From phobia to philia…

When I was a child I was terrified of balloons popping. I have three early traumatic memories (that probably happened between the ages of 3-5) of balloons popping but can’t remember the chronological order they happened in, but I think they were the formative experiences for my phobia at that age. One memory is of going to a friend’s birthday party and seeing a clown jumping around on a bouncy castle that was absolutely laden with balloons, and he was jumping on them to pop them and picking them up and popping them with his hands. I freaked out and cried and had to be taken home. Looking back on that it is surprising I didn’t also develop coulrophobia (fear of clowns) at the same time lol. Another memory is of being in front of the fireplace sitting on a yellow balloon and it suddenly popping and scaring me badly, and the other memory is of looking out of my living room window and seeing a blue balloon stuck in a bush, I ran out to retrieve it but it popped as I was trying to pull it out (makes me wonder how it got in there in the first place lol).

Because of this, any parties I attended as a child where balloons were present, I would be covering my ears the whole time in case they got popped and I wouldn’t enjoy myself. Of course, other kids would notice this and mock me for it or pop them near me to try to get a reaction from me. So I pretty much just stopped going to any parties unless I was told up front that there would be no balloons. I remember once when one of my cousins was having a birthday party and she told me there would be no balloons just so I would go to it. Of course, when I got there, there were balloons all over the floor and lots of rough play going on with them. Within minutes one popped and I was out of there immediately lol. I was often teased for my fear by friends and family, I specifically remember an aunt who used to love blowing up balloons and putting them behind her back and telling me she had a pin in the other hand just to see my reaction. So I never trusted other people around balloons at that age, it seemed that most kids just wanted to pop them, and especially if they saw the kind of effect it had on me, so I would try to hide my emotions around balloons in public but it was difficult.

Because of the high potential of popping in public/around other people I almost saw balloons as evil, but on my own with no one else around, I found them fascinating. I loved playing with them but I would never dare blow them up very big at all, I liked to keep them at “safe” sizes, very underinflated! I used to test my bravery with them by putting them inside my sweater and laying on them and seeing how much weight I could put on them. They never popped when I did this but from as early as I can remember it would give me an erection, which I had absolutely no understanding of at the time (I actually associated it with fear in my mind, like it’s the body’s natural reaction to being scared of something). Every once in a while I would take a pin and try to pop one whilst using my other hand and a shoulder to cover my ears, and over time I reached a stage where I could easily pop small balloons with a pin without covering my ears, but I knew it was because of the control; with the pin I had complete control of knowing exactly when the balloon was going to pop and I could prepare myself for it. I knew the next step was getting comfortable with balloons popping when I wasn’t expecting it.

Then one day when I was 11, towards the end of primary school, I decided I just had to get over my fear of balloons before I got to secondary school or the other kids would surely end up finding out about it and make my life a living hell. So I took an orange balloon (every looner remembers the color of their “first” balloon right? lol), blew it up as big as I dared, I remember it had a neck, tied it, put it up my sweater, wrapped my arms around it and lay on it squeezing hard and wriggling around on top of it trying to get it to pop. I remember shaking hard, from fear I assumed at the time, just waiting for the balloon to pop when the next thing I knew I was having my first ever orgasm! That was the day it became sexual for me, the day I became a looner, and the day my phobia changed or at least started to develop, into a fetish. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I still have some fear of popping but it fluctuates and never gets as bad as it used to when I was phobic, but at the same time, it will probably never go away 100%. Sometimes the fear is what drives the fun, with the adrenaline and the shaking and the fast heartbeat, but other times it can be so blocking and frustrating and really get in the way. But for me personally, the fear is like the grain of sand in an oyster that begins the formation of a pearl (or the fetish), which is of course much larger and more predominant than the grain of sand, yet could not exist without it.

L.R, 31 years old, England UK

2 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    This is a great article. And really hits close to home. A very similar thing happened to me. There’s one distinct memory of which I’m almost certain where my phobic side came from. Like you, at around 4-5 years old I was sitting on a balloon that I had taken home from a party the night before and the next thing I know it had popped. I asked my parents if there was another balloon I could have but unfortunately there was not.

    Ever since then a phobia grew and grew. I never really told anyone at school, and luckily my family was respective of the phobia, so compared to you I had it relatively easy going. Apart from the occasional party where I couldn’t play with anyone because they were playing with balloons and had to leave the room/building. However over the years in my own privacy I would be fascinated by them. Whenever I would get my hands on one from a party bag I would dare to put a few puffs in to it.

    2017 marked my first purchase of “bigger” balloons from Balloons United. (Bigger than your standard 12 inches). However, I still very much under-inflate them then deflate them, and always wear eye protection and ear-phones playing loud music. I love the idea of B2P’s; blowing them up as big as possible before they explode, and am fascinated by B2P’s on YouTube but I can still get nervous even just watching, most often I have to check at what time it will pop so I can turn down the volume before it happens.

    Bearing in mind I am currently 23 years old it was just last week I was blowing up a balloon and just randomly had an urge to tie it up and pop it, my heart started racing but I didn’t want to think too much. I knew that once I had tied it I could not turn back. For the first time in my life I had tied a balloon up, it was nice being able to squeeze it and hold it but I had to decide how I would pop it. I finally decided I would put on my headphones, blare some music, and pop it with my feet (so it’s the furthest from my ears! Lol). Unsurprisingly it was very satisfying but I still don’t feel ready to B2P, as excited as I get when I think about it.

    I’m hoping since hitting this milestone last week of popping a balloon on purpose for the first time I can explore and dip my feet a bit more and maybe get a bit more daring but I unfortunately doubt I will ever be at a point where I could happily B2P without a second thought.

    In a way I still wonder how much different my life would have been if my parents had found another balloon that day.

  2. Retl
    Retl says:

    I can relate with this so much. And living with the phobia long enough to see it not only be the catalyst of some of the worst memories but also morph into a fetish is a very strong way to cement the values of personal boundaries, trust, compassion… And unfortunately the value of keeping weaknesses and fears secret, since most on this planet won’t share a respect for it.

    (I remember stabbing a classmate in the back of the neck with a pen for intentionally blowing up and popping a balloon during class just because they knew I had issues with it. Enough to draw blood but not enough to paralyze or kill. I got in a lot of trouble from that, but for the rest of my time at that school my balloon issues were always due to public events and not peers. But I’m sure I night not be here today if it had done more damage, so I can’t say it was a good response, panicked or not.)


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