No, not now, or maybe never: How to take no for an answer

Consent is an ongoing agreement that lets you know if a partner wants what you want. And knowing how to hear “no” is just as important to consent as knowing how to say it.

Whether you’re asking for a date, a snuggle, or a hookup, enthusiasm should be the norm. Here are some ways to make sure things are happy, healthy, and consensual at all times.

Check in early, check in often. Communication is key. Whether signals are verbal or nonverbal, agree beforehand about how to communicate “yes” and “no” in different scenarios. Check in by asking “How does this feel?” or “How do you feel about this?” If your partner ever seems uninterested, uncomfortable, or says “no” or “stop,” stop what you’re doing immediately.

Don’t take it personally. No matter what your partner is or isn’t into, never forget that you are sexy as hell and worthy of affection. It’s okay to be into different things—try to be kind and empathetic with your boo and with yourself.

Separate “now” from “never.” Just because they aren’t into something you want to do—whether it’s going for a walk or getting down and dirty—doesn’t mean they aren’t into you. Talk to your partner about your needs and desires and find out whether their “no” is a “not now” or a “not ever.” If it’s a not now, keep the lines of communication open and be patient. If it’s a not ever, you have a right to think about whether that’s a deal-breaker or something you can adapt to.

Appreciate their honesty. Your partner feels safe enough to speak up when they aren’t into something, and that’s a good thing. To keep building trust in your relationship, listen to your partner’s needs, honor their requests, and be gracious. Always.

Explore other ways to get close. From trying new experiences together to gazing into each other eyes to taking things slow, there are many ways to get closer. Look for activities that are comfortable and pleasurable for both of you.

Remember that being open and honest with each other will make it easier for you to meet each other’s needs and could lead to some very hot sex down the line. Make sure your birth control is ready for the action.

You’re worth a hell yes,

P.S. Have you been able to get birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act? Please take a moment to share your story and help protect contraceptive coverage!

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