What is FetLife and who is it for?
FetLife is not technically a dating site; it's more of an online social networking platform where people can talk about their kinds, fetishes, and BDSM fantasies.
Founded in 2008, the FetLife site was created on the basis of providing a safe place for people to bond over similar sexual interests. Instead of focusing on finding a romantic relationship, FetLife centers on connecting others so they can discuss, educate, and explore one another's interests with BDSM and all things spicy.
The homepage says it has over 10.7 million members (although not sure how many are active profiles!), 167k+ groups, and a ton of (16k+) events/meetups as well.
Is FetLife legit?
The answer to this question depends on your definition of legit. As far as this being a real site where people can legitimately connect, then yes, this is def a real, legit site. As far as safety comes though, it's not as legit. While doing my FetLife review, a few Google results hinted at some FetLife related crimes that happened to victims who connected through the platform. I also looked into other FetLife reviews to see what they said about it.
My personal opinion is that it's a legit site to use on its own, but with real repercussions if you're not careful! Even though it's not a “dating site” per se, and focused on finding “play partners” you should screen who you're talking to and always make sure to meet up in a public place the first time you meet someone.
If you’re exercising precautions on your end, the platform itself is great, and doesn’t appear to be scammy like issues with payment processing, canceling, taking your money and not letting you cancel, etc.
It looks like they’ve improved their verification process as well and will be prioritizing profiles on FetLife.com that choose to do it. Users can verify with their government ID, or a profile picture!
How does FetLife.com work?
FetLife works a bit differently than other dating sites (even in the BDSM space) because it focuses more on the social aspect than the matching aspect. Here’s the skinny:
Once you sign up, you’re dropped into a main feed that’s similar to a social network. You’ll be able to post updates, photos, videos, writings (aka longer posts) in order to meet and connect with others. You can also explore other member’s feeds to find who creates a spark!
FetLife doesn’t “match” you with anyone since it’s focus is on community and finding others to have fun with, so you’re left to explore the filters, groups and feeds on your own. If you like someone, you can engage with their posts, message them, add them as a friend, or follow them.
The nice thing about FetLife is you can choose from pre-created “filters” so your inbox is only open to what you wanna see!
The tl;dr on FetLife
In case you don't have time to learn everything you need to know about the FetLife dating site, then I'm here to help. Here's what you need to know:
How to delete FetLife account: if you want to delete your account, just click on the pic of your lil face in the top right corner, and then click on "account". To the right, underneath "become a supporter", click on "deactivate/delete my account". Tap on permanently delete, confirm password, and click on delete account.
Can you delete all FetLife account info? Yes! FetLife says it permanently deletes all your info once you request to delete your account, which a lot of sites don’t do. I was happy to see that.
Is FetLife free? FetLife does have free options! It’s mostly free, with some paid features that I’ll get into a little later.
How can I verify my profile? First, go to https://fetlife.com/verification and choose whether you want to get your profile verified via government ID or a picture on your profile. Then continue completing the verification steps. You will receive a notification once the FetLife team reviews your profile.
What is FetLife’s ‘Kinktionary’?: a list of BDSM terms to help those who are new to the scene or who just don't know a certain term.
If FetLife a dating app? They call themselves more of a social network for BDSM, but if you’re into BDSM as a dating interest, you can def use it for that.
Can I export all my data from FetLife?: You can!! Hallelujah. In your Account Settings, go to “account” then scroll to the bottom. You’ll see a big “Export Your Data” button.
Does FetLife have 2FA?: They do!! If you go into your account settings, there’s an option to set it up.
Is there a FetLife mobile app?
Yess there is a FetLife app, but you won't find it on Google Play or the App Store. Confused? I was too - it was the first time I've come across downloading an app this way. Before you start, open up Fetlife.com on one of their supported browsers - turn off incognito mode if you're using it! The next steps depend on which device you are using:
For Chrome on Android:
- Click on the menu in the top right of the Chrome browser.
- Tap on "install app".
- When you see the installation pop-up, click on "install" again.
For Safari on iPhone and iPad
- Click on the share icon at the bottom of the Safari browser.
- Hit "add to home screen".
- Change the name of the app if ya feel like it.
- Tap on "add" in the top right corner.
For Chrome and Edge on Windows and MacOS
- Click on the 3 dots … menu in the top right corner of your Chrome or Edge browser.
- Hit "install Fetlife".
- Tap on "install" when you see the pop-up.
Leave it to an alternative site to use an alternative way of downloading their app!
What's the signup process like for Fetlife?
Since I walked you through the mobile app process, I'm going to show you how to sign up using the desktop version.
The first page of the signup process is pretty…sexy. It's EXACTLY the type of design I would expect from a site like this - red, black, and gray. I want to get into a few of the field options here:
- Gender: There are a LOT of options!! The good news is I can choose up to 3.
- Orientation: Again, a ton of choices here. Some I've never even heard of but am ALL here for it! I get to pick up to 5…loving that I can choose more than one.
- Role: for those new to the BDSM scene, this is how you identify in the bedroom. There's a healthy selection here, but I gotta narrow it down to 5. Oh, and if you don't know some of these terms, FetLife offers a "kinktionary" to help you out.
Next up, adding an avatar! Interesting that they called this an avatar instead of a profile picture. This BDSM dating site allows users to add photos that aren’t of their faces, plus the option to skip and come back to it later. ALSO. FetLife uses the term "kinksters" to refer to its users…I love the cheekiness of this site and how they really play into the sex part of it all.
I verify my email address to show I'm a real person.
It's not a main feed, but I guess it's the closest thing to it? Anyways, this is what it looks like when I'm done signing up in THREE easy steps!! OH and BTW, expect NSFW ads popping up on the screen.
This screen is really similar to using a social network platform – I can add an update (“What’s on your kinky mind?”), photos, videos, writings, organize an event, etc.
I can also switch to…
- Group activity feed: This shows me recent updates from groups I’ve joined.
- Anything I’ve written, my recent status updates, pictures, and videos.
More options on this main screen are exploring groups, who I’m following/have friended, kinky & popular, fresh & p*rvy (which was NOT my style btw), and stuff I love. I can also take a look at,
- Places (so if I’m traveling I can find others on FetLife!)
- Writings from others
- A page dedicated to all the “Fetishes” so I can find people, groups, etc.
Setting up a FetLife profile
The FetLife profiles include all the information you signed up with, and a few extra items. Here’s an example of a well filled out profile:
These items can be added to (or ar shown automatically on) a profile:
- An about blurb.
- Your relationships or dom/sub relationships with others on the platform (kind of like Facebook’s “In a Relationship With” option…).
- Your fetishes (which has an EXTENSIVE list.)
- Website links, like IG.
- Photos and videos.
- It shows friends, followers and who someone is following.
- You can also see if someone is a Lifetime Supporter and if they’re verified!
- Activity feed (social media style).
- What you are and aren’t looking for! See image below.
What are the search features for the FetLife site?
There's a lot to search for on Fetlife. Here's some of the things I could search by:
The “Fetishes” search is pretty extensive. You’re dropped onto a directory page to click through Fetishes, and see ones you’re tracking. I didn’t add those images here because I’ll spare you some of the… unique… items! It’s pretty spicy and niche.
But here’s an example of what happens when you click into a fetish page. You can find kinksters interested in it, related groups, similar fetishes, and more!
One thing I noticed (that I still haven’t figured out!) is while I can search by location, fetish, etc… I can’t seem to search by age range?
Is FetLife free to use?
Yasss baby!! But if I want to access EVERYTHING, then I need to make it rain with some $$. Let’s look at what I could do for free vs. a paid account.
Free vs. FetLife Supporter subscriptions
I was able to do a ton for free such as create my profile, join in discussions, and check out live events. But I was excited to find out that I could do even more if I support FetLife…
Free FetLife features
There were a good amount of things I could do for free! Here's what they were:
- Join a discussion group.
- Search for pics, discussions, posts, etc.
- Browse for local kinsters.
- Send messages to users.
- Follow others and see who's following me.
- Check out events to attend.
- Upload pics and vids.
- Post a writing.
- Create a photo album.
- Organize an event.
- Start a group.
- Search and follow fetish tags.
I also had the ability to mute groups and tags if I wanted to, in my account settings.
Support FetLife paid membership
For only $5 a month…I feel like I need to play some Sarah McLaughlin in the background as I talk about becoming a "FetLife donor" LOL! I'm laughing too hard to write, so I'm going straight to what you can do when you support FetLife today:
- Get a "I support FetLife" badge to proudly display on your profile.
- View all pics, vids, and writings.
- Look at everything I liked and bookmarked on the site.
- Go back 25x further in your activity feed.
- Customize the activity feed (and by that… I mean all the options below)
I thought the prices for the FetLife website membership were pretty affordable. Here's the breakdown:
- $30 for 6 months.
- $60 for 12 months.
- $120 for 24 months.
- $240 to use the site for life!
What sets FetLife apart from other kink dating sites?
Besides being a social networking platform instead of a dating site, there's a few other things that set Fet Life apart from the rest of the sites I've tried. Here's what they were:
- Discrete mode: Spy on the fly with discrete mode! This setting replaces the FetLife mobile app logo with a generic logo and hides any site info on notifications.
- Discover events: You can easily search for events by using FetLife's map to connect with locals in your area.
- Lots of groups: There are plentyyyy of groups to join where you can talk about pretty much any fetish from hair pulling to feet. And they’re actually active, unlike a lot of other dating sites!
- Kinks & fetishes directory: Add what turns you on to your profile so that you can easily connect with others based on your interests.
- Social aspect: And of course, even tho I mentioned it before… this is pretty unique because it has a lot of social media and community style content. So if you’re looking to know someone inside and out, you can browse their feeds, see what they’re writing, check out their activity, etc.
- Relationship display: Even though this felt like FB all over again, being able to tag someone as who you’re in a relationship with (or a D/S relationship with!) is pretty awesome.
- Price: This was super cheap compared to other dating (errr… social network) BDSM sites! Affordable enough to experiment with.
Pros and cons of Fet Life
FetLife app has some pros and cons as most sites do, but what are they? Hmm…
What I like about Fetlife
The FetLife site kept me intrigued and there was plenty I wanted to learn…here's what I enjoyed:
- Beginner friendly - even has a kinktionary to teach terms.
- A niche site for those who want to get their freak on.
- Lots of ways to communicate.
- You can get to know more about a member on FetLife than other dating sites due to the community format.
- It’s really active compared to other BDSM and kink dating sites!
- Being able to see who is a FetLife supporter (paid) and verified.
What I didn't like about FetLife
There were a few red flags flying when I was checking out Fet Life. Here's what they were:
- Desktop version is wayyy outdated.
- Hard to detect the fake profiles from the real ones.
- Doesn't have a clean history, though they’ve put steps in place to help verification/safety.
- There isn't a way to clean up the feed and remove NSFW stuff if you don’t want it! Other BDSM dating sites have the option to turn of NSFW in case you’re in a public place (or *ahem* WORK.)
Final thoughts for my FetLife review
I really enjoyed exploring FetLife and all it had to offer. In these crazy times, it felt good to "escape" a bit into my own little fantasy and connect with others doing the same. However, since this is not a dating site, not everyone has the best intentions in mind, so exercise extreme caution when meeting someone, especially for the first time.
I was able to chat with a few people who were def on my level, but overall I wasn’t into the full community style of this, as I’m really looking for a hottie to connect with on a range of different interests rather than strictly BDSM. Also, I’m a bit new (still!) to BDSM and kink dating so this was a bit too niche for me.
Oh! Here are some of my other BDSM dating site reviews if you wanna explore beyond just FetLife: