A yes, no, maybe list is a document that catalogs its creator’s interest in trying different sexual activities. Typically, this document lists acts they want to try in the "yes" column, acts they feel uncomfortable trying in the "no" column and acts they could consider in the "maybe" column. You may see this document written as a yes/no/maybe list or called a yes, no, maybe checklist.
A yes, no, maybe list can include any sex practices a person can think of. It usually focuses on acts of pleasure, but may also include more practical boundary-setting, such as whether it's OK to make eye contact, what a partner likes to be called during sex and much more. Some of the activities someone may include on their yes, no, maybe list include:
- Different sex positions
- BDSM practices, such as bondage, spanking and using blindfolds
- Role-playing scenarios
- Increasing eye contact during sex
- Sex with the lights on or off
- Sex in different locations
- Using sexual health items, like lubricant
- Using different sex toys, such as vibrators or anal beads
- Exploring fetishes, such as latex or food play
- Sharing sexual fantasies
- Reading erotica
- Sharing sexual history
- Taking an STI test
- Using different types of birth control
Why Make a Yes, No, Maybe List
Making a yes, no, maybe list can be a useful tool to spark discussions about sex and sexual health and help people learn more about their partners. It may also open people up to new sexual possibilities. It can help people in new relationships assess their sexual compatibility and navigate their sex lives together. People in long-term relationships might use a yes, no, maybe list to improve their connection and understanding of one another and expand their sexual horizons. This can reignite a spark for people who feel sex has become predictable or routine.
How to Make and Use a Yes, No, Maybe List
People can make a yes, no, maybe list with their partners by following these steps:
1. Create or find a template
People can use an established yes, no, maybe list template or create their list from scratch. When creating this document from scratch, divide the page into four vertical columns titled sex acts, yes, no and maybe. Then list the sex acts to categorize in the left column. Alternatively, simply list the sex acts and leave space for writing yes, no or maybe beside them. Try to be as specific as possible to avoid confusion. For example, “hand stuff” could mean fingering, hand jobs, mutual masturbation or digital penetration. Listing giving and receiving sex acts separately also makes this document clearer. Make enough copies of the yes, no maybe for everyone in the relationship to complete.
2. Categorize the sex acts
Classify each sex act as a yes, no, or maybe by marking the appropriate column or writing these words or their initials, depending on the template. Some people prefer using a numerical grading system to show their level of interest. It’s a good idea for each partner to complete this step without the other partner(s) present. This ensures each person doesn't feel influenced by their partners’ opinions.
3. Compare lists
Partners can then come back together to compare their lists and see which acts they share similar views on. Highlighting shared "yes" acts can be a good visual aid for further exploration. People might also cross out any acts that received a no from one or more partners.
4. Discuss sex acts
A non-judgmental discussion can help people understand their partner’s perspectives and preferences. Good topics for discussion include the reasons for giving activities certain classifications, circumstances where someone might consider "maybe" acts, and feelings about sex acts people have categorized differently. Listening to a partner and respecting their limits is important. Discussing the yes, no, maybe lists at least once a year can prompt partners to share any changes in their preferences or interests.