Ground Rules for Exploring Fantasies

Ground Rules for Exploring Fantasies

Before you begin to explore your fantasies or try anything that could be remotely construed as "alternative," you and your partner need to observe a few ground rules. This is not negotiable; in order to have safe, healthy and consensual sex, you and your partner have to be in full agreement with what you are doing. While it might be difficult or awkward to initiate this conversation, think of how embarrassing or potentially devastating it will be if you do something your partner doesn't welcome.


  1. Think About It
    Before you talk to your partner about incorporating some kind of alternative sexual practice into your sexual relationship, think it over carefully. Do you want to do it? If you're unsure, try picking up an erotic book that features that particular sexual act. If you find it arousing as you're watching or reading it, you may be ready to try it in real life. Don't be frightened or hesitant about discussing your desires with your partner, just make sure you want to go there before you go there; don't open doors you can't close.

  2. Talk About It
    If you or your partner has been thinking about introducing a new element into your sexual relationship, it's important to talk about it before you enact it. Make sure you both want to try the "something new." Talk about what will be involved, how far you will pursue your fantasy, the particulars, and anything else you can think of. If your partner seems interested, even aroused, you are both ready to do it. If your partner is still hesitant or unhappy, you need to talk more before you begin. You might try sharing an erotic film or book with your lover to see if he or she also finds it arousing.

  3. Set Boundaries
    Once you and your partner have decided to move forward with your fantasy, set a few boundaries. Decide what elements you want to explore and which ones are off-limits. If it helps, make a written list of what you can and cannot do. Needless to say, it's critical that you observe these guidelines. If, during play, you decide you want to go further, make a mental note for next time. Never accelerate or escalate play without discussing it first.

  4. Pick a "Safe" Word
    With your partner, select a "safe" word, a word that, when uttered by one of you, immediately halts all sexual play. Choose something you aren't likely to say during your play; for example, "tongue" would be a poor safe word, while "celery" would probably work fine. Only speak this word when a boundary is violated or when one of you changes your mind about the direction of the play.

  5. Debrief
    When your play is finished for the night, take a few minutes to talk about what you and your partner just experienced, what worked and what didn't, what you loved and what you hated. This used to be called "pillow talk;" now it's called "debriefing." An excellent time to discuss boundaries, acceleration, deceleration or escalation of your fantasies, your debriefing time is also a good opportunity to reaffirm your connection with one another.
That said, get ready to play! There is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting with different forms of sexual play, provided both partners are happy about it. In fact, by bringing new elements into your sexual relationship, you are actually improving your relationship and making it healthier. Note: The term "alternative sex" can mean just about anything you want it to, just as "normal" can mean different things to different people. However, for our purposes, we'll define alternative sex as anything other than man-on-top, woman-on-bottom intercourse.

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