Understanding and respecting boundaries is one of the key ingredients to having a healthy sex life and relationship. However for many people, especially women, saying “no” can be extremely challenging.
There’s not a human being alive who hasn’t had their boundaries crossed at some point in their life. Just spend a few minutes watching the interaction of a parent and a toddler having a temper tantrum and you’ll see what I mean.
Those of us who have had our boundaries consistently crossed in childhood (whether from overbearing parents, being constantly criticized or experiencing some form of abuse), have a harder time maintaining boundaries as an adult.
We are “people pleasers” believing that if we just say “yes” we will get the love, appreciation and connection that we crave. If we say “no” we may be faced with rejection and abandonment, further lowering our self-esteem.
Mix this people pleasing behavior with our desire for connection and intimacy and you have a recipe for continuous boundary crossing when it comes to sex. This happens in both new and existing relationships. How many times have you said “yes” to having sex or participating in some sort of sexual act when you really didn’t want to? This was definitely a pattern of mine and I see this in many of my female clients.
Here are a few tools that you can use to maintain your boundaries and learn when and how to say “no”.
- Slow things down. You don’t need to rush into anything. Spend some time with your partner connecting and notice what the energy feels like between the two of you. If you’re feeling disconnected but your partner is wanting to move forward, notice what needs to happen to feel more connected. Do you need more touch, kissing, words of appreciation or adoration?
- Take a time out to check in with yourself. If you feel like you’re getting caught up in the moment but you’re not sure you’re really a “yes”, take a break. Go to the bathroom, get something to drink, anything to remove yourself from the situation. Take a few breaths and check in with yourself and notice what you want. Don’t second guess yourself. If you feel a “no” be with that and communicate that boundary to your partner.
- Learn what “yes” and “no” feels like in your body. Intuition is a felt sense that comes from within your body. Everyone feels their “yes” and “no” in different parts of their body but there are some common body experiences. For many people their “no” shows up as a tightening in the belly, chest or throat. If you want to learn more about how to embody your “yes” and “no”s, check out my Free 14 Day Body Awakening Program.
- Have a consent conversation before sex. In the next blog post we’ll talk about what’s involved in a consent conversation and I will share a FB Live Video in which I model having a consent conversation with someone. While teaching consent conversations have always been an important part of my work, these conversations have become even more critical in the #me-too era.
I love the way Derek Siver puts it in his now infamous quote: “If you’re not a Hell Yes, it’s a No!