Perhaps you’ve used sexy talk in the bedroom to convey what you desire or what you hope to do with your partner(s)…weaving sultry sentences together in a heated moment of passion may even come quite easily to you. Alternately, maybe you’re not as open about your fantasies and would like help being more vulnerable regarding communication around your sexuality. Hot pillow talk can be fun and can enhance your sexual experience, but it’s not meant to function as an intentional tool for comprehensive communication. One can always do a deeper dive examining and getting clarification on both their own and their partner’s desires…and a Yes, No, Maybe list is akin to the legend on a sexy-ass treasure map.
Yes, No, Maybe lists are a great way to start an authentic and honest conversation about your wants, needs, desires, and comfort levels around sex.
A Yes, No, Maybe list can be pre-existing and ready to fill out or organically made by two or more people to help establish sexual activities they want to, don’t want to, and might want to do together. They are a great way to start an authentic and honest conversation with a partner or partners about your wants, needs, desires, and comfort levels around sex. They can vary from more typical sexual practices through to the kinkiest things your deviant little heart might dream up. Some more detailed versions also include areas to note prior experience with an activity, spots for additional commentary, or space to explore nuances around certain erotic endeavors. There are also some that are made for different experience levels, lists for novices just starting their sexual journeys, and those more suited for the experienced cooks in the proverbial kitchen. Heather Corinna and CJ Turett of Scarleteen, a fantastic sex-ed site for teens, created a list that incorporates words and terms, different types of relationship models, safer sex behaviors, birth control and reproductive choices, and various physical and non-physical sexual activities for younger or less experienced folks.
Sex Educator Bex Caputo, has a fantastic Yes, No, Maybe list that also discusses how you want to feel during sex and what language you may or may not want to use during play. We also are including our own list for your reference below that merges some of the best aspects of various lists you might find online.
A list that leaves space for your own ideas is also advisable as no singular list can ever be fully inclusive and cover the entire spectrum of the human sexual experience.
The most critical thing is finding one for you and your partner(s) that addresses the subjects to help you gain more personal and relational understanding. A list that leaves space for your own ideas is also advisable as no singular list can ever be fully inclusive and cover the entire spectrum of the human sexual experience. You can always go off-script, mix match and merge elements of multiple lists until you have a list that covers the topics you want to consider.
Sex can be an awkward subject to broach, even for the most sexually actualized folks. The Y/N/M can take some pressure off of having to organically discuss the subject of certain sexual acts from a zero starting point because you already have a framework to work to guide you. It can also help introduce subjects that might have felt previously too taboo to mention…or new things you never even realized existed! There is the possibility of missing out on mind-blowing, new experiences when you avoid exploring areas of your sexuality.
Knowing what you want from sex is as important as knowing what you don’t want from it.
Our sexuality and sexual interests morph and change as we grow and you never know what new interests may be just around the corner waiting for you. Knowing what you want from sex is as important as knowing what you don’t want from it. These lists are often presented as a way to open up to a partner when you might have been too afraid to share desires or kinks for fear of judgment or shame. It’s not a bad idea to review the Y/N/M on your own first. Presenting activities within the context of a larger list where people can note that they had enjoyed something in the past or were interested in trying something in the future is always helpful. When you are ready to share your list with another person it allows for a free dialogue around why certain behaviors seem more appealing, intriguing or hot while others come off as scary or out of the realm of consideration.
You can introduce the idea of filling out and comparing a Y/N/M at any time that feels right to you…these lists are intrinsically personal and you should only share yours with someone who has earned your trust and you feel emotionally safe with. Some people like to approach these lists in the earlier stages of a relationship to gauge sexual compatibility and some folks might introduce it later on as a way to refine or expand the sexual repertoire they have within an existing partnership(s). Either you or your partner(s) may experience some anxiety around sharing a Y/N/M so it’s important to set the scene to be as loving and considerate of a space as possible. All parties keeping an open mind and setting ground rules that allow for an honest and vulnerable and supportive discussion is key.
A Y/N/M that was pertinent last year may not fit next year or a decade from now. You can also be inspired to try different interests with different partners so doing one with each partner is a good idea as each individual’s sexuality can vary widely. What spins one lover’s wheels may send someone else into a screeching halt. One activity that might not seem appealing at all with one person might feel super sexy when contemplating someone else. No one is a mind reader. It’s difficult to enjoy yourself or someone else if you have no idea what is or isn’t on the sexual menu.
Y/N/M can even help expand the “menu” itself. If the idea of another sex session that follows the exact sequence of events you’ve been doing for months or years makes you bored to tears, this tool might help shake things up without you having to totally reinvent the wheel. It also can lighten the load between partners and make new sexual experiences a fun collaborative adventure together rather than a fraught event that feels critical, emotionally taxing and far from sensual.
It’s important to remember that you can change your mind about anything at any time and that consent can also be revoked at any time.
A Y/N/M isn’t just a road map to (potential) ecstasy, it’s also a way to understand and respect your partner’s boundaries and put consent at the forefront of your relationships. Setting and maintaining personal sexual boundaries is an important part of anyone’s sexual wellness. When you fill out and share one of these lists with a partner you start to get a better idea of what they might enthusiastically consent to and what types of activities to avoid so everyone can maintain respect around bodily autonomy for all parties involved. When you can begin a sexual interaction more fully informed of your partner(s) comfort level you’re setting the scene for a more mutually pleasurable time. It’s important to remember that you can change your mind about anything at any time and that consent can also be revoked at any time. You might have agreed that you had some interest in bondage but when the ropes or cuffs came out the desire dissipated…additionally things you may have been on the fence about or even initially not interested in might become something of interest – natural shifts in our sexuality are exactly that, natural.
Y/N/M aren’t solely for those in relationships with others. They can be a wonderful tool for self-exploration.
Y/N/M aren’t solely for those in relationships with others. They can be a wonderful tool for self-exploration. These lists can be a spring board for your own sexual evolution. Some people spend a lot of time focusing on honing their sexual skills to please a partner and not as much time pinpointing what feels fantastic for them personally. Someone who is single may also fill out or create one to consider sexual fantasies they have or may want to bring to life and to clarify boundaries they may want to adhere to with more casual partners.
There is no wrong way to approach these lists as long as you are being open minded and compassionate for yourself and the partner(s) involved. For example, your list may lead you to incorporate new sex toys or certain kinks or fetishes into your play. Finding a way to talk about your sexual needs can lessen feelings of disconnection and increase overall sexual satisfaction. There are so many benefits to Y/N/M….they set the stage for deeper connection and self-introspection, help people navigate consent and even may incrementally close that orgasm gap in the process…and who doesn’t want all that good stuff?
Now that you’ve read all about what these lists are, how to use them and how they can improve your sexual interactions…here’s one to try yourself.