People ask us all the time how they can have better sex, spice it up, or try something new. The answer is almost always communication!
But telling people "You need to communicate about sex with your partner" often isn't enough information to help people feel confident when it comes to talking about sex. At Self Serve, we know communication is easier said than done.
Sometimes we need a prompt to help us figure out what we want to talk about. Maybe we aren't aware of all the diverse types of sex people can have, or you're worried about how your partner might react when you tell them what you want to try. Maybe you have a hard time actually getting the words out of your mouth!
That is why we absolutely LOVE the idea of a Yes/No/Maybe list, also known as a sexual inventory checklist. This is a tool we recommend everyone have in their sex toolbox, especially when you might be having sex or starting a relationship with a new partner or partners. There are lots of different lists out there with different focuses. Some are better for BDSM play, some are focused on open relationships or polyamory and some are more generalized.
Here are a few of our favorite lists that you can find for free online.
This is probably one of our favorite lists because it's so comprehensive! It covers body boundaries, words and terms, relationship models and choices, safer sex and overall safety items and behaviors, sexual responses, physical and/or sexual activities, non-physical (or not necessarily physical) activities and birth control/reproductive choices. That's a lot of things!! The other great thing about this list is that it differentiates between what you feel comfortable with for yourself and what you feel comfortable with a partner doing. Scarleteen is a phenomenal donation-based website that provides medically accurate comprehensive sex education for teens and beyond. Please consider donating to them to keep them going online! Also, they translated this list into Spanish!!
Sex educator, Bex included three lists which are really smart, really detailed, and expanded from the usual lists we see. The Sex list breaks down the usual 3 columns into 5 because there's a difference between what you want to do because it turns you on and, and are happy to do for someone else if it turns them on. And things that are a "no," might be a really definitive hard "no" (because it brings up emotions, triggers trauma...), or just something you're not interested in. It's useful to know.
The Kink list has the 5 columns, but also has a separate page for feelings you want to experience from each activity, or the scene as a whole. As Bex points out, a scene that involves spanking could be about humiliation, reward, or sadism/masochism. They all carry different feelings and so it's not so simple as saying "yes, I like to be spanked/give spankings." We have to know what the goal of the spanking is!
And then there's a list for Language. Language? Yes! Because what we call our body parts, the names we might call someone else or have them call us, and the way we describe sexy acts can make or break our play together. There's nothing like calling someone "my Shmoopie-Pie," or telling them your going to "fuck their twat," and having them cringe away from you, to ruin an otherwise hot time.
There are two downloadable versions of the lists, one you can fill out on your computer and one you can print and fill out by hand. You need to think about what to write on the list, but once it's filled out, it gives a very comprehensive picture of how you feel about different activities and how to build play or a scene that is sure to satisfy!
This is a great list for anyone who is interested in, or is already in an open or polyamorous relationship. This list focuses on some of the different dynamics that might come up in open relationships, such as relationship titles, levels of partnership, being out to friends and family etc. It's primarily focused to lay out what you feel comfortable with your partners doing with other people or partners.
We know we all have different learning styles, and some of us like information to be presented in a visual way. Autostraddle created a really sexy, sleek stocklist to help you and your partner(s) figure out what turns you on and off and what lies in between. It talks about what you want to try, sex toys and lube, what turns you on, preferred language and terms, thoughts and fantasies, personal boundaries and where you and your partner intersect. Check out the downloadable PDF here!
This list has a bit of everything, and while it isn't as in-depth as the Scarleteen list, it's definitely a great place to start getting to know your own sexual fantasies or your partner's. This list also offers up some other important questions you might want to ask yourself or a partner before getting down.
"How willing are you to explore outside your identified sexual orientation? Are certain parts of your or a partners body off limits? What kind of sexual aftercare do you prefer? Do certain sexual acts or scenarios trigger post-traumatic response? What other acts make you uncomfortable (being seen fully naked, eye contact during sex, etc.)? Do you have any medical conditions or allergies that affect your sexuality?"
It's our hope that with these lists, you can go forth and get yourself into all kinds of fun, sexy situations with confidence!