Heather, a Communications Volunteer with FPA, is here to share a great way for you and a partner to get to know each other's desires.
Communication is the key to amazing sex, we all know that. The only issue is lots of us find talking about sex with our partners incredibly awkward. I spend a lot of my time reading, writing and, yes, talking about sex, consent, kinks, the whole kit and caboodle. But put me up close and personal with a partner and I’m no longer able to say anything vaguely useful. For a while, I coped with just moving hands to the places I wanted them, but that only satisfies a very basic level of desire.
So if you're like me and really want to start a discussion about the direction your sex life should be taking, what should you do?
My suggestion? Go home, head to your room, dim the lights, and whip out your…
I came across the idea of sex lists while reading Oh Joy, Sex Toy and totally fell in love with the idea.
So, how does this list thing work?
- You create a list with all of the sex acts you can think of (the link above contains a pretty good one if you're having a bit of a mental block or there is this one which is very comprehensive).
- You send the list to your partner.
- You separately (and that is important) write by each act a yes, a maybe or a no.
- Collate your results and let the sex begin!
Why sex lists rock
Other than playing into my ultimate fantasy of having a sexy spreadsheet, why is this a good idea?
Firstly, it starts a conversation with your chosen sex buddy. This is so important because communication is probably the most critical aspect of a healthy sex life. Letting your partner know what you like is great, it can sometimes be difficult to bring it up. This is a handy way of indicating your desires without that really awkward first time conversation.
The second benefit is it gives you time to research alone. One of the reasons some people feel uncomfortable talking about their fantasies is that so many sex acts are seen as taboo. And if you’re a touch kinky - on top of having to tell someone you like that kind of thing, you might have to actually explain what it means. That can feel like it just reinforces how “other” your interests are (even if they aren't at all) and make you less likely to bring up new ideas. Or you have the opposite situation, where people will agree to try acts without knowing what they are because it's embarrassing to admit you don't know what your partner is talking about. With a sex list, you can look it up independently so you know what you're saying yes to.
Get more confident with what you both want
You also get to set your hard limits outside of the bedroom. Limits should always be negotiated outside of the sexy zone because it's harder to say no when you’re getting physically intimate. People often deal with things they aren't really into because they worry if they say they want out it might spoil the mood. That's not a good reason to deal with stuff you don't want to and your partner should be paying enough attention to know whether or not you're having fun. Having an open chat about what would kill your buzz before you're in that situation helps to reduce that pressure. Also just knowing your partner wants to know what you are and aren’t into will give you more confidence with some flexible boundaries.
And finally, you get to share your research! Maybe you read a really hot bit of erotica while looking up Dominance and Submission. Maybe you saw some awesome strap-on porn or just found some cool looking sex toys you'd like to use. Remember, sharing is caring and showing your partner you looked into the stuff they ticked as a yes is one hell of a turn on.
Your sex lists can also be edited whenever you feel comfortable changing things. It's a fun way to bring your sex life into the 21st century – set up an online account where you can both see your sex spreadsheets and you can send a cheeky text telling them to look for any updates before you see them next.
Sex lists with extra twists
There are also loads of fun variations on the sex list. One of the issues I have is with terminology used for my various bits and bobs. I personally hate any overly clinical terms used to describe my body.. So writing lists of words you like to use to describe your body and swapping them is very useful. You can then spend an evening exploring each other's bodies, using language that makes both of you feel sexy and comfortable.
I also love a team colouring exercise I've seen – you each draw a body that best represents yours (or print one off if you’re like me and you just keep drawing blobs rather than bodies) and get out your best pencils. Decide between yourselves what colours represent what and then colour areas you love being touched, places you don't like being touched, areas that they need to be gentle around and bits where more pressure is actively encouraged. This is a lovely way to explore each other's bodies without taking your clothes off, and to judge the colouring box your prospective partner has (sorry guys, I only put out for Crayola).
Having written material (which I stress can be edited whenever you like) that makes what you like and want explicit makes consent so much easier to give and look for. It makes moving from sex act to sex act more comfortable, especially for those of us who struggle with non-verbal clues. And on top of everything, you get to know your partner so much better and you're starting a conversation which is the best way to have the best sex.
Heather has previously worked as a Consent workshop facilitator with the NUS' 'I <3 Consent' Campaign and now runs her own workshops in schools in East London. Follow Heather on Twitter