’s a thing for them. It’s not about variety and spicing things up anymore, it’s about the spice itself (by definition paraphilias are a persistent, recurring fascination). We still aren’t in the realm of pathology though, it’s pretty normal for people to have a thing or two that they’re into persistently, other than secondary sexual characteristics, that adds to their sexual enjoyment without taking away the enjoyment of procreative sex itself. It could be compared to having a longtime hobby outside of work, or being a whiskey connoisseur without being an alcoholic.
Fetishes are where it gets pathological. Fetishism is a type of addiction that, as it progresses, replaces normal sexual desires and activity. By definition, a fetishist can’t enjoy sex in the absence of the fetish, so it has effectively replaced the marriage bed. Hence the name “fetish”, which is synonymous with phylactery, an object that contains a spirit captured from something else like a Pokeball. A comparison with other types of addiction may be helpful here. Alcohol is like a spice for enjoying company and the whiskey connoisseur I mentioned will still enjoy a barbecue with his friends whether or not there’s alcohol. An alcoholic, on the other hand, is addicted and will pursue the social lubricant to the exclusion of the social. Don’t listen to the people who tell you alcoholism is about quantity, they’re talking out of their asses, addiction is a categorical difference. (Never mind that we can’t define it exactly, it’s an informal fallacy to dismiss the existence of categories just because we can’t define them clearly.) This is useful for making a distinction between substances that are dysfunctional by nature, like meth, versus those that people merely have a dysfunctional relationship with, like alcohol.
Now that you’ve heard all my theories on the subject, it’s time for some practical observations and advice.
Vanishingly few people, if any, are born 100% genetically screwed up. There are definitely patterns in the progressions these things take over a person’s life, and they depend strongly on formative sexual experiences (e.g. your first time) and exposure to specific porn. Most people you talk to with proper fetishes will tell you that they started off being fascinated with something before puberty, say fat women, that had they lived in a different time would just have developed into an inexplicable desire for the circus to come back to town like that one time when you were ten. Clearly there are people more genetically inclined to some kinks than others (e.g. sexual sadism appears to correlate somewhat with disagreeableness), but an addiction can’t progress when there’s no material to work with. For example, there wouldn’t have been any rubber fetishists back before the year 1800 because it didn’t exist.
The main reason I warn the OP e-mailer against pursuing his paraphilia is because, like homosexuality, it’s very easy for it to progress to more extreme forms and very difficult (potentially impossible) to dial it back. For example, let’s imagine this guy succeeds in getting a pleasantly plump girlfriend as SuperLutheran advised (homosex is a good comparison because it would be about as difficult). Let’s say they’re fooling around and he busts a nut for the first time while enjoying his fetish in real life instead of just in his masturbation fantasies. That memory is now in his head forever, and it’s going to invade his mind in the future when maybe he’s married to a healthy, skinny wife. If you pursue the paraphilia and bring it more and more into reality, you can’t take it back later and erase those experiences. Just like when Milo was getting molested as a kid, that’s a part of you now. And the more you go down that road, the more you’d better hope it’s compatible with your marriage bed because if it’s not then you aren’t going to be able to enjoy it.
I split the life history thing into formative experiences and porn because of separate experiences with easypeasymethod.org and nofap. Easy Peasy is great but, as I mentioned, removing porn doesn’t make nofap any easier, or at least it doesn’t for me. I still have a huge back catalog of porn in my long-term memory that invades my mind the moment my blood sugar gets a little low or I’m getting bored and angry while doing math homework. Basically arousal will happen all on its own, and it has no trouble bringing its own imagery if external stimulus isn’t available. However, an important point is that when you quit porn your sexual imagination doesn’t get any weirder than it already is–it’s stuck replaying and recombining things you’ve already seen–which could still be weird, but at least it’s not getting worse.
On the other hand, nofap does in fact normalize your sexual desires and imagination pretty quickly. The problem is that there isn’t an Easy Peasy equivalent that simply removes the desire to masturbate, so AFAIK it’s still a game of willpower and tricks that can break down easily when work gets tough and your wife becomes unavailable (and you’re used to getting some on the regular). This is particularly important at this moment in history because people’s willpower reserves, mental bandwidth for tricks, and simple time for prayer are lower than ever. Based on what another e-mailer said on the same Godcast episode, I don’t think I’m alone in struggling more with sexual frustration during times of nonsexual frustration–specifically the e-mailer said he knew guys who are struggling with homosexual urges right now more than ever for reasons they couldn’t understand.
It’s past my bedtime and this thing is already long and winding, so I’m not going to bother with a proper conclusion.