Lust Guides

What Are Sexual Boundaries? How to Define & Redefine Them

What Are Sexual Boundaries? How to Define & Redefine Them

Kimberly Hester | February 09, 2021 | 7 min. read

For this Lust Guide to the XConfessions App, I’m handing things over to my Content Coordinator, Kimberly, who will write about defining your sexual limits, along with her own experience with having to redefine hers.

What even are sexual boundaries? How do you know what yours are and more importantly, what do you do if they’ve been violated? Everyone needs sexual limits; it doesn’t matter your gender identity or sexuality, when I say everyone I mean absolutely every single person. There are many reasons why you should define your sexual boundaries, but first, it’s important to understand what they are in order to understand the importance they play in your sex life from your first sexual encounter. So, let’s dive into what they really are, how to set them for yourself, and answer the ever so difficult question, how do you reclaim them after someone's crossed your lines?

Be a Hero on XConfessions

What are sexual boundaries?

Imagine this. You have a new partner and although you’re still getting to know each other you’re ready to have sex. Touching begins, clothes are slowly removed, but wait, something feels off. You can feel your body resisting and you’re unsure why. The more they touch, the more your body feels like it’s closing off. Maybe you’re being triggered by past trauma, or maybe you’re discovering something you don’t like and that’s okay. So, what does this mean? And how do you protect yourself from these moments?

Sexual boundaries are your personal dos and don’ts. What you like when it comes to physical intimacy with someone, what you don't. As you begin to think about what those are for you remember, you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed by something making you uncomfortable. Because quite frankly, setting sexual limits for yourself is sexy as hell. I wish I had known what they are and thanks to a lack of sex ed I had to learn the hard way.

When I was young I had one sex ed class – ONE. I was 12 and afraid to say the word “vagina”. I was taught how babies are made and the scientific names for genitalia, that’s it. So, when my sexual experiences began with boys who were fully aware of how to masturbate and orgasm (and the male orgasm being more obvious simultaneously playing a large role) I began to believe that pleasing my partner was sex. That no matter how uncomfortable I felt or how long I had to give oral sex that I didn’t want to give, I was supposed to do so until they reached climax. I would feel gross after and I would blame myself for feeling this way. Although now I am a huge advocate for safe, consensual casual sex, for years it was not this way. Mostly because I was unaware of what brought me pleasure so in turn I believed casual sex wasn’t my thing. Or in general, sex wasn’t my thing with any partner, casual or not. I could not understand why my partner’s sexual needs were being met, but mine (if I had any) were not.

As we explore our sexualities, we naturally come across things we like, don’t like, love and hate. Sexual boundaries allow us to delineate between the things we do enjoy doing sexually and those we don’t. Sex is something meant be enjoyed, always. And, you should always feel comfortable and safe when engaging in sexual activities. There should never be a timeline for when you should become in any way physically intimate for the first time with a partner. For some, it’s a first date thing and for others, it may be months or longer.

Some Never Awaken on XConfessions

How to reestablish sexual boundaries in a relationship

To start, masturbate. Masturbation is not just touching your genitalia, it’s touching your body – all of it. Ears, neck, thighs, nipples – our bodies are covered in different erogenous zones. And, what might feel good to you might not feel good for someone else. By touching yourself you can discover what brings you pleasure and what does not. As you find out what that means to you, you can then translate that to with a partner through good, honest communication. Tell your partner what your limits are. Also known as our hard and soft limits, sexual boundaries allow us to go into a sexual situation with ease while protecting ourselves both emotionally and physically. Your hard limits being those things you don’t want to do, while your soft limits are those things you know you like or want to explore more. It’s important to say that even though something is a soft limit for you doesn’t mean you’re always going to like it. Even when sexual limits are set, lines can still be crossed. Don’t ever be afraid to say NO! Likewise, if you’ve got a kinky side, this is where safe words become crucial.

It took me many years to establish what my sexual boundaries are. Some of my personal limits are larger than others (oral sex is not always on the menu for me), while others are smaller (not wanting to kiss on a first date). These change depending on the person and how I’m feeling. After meeting someone new that I’m interested in having sex with, I have a conversation with myself about what I believe would or would not make me comfortable if we were to have a physical relationship in any way shape or form. If things progress, I continue to check in with myself. Seeing how each experience made me feel and what I liked or didn’t like about it. Although that sounds like a lot, it’s truly not. Having these constant conversations with yourself can allow you to go into a situation feeling confident, comfortable and safe.

RITUALS: An Intimate Portrait of Kali Sudhra on XConfessions

Why it’s important to discuss boundaries when entering a sexual relationship

I was 16 when my sexual boundaries were violated. What I believed was another high school party on a Friday night turned out to be the night that would affect me both physically and emotionally for years to come. At first, my reaction was that my body was no longer only mine. I began to say yes to sex even when I didn’t want to. I allowed my partners to create expectations of what our sexual experiences were to be and I blamed myself if I couldn’t fulfill them. Considering the sex education I received (or lack thereof) and the fact that I had only had a few experiences with one boyfriend prior, meant that I was completely unaware of what my sexual limits were. I was never given the opportunity to define them, and in this case even if I had set them, I was never given the chance to communicate them. It’s important to understand that even though you set limits for yourself, not everyone will respect them and it’s up to you to reclaim them. If you’ve experienced a traumatic situation, I encourage you to seek help. Find someone who you feel comfortable and safe to talk to about what happened.

Not everyone experiences a traumatic event when their boundaries are violated. Someone may subtly cross one of your lines and it may not become apparent until later on. If this happens, ask yourself what about this experience did you not enjoy? What made you feel uncomfortable? Unsafe? Be honest with yourself. The only person who can define your sexual limits is yourself. It was these conversations with myself that have allowed me to confidently redefine (& continually redefine) what my sexual boundaries are, and to have no fear when it comes to communicating that with partners.

About the Author:

Kimberly (she/her) is currently the Content Coordinator at Erika Lust Films and has been working on the Communications Team for the past year. While obtaining her bachelor's degree in the Bay Area of California, she began studying social, cultural and political responses to sex work as a way to combat sex trafficking. After moving to Barcelona and obtaining her masters degree, she began to focus on sex worker advocacy and eventually landed a position at Erika Lust Films which she currently calls home.

Share this
I agree to the terms and conditions and give consent to receive Erika Lust’s newsletter with a free adult movie.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

wrong page template

sex

How To Squirt with Kali Sudhra: An Explicit Video Guide

sex

Women’s Orgasm: A Love Story by Erica Marchand, Ph.D.

sex

Watch: A Video Guide to Dirty Talk With Casey Calvert

Want more?
Get a free movie.

Subscribe to our newsletter to get
a free film by Erika Lust & receive
exclusive updates from Lust Zine.

I agree to the terms and conditions