During the first term of my doctorate, one of our professors introduced me to the “Yes/No/Maybe” list. It’s a technique so simple, yet so effective, I was a little embarrassed that I’d never thought it of before. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the technique, it’s a super easy way of defining your sexual boundaries and communicating those boundaries to your partner.
Here’s what you do:
Step One: On a piece of paper, or in a word processing program, make three columns labelled “Yes” “No” and “Maybe.”
Step Two: Under “yes” write a list of your sexual wants. This is anything and everything that turns you on and gets you off. It doesn’t matter if it’s kinky, vanilla, or some delicious combination. All of us have specific things that work for us sexually. Writing them down helps bring our needs into focus.
Step Three: Under “no” write a list of your sexual limits. These are your no-can-do, won’t-go-there, non-negotiable boundaries. Again anything goes. There are a few items on my list “no” that most would consider very softcore...like tongue-kissing, which super-grosses me out.
Step Four: Under “maybe” write a list of the things you’re willing to try, even if they aren’t your specific turn ons. For example, I don’t find bondage especially arousing but I’m certainly game to try it if my partner is really into it.
Step Five (optional): Compare notes with your partner. Anything that appears on both of your “yes” lists, means you’re good to go! Stuff on both “no” lists is off the table. Sometimes you’ve put something — anal sex, for example — on the yes list and your partner has it on the maybe, well that’s an activity that’s up for negotiation. Talk about what makes it such a turn-on for you. Find out what they’d need to feel safe and comfortable, if they were going to give it a try. Stuff that’s on the no list isn’t going to happen, at least not with each other. If your partner is “yes” on something you’ve put as a “no," don’t panic. When it comes to having our sexual needs met, there are lots of options from fantasy to toys to having more than one partner. It all depends on what you like and what works for your relationship.
This is YOUR list. It can be set it stone. It can be fluid and ever-changing. It’s your life, your sexuality and your list can reflect whatever works best for you.
If you’re doing this activity with a partner, I suggest working on them at a time when sex isn’t imminent. Horniness is fab, but it tends to render the thinking part of the brain less effective.
Also, this exercise seems to work better if partners work on their lists separately. If you’re married or living together, you can set a timer and head off to different parts of your home to write. Once the timer goes off, reconvene — maybe with a bottle of wine and go through your lists together.
Looking for more sex-related solutions? Check out the app that helps you talk to your kids about sex. And find out what you should know before using the NuvaRing!
photo by Justin Van Leeuwen
Body image issues suck—and not in a good way—but it isn’t only our own struggles that can get us down. You may know your sexual partner is a stone fox, but if they aren’t feeling their own sexiness, it can be tough on a relationship. Personally, I’ve had major challenges with self-confidence and self-image throughout my life. Not only has that been hard for me, it’s been hard for my partner. It’s not fun seeing the person you love getting down on themselves. And it’s natural to want to help. So what do you do when the person you want to have sex with doesn’t feel like they’ve got it goin’ on?
Self-Esteem? Is A BITCH!
Sadly, negative input—hurtful comments, media images, bad experiences—seems to have a much deeper, persistent effect on our self-esteem than positive input. Recently, I read a theory that bad experiences generally leave us feeling unresolved, whereas positive experiences give us a sense of closure. So our brains can easily process and move on from the good stuff, but they hold on to the bad stuff, reliving the unhappy moment over and over and amplifying its significance in our minds. Whatever the reason, once someone’s in that dark space, it can be really difficult to find the way out.
Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to rescue someone else from that place. You look at your partner and see someone awesome and attractive. You want to look at them. You want to have sex with them. It may be utterly baffling if they don’t want to get naked or shy away from sex because they feel badly about themselves. But as much as you may want to convince them otherwise, true confidence isn’t something you can give someone else. It’s one of those comes-from-within deals—which doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t compliment your partner. I think it’s always nice to point out the things we sincerely like about one another. Just know that esteem and image issues can be tenacious. Rarely can we talk someone into feeling good about themselves.
But I must be able to do SOMETHING!
You may not be able to repair your partner’s self-esteem, but you can definitely support them in anything they’re doing that might improve their confidence. I can’t speak for everyone, but something I’ve found that builds me up is taking on new challenges and succeeding. When I stretch myself—whether it’s training for a race, working my way through my doctorate, or trying to bake a pie from scratch—the feeling when I finally accomplish my goal is a huge confidence boost. And no matter what it is I’m doing, my partner is always there supporting me, both emotionally and practically. He cheers me on. He helps make sure I have time to do what I need to do. He encourages me to keep going when I want to quit.
If you see your partner doing something that will help them feel good, encourage them. Let them know that you’re on their side. The more support they have, the more likely they are to succeed. It’s going to take time, but the more success they have, the better they will feel about who they are, both inside and out.
But I’m horny NOW!
Everyone has a right to their own sexual desires. It’s totally okay to want sexual stimulation and satisfaction—it’s part of being human. And even if your partner isn’t feeling up for much sex, there are still options for getting off. You can let your partner know that you certainly aren’t blaming them or holding them responsible for your sexual gratification, but that you’d like to explore some alternatives so that you can feel good, and they won’t feel pressured.
Sex with a partner who doesn’t feel sexy can be really tricky. And while you can’t give someone their mojo, you can love them and support them as they work to find it for themselves.
Over the years, I’ve been a babysitter, a daycare worker and a mother’s helper.
I’m the mother of a magnificent little boy and aunt to four wonderful girls. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had children in my life and there’s a lot to learn from life with little people
Something I’ve noticed time and again, is how happy most kids seem to be with their own bodies. Before they internalize all the nonsense about standards of attractiveness and pseudo-sexiness, a lot of children seem to have the body acceptance thing down. Here are three examples of what I mean.
1. Being naked? Is AWESOME!
Have you noticed how kids love to be naked? They way the frolick for joy when air hits their skin and how they actually RUN AWAY when you try to put clothes on them? Definitely frustrating when you’re running late for a clothing non-optional appointment but I really love how un-self conscious kids can be about nudity. For little ones it’s nothing to do with looks and everything to do with the joy of feeling free. That’s how I want to feel about my body!
2. The Jiggly Bits? RULE!
Speaking of naked, have you noticed how little kids like to shimmy furiously so their part flop and jiggle? Or how they’ll push their tummies WAY out? Or make the weirdest faces they can manage? And how they actually want people witness these antics? It’s a great reminder for me that there’s so much to enjoy about my body that isn’t about striving for grace and perfection. The fact that I can make my parts wobble, wiggle, stretch, shrink and twist around in bizarro ways is pretty freakin’ rad!
3. HOORAY For Growing Older!
When kids are little we celebrate the signs of aging. We track their growth with marks on a wall or put a little money under the pillow when their baby teeth fall out. When you’re a kid, getting older is a reason to celebrate. When does that go away? I stopped growing taller decades ago, but now I have lines on my face that track my progress in life. And now that the grey is creeping into my hair, couldn’t I tuck a strand under my pillow for the Grey Hair Fairy?