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  1. #1

    The Question of Ethical Tickling

    I had a conversation recently with a fellow kinkster about the double-edged sword of a "socially acceptable" kink. They were to the impression that it was easier to indulge because most people perceive tickling as a (fun or creepy) form of flirting.

    We all grapple with ethics in our own way - what is okay to do, what is okay to fantasize about but not do, what is not okay to fantasize about - and I am no arbiter of the subject.

    For me, consciousness of the sexual nature of my fetish makes tickling random female friends unethical because it is obtaining arousal or sexual gratification without their knowledge or ability to willingly consent. Instead of passing a Level One physical touch threshold, they think its Level One but I know that for me its Level Three.

    How does having a tickling paraphelia/fetish adjust who, when, and how you engage in tickling?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    I enjoy tickling both sexually and platonically, so I can engage in it without feeling aroused. It depends on the situation. If I'm playfully tickling a friend, I probably won't feel turned on. But even if I do, I can control my sexual urges.

    I usually don't make the first move and I prefer not to make any moves unless the situation is appropriate. If a friend starts tickling another one of my friends for example, I might join in. I won't engage in something like a couple tickling each other only, without being prompted by one of them.

    I have my fantasies of course, though I don't really have nonconsensual ones.

    ~Cinder

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    I've kept it to relationships where there was an already accepted level of playful physical contact (which are easy to develop); definitely avoided a lot of awkward situations.
    Proud Non-Member of the Elite

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    People with tickle fetishes dwell too much on whether it's "ethical" to tickle someone if they aren't aware of your fetish or the right now to tickle someone. The great thing about a tickling fetish is that it's so unknown that the vast majority of the population aren't aware of it or would even suspect you of having one unless you flatout told them. Tickling is something people do to one another all time, so just treat it as such when you tickle someone unfamiliar with your kick. I'm assuming you'd already be friends or well enough equated where it really shouldn't be awkward.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    VA
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    I don't go around screaming "I HAVE A TICKLING FETISH, TICKLING GIVES ME SEXUAL AROUSAL!" but I make it quite clear I'm "into it" in that way. I've tickled platonic friends with them knowing it's my kink while still kept on the "vanilla" level, but pulling that off takes a degree of tact.
    Quote Originally Posted by AdmiralBeatty View Post
    LOL dude. I've tickled nearly 300 women. I think I would know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Hi, Straps-

    Very interesting question.

    I wouldn't tickle a random person or even a vanilla friend *period*, unless it were discussed beforehand. Even though tickling is 'friendlier' than grabbing ass or hand on the thigh, it is still unwanted and unwarrented physical contact, regardless of the intention of the tickler.

    That being said, I see where you are coming from regarding intention and appreciate the ethical question. My thoughts are that touching or performing an act on someone for one's own sexual gratification without consent of the other person is morally and ethically wrong, and in many places, it is considered assault.

    To some, it may sound like I am going overboard here, but consider the other side~ being on the receiving end of 'innocent' sexual intention is not fun, and A LOT of recipients can tell the intention of the act, even if the actor does not necessarily think they can.

    Thank you for bringing up this topic.

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  7. #7
    The great thing about a tickling fetish is that it's so unknown that the vast majority of the population aren't aware of it or would even suspect you of having one unless you flatout told them.
    This is the position of the other person in question, but exactly why it is an ethical question. Boiled down:

    If everyone viewed tickling as inherently sexual, casually tickling someone would be a much more weighty matter than it is. Does the fact that its impact on my is concealed make it less problematic?

    I think for me personally, Ms Black raises the key point:

    being on the receiving end of 'innocent' sexual intention is not fun
    I perceive it as a more egregious violation of personal space, autonomy, and consent when I do it versus if a person without the kink were to do it in the normal course of crossing physical thresholds.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by jklopez View Post
    People with tickle fetishes dwell too much on whether it's "ethical" to tickle someone if they aren't aware of your fetish or the right now to tickle someone. The great thing about a tickling fetish is that it's so unknown that the vast majority of the population aren't aware of it or would even suspect you of having one unless you flatout told them. Tickling is something people do to one another all time, so just treat it as such when you tickle someone unfamiliar with your kick. I'm assuming you'd already be friends or well enough equated where it really shouldn't be awkward.
    I agree with this. The world is filled with people who enjoy tickling the crap out of people even if they're not "into" it like most of us are. People like to tickle others, period because of the power and control it gives them. A lot of that dynamic is older vs. younger, i.e. the wicked uncle tickling his helpless niece to death. Happens all the time but isn't sexual. In "our" context though people get horrified. The fetish is relatively unknown, every woman I've dated/flirted with, fooled around with that I told I liked to tickle was amazed it was an actual kink some guys have.

    Awkward is only when it's strangers or something random. Having done some of that too though I can't judge lol.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    634
    I dwell on this too, sometimes. I very rarely tickle other people but over the years other people (friends, coworkers, acquaintances) have sometimes tickled me -- and when they discover how ticklish I am, a percentage of those proceed to tickle me again on another occasion, and another subset proceeds to tickle me on multiple occasions. Probably at least 95% of those interactions have been entirely platonic, friendly, non-sexualized and usually not even flirtatious. Often they're people who are in monogamous relationships with someone else, as I often have been as well; there's no apparent romantic dimension to the tickling at all.

    Is it problematic that they don't know that I have this complicated private relationship with tickling? When these people tickle me, I do try to escape/prevent the tickling; I do say things like "Stop it" or "Don't" -- of course all those reactions, while sincere, are reflexive; they're also the exact thing the tickler expects to see and hear from someone they're tickling, and sometimes they don't stop right away, because that's often how tickling goes in many acceptable social contexts.

    Is it problematic that, when I reflect on some of these encounters later, I sometimes find the recollection perversely provocative? My instinct is to say no -- I might also, after all, fantasize on any given day about an attractive coworker because of something she said or the way she smiled or the way she crossed her arms. But this situation seems a little different insofar as it's a tactile interaction.

    My conclusion has always been that it's ultimately not problematic enough for me to do anything about; it seems like the only things I could say that would dissuade the tickling would be things that would create greater social awkwardness or -- worse -- draw the other person explicitly into an uninvited intimacy.

    But it is something that occurs to me sometimes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    126
    Both ObsessedTickles and jklopez put it perfectly. What goes on in between your ears is no one else's business, ever. It can only become a problem when you let it out.

    In fact I would talk it a step further and say that actually telling a human being whom you have absolutely no sexual relationship with, or intention of getting in with, that you "are into tickling and it's a turn on" is itself unethical.

    How about a real world example: you're at a pool party minding your own business, wading in the shallow end, and a female platonic friend (not your wife or girlfriend) floats by on an inflatable raft thingy, face down, and look at that, her two gorgeous feet are inches away from your fingers. Are you playfully scribbling those soles for 3 seconds? I sure am (every time!) with zero guilt whatsoever.

    SAYING something to her later because for some reason you feel guilty about it, like "I'm sorry I tickled your feet in the pool, I feel obligated to tell you that that's a sexual turn on for me" would be highly inappropriate, awkward, and I would argue, unethical, as it forces her into your sexual world for a moment. Moreover someone who did not ask to go there.

    Which is why I will argue till the day I die that it's smartest to keep this to yourself, people. Let your wife or husband eventually know, or an extremely intimate partner when you get to that stage. That's it!

    Quote Originally Posted by ObsessedTickles View Post
    I agree with this. The world is filled with people who enjoy tickling the crap out of people even if they're not "into" it like most of us are. People like to tickle others, period because of the power and control it gives them. A lot of that dynamic is older vs. younger, i.e. the wicked uncle tickling his helpless niece to death. Happens all the time but isn't sexual. In "our" context though people get horrified. The fetish is relatively unknown, every woman I've dated/flirted with, fooled around with that I told I liked to tickle was amazed it was an actual kink some guys have.

    Awkward is only when it's strangers or something random. Having done some of that too though I can't judge lol.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    I can’t say I have been in a position to tickle some one playfully in a long while, but I ddon’t Think I would unless my curiosity was truly spiked. I tickle kids, but I’m a 100% playful way because there’s a detachment there. But adults is different.
    Find me on Instagram and OnlyFans: ticklenotts

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeezil View Post
    Which is why I will argue till the day I die that it's smartest to keep this to yourself, people. Let your wife or husband eventually know, or an extremely intimate partner when you get to that stage. That's it!
    Why on earth would you wait until after you've married someone to tell them about your fetish?
    I think there are a lot of unhappy married men on the forum who could tell you stories about that.
    Proud Non-Member of the Elite

  13. #13
    To those who are saying that the question is overanalyzed, I want to make sure I understand the rationale:

    Is the platform that the act is okay if the recipient doesn't realize it has an additional sexual component?

    Both ObsessedTickles and jklopez put it perfectly. What goes on in between your ears is no one else's business, ever. It can only become a problem when you let it out.
    The great thing about a tickling fetish is that it's so unknown that the vast majority of the population aren't aware of it or would even suspect you of having one unless you flatout told them.
    Are you playfully scribbling those soles for 3 seconds? I sure am (every time!) with zero guilt whatsoever. ... SAYING something to her later because for some reason you feel guilty about it, like "I'm sorry I tickled your feet in the pool, I feel obligated to tell you that that's a sexual turn on for me" would be highly inappropriate, awkward, and I would argue, unethical, as it forces her into your sexual world for a moment.

  14. #14
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    I kinda look it as akin to other activities that can be sexual or not based on context. Dancing is a good example of this; you can dance with your mom at a wedding, and you can dance with a hot stranger at the club. Same activity, but far from the same thing in context.

    Also, all kinds of people we'd term "vanilla" have used tickling as a means of flirting, and have had tickle fights that led directly to sex. It's not necessarily 100% devoid of potential sexual implications even among vanillas.

  15. #15
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    Sep 2002
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    126
    Quote Originally Posted by Straps&Laughter View Post
    Is the platform that the act is okay if the recipient doesn't realize it has an additional sexual component?
    To answer Straps&Laughter: yes, that is exactly the argument/platform. It is precisely okay because a quick and playful tickling of someone's foot in a pool like that does not have sexual connotations at all in our society at large, even if it does with us. Or in this example, in the tickler's mind (again: his business). In fact it's completely irrelevant what it did or did not do for the tickler. I'll flip the example: Let's say a 100% out gay man playfully grabs a girl's butt at a party, or her boob, out of the blue, without asking. In that case, though there was no sexual connotation/desire involved in the gay man's actions at all, THAT would be still be considered inappropriate and unethical (and arguably a form of sexual assault), precisely BECAUSE touching someone else's genitals is socially regarded as sexual in nature, regardless of who's doing it. A quick tickle of a foot? Nah.

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