Posts

A key component to great sex is communication. Thinking about what you want to do, will do, and won’t do, is a great way to set sexual boundaries for yourself and carry that through with sexual encounters with a partner. Talking about sex can sometimes be a little scary. We are socialized to never talk about sex, to keep our sexual desires a secret, and talking about sex out loud is taboo. I’m here to help you normalize talking about your desires, baby! If you can’t talk about what you want with a partner, then how do you expect to get what you want in bed?

What is a Want, Will, Won’t List?

A great tool for bringing up what you desire with a partner is a Want, Will, Won’t List. This is essentially a list of intimate and sexual activities that you can categorize as something you want to do or have done to you, something you will do or have done to you if your partner is into it, and something you won’t do or have done to you. You can make up the list on your own if you want, or you can find one online. 

How to write your Want, Will, Won’t List

The Want, Will, Won’t List can be filled out by hand, or there are some that you and your partner fill out online, then it only shows you the acts that overlap between you and your partner. That way you’ll only see the things that both of you want or will do. Having a list like this can be fun to help you and your partner think of sexy things to do together that you’ve maybe never considered. It’s also fun to fill out just for yourself as a tool to reflect on what you desire. You might also find that in filling out the list, some things don’t sound appealing at all, or some things are meant to stay just as fantasies. That’s great too. Every bit of information you discover about your desire will lead to a better sex life. 

Discussing your Want, Will, Won’t List

Once you and your partner or partners fill out the list, it’s time to discuss! I recommend discussing your desires separate from sexy time. You could talk about your list sometime when you’re just hanging out, or at the beginning of a date before you start hooking up. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to clearly state what you are or aren’t into. Talking about what you want to do sexually with each other can also be a bit of foreplay, which is always fun.  

If you find yourself feeling nervous in discussing the results of the list, having one that generates the overlap between you and your partner can make it a little easier. That way, you’ll both only be talking about sexy scenarios that you’re both interested in. Getting better at communicating about sex outside of the bedroom will help make communicating about sex in the bedroom easier too. 

So what are some examples? 

Want: 

  • I want to give and receive oral sex
  • I want to cuddle after sex
  • I want to make out for a long time before getting naked

Will: 

  • I will use sex toys on my partner
  • I will watch a sexy video with my partner
  • I will explore anal play with my partner

Won’t: 

  • I won’t have vaginal or anal sex without a condom
  • I won’t have anything put inside of me without being asked first – fingers, toys, body parts, etc
  • I won’t have penetrative sex without foreplay

Usually, the lists you find online are much more extensive, but your list can include anything you can think of in a sexy situation. If you Google “Want, Will, Won’t List,” you’ll find plenty you can download and fill out. Have fun!

People feel weird talking about sex. There’s a lot of worry about whether or not we are “normal” when it comes to sex: Do I want it enough? Do I want it too much? Am I having sex the “right” way? If you’ve been here around long enough, you know I’m all for talking openly about sex and spontaneous or responsive desire without shame. Discussing sex creates a more sex-positive culture, which leads to better sex lives for people because we are informed and confident. Because people feel so self-conscious talking about sex, there are a lot of misconceptions about how you “should” be when it comes to sex, and if you don’t fit into this box of how you “should” be, you might feel ashamed.

What is spontaneous desire?

We grow up being taught that we should experience spontaneous arousal. Spontaneous desire is when you feel aroused and interested in having sex spontaneously or out of the blue. Perhaps you are watching tv and all of a sudden you’re horny, or you wake up in the morning and feel super aroused. Most people probably feel a good amount of spontaneous arousal when they are first being intimate with a new partner, but how spontaneously you experience desire will change throughout your life. 

What about responsive desire?

Responsive desire is when you feel desire and arousal in response to pleasure. Perhaps you are watching tv and your partner snuggles up next to you and starts kissing your neck or massaging your shoulders. You think “wow that feels nice,” and you start to feel desire in response to what they are doing. 

Is responsive desire better than spontaneous?

Neither form of desire is better or more normal than the other. Culturally we are told that men typically experience spontaneous desire and that women don’t experience desire at all, which is untrue. All types of people can experience either type of desire at different points in their life and throughout different relationships. 

One of my favorite sex educators, Emily Nagoski, has written extensively on responsive and spontaneous desire, and writes about it in her book “Come As You Are.” Nagoski points out that despite the cultural idea that spontaneous desire is correct and any other type of desire means you have a low sex drive that needs fixing, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. She has done research interviewing men and women about their sexual desire, and both men and women experience both spontaneous and responsive desire, and both types of desire are healthy.

In an article for the New York Times and another for Medium, Nagoski writes about a drug called Flibanserin, created in 2015, which is also known as the “female Viagra.” The drug is intended to create a spontaneous desire for those who take it. As she mentions in her articles, the drug was created to treat low desire in women, as if lack of spontaneous desire is a disease — which it isn’t. The clinical trials of the drug were fairly unsuccessful and had several side effects.

How to communicate your pleasure needs

As Nagoski reminds us, focusing on spontaneous desire distracts from what is really important when it comes to sex: pleasure. We get too caught up in how much we do or don’t want sex when really the focus should be on the quality of sex being had. 

It’s important to know what type of desire you experience so you can communicate that with a partner. If one partner experiences spontaneous desire and the other is responsive, the spontaneous desire partner might feel like their partner isn’t as interested in sex since they might not initiate as much. In reality, their partner is interested in sex, they just don’t feel desire until they experience some pleasure first. Communication is a great tool for a healthy sex life regardless because you can tell your partner what you want and they can communicate their needs as well. 

It’s also important to remember that neither form of desire is more correct. Responsive desire doesn’t mean you have a low sex drive or that your sex drive needs fixing. Pay attention to your body and what does or doesn’t make you feel aroused, then communicate that with your partner or partners for a more pleasurable experience for everyone involved.

It’s no secret that here at Just Jenn I LOVE talking about sexuality! We’ve discussed all sorts of things sexual health related here, and I’ve got another fun thing to add to our discussion: a Desire Journal. 

I first heard of the idea of keeping a desire journal from a sex educator on Instagram named Dr. Wendasha Jenkins Hall PhD (@thesensiblesexpert). Dr. Wendasha brought up the idea of keeping a desire journal in one of her Instagram videos where she discusses a different topic related to sexual health each week. The Sensible Sexpert describes a desire journal as a journal where you write down all of your sexual desires and explore the possibilities of your desire. I love this idea and totally think we all should start keeping desire journals, like, ASAP.

What is a desire journal?

As The Sensible Sexpert describes, a desire journal is a place for you to explore your sexuality and desire in private. if you want to share these desires with a partner now or in the future, of course you can, but the journal is just for YOU. Even just writing about your desires and allowing yourself to explore new ideas can help you better connect with your sensuality and sexual self. 

Why keep a desire journal?

There are SO many possibilities of what to write about in a desire journal. There are no rules! You could write about past sexual experiences that you’ve enjoyed, and why. You could write about past experiences you didn’t enjoy, and why. You could write down fantasies and let yourself explore them in detail. An important note about fantasies and a desire journal in general – just because you fantasize about something doesn’t mean you ACTUALLY want it to happen. That’s why it’s a fantasy. Besides, no one else is going to see these pages, so let yourself roam free with your sensual imagination. 

Suggestions for your next journal entry

You could make a list of sexy things that turn you on, non-sexual things that turn you on, ways you turn yourself on. Make a list of how you like to be touched by someone else, how you like to be touched by yourself, places you like to have sex, places you want to have sex. You could also use the pages of your journal to create a sex bucket list or a list of sexy things you’d like to try. Again, no one but you will see these ponderings, so let yourself explore your desire without shame! Are there any new sex positions you want to try? Write about it! Are there sex toys you’d like to try? Write about it! Is there a type of lingerie you want to try but never have? Write about it! Write down any and everything you desire, even if you don’t actually want to try everything you explore in the journal.

Being connected to your own desires and feeling safe and comfortable to express and explore them with yourself will help cultivate a more open, healthy relationship with your own sexuality and sensual self. Exploring your desires in a safe place such as a journal could help make it easier to express your desires to a partner as well. We are not often encouraged to explore our desires, or we’re shamed for being in touch with them. I’m here to tell you there is NOTHING wrong with exploring your desires, and in fact, I think it will improve your overall relationship with yourself. Get to writing!