Sexual Contracts: 50 Shades of Grey & Beyond

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Open, negotiated sexual contracts are not common in relationships. Most people have an unspoken agreement about their sexual engagements, but don’t feel comfortable articulating them.

Thanks to 50 Shades of Grey, BDSM classes and other kinds of outreach, people are starting to incorporate the idea that we can openly and honestly ask about what we want sexually and be clear about our boundaries.

What Are Sexual Contracts?

A sexual contract is a consensual agreement between people, outlining the terms and boundaries of their sexual relationship.

It typically contains explicit descriptions of agreed-upon sexual activities and preferences. Serving as a tool for communication and negotiation, it outlines the consent given within the context of the intimate encounters.

Ultimately though, a sexual contract aims to ensure that all parties involved are fully informed, respected, and comfortable with the dynamics of their sexual engagements.

The legality of a sexual contract can vary depending on jurisdiction and the specific terms outlined.

It must be noted, that sexual contracts are never legal or enforceable if they involve illegal acts, such as prostitution or sexual exploitation.

However, in certain contexts, such as consensual BDSM relationships, people can choose to create legally binding contracts. These documents are there to outline the parameters of the sexual interactions, provided they adhere to relevant laws and regulations regarding consent, privacy, and bodily autonomy (note that you cannot consent to serious bodily harm).

Can they hold up in court? Why would you want them to bring them in front of a judge? It’s better to think of a sexual contract as a tool for clarifying your intimate engagement with your partner – and nothing more.

How Do You Negotiate a Sexual Contract?

Making a sexual contract can be very healthy act in a relationship. It’s essential however that people are honest about their desires and boundaries. Don’t try to push each other beyond the comfort zone.

A good contract negotiation begins with accepting and celebrating ALL of your and your partners desires without judgement. An attitude of creativity, curiosity, playfulness and openness are also essential.

Here are steps to effectively negotiate a sexual contract:

  1. Initiate the Discussion: Begin by expressing your interest in creating a sexual contract and discussing the reasons behind it. Ensure that both parties feel comfortable and willing to engage in the negotiation process.
  2. Identify Priorities and Boundaries: Take time to reflect on your desires, limits, and preferences. Openly share your thoughts and concerns with your partner.
  3. Discuss Terms and Conditions: Such as preferred sexual activities (foreplay, BDSM, anal play etc.) contraception methods, safe sex practices, frequency of encounters, and expectations for exclusivity or non-monogamy.
  4. Negotiate and Compromise: Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the terms to accommodate each other’s needs and boundaries. Listen actively to your partner’s perspective and seek mutually satisfying solutions to any areas of disagreement.
  5. Set Clear Expectations: Ensure that the terms of the sexual contract are clearly defined and understood by both parties. Avoid ambiguities or assumptions, and clarify any uncertainties or questions that arise during the negotiation process.
  6. Document the Agreement: Once you’ve reached a consensus, document the terms in writing for clarity and reference.
  7. Review and Revise: Regularly review the sexual contract together to assess its effectiveness and relevance to your evolving needs and circumstances. Be open to revising and updating the contract as necessary to maintain mutual satisfaction and consent.
  8. Respect and Consent: Above all, prioritize mutual respect, trust, and consent throughout the negotiation process and in all sexual interactions. Ensure that both partners feel empowered to express their boundaries and assert their consent at all times.
Couple in bed kissing after signing a sexual agreement contract

Reignite Your Sex Life With a Contract!

A sexual contract can also be used to reignite the spark in a sexless or low sex marriage.

Many people think that sex is supposed to continue to happen spontaneously and without any communication throughout their entire relationships. This is utterly unrealistic – especially as we begin to have children or our responsibilities grow.

The truth is, once the honeymoon period is over, sex is something that needs to be cultivated. Both partners need to be willing to take the lead, ask for what they want, initiate sex and bring in new ideas. It takes real commitment for a sexual relationship to stay hot over time.

Willingness to be open, try new things and take the risk to be really honest and specific about sex is so helpful. Each person has deep and important fantasies they want to experience, but not everyone feels comfortable to communicate them. Particularly women – often, don’t even count their turn-ons as a fantasy because their fantasies are not always overtly sexual.

Sitting down and openly discussing a sexual contract can be a wonderful way to spark communication. It is less important that you sign on the dotted line – and more that you actually have a forum in which you can share your true desires.

So pull up a chair, download a free sexual consent contract – and get to negotiating!

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman is the is the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She received an MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Women’s Students from UCSC.

In her teaching and coaching, Celeste routinely draws on her extensive training in attachment psychology, sociology, gender studies, and body-based modalities like Hakomi. She uses these embodied learning principles to help students and clients tap into their own somatic wisdom, deepen their experiences of pleasure, and realize their full personal and professional potential.

A prolific writer, Celeste researched and published a defining paper on adolescent sexuality development in 2006, during her tenure at SFSU’s Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

Since then, she has co-authored 3 books with Danielle Harel: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. She writes frequently and is generally the first expert journalists turn to for quotes and information on sex, dating, and relationships.

No matter what she does – whether she is co-producing the sex-coaching-based TV series Here She Comes, or teaching at the legendary Esalen Institute – Celeste always brings her unconditional love, scintillating presence, erotic energy, and insight to every part of her work.

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