Learning Sexual Boundaries

Looking for ideas to spice up your sex life? Interested in getting to know a new partner’s sexual interests and boundaries? Need a neutral starting point to begin sharing sex ideas that recover the passion you used to have in your relationship? Unaware of your own sexual boundaries?


While you do not need a partner to learn more about yourself sexually and define sexual boundaries, these introductory paragraphs prep those who are partnered.


Establishing sexual safety in an intimate relationship is really important. To do this, people have to find ways to communicate about their boundaries in ways that do not jeopardize the emotional safety of sex. It is not unusual for the person initiating a new sexual activity to feel discouraged or even rejected if their partner is disinterested, disgusted or turned off by the nature of the activity or by the poor execution or timing of the suggested activity. Disappointment and rejection are inevitable as people cannot meet their partner’s every need. However, the constant feeling of rejection that either leaves you feeling like avoiding sex altogether or no longer initiating sex is problematic.


There are various situations that can lead couples to feel like they are struggling with their passion or sexual chemistry. Some couples who have established a lot of safety in their relationship find that their companionship has really quelled their passionate sex. These are the ones who have talked about spicing up their sex life but are struggling to come up with specific sex ideas. In contrast, other couples have never really had that passion, to begin with, but chose each other for a variety of other attractive qualities. Both of these experiences occur frequently. Many of the people in these situations ask, “Can you recreate passion after so many years of not having it?” Or “can you create a sense of chemistry that was never there to begin with?” Yes, to both! You just need to put a little more effort into it than many people assume it should take. None of these sex ideas are a complete relationship saver, many require a strong foundation of trust and communication.


Begin by thinking about a traffic light as the metaphor.

Green lights mean you have done these activities or are excited by the idea of trying it with your partner without contextual negotiations for how it could make you feel more comfortable. Yellow lights are reserved for the sex ideas that you have some interest in but would need certain circumstances to be met in order to feel better about them. These require very clear communication with your partner so you both understand how to make each other feel safe and secure while trying a new sexual activity together. Red light sex ideas are the ones you would not be interested in trying/a sexual boundary that you have.

This tip on learning your sexual boundaries goes beyond the introductory traffic light idea and gives you more sex ideas for what to put on your lists. In addition, you are encouraged to add more from sex ideas from your own fantasies, histories, or informal research to enrich your lists.


Here are 3 different ways you can utilize the sex ideas list  with a partner:

  1. Go down the list together and write your answer (Green, Yellow, or Red) down on a sheet of paper then hold it up to show each other (crafty people can construct an actual traffic light and point when disclosing)
  2. Give each other a decent amount of time to place these items on your own sheets then schedule a check-in 1 or 2 weeks later to share your lists
  3. Cut the ideas up and put into a hat/basket so you can draw them in the moment when you are working on your sex life and you can share if it is a green, yellow, or red idea for you at that time.


Sex Ideas for learning your sexual boundaries

The following sex ideas are listed in alphabetical order. Some activities require a more thorough explanation and nuances to be considered for determining your sexual boundaries around each activity. For that reason, they have more of an explanation attached to them while the more straightforward activities are just listed.


Anal Play

Penetrative: Give, receive, or both?

If same-sex:


  • Do you like to top, bottom, or switch?


  • Are you open to penetrating and/or being penetrated?
  • Strap-on, hand-held dildo, or either?

Heterosexual cis-couple

  • Female receives penetration from partner’s penis or sex toy
  • Male receives anal penetration from female using a specified sex toy / Pegging 


  • licking around or inside the anus
  • Give, receive or both?

Anal toys

  • Beads, butt plugs, dildos, or any toy


Bathing Together

  • Take a sensual shower or bath together
  • Increase intensity by trying outercourse or intercourse during your bathing route
  • Wash each other’s hair or body



    • Tying, binding, suspending, wrapping, or restraining a consenting partner

  • Tools: rope, handcuffs, tape, harness




  • Giving oral sex to a female-bodied person
    • While the receiver lays down
    • Sitting on the giver’s face


Dominant/submissive play

  • Where one partner takes on the dominant role in sex play while their partner submits to their initiations
  • Some choose to act out Dom and sub roles outside of the bedroom, others choose when to incorporate it into their play, and others assume this dynamic a majority of the interactions where they have sex
  • A Dom may punish their sub if they do not obey every command they make
  • Sometimes rules for a Dom/sub scene may be negotiated ahead of time, others as you go along
  • With so many variations, D/s play requires more in-depth conversations planning for the extent of D/s roles



  • Spanking, flogging, gag, rope




  • Being watched by someone during sexual activity, shower, or masturbation
  • Often, part of the thrill of exhibitionism is an unsuspecting observer; however, this puts a person at risk of infringing on another person’s ability to consent to see your sexual exposure
  • Discuss scenarios where you would like your partner to surprise you with exposing a part of themselves without discussing when and where. You gain their consent beforehand, but can live out the fantasy after the boundaries are clear
  • Take it to a public place with less risk of getting caught (a private park, in a car, in a bathroom)



  • Giving oral sex to a male-bodied person



  • Sexually desiring an object or fixation on one body-part
  • Discuss the body parts and/or object that turn you on
  • A few examples:
    • Hair, feet, crossdressing



  • Penetrative sex into a vagina or anus




  • Anything outside of vanilla sex. To some, vanilla sex may mean anything outside of oral, anal, and vaginal sex. To others, kink may include sex toys or group sex
  • Kink requires extra communication and trust if this is new for one or both of you
  • Make sure you establish some yellow light guidelines even if any of the following are coded as green lights for you



  • BDSM
  • Dom/sub play
  • Cock and Ball Torture (CBT)
  • Urination or defecation play


The process for a kink scene:

  • Plan kink scene goals & sexual boundaries
  • Decide on a safe word
  • Check-in throughout
  • Aftercare plan


Manual stimulation

  • Female-bodied receivers:
    • External only focusing on the clitoris, labia, or both
    • Internal only via penetrating the vagina using fingers, toys, and/or fists
    • Combination
  • Male-bodied receivers:
    • Handjobs with or without using lube or lotion


Mutual Masturbation

  • Lying side-by-side while you each touch yourselves at the same time

  • Taking turns observing one another masturbate without touching each other




Mutual Oral Sex

  • 69 in spooning position or one sitting on top of the other where partners are simultaneously giving and receiving oral sex


Nipple Play

  • Sucking, biting, clamping, pinching, rubbing, flicking



  • Includes all of the sex that is not penetrative
  • Including making out, nipple play, hand jobs, cunnilingus, and analingus



Among the most popular are:

  • Missionary
  • Scissoring
  • Spooning
  • Doggie-style receiver on knees penetrated from behind
  • Backwards cow-girl
  • Standing up


If you are looking to be more adventurous, Kama Sutras, based on Indian Sanskrit books are very helpful for branching out. These adventurous positions require a lot of trust, playfulness for the mishaps, and often flexibility.


Role Playing 

  • Various degrees of advanced acting skills needed
  • Many are satisfied by dressing up in something outside of their normal attire
  • Others are looking to recreate a new experience
    • Example: Pick characters, get dressed up, meet up like you are on a first date as these characters


Sex/Play Parties

  • If you are new to this, first attend a munch (a group event where people discuss kink) to learn more about various forms of group sex
  • Google munch in your area code to be set up with your local communities
  • Play parties are planned events with the intention of setting up a safe environment to explore your sexuality with people who are interested in expressing themselves sexually



  • Where a group of two or more couples who switch partners with each other



  • Including a third, consenting person
  • No matter how much of a green light item a threesome may be for you, this topic requires a lot more communication and negotiation than this tip provides. Put it in the yellow light and really discuss the things you each feel comfortable, uncomfortable with and ways to make the third person more comfortable


Tantric Sex

  • Incorporates spirituality into sexuality
  • Began in India with western versions following
  • A big focus of tantric practices is on reuniting with your breathing and energy



  • Voyeurism is where you are turned on by watching someone touch themselves or someone else somewhat unsuspectingly. There are ways to set this up so you can legally and consensually watch your partner. Similar to exhibitionism, negotiate ahead of time the sexual boundaries you have for when, where, and how it would be okay with you to be watched without deciding when you will do it.
    • Example: I would feel okay with you sneaking into the bathroom to watch me shower if it is in the daytime when I am less afraid of break-ins. It would not be okay with me if it were night and I thought I was home alone


  • Be voyeurs together by each picking out a porn clip
  • Watch porn before your partner comes over so you have met your voyeur fantasy and prepped yourself to initiate


These sex ideas may be enough for some people to learn their sexual boundaries and work towards communicating them with their partner by using the traffic light metaphor. Utilizing the sex ideas list has 3 levels: sharing, processing, and doing. Allow yourselves time and space within each level.


You should begin by discussing the green light items at a non-vulnerable time. Meaning your clothes are on and you aren’t already in the middle or at the end of getting sexy. Take your time if the things on your green light list are new to you and/or your partner.


If you both share the same green light sex ideas, you may be able to proceed to the second step of negotiating yellow light activities. This is a sensitive process where you want to help your partner share what both excites them and makes them uncomfortable about the activity that they chose to label it as a yellow light.


Important rule!

Remember how vulnerable your partner is allowing themselves to be with you in sharing such intimate fantasies. Your reaction to this sharing may predict the sexual growth you two are able to achieve. In order to not shut each other down, be very cautious in how you explain what makes you feel uncomfortable about activities rather than stating something like “Ew! Anyone who does that is disgusting!” Say: “Help me understand how this is appealing to you. I have never thought of incorporating that into my sex life.”


How to Process Your Lists

  • The aspect that turns me on about *X activity* is ___________, but what makes me nervous is ______________. To start experimenting with X, I would like to make sure we have enough time to fully get in and out of the activity together
  • How will we check in with each other during X to make sure we are both feeling comfortable and into it?
  • What activities were easy for you to label?
  • Which did you struggle to label? Tell me more about what you think about these activities.


Other individuals or couples may still find themselves struggling or stuck in trying to implement more sex ideas into their relationships. Experienced sex therapists can help you find your blockages and work towards sexual growth.