A balloon fetish is a sexual fetish that involves balloons. A balloon fetishist is also referred to as a "looner".Some balloon fetishists "revel in the popping of balloons and may become anxious and tearful at the very thought of popping balloons". Others enjoy blowing up balloons or sitting and lying on them.
Like many Fetishes, the origins of a balloon fetish are complex and vary between individuals, but may be explained as a form of sexual imprinting. Many "looners" attribute their fetish to early sexual or pre-sexual experiences with balloons, often involving their being burst by members of the desirable sex. These experiences frequently accompany or instigate a phobia of balloons in the individual, most often associated with the sudden loud noise when they burst, a form of ligyrophobia.
Depending on the extent to which this phobia persists through and after puberty, balloon fetishists may regard balloons bursting as either essential to the sexual experience (and frequently refer to themselves as poppers), or to be avoided at all costs (as non-poppers). Even those who are not phobic of the act of a balloon popping may prefer not to pop due to an anthropomorphized emotional attachment to the balloon. One hallmark of the distinction between poppers and non-poppers may be in seeing balloons' bursting either as a metaphor for orgasm, or as a metaphor for death.
That popping balloons is central to several popular party games suggests that enjoyment of the act, the challenge, and the anticipation of popping is not confined to fetishists. However, for fetishists the adrenaline rush associated with the "danger" that a balloon will pop produces a sexual response. This helps to explain why even non-poppers who have an intense phobia of balloons popping in non-sexual contexts may be aroused by the possibility within safe sexual contexts. It may even suggest that balloon fetish, for poppers and non-poppers alike, is part of the BDSM spectrum of fetishes in which a controlled amount of danger is used to elicit a pleasurable fight-or-flight response in participants.
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