How to create boundaries in the bedroom

Today’s blog post relates to the key term we introduced this week, Performative Receiving also known as Performative Sex. This entails pretending to enjoy sex with someone in order to please them, and can also be linked to low self-esteem and anxiety.

Communication as well as setting strong boundaries are two ways in which Performative Receiving can be worked on and eventually eliminated. Even though we hear about boundaries quite often nowadays, how do you set boundaries in the bedroom and how do you identify what your boundaries are?

Let’s first look at what boundaries are in a general sense. Dulcinea Pitagora, a psychotherapist and sex therapist in New York identifies boundaries as, “hard and soft limits that combine to support optimal physical and mental health and strong relationships.” When it comes to sex the same definition applies, but sometimes the lines blur and it can be harder to implement and assert these boundaries especially if you’re not used to doing so.

To help you identify what your personal boundaries are, especially when it comes to sex, it’s important to note that our boundaries are there to help us feel safe and comfortable at all times. As soon as this feeling of safety begins to diminish or disappears completely that’s a sign a boundary has been crossed. Of course, everyone’s boundaries will look different as we’re all at varying levels of comfortability with sexual intimacy due to different sexual histories and experiences. This is what makes boundaries so crucial because you can’t assume that someone is on the same comfort level as you are.

Another important factor that comes into play here is sexual trauma. Whether you have experienced sexual trauma or whether your partner has, setting and communicating boundaries will at some point be non-negotiable. Also, people have the right to not let you know about the sexual trauma they’ve experienced no matter how serious the relationship gets, but whether or not someone has a history of sexual trauma or not, and whether you know about it or not is irrelevant because either way their boundaries (and yours) should always be respected.

So, how can you set your boundaries? Communicating what they are before you engage in any sexual act is a great way to get on the same wavelength as your sexual partner. This is vital for even the most casual of sexual encounters including one night stands. Another way to set boundaries is by using safe words that you and your sexual partner agree on and understand. Making use of a color system like the Red and Yellow System is highly beneficial too. When Yellow is said it means “let’s do something else” and Red means “let’s stop completely”.

Checking consent before engaging in any new sexual act can also help with establishing boundaries. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, that is undoubtedly a red flag. Remember, that consent can be revoked at ANY time during sex and should NEVER be assumed!