Throughout the process of learning about yourself and BDSM, you hear talk of checklists. You can find yourself obsessing over what terms are in the complex checklist you found on (not a real site). I've even written about it several times on

But when it comes to checklists, we all hear that you should have one, that you should keep it updated, but why are they valuable to begin with?

So What's the Big Deal Anyway?

For a novice submissive exploring BDSM, a checklist can open up a world of fantasies or scare you right back into the safety of your bedroom. Checklists are not meant to scare you or overwhelm you, but I've seen massive lists that are more like lists of all sorts of rare fetishes and extreme play that only a few ever explore. Why you would want or need that on a novice checklist is beyond me.

A checklist can be used to open up a conversation with yourself and your partner. You are most likely quite nervous to share what your newfound fantasies are or things you want to try but are afraid to ask for. Placing a checklist in front of your prospective partner will make it easier to talk about these things that are new and foreign to you. If you want to open a conversation about kink with your partner, don’t just surprise them with a checklist. Come prepared.

Initiating a Discussion About BDSM Interest with a Vanilla Partner

What Works?

I've written about the form of a checklist that you create yourself. This is by far the best form of a checklist for a new person that wants to try to figure out what to do and what they might be interested in. I'm going to give you the directions again.

Take out a sheet of paper, or use your word processing software, and write down everything from your fantasies and things you've heard or read about. This is not meant to be a list to end all lists; only a list of the things you are aware of. Let me get you started:

  • Bondage
  • Spanking
  • Flogging
  • Nipple clamps
  • Gags
  • Blindfolds
  • Rough sex
  • Anal play
  • Hair pulling
  • Collars

Once you've exhausted your mind on the things you have heard about start giving them a rank. Use a ranking system you will understand.

No interest Little Interest Some Interest Mostly Interested Lots of Interest

Great, Now What?

Hang on to this list. You are going to probably refer to it as you become more familiar with BDSM, talk to potential partners, and ultimately explore SM with someone. Each time you come across an activity that you've never heard of or that sounds interesting, make sure you add it to your list and rank it.

What Else Can You Add to the List?

Your checklist can also list relationship aspects you learn about or are curious to try. Things like submission, rules, tasks, and restrictions of interest, types of relationships you hear about like D/s, M/s, human pets, and Daddy/little. There are numbers more. Types of service you might like to learn about can also go on this list. Ideas are limitless.

That's Great for Beginners But I've Been at This For Awhile

You are right, an SM checklist isn't always necessary when you've been at this awhile. Do you remember where you put your little checklist? When was the last time you looked at it? You could learn a lot about where you are going in your explorations and give you ideas about what you may want to try next.

If you are in a relationship a checklist is even less useful as you explore each other. I don't even use the list anymore. When Master and I want to try something new we don't need the checklist to see if we are compatible anymore. We just talk about it. That’s because we’ve learned how to talk to one another and aren’t embarrassed or uncomfortable sharing these things with each other. That’s a hurdle a lot of relationships have to overcome but it is possible!

Take It To Another Level

Keeping a checklist is also nice if you are developing your own training or slave resume. Making sure that it's accurate and up to date is one of the best ways to let Dominants know of your play experience levels.

Whatever you decide to do with a checklist, having one as a novice is almost vital to your explorations.

Checklists Available Online