In an intimate or romantic encounter, talking or expressing desire creates some of the sexiest moments. If you can find someone who values pleasure, mutuality, and emotional connection in ways that you do—even if it’s only a one-time thing—then you’re on your way to creating more ideal encounters. Someone who does not pay attention to what you want, or disregards your feelings, is unlikely to be an ideal partner. And when someone says or shows that they’re not up for it (this time or ever), they too are taking care of their own needs and wishes, and we get to respond in ways that honor their choice. Here are some examples of how to communicate in the moment to help ensure your and your partner’s needs and desires are being met so everyone has a good time.
Less that, more this
I need to postpone sexy time
I’m glad you feel able to change your mind
That’s not my thing—but you are
How good is it for you if I…?
No problem—I’m relieved you can say it
We’ll hold off—thanks for taking care of yourself
Would you like to…?
If it doesn’t feel right, say something
Let’s talk about what you’re into
That’s not for me—how about [this]?
What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever tried?
How can I make this even better for you?
Firmer touch? Just right? Gentler?
Sexy snuggles or sleepy snuggles?
Still good with this? Keep going?
“More like this?” “Yes, like that!”
You don’t seem super-keen, so I’ll take that as a no
What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety: Jaclyn Friedman
Seal Press, 2011
Melanie Boyd, PhD, assistant dean in student affairs; lecturer in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Yale University, Connecticut.
Jaclyn Friedman, author, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety (Seal Press, 2011).
Twanna A. Hines, sexuality writer, https://funkybrownchick.com/.
Baczynski, M. (2015, February 1). 12 ways to say no gracefully. AskingForWhatYouWant.com. Retrieved from https://www.askingforwhatyouwant.com/2015/02/03/12-ways-to-say-no-gracefully-without-saying-maybe-later/
Baczynski, M. (2015, February 1). 8 ways to hear no gracefully. AskingForWhatYouWant.com. Retrieved from https://www.askingforwhatyouwant.com/2015/02/18/8-ways-to-hear-a-no-gracefully/
Bazelon, E. (2014, October 21). Hooking up at an affirmative-consent campus? It’s complicated. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/hooking-up-at-an-affirmative-consent-campus-its-complicated.html
Beres, M. A. (2014). Rethinking the concept of consent for anti-sexual violence activism and education. Feminism & Psychology, 24(3), 373–389. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353514539652
Blue Seat Studios. (2015). Tea consent. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbei5JGiT8
Boyd, M. (2015, December 17). The case for affirmative consent. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-boyd/the-case-for-affirmative-consent_b_6312476.html
Carmody, M. (2003). Sexual ethics and violence prevention. Social & Legal Studies, 12(2), 199–216. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/0964663903012002003
Culp-Ressler, T. (n.d.). What “affirmative consent” actually means. Retrieved from https://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/06/25/3453041/affirmative-consent-really-means/
Dusenbery, M. (2014, October 7). No, California’s new affirmative consent law will not redefine most sex as rape. Feministing.com. Retrieved from https://feministing.com/2014/10/07/no-californias-new-affirmative-consent-law-will-not-redefine-most-sex-as-rape/
Friedman, J., & Valenti, J. (2008). Yes means yes: Visions of female sexual power and a world without rape. Seal Press.
Grasgreen, A. (2013, June 5). Yale program to shift sexual assault culture goes beyond rape prevention. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/06/05/yale-program-shift-sexual-assault-culture-goes-beyond-rape-prevention
Haigney, S. (2014, September 26). Taking the temperature. The Yale Herald. Retrieved from https://yaleherald.com/news-and-features/taking-the-temperature/
Halley, J. (2015, November 10). The move to affirmative consent. Retrieved from https://signsjournal.org/currents-affirmative-consent/halley/
Kimmel, M., & Steinem, G. (2014, September 4). Michael Kimmel and Gloria Steinem on consensual sex on campus. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/opinion/michael-kimmel-and-gloria-steinem-on-consensual-sex-on-campus.html
McDonough, K. (2014, September 5). Gloria Steinem on consent and sexual assault: “Since when is hearing ‘yes’ a turnoff?” Salon. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2014/09/05/gloria_steinem_on_consent_and_sexual_assault_since_when_is_hearing_yes_a_turnoff/
Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess. (n.d.). Consent: Not actually that complicated. Retrieved from
Savage, D. (2013). Dan Savage: Gay advice for straight couples. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/68863993
Valenti, J. (2014, October 7). “Yes means yes” laws will not actually reclassify all sex at universities as rape. The Guardian. Retrieved from
Wild, C. (2011, December 13). Dan Savage talks sex, love, and clear communication. Retrieved from https://tulane.edu/news/newwave/121311_dan_savage.cfm
Yale CCEs. (n.d.). ‘Myth of miscommunication’ workshops. Yale University. Retrieved from
Dusenbery, M. (2014). No, California’s new affirmative consent law will not redefine most sex as rape. Feministing.com. Retrieved from https://feministing.com/2014/10/07/no-californias-new-affirmative-consent-law-will-not-redefine-most-sex-as-rape/
Saltman, B. (2014, October 22). We started the crusade for affirmative consent way back in the ‘90s. New York magazine. Retrieved from https://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/we-fought-for-affirmative-consent-in-the-90s.html
State laws. (2010). The Age of Consent. Retrieved from https://www.ageofconsent.us/state-laws/
Ultraviolet. (2014). End campus rape. Retrieved from https://endcampusrape.com/