We often associate balloons with the childhood thrill of a birthday party. Whether you were one of the kids who inhaled the helium and made funny sounds or one who popped balloons around the dogs and babies to gauge their response – playing with balloons was usually a fun time. For most of us, our experiences playing with balloons teeter out with age. That is, except for the thriving community of looners, i.e., folks who become sexually aroused by balloons.
Exploring the Looner Community
The looner community is an unsurprisingly fun crowd. As a sex coach, who focuses on working with folks with extreme fetishes, I have had the pleasure of speaking to several folks with a balloon fetish and learning about their experiences. The excitement around balloons can manifest in many ways. For some, the desire has to do with blowing the balloon up right to the brink of explosion, and not knowing when it will explode, almost like balloon edging. For others, it is enjoying the feeling of the balloon on their skin, exploring sitting on balloons, and rubbing them against various body parts.
The looner community has a significant online presence with many video pages, discussion boards, and social media platforms. One of the largest communities, Blow to Pop, has discussion boards with hundreds and thousands of views, asking pertinent questions like “What are some Balloon shapes you wish existed?” and “What is the longest you’ve humped a balloon for?” There are also a lot of supportive comments normalizing the fetish and giving tips on how to talk to partners about less common desires.
How Does a Looner Fetish Develop?
As with all desires, folks are drawn to a balloon for several reasons. Many Looners have a childhood experience that associates their balloons with earlier sexual desires. For example, PandaLooner on Reddit shared, “I started with more of an inflatable fetish. I had a lot of inflatable carnival toys when I was younger. I’d racked up quite the collection (and popped my fair share from riding too hard, too). I was about ten years old or younger, and I was in my room one day and was playing with my toys. I was casually riding one of my gamers, acting like I was a rank commander, and it started to feel weird. I didn’t know what was going on but I liked the feeling so I kept doing it until climax.” In time, the desire to play with inflatable toys expanded to include balloons.
Twohunnidstax had a similar experience, sharing, “When I was younger, I used to watch these game shows on some Latin TV programs that had balloon pop races. Sometimes, they had couples race to pop balloons on each other in different ways. Other times, they had multiple women sit to pop on a guy’s lap forwards and backward. There were times when they had girls in bikinis pop them on the beach for the fun of it.” In time, the arousal shifted from the related sexual activities to the balloons themselves. In both of these experiences, the balloons (or similar inflatables) played an essential role in their earlier erotic experiences. These earlier experiences often imprint our sexual selves, and impact our sexual preferences moving forward.
What Does A Balloon Fetish Look Like?
A balloon fetish can involve many activities, from enjoying watching balloons inflate to using balloons as a tool for stimulation to enjoying watching balloons pop. In addition, folks have different preferences regarding the scent, sound, thickness, and color of the balloons that do it for them. There are even some balloons explicitly made for folks with this fetish. Indeed, the discussion boards heavily debate which balloons are better for having partnered sex, which expand the most before popping, and which, if any, work best for putting genitals inside.
There is also a distinction in the community between folks who enjoy hearing balloons pop (poppers) and folks who dislike seeing balloons pop (non-poppers). I spoke with J Looner, a self-proclaimed semi-popper, which for him means that he rather see balloons pop in front of him than be the one doing the popping. He shared, “I used to be balloon phobic since I can remember… popping them terrified me. However, Somehow when I reached puberty, I started to have strange feelings about them. I started fantasizing about seeing girls bursting balloons, and I became scared and excited about seeing that in front of me.” Anxiety and arousal can present similarly in the brain, so it makes sense that some that grew up with balloon phobias were able to eroticize this fear.
Having a fetish in a world that still has a long way to be in becoming sex-positive can be difficult. However, as long as you are only exploring your desire with consenting adults, there is nothing wrong with being turned on by anything. Nobody should make you feel ashamed for having a fetish, especially such a cute, albeit unusual, one. One looner I spoke to put it best, “Remember, your fetishes make you unique. it’s a part of you that helps define your unique sexuality. Be Proud!”