How to work out what you like in sex

Let's talk about working out what you do and don't like in sex because it's very easy to get stuck in your own sexual experience and sex life. Everything starts to blur a little bit. Until you have a tool to really clarify what you do and don't like in sex or what might be a future possibility, it's easier to just feel really deflated, frustrated and feel like there's a lot that you don't like and not very much that you do like. (Which isn’t the truth, I hope!) Let's flip things around for you so that you can feel more certain about what you can actually do in sex and self-pleasure and how to actually do that.

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Without further adieu, my favourite tool to work out what you do like in sex, what you don’t like in sex and what could be a future possibility is to do the red, yellow, green exercise. It's super, super simple.

The beauty of red, yellow, green is that it is very present and it can change over time. Something that has gotten a big green light in the past might not get a green light today and that is OK. It is changeable, shiftable and flexible and you are going to change too as you grow and learn and as you go through your cycles of life, cycles of age, menstrual cycles, motherhood, career…whatever it is. This is all very flexible.

So with red, yellow, green, all you need to do is write down what is in the category of a full yes for you when it comes to sex. When you know that, that goes into your green category. Your maybe goes into yellow and your no goes into your red. 

Green signifies that it gets the complete green light, the complete go ahead for your partner or you to complete a certain act in sex. Green is usually something that you have done before that you have enjoyed, that you have gotten a lot of pleasure out of. You could have also not have done green yet but you are really certain that it is something that you would like to do in the future. It gets the two thumbs up. You love doing it or you want to do it, you are so curious. It could be a sex toy, exploring with others, bringing music into your sex life, bringing mirrors into your sex life. It could be a green light about being in your nudity in sex or having the lights turned up. Green doesn’t have to be a big sweeping gesture or deeply Tantric or removed from you. It can be something really little and that’s the beauty of this exercise.

Yellow. This is something where you feel like there is a bit of a yes there but it is more like a maybe. It has a question mark over it. In good quality sexuality work, a maybe should be treated like a no. A maybe should be treated like a no because it doesn’t have your full yes and we really want to tread carefully because something is holding you back and making you feel reluctant. It could just be plain old fear or things feeling unfamiliar but we don’t want for you to feel pushed or pressured to be doing things in sex that you don’t want to do. So be very careful with acts of sex (and acts in life) that you categorise as yellow – it means there is a curiosity, a maybe, this could be up my alley but right now there is uncertainty.

Acknowledge that there is something there but you are going to put it to the side for now. The yellow light could change into a green in future or it could swing into a really big no for you. Only time will tell. For now, put it to the side and make sure that your partner knows that you can’t be talked into the yellow category becoming a green. Make sure there is no force or pressure for what you are curious about to actually happen. Your yellow might stay as a fantasy and you might use it as a fantasy in sex. That’s where you feel safe with it. It doesn’t mean you have to act on it.

Red. It is a big no for you. You don’t want to do it, you might have had a negative experience in the past, you might feel really opposed to it, that act might feel humiliating for you, it might feel shameful, embarrassing, limiting, degrading – whatever it is, whenever you feel a red come up with an act of sex or a sex toy or talking dirty…if you feel that no come up, that is definitely for your red category. Just like the other categories, a no right now doesn’t mean a no forever. Some of your no’s will stay but not necessarily all of them. It might gently evolve and move into the yellow category for a while. Then it might spend some time there and evolve to the green category where it gets a complete green light for you.

Even though we have our beliefs, experiences and memories and values, they can shift and soften over time. They are not necessarily fixed. Some of them will be but a lot of them won’t. Generally, acquiring new, good quality information and education can allow you to make a more informed decision and to see some of the possibilities for pleasure that lie in some of those taboo acts or acts that have felt really forbidden to you. But, no pressure!

Red, yellow, green is personal. It’s really personal. It’s something that I have found to be really effective in simplifying what happens in sex and knowing exactly where we stand. When we know where we stand, it is then that we can communicate to our current partner or our future partners or even communicate to ourselves and inform ourselves, what it is we like and don’t like in sex. There is no-one out there that has no dislikes in sex. There are always going to be things that we like and dislike. If someone said they loved EVERYTHING about sex, I would be worried that they didn’t have good boundaries and they were vulnerable to being manipulated or abused.

Full permission: You don’t have to like everything in sex! If you are feeling really lost or your intuition feels cloudy, it will really help to list these out. It’s a really big tip and my clients love it when we bring it in when they just aren’t sure about where they stand, what they like and how they can communicate this to their partner. It brings a lot of clarity.

I first read about red, yellow, green in Patti Britton's The Art of Sex Coaching so I want to give full credit to her. It has stayed with me since I learnt of it in 2012. It's timeless.

Let me know how you get on!

Lauren xo

If this feels daunting to do alone and there are blocks to be dissolved before you wade into these waters, then the privacy and softness of an introductory session will create your desired opening. There is no right or wrong time of year, only your right time. Sessions are available in Brisbane and via Skype.