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the freedom to say NO when engaging in sex

freedom to say no

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Sex is meant to be a pleasurable experience. An experience meant to be felt with your whole body through sensation, spiritual connection, and emotion. This is true whether you are having sex with a lifelong partner or having a one night stand.

Sex is a powerful inner being that exists within you that can only be accessed through freedom and liberation. 

So often in coupled sex there is either a very loud, distinct, dominant, voice of, “have to” or a fearful voice of “obligation due to dedication”. Rarely are people given the freedom to say, “no”.

“No, I don’t want to”.

“No, I don’t feel like it”.

“No, I don’t like that”.

No is often restricted to restrained whispers and eyes rolled into the back of the head infused with the guilt of the last time. As a result, “yes” hardly seems like an option. 

Sex is an optional experience meant to be personalized by the doer. When there are no options, no boundaries, sex becomes less desirable. The person then creating those suffocating restrictions, unattractive.

Most often sex is about safety. Cisgender women are taught to withhold their inner sexual being, cisgender men are taught to embrace their sexuality in excess, those that identify as trans, non-binary, masculine-identified, feminine-identified, and those that choose not to fit into societal constructs are told they have no sexuality at all. And yet we want people to embrace their sexual selves allowing sensuality and eroticism to openly flow when all we have been taught is to be either secret or barbaric.

Thanks for the insight. Now what?

Yes, is freedom to choose and freedom from oppression. When, “no” is an option, “yes” becomes more appealing and likely by reducing the pressure one feels to, “have to”. “Have to” sex is the least pleasurable and mindful sexual experience of them all. It is [to say the least] a task checked off the to do list that requires no presence or passion. Sensation is a passive part of the experience. 

Truth: Very few people enjoy this even if they participate. We call this, “dead fish”, “lazy ass”, “duty booty” and many more names I am sure. 

Making room for “no” looks like not coercing a partner into sex. How do we do this:

  1. Take “no” as a complete sentence
  2. Do not keep a sex record
  3. Expand your definition of sex
  4. Appreciate each and all sexual experiences 
  5. Refrain from shaming, demeaning, ridicule, guilt, comparing, blaming, being passive aggressive, forceful, degrading
Photo by Andy T on Unsplash

What do I do when the “no” becomes overwhelming

Simple: Be empathetic, vulnerable, open, and curious

Here are some great starters:

  1. I miss being close to you. Can you share the barriers you experience that impede “yes”?
  2. If we were to share in an experience that would be intimately pleasing to you what would that look like?
  3. How do you experience yourself sexually?
  4. I feel a longing in me to know you. How can I share that with you?
  5. Can you share your feelings and needs with me?
  6. If you were to list out all the things that come before sex in your mind’s to-do list, what would that list say?
  7. Is there anything that I can do to support you? Create safety? Create opportunity for options?

Why do we do all of this?

We do this so that “yes” feels authentic, organic, not coerced, or forced. We do this so that “yes” is about seeking pleasure, sensuality, eroticism, safety, connection, and closeness.  

Make “no” an option so that “yes” is always a possibility. 


Expect Kiss & Tell Magazine to discuss women’s issues, relationships, and sexual health and wellness. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and be part of the K&T community so your voice will be heard in guiding our content.

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