Tickling games are interpersonal or social activities involving the tickling of one person by another. Many people find tickling to be a pleasurable experience in its own right, but also an erotic experience. Some people are sexually excited by being tickled or by tickling another person. Some people engage in tickling games as part of a social activity, or as part of a couple bonding process or as foreplay.
Knismolagnia is the experience of “arousal from tickling”. Acarophilia, often confused with knismolagnia, refers to arousal from scratching. Excessive tickling has been described as a primary sexual obsession and, under these circumstances, is sometimes considered a paraphilia. People whose sexuality is based almost solely on tickling can be said to have a tickling fixation. This fixation may also exist outside of sexual contexts.
Tickling is a form of physical intimacy involving a highly sensual touching of the body of one person by another. Tickling also serves as a bonding experience between friends, and is an indication of familiarity and trust. Between adolescents, tickling often serves as an outlet for sexual energy, with erotic games, foreplay and sex being the motivation of the tickler.
It is classified by psychologists as part of the fifth and highest grade of social play that involves special intimacy or “cognitive interaction”. This suggests that tickling works best when all the parties involved feel comfortable with the situation and one another.
Some people find the tickling of virtually any part of their body to be pleasurable, and some people are sexually excited watching others being tickled. It can play a part in courting rituals, especially among younger people, and can form part of foreplay for many partners in the term’s broadest sense. Popular tickle spots include the feet, navel, armpits, breasts, nipples, ribs, sides, stomach, and genitals. The body openings and erogenous zones are extremely ticklish; however, the tickling of these areas is generally not associated with laughter or withdrawal.
Those with a tickling fetish are likely to enjoy this activity to the exclusion of other pre-sex activities. For some, the focus is entirely on the tickling, with full intercourse less important or not included at all. Tickling is mostly associated with the bare feet or armpits. Examples of tickle models are Lindsay Leigh and Jade Valentine.
Some people take part in tickling games or contests that test their endurance to being tickled, for amusement, for erotic pleasure, or for other reasons. These games may involve some form of physical restraint of the person to be tickled to prevent them protecting the ticklish spots or otherwise interfering with the game. Common positions for tickling are the over-arm tie, the hogtie, spread-eagle, with the person being tied up, cuffed or in stocks. The restraints may be left loose to increase the amount of possible movement, but short of the person being able to protect the ticklish spots. On the other hand, some participants prefer very tight bondage. The tied person may also be blindfolded to increase the anxiety and surprise element.
The objective of such games is to generate uncontrollable writhing, struggling, laughing and vocalizations etc., from the person being tickled, while the person tries to control such reactions, without the ability to physically defend the ticklish spots. In dominance and submission scenarios, sexual partners may agree upon a safeword to signal that tickling should stop.