How to Respectfully Decline Sex

When you think that someone is coming onto you sexually, it can be an awkward and confusing situation to be in if you don’t feel the same way. Learn things that you can say to stop the advance in a respectful way. With your partner, you can learn how to respectfully decline sex, too. Know what you are comfortable doing sexually, and learn how to have a conversation about sex and your boundaries.

Saying NoDownload Article

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    Acknowledge the request in a polite but firm way. For example, if someone you know asks you if you want to go home with them, you can say "thank you for inviting me." Acknowledge the request while remaining confident and polite.
    • If this is someone who should not be asking you for sex because you do not know them or because of your relationship, say "I don’t think that question is appropriate for you to ask me." You should leave and find a friend.
    • If the request is more vague, for example, if someone is trying to get you to have sex and says "don't you think I'm cute", you should say "that is not what this is about." Acknowledging their remark will help you seem confident and strong.
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    Tell the person no, and then explain why. Do not avoid saying no. It is important to be confident and clear so that they know you are serious. Depending on whether you know this person or not, you can say different things to explain.[1]
    • If this is someone you are interested in but you don’t want to have sex, you can say "thank you for the invitation, but no, I don't have sex." Depending on how close you are, you can explain to the person your reasons.
    • If you are with someone you might want to have sex with in the future, you can say "Thank you for asking, but no, I don't want to have sex until I know you even better."
    • If this is someone who is just your friend, say "thank you for asking, but no, I just want to be friends."
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    Say you appreciate them or your time together. After you say no, you can follow it up by saying "thank you for the dance". Say this sincerely and explain why you enjoyed yourself. You can say, for example, "I had so much fun seeing this band." This can distract from the awkwardness and remind them of the setting and situation.
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    Say goodnight and/or move on to something else. If this is someone you do not know, say "have a good night" and then leave. Be nice and genuine when you say this if they have been respectful to you. If you are with someone you know, move on and do something else. For example, you can say "let’s go find our friends".
    • If you do not know the person and you feel uncomfortable, find your friends or get out your cell phone to show the person that you are busy.
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    Say no again. If they ask you again, continue to stand your ground. For example, if your friend suggests sex to you again, you can say "I said no. I don’t want to have sex." You want to be bold and restate that you do not want to have sex so that they do not ask you again. You don’t have to explain yourself again. But say it confidently and clearly.[2]
    • If they keep suggesting sex, you should leave. You will not be able to have a good time with this person if they are mainly interested in having sex, and you do not want to have sex.
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    Stop the actions that lead toward sex. If things are moving faster or physically toward sex, stop it before it goes any further. Move away from the person if they are moving in. If it has progressed further, take off the hand, arm, or body part that is making the advance off of you. If the person is more forcefully touching you, say "stop" firmly and loudly. If they keep going, push your hands out from your body, and you should get away from them.[3]
    • Do not feel bad about stopping the action. If someone is trying to force sex on you, you need to respect yourself and your body. This is your body and you have a right to defend yourself as well as say no to any kind of unwanted physical advance.

Having the ConversationDownload Article

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    Tell the person that you want to talk about sex. The person could be your partner, someone you are dating, or someone you are having sex with. Ask them if they have time to have a conversation, and find a time that works for both of you.
    • Talk before the heat of the moment; it will be easier to express yourself clearly when you are clear headed. [4]
    • This conversation may end up clearing up tension between you two. Perhaps your partner has also wanted to talk to you about sex.
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    Go to a quiet room or space where you will not be interrupted. The space should be comfortable and free from distractions. Turn off any televisions or computers that you are watching. Put away your phone and put your full attention on the conversation.[5]
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    Explain that you want to start communicating about your sex life. Your partner should respect the fact that you want to be responsible and communicate about sex. It will ultimately improve your relationship if you are good communicators about sex.[6]
    • You can start by asking them about how they feel about your sex life. You want them to know that their feelings matter and that you are interested in hearing them out.
    • Explain that this conversation is not a rejection.
    • You may also want to explain that this conversation is not a negotiation of what you will do sexually.
    • Explain that this conversation should be a mutual exchange of boundaries, solutions and communication needs.
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    Use sex vocabulary in your conversation. Do not be embarrassed about using sex vocabulary with your partner to talk about sex. You can laugh about it, but the communication is the important part. So push through the awkwardness and say what you need to say about your boundaries.
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    Talk about solutions that help both people feel good about sex. You can ask the person to wait for a yes before going further when you are being physical. Also, tell the person to wait before acting after they ask. Adding this element of communication to your physical relationship can also make the intimacy more exciting as well as safe. [7]
    • Ask them if they have any suggestions for ways that you can respect each others' boundaries.
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    Tell the person the things that you appreciate about them. If this person is your partner, you can tell them the things you appreciate about them physically or that you like about your physical relationship. This will help them feel better about the boundaries that you are creating. It will also clear any confusion they may have about this conversation being a rejection.
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    Talk about how to communicate when one person is not in the mood. If one person is not in the mood to have sex they should say so, and explain their no. For example, you can say "I don’t want to have sex tonight/today" or "I don’t want to have sex here and/or now." You may want to have sex later on in the night or under different circumstances, but you do not feel comfortable having sex at the moment. Talking about why you don’t want to have sex will help clear the air.[8]
    • You can establish a better time when you will want to have sex. It can be exciting when you both know when you will have sex later.

Explaining Your NeedsDownload Article

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    Know your boundaries. Before you get into a position where you feel pressure from a situation or are tipsy from a few beverages, it is good to know your boundaries. Once you have made up your mind, you can feel confident and ready to continue seeing people.[9]
    • You might decide you don't want any touching under the clothes, for example.
    • Or maybe your boundaries are based on what is going on at the time. Maybe you know that you don't like to have sex when the kids are at home.
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    Talk about your boundaries during the conversation. Tell the person confidently and in clear language what you are not comfortable doing. Be extra clear about what is too far sexually. For example, say "I do not want to have oral sex."[10]
    • Sounding ambiguous or vague will not help you communicate, so be clear.
    • Additionally, you may find that you feel even better and have better self confidence after you have stated your boundaries.
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    Explain your reasons and feelings. Take time to talk about why you feel the way you do. Tell the person the reasons you have for making these boundaries. Say "I don’t want to do this because of this reason/experience/feeling. How do you feel about that?" You want the other person to be an active part of this conversation.
    • This conversation can help you connect emotionally with the other person.
    • Perhaps you are having this conversation because this person keeps pushing a certain sexual boundary. You need to acknowledge this as the reason for the conversation. You do not need to condemn the person, but you need to communicate what their actions are doing. For example, you can say "I need you to stop doing _____. It makes me feel this way/experience this/go through this."
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Hey, I am founder of Bhaskar Health and completed my Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. My clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab.

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