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Saying no to sex

There are a number of reasons why you might want to say no to sex


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


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Sex is a big part of life. From the internet, on TV and in conversations with friends, it can seem at times that everyone is having sex. It's easy to feel there is something wrong if you don’t want to, but there isn't. 

Sex should be enjoyed and whether you are considering having it for the first time or the hundredth time it should be something you want to do and not under obligation or because of pressure.

However, there may come the time when you feel pressured to go further than you’re comfortable with and have to say no.

Why would you say no to having sex?

  • You’re not ready - There are many factors which make a person feel ready to have sex either for the first time or with a new partner and it is normally not to want to rush into taking that step.
  • You’re not in the mood- It is perfectly normally not to feel like having sex all the time. Stress, tiredness and our hormones can all affect sex drive and you shouldn’t feel bad for not being in the mood. If you are worried about your lack of interest in sex and feel like their could be a larger issue it is important to talk to someone about it and consider visiting your GP.
  • You want to abstain from sex or are waiting to be in a committed relationship.
  • Whatever your reason for not wanting to have sex, it is perfectly valid and ok to have made that decision.  Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to say no.

What's your comfort zone?

In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to stop something from going further than you want it to. That’s why it’s a good idea to have thought about what you’re comfortable with before a situation arises.

You may feel like you are ready for kissing and touching with clothes on, but not for touching under clothes. Or you may be ok with touching under clothes, but you’re not ready for oral sex or penetrative sex.

Whatever your comfort zone, it's important that you don’t feel pressured to have sex, and that you have the right to say no.

How to say no to sex

  • It’s important that you are clear and direct. Simply say ‘I don’t want to do that’ or ‘I’m not comfortable with that’.
  • If they continue to pressure you, say ‘no’ again in a firm voice, and remind them they are making you uncomfortable.
  • If you need to, get up and put space between you and the other person, or leave if they have still not accepted your refusal.
  • They may try to make you feel guilty by saying, ‘if you loved me you would...’ or ‘everyone else is doing it’. Don’t fall for whatever line they give you. There is no pressure on you to do anything that you don’t want to, and your partner should respect that. 
  • Remember, you have the right to say no.

My partner won’t have sex with me.

  • Whatever reason your partner has for not wanting to have sex, you need to respect it. They may not feel ready to have sex with you and it's important that you do not pressure them to do anything that they're not ready for.
  • Respect their decision, and resist the urge to make them feel guilty. Waiting might be frustrating, but it's would be worse to have sex with someone who you know isn't ready.  
  • Remember, everyone has the right to say no.
  • Make sure you understand consent and how to recognise it.

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 14th2013
Tags sexual health safer sex sex consent abstinence relationships oral sex mental health wellbeing health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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