Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

Fetishism is fun, but I had to put my foot down

Later that night, I watched in fascination as he tried to fit my entire foot into his mouth. Never one to shy away from a bit of adventure, I got my very first pedicure the next day. I have always prided myself on my open-mindedness when it comes to sex: with past boyfriends, I have learnt to avoid accidental candle-wax burns, perfected the art of tying a square knot and squeezed into a seriously uncomfortable white PVC nurse's uniform.

Richard and I headed off to Selfridges, where he watched me try on seven pairs of shoes before I picked out some red leather Sigerson Morrison kitten heels. The feeling of spending more than £200 on shoes was a bit like losing my virginity - my palms were sweating as I handed over my credit card, I was racked with nervous anticipation and the entire transaction took less than two minutes.

And, for a while, I was in heaven. I loved the idea that I was fulfilling his deepest fantasies, he seemed to adore me, and he gave a mean foot massage. But it wasn't long before I started to wonder if his obsession with my size eights was eclipsing everything else in our relationship. He could not become aroused unless he was in direct contact with my feet, and my sex drive started shrinking at the same rate that my shoe collection was expanding. Hot sex took a back seat to hot baths, with him wielding a pumice.

Almost all my girlfriends have had an experience with someone whose fetishes left them sexually out of sync. "I had a boyfriend who was really into being dominated," says Alice, who has a very normal day job in property. "It was fun at first, but sometimes I didn't feel like having to brandish a whip after a tough day at work, and he didn't want to have sex any other way. In hindsight, I think he was a bit selfish."

As for Richard and me, our fledgling relationship hit the skids a few weeks later after I found out that he had sucked another girl's toes at a party. It was probably for the best, since the constant pressure to perform was getting pretty exhausting and I found myself uttering the phrase: "Were her arches higher than mine?" I ditched the strappy sandals, tended to my blisters and lived in flip-flops for weeks.

We stayed in touch, though. In fact, I met him recently for coffee with his girlfriend. After a year together, they looked blissfully in love, and I couldn't help noticing that her toenails were covered in glossy red lacquer so immaculate that I could almost see my reflection.

So it seems that there is someone for everyone. Right now, I'm hunting for a guy whose sexual tastes are a bit more in line with mine. But I definitely gained a lot from the experience - and I'll always have Richard to thank for my killer shoe collection.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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