Great Ace-pectations

A checklist to start a discussion about boundaries with partners or anyone you are close to.

The other day my partner and I realized we hadn’t seen a checklist for more specific aspects of physical contact than the QPP checklist (which we have used quite a bit over the last two months). We had found the QPP checklist awesome since we knew we needed to talk about some things but communication is hard and there isn’t a good script for those conversations in American teenage culture (shocking, I know). We put together a new checklist that is designed in a similar way that breaks touch categories into kissing and touching and then lists body parts that are commonly touched in romantic and affectionate relationships. –but not all in ours cause ours is fancier and rebellious– This sort of checklist may already exist in similar circles to where we found the QPP one, but we haven’t seen one!

Our checklist is still in the early stages and doesn’t cover some things like whether actions are ok in public or not, and more details about types of touching– which we’ve been adding to the “w/ restrictions” column or adding into initials boxes as necessary. We each put our initials in boxes to show that we felt that way about receiving that type of touch. You can’t color code different colors of text in the same box on google docs but it still visually works ok for now.

It should also be noted that this was designed by two aces in an affectionate relationship that has involved cuddling for a while (though we’ve been long-distance primarily for the summer) and kissing only recently. There are changes you could make also to fit the types of body parts different partners have or might be wanting to touch, especially if your relationship is sexual (notice genitals isn’t even an option). If you can want to add boundaries as far as giving types of touch and you figure out how to work that into the chart feel free to share!

I’d love some feedback on this and hopefully some other people might find it useful to go through with their partners, especially if you share a bed or haven’t talked about physical boundaries before or you are ace and therefore really like charts. The experience of going through the checklist with my partner (on google docs woooo so romantic) was really amazing and empowering at least for me. Despite my cuddling and affectionate relationship experience increasing rapidly over the last year, this is still the first time I’ve talked about detailed (or any) boundaries with a partner or friend before the “is this ok?” moment and it feels really awesome and takes a lot of the scariness away from thinking about future interactions with my partner (when we are reunited across a continent in a month). And the fact that it’s going to allow ME to be a better and less scary partner makes me really really happy.

–Shapes

My aforementioned partner, Ladyperson, says:

Considering that we sort of awkwardly didn’t touch at all for the first part of our friendship/relationship/whatever, I spent a lot of time very acutely aware of the boundaries between me and person. Even when a relationship includes checking in with the other person and making sure things were okay, there is always a possibility of doing something that crosses people’s boundaries if you don’t know what those boundaries are. A lot of why I didn’t touch person earlier on was because I saw other people overstepping and I didn’t want to do that. When we first talked about kissing and person was unsure about it, I was very cautious about bringing it up again because if it did come up, I wanted it to come without my influence, even just the influence of bringing it up. In addition, touch boundaries are particularly hard for me because I can be very badly triggered by things one day that don’t bother me the next. This checklist for me is awesome because I can make clear the nuances of what is okay before I am faced with them AND I can understand the nuances of person’s physical contact bubble before I do something that might be upsetting. It serves as a great diving board for full on conversations, if y’all are comfortable with that.

For the first time in my life and relationships, there is true consent happening. It’s going beyond doing something and then being told that isn’t okay and accepting that. That kind of consent, or even the kind where you ask someone just before you do something, has always been hard for me. This consent acknowledges from the beginning that some things may not be okay and that what is or isn’t may be different between partners. I also think this checklist is awesome because it emphasizes that consent applies to so much more than just sexual interactions and that’s really important too because we teach people to accept social touch from others even when they may not be entirely comfortable with it. Continually doing things in your relationship that remind you and your partner to talk about your boundaries is a really great way of making sure that you’re checking in and respecting them. Basically I am sort of in awe and happy-shaky and relieved (because someone else does understand and share what I need) and pissed because maybe everything would have been okay if I had always been able to apply these awesome checklists (or at least the idea of them).

Because consent is nice y’all. It’s really really nice.

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Comments on: "Physical Boundaries Checklist" (10)

  1. This is a wonderful idea. My girlfriend and I just started dating and since I’m asexual and she isn’t, this is a really good way for us to figure out boundaries. Definitely going to employ something like this. Thanks for the idea!

  2. […] Callisto has created a physical boundaries checklist. […]

  3. Reblogged this on The Thinking Asexual and commented:
    I’m a big fan of lists, checklists, and having things clearly defined in writing–so I’m a big fan of this physical boundaries checklist! I also appreciate the reminder that physical boundaries and consent are just as relevant in an ace/ace relationship that’s obviously nonsexual, as they are in sexual relationships. Every ace feels differently about physical, nonsexual touch, so tools like this checklist are just as useful for us even when we know sex is a non-issue. 🙂

  4. I love this idea. Do you have a link to a blank Google Doc version I could use?

  5. I’m very fond of this checklist. The format inspired me to make one of my own! (Link: http://ttwblaze.blogspot.ca/2013/09/needwant.html)
    The conversations that came out of it were incredibly useful. Thanks for getting my thoughts going.

    Also, what is this QPP checklist you speak of? I haven’t been able to rustle it up despite much Googling.

  6. […] out!  If you haven’t already, check out the QPR checklist (here in chart form) and the physical boundaries checklist.  (Note: Both of these can be used for relationships of all types!)  At the very least, they can […]

  7. Thank you very much for this!

  8. […] component of a relationship (regardless of the type).  I mean, this is why we have so many checklists and graphs, right?  Everyone picks and chooses what components they want to make up their […]

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