Objectum sexuality, or objectophilia, is a subtype of platonic love focused on particular inanimate objects; this attraction may have strong feelings of love and commitment to specific items or structures of their fixation and insight into our way of accepting living and adapting as individuals who are in love with objects (Domnita Mihaela, 2020).
What is Objectum Sexuality?
This is a rare phenomenon where people have a deep emotional and physical attraction to objects instead of other humans. Only a handful of cases have been documented, but they stem from object attachment rather than more conventional sexual attraction (Domnita Mihaela, 2020). The most famous case was Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, who married "The Berlin Wall" in 1979 (Scally, 2013). Although she still claims to be in love with her husband, she has admitted that she does not have sex with him. However, she does talk about him like he were a person and even refers to herself as Mrs. Mauer. Lest I fail to mention actor David Hasselhoff, who has gone from "Baywatch to Wallwatch," is the second person married "The Berlin Wall" (Scally, 2013).
Another notable examples include "The Unmarried Widow," who has had a relationship with "The Eiffel Tower" since 1997 (Cassar, 2016).
Are you sure it's not just a fetish?
A distinction is sometimes made between objectophilia and fetishism. The primary difference is that, while both fetishes and objectophilias are sexual preferences, the love is directed at an inanimate object or a specific part of that item in a fetishistic relationship. There may be no interest in engaging in any intercourse, whereas people with objectum-sexualities believe that their partner loves them for who they are, not for their body parts--hence, not a fetish. Additionally, other people might use terms like 'fetishist' or 'weirdo' to describe someone with these attractions, but from reviewing the available research on OS: individuals with OS appear to have more respect for their objects than do fetishists.
Another distinction is that objectum-sexuals often claim that they have been attracted to objects since childhood (or even birth) (Simner et al., 2019), whereas fetishists develop their attraction later. Some experts argue that it isn't even possible to become attracted to an object after adolescence. So what is the difference between being attracted to a thing; and being in love with it?
Objectum sexuality is typically seen as falling under one of three categories:
- People are attracted to objects such as furniture or vehicles,
- People are attracted to non-sexual parts of things, and
- Fetishists for particular objects.
Being in love with an object makes more sense when you remove it from its context; there's no need to be in love with a sentient being (especially if a said being doesn't want you in that way). The only person you should be in love with is yourself—and whether or not you recognize it, most of us are already falling in love with ourselves without ever consciously acknowledging it.
So what does it mean to fall in love with something else? While some psychologists use objectum sexuality interchangeably with objectophilia, others see it entirely as two different things. According to Dr. Chris Donaghue, sexologist and author of Sex Outside The Lines, objectum sexuality is about having a strong emotional connection with an object. It's about loving someone independently of their physical form (Donaghue, 2015).
That means that even though someone might feel sexually attracted to a particular item, they can still maintain relationships with other humans—or even other things. Some OS people consider themselves polyamorous, which means they're open to dating multiple items at once.
The relationship between you and your object
To know more about objectum sexuality and how it works, I started with defining what objectum sexuality is. Although there has been no specific scientific research conducted on objectum sexuality (there are doubts about its existence), it would be classified as a paraphilia by psychologists and sexologists (Domnita Mihaela, 2020). There are numerous types of paraphilias. To review, paraphilia is a condition in which a person needs particular stimuli to become sexually aroused or experience sexual pleasure. Such stimulus often deviates from society's socially acceptable fetishes (e.g., BDSM).
Objectum sexuality may fall into that category, too, but I find it challenging to narrow it down as fetish specific. However, it could be considered that most people who feel attracted to objects have difficulty communicating acceptance of their feelings because the social concerns for their love of objects aren't normal or natural and thus try to hide them. But in reality, it is not unheard of for people to feel attracted to things like cars, boats, houses, vibrators, dildos, etc.; however, not at all confident if these objects' love can be considered the same as OS?
Advice if you are interested in an OS relationship
Because it's not something that people are commonly aware of, there can be some strong prejudices towards people who have relationships with objects. I understand how hard it can be to find acceptance in society when your love and likes differ, especially when that difference comes with a taboo attached to it. Therefore, as always, my first piece of advice is to follow your heart, do what makes you happy, and not let others' opinions stand in your way.
If you want to start a relationship with an object, give it a try. The worst-case scenario is that nothing happens--but remember, if anyone has anything negative to say about your relationship, it isn't anybody's business but your own. So again, do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.
What do you do when your partner loves something else more than you?
True love conquers all, right? But what happens when your partner loves something else more than you? People with OS may feel unable to express their feelings towards specific objects for fear of adverse reactions from friends and family, and that's okay. Your personal private preference is of your own accord. If you choose to keep your preferences confidential, that's fine. You shouldn't be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed if you want to keep them secret.
If, however, there comes a time when you wish to share these preferences with others, then please understand that they will probably react negatively at first until they get used to it. Indeed, this doesn't mean they don't accept or love you; they need time to adjust and get comfortable with your choices in life.
The best thing we can do is educate ourselves so we know how best to support each other through these situations.
As always, play safe, my friends.
Cassar, J. (2016, August 28). Objectum sexuality: Erika Eiffel explains her love of... News.com.au. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/marriage/the-woman-who-married-the-eiffel-tower-wants-to-set-the-record-straight-about-objectum-sexuality/news-story/16ceeea4086c1b1b70dfac607f04a7d0
Domnita Mihaela, K. (2020). Objectum sexuality or objectophilia. International Journal of Advanced Studies in Sexology, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.46388/ijass.2020.13.14
Donaghue, C. (2015). Sex outside the lines: Authentic sexuality in a sexually dysfunctional culture. BenBella Books, Inc.
Scally, D. (2013, April 1). Hasselhoff marries Berlin Wall. The Irish Times. Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/hasselhoff-marries-berlin-wall-1.1345340#:~:text=Swedish%20woman%20Eija%2DRiitta%20Berliner,rare%20condition%20called%20Objectum%2DSexuality.
Simner, J., Hughes, J. E. A., & Sagiv, N. (2019, December 27). Objectum sexuality: A sexual orientation linked with autism and synaesthesia. Nature News. Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56449-0
The woman who married the Berlin Wall. Berlin Love. (2015, June 10). Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://withberlinlove.com/2014/12/19/the-woman-who-married-the-berlin-wall/