Plushophilia: A Peek Into A Misunderstood Sexual Interest

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated June 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Plushophilia, also known as plushie fetishism, generally refers to a sexual interest in stuffed animals or anthropomorphic creatures, often depicted as animals with human-like features. Despite its relative prevalence, plushophilia is often marginalized and misunderstood, which can lead many individuals with this interest to feel ashamed and isolated. Education, advocacy efforts, community resources, and online therapy can all be helpful for those living with plushophilia who are seeking support.

Embrace self-acceptance by understanding your sexual interests

The different forms of plushophilia

Plushophilia can take many forms, from simply appreciating the comforting qualities of stuffed animals to a full-blown sexual fetish. Some common forms of plushophilia can include a sexual attraction to specific types of plushies, such as teddy bears or cartoon characters, a desire for cuddling or comfort from plushies, and a sexual interest in using plushies as props or substitutes during sexual activity.

The debate around plushophilia: Is it harmful or healthy?

Whether or not plushophilia might be harmful or healthy often depends on the individual and context. For some individuals, this fetish may be a harmless and enjoyable aspect of their sexual lives, while for others, it can become problematic or interfere with their daily lives. It is generally best to approach the debate around plushophilia with empathy and a non-judgmental attitude and to recognize that every individual's experience might be unique.

The role of fantasy and roleplay in plushophilia

For many individuals with plushophilia, fantasy, and roleplay can play a significant role in their sexual interests. This might involve imagining themselves as a plushie or in sexual scenarios with plushies as partners. Using fantasy and roleplay may be a beneficial and enjoyable aspect of sexual expression, potentially allowing individuals to explore their desires and fetishes in a safe and controlled environment. However, ensuring that all parties involved consent and feel comfortable with the activities is often essential.

Navigating relationships and sexual partners as a plushophile

Finding accepting partners who have their interests can be challenging for some individuals with plushophilia. This may lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation and make it difficult to form intimate relationships. However, connecting with others through online communities or in-person events and having open and honest communication with potential partners can help to ensure everyone is on the same page and comfortable with each other's sexual interests.

The future of plushophilia: Acceptance and inclusion

As society becomes more accepting of diverse sexual interests, plushophilia will likely continue to gain recognition and acceptance. However, there may still be work to do in promoting education and understanding about this fetish and combating the stigma and discrimination sometimes faced by those with this interest. By advocating for acceptance and inclusion and promoting education and knowledge about plushophilia, a more supportive and inclusive society may be created for all individuals, regardless of their sexual interests.

Getty/Halfpoint Images

Common misconceptions about plushophilia and why they may be wrong

There may be many misconceptions and stereotypes about plushophilia, such as the belief that it can be inherently harmful or perverted, or that it may be a sign of immaturity or emotional instability. These misconceptions may not be based on fact and generally only perpetuate stigma and discrimination against those with this fetish. 

It may be necessary to challenge these misconceptions and approach plushophilia with an open mind and a non-judgmental attitude. Plushophilia can be a complex and diverse aspect of human sexuality and should not be reduced to stereotypes or misconceptions. By recognizing the complexity and individuality of this fetish, a more accepting and inclusive society may be created for everyone.

Overcoming shame and finding empowerment as a plushophile

For many individuals with plushophilia, shame and embarrassment can be significant barriers to self-acceptance and fulfillment. These feelings may stem from societal stigma and internalized feelings of guilt or self-doubt. However, it can be possible for those with plushophilia to overcome these feelings and find empowerment and self-acceptance. This may involve seeking support through online therapy or community resources and engaging in self-reflection and self-discovery. By embracing their sexual interests and finding pride in who they are, individuals with plushophilia can overcome shame and find a sense of self-acceptance and fulfillment.

How society can support and embrace plushophiles

Society typically has a role in promoting acceptance and inclusion for all individuals, regardless of their sexual interests. This can involve advocating for education and understanding of diverse sexual interests and working to combat stigma and discrimination. In addition, society can also provide support and resources for those with plushophilia, including online therapy, community resources, and education and advocacy efforts. By promoting acceptance and inclusivity and providing support and resources, a more supportive and fulfilling world may be created for those with plushophilia and all individuals with diverse sexual interests.

Benefits of online therapy

One benefit of online therapy for individuals with plushophilia may be the opportunity to process and explore their feelings in a safe space. Therapy can provide a supportive environment where individuals can discuss their experiences, beliefs, and desires related to their fetish without fear of judgment or discrimination. Plus, the comfort of attending online sessions from one’s home can make it more convenient for plushophiles to get the professional support they deserve.

Effectiveness of online therapy

A study by Nina Wong Sarver highlights the potential effectiveness of therapy in treating individuals with sexual fetishism. The study used two evidence-based modern behavioral interventions, behavioral activation, and sensate-focused therapy. The therapy focused on addressing behavioral avoidance symptoms associated with fetishism and depression. Over six weeks, the patient is reported to have no longer met the diagnostic criteria for fetishism and experienced significant reductions in depressed mood, anxiety, and stress. This case study shows that current behavioral treatments may successfully treat individuals with rare and complex symptom presentations, including those with plushophilia, who may otherwise be neglected within the medical system. In addition, this study reports that online therapy is generally as effective as in-person therapy, showing that either option may be helpful for those with plushophilia who wish to seek the support of a licensed therapist.

Getty/MoMo Productions
Embrace self-acceptance by understanding your sexual interests


It can be essential to recognize the diversity and complexity of human sexuality and to acknowledge that varying sexual interests exist. Individuals with plushophilia should not be judged or marginalized based on stereotypes or misconceptions. For those who may have plushophilia, seeking support and understanding can be a valuable step toward self-acceptance and fulfillment. Online therapy, community resources, education, and advocacy efforts can all promote a more inclusive and supportive world for those with this fetish.
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