What To Talk About Before You Play

A checklist of things to discuss with any new partner before you violently defile them.

Whenever I do kinky stuff with someone new, we always talk about it first. This isn’t just because I like talking about sex (although I do), but because I generally want to do things to them that could be dangerous or un-fun if I happen to be missing some vital information. Are they, for example, allergic to latex? If so, the latex condoms I usually use are going to be an issue. I’d prefer to know about this before I’ve thrust one inside of them.

A while ago, to streamline this process, I sat down and put together a checklist of things worth discussing. I like checklists. They appeal to the nerd in me. I’ve kept this one short, and you don’t necessarily need to cover everything listed for every play session. Here’s a printable PDF, in case you want to use it yourself. And below you’ll find a little more detail on each of the entries.

Aftercare Requirements

How will you/your partner feel physically and emotionally after playing? Is there anything you/they require after a particularly intense experience? Are you going to hang out and go for a milkshake afterwards, or does one or other of you need to go catch a plane? Is anyone likely to want a blanket and some cuddles? Do either of you hate cuddling with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns?

Common Sex Acts

Are you/your partner happy to engage in penetrative sex? Who is going to be penetrating whom? Vaginally? Orally? Anally? Do you/they want barriers used for any of these? Do you/they prefer come to end up inside them, on them, in their hair, on the duvet, on the walls, or neatly packaged up inside a condom like a soggy Christmas gift?

Consensual Nonconsent

Are you planning to play in a way that simulates nonconsent? If so, how will you/your partner communicate that they really do need to stop? Consider setting a safeword or safegesture. The traditonal one is “Red”, but “Boris Johnson” works just as well, and has the added effect of immediately killing the mood.

Contraception

How are you going to avoid accidentally making a tiny copy of yourselves? Barriers are conventional for a first encounter, but it’s worth also worth discussing other methods for future reference. Oh, and have you actually got condoms? It’s much better to find out you haven’t before you need one.

Discussion Of Play With Others

Will you talk about your experiences together with friends? Do you have common friends or acquaintances? How does each of you feel about them knowing that you have played together? Are either of you going to tell Jacquie at the office about what you got up to this weekend?

Dynamic

What do you/your partner self-identify as: dominant, submissive, switch, pet, performing seal, etc? What role will you be inhabiting when you play? Do the roles you’ve agreed on complement each other, or is there going to be some wrangling for control?

Hard Limits

Are there any activities you/your partner definitively do not enjoy? Are each of you comfortable with what you plan to do together? If you don’t like being anally fisted, now is an excellent time to mention this and save yourself from some awkwardness later on.

Soft Limits

Is there anything which you/your partner are uncertain about, but wish to explore? Are there any significant mismatches between what you enjoy and what your partner enjoys? If they think they like something but aren’t convinced, are you going to explore it today, or stick it on the to-do list for another time?

Marks And Bruises

How do each of you feel about receiving marks and bruises that might last until the next day, or later? Is there anywhere that either of you do not wish to be marked? Think about whether you’re planning on going swimming or for a massage in the next few days before breaking out the bullwhip.

Medical History

What medical history do you/your partner have? This includes allergies, prescribed medication, recreational drugs, injured joints, vulnerable dental work, ongoing medical conditions, and anything that has previously resulted in hospitalisation. Does your partner faint at the sight of blood? Do they pass out when they come? Does their shoulder routinely dislocate? This is stuff worth knowing.

Pain And Pleasure

How do you/your partner experience pain? Do you enjoy it when turned on, when turned off, when accompanied by fucking, when experienced with a great view, or not at all. What about pleasure? Do you want your play to involve pleasure? A mix of pleasure and pain? Is pleasure the reward that comes after enduring pain, like the lollipop you get when you’re good for the dentist?

Recent History

Have you/your partner eaten today? If not, perhaps you should. Have either of you drunk alcohol or taken any prescribed or recreational drugs that might affect your decision-making ability? If you’re too drunk to remember whether you have or not, then maybe you’re too drunk?

Recording

Will either of you take photographs or make a recording of anything that you do together? If so, what will be done with these images? How would you feel if a photo of you taken tonight got a million likes on Fetlife? What if it was on Facebook? Twitter? The BBC?

Sexual Health

Are you/your partner free of any sexually transmissible infections? When was the last time each of you were tested? What measures could you take to protect against the transmission of any detected or undetected infections? If you haven’t been tested recently, go get one – they’re not as scary as you think they are.

Stop Signs

Do you plan on using a safeword or safegesture? What other reactions from you/your partner might indicate a desire to stop or slow down? If they burst out crying does that mean they’re ready for a break, or that things are going super well and they want to carry on?

Vocabulary

Are there any words or phrases that you/your partner find particularly objectionable or offensive? How do you / your partner choose to be referred to? Commonly contentious words include: cunt, bitch, whore, slut, pleb, socialist, princess, etc.