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What's a "Yes, No, Maybe" List?

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When you’re considering expanding your sexual experiences or exploring new forms of porn and erotica, it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start. If you add any partners into the mix, it can be even more difficult trying to figure out what everyone does and doesn’t like.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to literally take inventory of your sexual preferences and interests. Let’s talk about Yes, No, Maybe Lists:

What is a Yes, No, Maybe List?

A Yes, No, Maybe List is a tool that helps you consider various sexual activities and experiences and mark whether or not you’re interested in exploring them.

When you use a Yes, No, Maybe list on your own, it’s a great way to hone in on what type of erotic content you might want to explore. It’s also a great way to shop for new sex toys to add to your masturbation routine!

Used with partners, Yes No Maybe lists make communicating your sexual interests more accessible than simply bringing double penetration up at the dinner table.

What Do Yes, No, Maybe Lists Look like?

Unsurprisingly, Yes, No, Maybe Lists look like...lists! But instead of a week’s worth of groceries, they list out things like “anal” and “mutual masturbation.”

While some come in printable forms, the Great World Wide Web also does offer fillable PDFs and even interactive digital versions. No matter what format you choose, here are some features you’ll want to consider looking for in the Yes, No, Maybe list you choose:

  • Variation: A Yes, No, Maybe List should offer a wide variety of sexual experiences and preferences to choose from.
  • Clear Places to Mark Your Preferences: Opt for something that lets you clearly mark your Y, N, or M so it’s easy to read (and compare with someone else’s if you choose to do so).
  • Explanations: If you’re just dipping your toes into the vast world of sex, you may not know what everything means. While it’s easy enough to Google what things are, finding a list with explanations will take the guesswork and the digital labor out of it for you.
  • A Notes Section: Not every “Yes” or “Maybe” is going to be simple. You may find that you’re ready to mark “Yes” next to Sensation Play but hesitant because there’s a texture you really can’t handle. Having a list with a notes section lets you clarify your answers however you need to. #

How to Compare Yes No Maybe Lists with Partners

When it comes to comparing your Yes No Maybe lists with someone you might want to have sex with, there are ground rules. Fortunately, these are the same rules you should always be following when you’re communicating with your partners:

  • Leave Your Judgement at the Door: There is a very, very minuscule chance that you and your partner will have the exact same answers on your Yes No Maybe lists. Before you share your lists, make sure you’re ready to accept their answers without judgment. They may have Y’s where you have N’s and that’s okay.
  • Yes to an Idea on the List is Not Consent: It’s easy to get swept up in fantasy when you find out your partner is open to something you really want to try. When you’re discussing your lists, however, keep in mind that they’re only saying yes on a theoretical level. You’ll still need to get consent to actually play anything out.
  • Accept Your Partner’s No’s: Comparing your list with a partner is meant to highlight things you both or all are already interested in trying; it’s not an opportunity to change your partner’s mind. If something is a No for them, take that as it is.
  • Plan to Follow Up: When you have all your duck-yeses in a row, plan to follow up with your partner(s) about when things might take place, ground rules, safe words, etc. Having a handful of new things to try is a great way to connect and build intimacy before the deeds are done!

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A Few Yes, No, Maybe Lists We Love


When it comes to sex, Scarleteen is a great resource for teenagers interested in safer sex and the answers to the questions their sex education doesn’t answer. It also offers a really great Yes, No, Maybe List that not only breaks things into categories such as Body Boundaries, Birth Control, and Sexual Response, it also gives an example of how to talk to your partner at the end of each section.

Check out Scarleteen’s Yes No Maybe List here.

Sunny Megatron

Sunny is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach and she offers a Yes, No, Maybe List that includes a wide variation of sexual experiences, scenes, fetishes and more. This is a great list for folks who feel drawn to kink but may not know where they’d like to start.

Check out Sunny’s list here.

We Should Try It

If pen and paper isn’t your thing, We Should Try It has a great interactive Yes, No, Maybe List that you can sit down and do with a partner. Unfortunately, it’s only geared toward two-partner arrangements, but it is broken up into categories and even offers the ability to mark answers like “Already do that,” “If partner is interested,” and “I want more.”

At the end of the questionnaire, the website tallies your answers for you making identifying similarities and differences much easier.

Check out We Should Try It’s Yes, No, Maybe Questionnaire here.

yes no on hands

One Final Thought

Yes, No, Maybe lists are a great tool that most sex educators will suggest to anyone looking to explore their sexuality, identify boundaries in relationships, or find new ways to connect with partners.

Whether you use them alone or with partners, at the beginning of a new partnership, or even in the thick of a long-term relationship, remember that answers aren’t given to be judged or changed.

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