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Dealing with an unusual sexual request

Some tips for dealing with uncomfortable situations

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

"Is what they've asked for: A bit unusual, or just something you’re not into? "

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Er… you'd like to do WHAT in the where now?

There may come the time when your partner asks you to do something that makes you feel nervous or embarrassed, totally turns you off, feels taboo to you, or makes you flinch with horror. It can be difficult to say 'no' to them without hurting their feelings, making them question whether they can be open with you sexually, or frankly panicking and feeling at a loss as to how to reply. 

Sometimes it's difficult to tell whether someone is joking or serious about a sexual request. Ask them whether they are serious and if either or you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, suggest discussing this when you are both sober. Your reaction should depend upon your personal preference, the nature of the request, and how it is made.

If someone asks you politely and respectfully, and their request isn't breaking the law, then bear in mind that they have trusted you enough to ask, and that what's unusual or taboo to you might seem normal and enjoyable to them. Everybody has different sexual preferences, and it's normal for you and your partner to have different sexual interests and fantasies.

Is what they've asked for: A bit unusual, or just something you’re not into?

If it is a bit unusual or makes you blush, you could say that you'd like to think about it for a while, but that you don't fancy it right now, which will give you some time to gather your thoughts and perhaps find out more about the subject. If you are neither put off nor excited by the sexual request, but it's important to your partner, then you might want to experiment and try it once.

It’s important to make an informed decision, and that you take your instincts into account as well, and never ignore a gut feeling. If it is something you're just not into, clearly let your partner know how you feel. Don’t say 'maybe' if you really mean 'not a chance!'  Think about how you might feel about it after and don’t do something just to keep someone else happy. If they care about you, they will respect your decision.

Work on a compromise that suits both of you

Perhaps you might be able to negotiate a compromise that suits both of you. For example, “toe sucking just doesn't do it for me, but I'd love a foot massage instead”. If someone has a fixation, rather than a passing fancy, this may not satisfy them, but it's up to you to decide if you're happy to fulfill their request.

How to say NO

Your personal preferences are as valid as anyone else's, and you have a right to say 'no' to anything that you don't like the idea of. You do not have to fulfill every one of your partner's fantasies. Here are some tips on how to turn them down gracefully:

Be respectful:

  • Don't call them names or pull 'disgusted' faces.
  • Say that it really isn't your thing and probably never will be, or it's not something you want to do right now.
  • Say that you really enjoy other aspects of your sex life together.
  • Suggest an alternative activity if you think that's appropriate.
  • Don't be dismissive or make a joke out of their suggestion - you want your partner to be able to openly discuss sexual preferences with you.

Danger signs:

It's time for a serious sit-down talk, or time to get the hell out, if:

  • You suspect they are just trying their luck, or want something to brag to their mates about.
  • They continue to hound you frequently after firmly being told 'no', or become verbally or physically abusive if they don't get their way.
  • They give you the impression that they may turn violent, or are violent in any way.
  • They are overly selfish and do not show concern for your sexual pleasure as well as their own.
  • They hurt you or suggest something that is otherwise unsafe or illegal.
  • They use emotional blackmail such as “If you loved me you would”.

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published May 14th, 2013
Last updated March 28th, 2017
Tags sexual health safer sex sex
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