There is so much going on with #MeToo, listening to women, consent, how to approach women, and most of it is very good and on point. Enthusiastic consent? Yes! Noticing places of entitlement? Yes. Learning how to calibrate to another? Absolutely. But what about men stepping up and saying “No” to women? Where are the places they would do well to set a boundary and stick to it?
You are having sex to impress others.
I call this Leaky Cup Syndrome. Sure, you scored, but then what? The victory of last night leaks out of the cup that is you. It is never permanent because you are not filling your own cup of self-esteem. No one else can do that for you. Sure, friends help, but conquests do not—not unless you take the goodness from that experience and learn how to source it for yourself. Herein lies the tricky part. On the one hand, why not engage in some fun? Certainly, some men will “score” even if they feel like they have no attraction or feel no real connection. However, if everyone is on the same page about what sex means to both of you, then go ahead. On the other hand, there is so much pressure in society for a man to score in order to be a “real” man that it can be hard for a man to find his true yes or true no. I know a man who lost his virginity on a bet, and another man who lost his virginity with someone he found so unattractive he could barely maintain an erection. In both cases, both men were relieved to have divested themselves of the pesky virginity “problem.” So where do you stand in all of this? Having sex for yourself or for others? Letting it define who you are or having it be a point of connection with your partner? Where are the places you’d be better off saying, “No.”?
Getting a shrug or “I guess so.”
Things are getting hot and heavy. Clothes have started to come off or close to it when you realize, maybe a check-in is good. Something quick. Won’t kill the mood. You verbally let her know you’re hot for her. She nods. You want to get it on with her. She shrugs. Red flag. Do you want someone who is a “whatever,” or do you want someone who is a “Hell, yes!” The problem with a “whatever” is that it sometimes disguises a no. It’s sometimes a way of a woman not speaking her truth—either because she hasn’t been taught to, she’s afraid of repercussions, afraid to say no or be called slut or some other reason. In this case, it behooves you to hold the line. Yes, some woman have a really hard time saying no, AND I believe it’s very helpful for men to require—yes, require—a “Hell, yes” before moving onward. It means the woman needs to actually speak her truth. If she’s into it, she gets to be embraced for that. If she’s not willing to say no, then her yes isn’t fully a yes. You need to know your partner will say no when something isn’t working for her. After all, how does it feel to wake up next to someone who really wasn’t that into what you were doing? Is it worth it? The woman also gets to learn how to speak up. Lastly, she gets to feel her desire, and you get to be with her in it. A fully turned on woman is HOT. A tepid woman is not. (Note: there are many valid reasons for being lukewarm that have nothing to do with you.)
The dance between anxious and avoidant attachment styles.
I’ve written about this many times in articles such as “Loving the Man Who Needs Space” and “Loving the Woman Who Needs More Than You Can Give,” among others. In an anxious-avoidant dance, one person often wants more connection, time, and touch while the other is yearning for space and non-commitment. This means the anxious person might have sex out of a knee-jerk attachment trigger rather than truly wanting sex. Think about your own relationships and the people you have attracted. Has the woman often wanted a lot more than you can give? Conversely, do you find your own self to be anxious and worried if the woman seems more distant and needs more space? Take a look at the places where you might do well to say no—either because you think your potential partner is connecting because of anxiety, or you are connecting out of anxiety.
Does she sleep with you because she thinks you might go away? Or is she truly hot for you? Are you on the brink of leaving when she finally agrees to have sex? Or vice versa? I have certainly known women who have sex because they know the man will stick around. He feels a level of responsibility for the connection; she wants a warm body. Worse yet is a woman who feels obligated to sleep with you because you bought dinner. Sure there are women who are out there to get a free dinner, but remember, you’re always at choice. You chose to buy dinner. This doesn’t obligate her to do anything. If you don’t want to buy dinner, then let her know before the date that you always share the costs. Her response will be illuminating. If you feel like she’s going to sleep with you because she feels obligated, say no. If she’s saying yes to sex because she doesn’t want you to leave, say no.
Past history of relationships with red flags.
The chemistry between you two is awesome. You really like her, but why does she have such a history of tumultuous relationships? One after the other, a rollercoaster of emotions that are painful then exhilarating but ultimately unhealthy. This is not to blame her for what others may have done; it’s an examination of how she has been in past relationships. Similar to what Shezza Walters writes about cleaning up past relationships, you are also looking at relationship patterns. Now, absolutely nothing wrong with someone wanting to break past patterns and step into healthier relationships. The big “but” here is: Is she working to change her patterns? Does she recognize her past relationships have been dysfunctional? Is she in therapy or devoted to personal development through books, classes, or a spiritual practice that involves serious self-reflection? If not, just say no. Do you want to get involved with someone who hasn’t done their personal work, who seems surrounded by constant conflict or drama? Do you think your relationship with her will somehow be a break from the past and drama-free? (Note: the flip side is also true. If you have had a series of tumultuous relationships, then it’s time for you to do your own work. You would do well to say no to others’ advances until you can figure out why your relationships are so full of conflict.)
All in all, there’s a lot to be said for creating natural pauses in an interaction so both people can feel into their interest, initiative, and desires. If the woman goes limp and doesn’t move towards you when you stop, then take time to check in, or put a stop to what’s going on. Unless you have a prearranged agreement (“I like a man to take control. This is what that looks like . . . “), then take her lack of bodily interest to heart. Consider her pace, desires, and boundaries as well as your own. Also, is this what you want? How will you feel in the morning? Like chewing off your arm to get away? Will you want to answer her text messages or ghost? After all, you don’t want her to regret having been sexual with you. If she regrets it, chances are you’ll regret it, too. Lastly, remember that your saying no to her (for a variety of reasons, as stated above) is ultimately a big fat yes to you.
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