There are a number of reasons that someone may not want to have sex, from physical illness to exhaustion. The key to saying no without sending your partner into a tailspin of insecurity is to approach the subject with kindness.
Declining sexual involvement shows that you’re mature and responsible. It also allows you to work on identifying your needs.
Know Your Rights
There are a number of reasons why you might want to say no to sex. Perhaps you want to wait until you’re in a committed relationship, maybe it’s just not in the timing, or maybe you’d rather explore your sexuality with different activities like kissing or touching without clothing on. These are all perfectly valid reasons to decline sex and it’s your right to do so.
However, some people use these excuses to coerce you into having sex, especially in tense or uncomfortable situations. It’s important to understand that no means no and it’s not enough to say “I don’t know.” If you don’t know if you’re able to give consent, you are not granting your partner that right and it could be considered sexual assault.
Another common tactic is to try and make you feel guilty for declining sex. They may point out how long you’ve been together or tell you they owe you sex, and these are all forms of sexual assault.
It’s important to learn to listen to your internal cues. If you’re tired or hungry, for example, that might be a sign that you’re not in the mood. Practicing with other situations, such as refusing a hug or handshake in casual social settings and declining food that’s just for politeness, can help you develop this skill.
Divert Your Mind
It’s hard to say no to sex, especially when you love someone. However, saying no is the best way to protect your health and your relationship.
It may seem like everyone around you is sleeping with their significant other or going down on random people, but if your partner doesn’t want to get physical right now, don’t push them to change their mind. It’s their body, their decision, and you should respect that.
Sometimes, the reason is practical: they’re too tired or it’s not a good time to have sex. Other times, it’s more emotional. Maybe they’re not attracted to the person anymore or they aren’t ready for sex for other reasons. In this case, a little sex advice might help them work through their feelings and decide what they want to do.
A simple but effective way to divert your thoughts is to use a technique called thought-stopping. When you notice a sexual thought pop into your head, repeat the word “Stop” in a normal voice. This will gradually lessen the power those unwanted thoughts have over you. However, it’s not a magic cure all, so be patient. The key is to keep practicing until the thought no longer has power over you. In the end, you’ll be happy that you took the time to divert your mind.
One of the best ways to say no to sex is to be honest. This can be hard, especially in the heat of the moment, but it is important to be direct and look your partner in the eye when you are saying no. This way, they know that you mean it.
You should also be clear about what you are comfortable with sexually. If you have a set list of what you are and are not comfortable with, it can make it easier to stop in the moment when someone tries to cross your line. This may sound a bit clinical, but it is a great way to ensure that you don’t accidentally agree to something that you don’t want to do.
If you are being honest with your partner, they should respect that and not try to pressure you into having sex. It can be difficult to understand why you don’t want to have sex with them, especially when they seem so happy and excited. However, it is your right to decide when you are ready for sex and no one should be forced to have it against their will.
If you are feeling comfortable, you can even offer to postpone sex for a later date or time. This way, they don’t feel like you are avoiding them or rejecting them and will still be able to enjoy your company.
Don’t Be Afraid
Even in the healthiest relationships, people sometimes aren’t up for sex. It’s important to say no without fear and be able to explain your reasons for it. Your partner should understand your inhibitions, limits and mood swings and respect that.
If he doesn’t, that could be a sign of deeper issues in the relationship. If he can’t respect your decision, if he tries to manipulate you or makes sexual advances against your will, that’s an issue you need to work through.
A big part of sexual consent is enthusiastic consent. If you’re not feeling it, if you’re dreading it, that’s a good reason to say no.
You may be nervous about how he’ll react to your no, but you should trust that you have the right to decline physical intimacy. Especially in today’s climate of sexual harassment and assault, it’s more important than ever to stand up for yourself and your rights.
It can be hard to access your no in sticky situations, but you need to practice until it feels natural. It can also help to have an advance no in place so that you can give your partner notice. This will save them from a lot of disappointment in the moment. You can tell them that you want to postpone sex until later, or that you have other plans.