I was amazed recently that a 24 year old woman I know had unprotected sex on holiday with a man she had just met. She didn’t insist on using condoms because ‘It’s embarrassing to talk about that sort of stuff.’ This professional and intelligent woman was prepared to risk pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases rather than state what she wanted. She’s not alone. Some research by the Assertive Sexual Communication Research Group found that of the students they studied, 33.79% of males and 41.87% of females reported feeling uncomfortable communicating something in a sexual situation. In the first of (at least) two blogs on this topic I list below four key steps to using assertiveness in intimate situations.
Key Step One – You have the right to say ‘No!’ Elizabeth Powell in her excellent book ‘Talking Back to Sexual Pressure’ lists 15 sexual rights we all have. A very important one is the right ‘to refuse any type of sexual contact, regardless of how aroused the partners might be.’ That’s right. Your partner is hot and ready, but that doesn’t mean you have to say ‘Yes’. You still have the right to say ‘no’, even if until then you have been enjoying some heavy petting. This is your right.
Key Step Two – Recognise manipulation I remember as a teenager being told all the tricks guys get up to to get you to agree to sex. Things like:
- ‘If you love me, you’ll let me have sex,’
- ‘You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now.’
- ‘It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex’
- ‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch.’
Don’t fall for it. It is manipulation. Try these assertive responses:
|Their manipulation||Your assertive response|
|If you love me, you’ll let me have sex||I can love you, yet choose not to have sex with you.|
|You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now.||I appreciate you are aroused, but I still don’t have to have sex with you.|
|It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex.||If you are horny, go somewhere private and deal with it. I don’t want to have sex.|
|‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch.||I’m not a bitch for saying no, and if you continue to call me names, I won’t see you again.|
Key Step Three – Avoid risk situations Do you know that after a few drinks you are likely to do things you’ll later regret? If so, don’t drink in a situation where you may later wish you hadn’t had sex. Do you sometimes go to places where you may be unsafe? Walk alone late at night? It’s certainly true that you shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but sadly it is an absolute necessity.
Key Step Four – Ask for what you want If you are in an intimate situation, it’s okay to ask for what you want. Really. So, go ahead and say things like:
- ‘Move your hand like this’
- ‘Keep doing that, it’s great’
- ‘Don’t do that, I don’t like it’
- ‘Let’s just cuddle tonight’
Remember, while you have the right to make your request, the other person has the right to say ‘no’. The exception to this is if you ask them to stop doing something. Then you have the right to insist.
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