Sex: Saying “Yes” When You Don’t Want To

Many women agree to sex they don’t want. University of Texas, Austin researchers say the reasons vary. Some consent to maintain relationship. Others think it’s the “nice” thing to do. Some are just doing what they think is expected. A few want to avoid a fight. This can be a problem. Or, unexpected benefits may arise. Today, let’s look at the downside.

Some women are pleasers, uncomfortable saying no. Ironically, one woman’s religion got her saying yes by encouraging passivity and keeping her naïve. “Persistence from a partner, emotional games, alcohol, passivity, and difficulty saying no were all important factors,” she said. “I felt nervous, unsure and confused. I didn’t want to make the other person angry with me. When things didn’t go the way I trusted them to I didn’t know what to do. These experiences all occurred before age 19, after which I got stronger and wiser.”

Some fear rejection. “I had a friend in high school who made it seem like the only way I could be cool was if I shunned everything I thought was right,” one woman lamented. “I would have sex just so she would have more respect for me. I hated every experience I was having.”

More commonly, women fear losing boyfriends. “I was stupid and thought sex would keep my boyfriend around,” one woman explained. “I was 17 years old and it didn’t work.”

Others try to compete with the fireworks of internet porn, which too often brings distress.

A few seem more coerced than consenting. “When I was 17, I dated a guy who was 26. I didn’t want to lose him, so when we made out, he would force my head down for oral. He would hold my head there for a long time, even if I was crying.” Yet she voluntarily continued to see him because she “figured this was part of what I needed to do to be datable.”

Saying yes when we’d rather say no becomes a problem when the motive is avoiding negative or painful outcomes, say the UT researchers. Performing acts that repel us, that go against our values and that create feelings of self-betrayal – damaging self-respect – weigh heavily. Desperation, shame and remorse arise.

These relationships are best left behind.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 17, 2011, in feminism, gender, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I have a friend who went to an all girl school middle school, then when she started going to a co-ed high school where I met her, she was asked out by a boy for the first time only a couple weeks into school. Ever since then, she has never gone longer than a couple months without having a boyfriend. I believe this is because she doesn’t know how to say no. She dated a guy that was friends with my friend’s boyfriend for almost a year, cheated on him, then broke up with him because she said she never actually loved him. I think she only stayed with him because it was convenient and needed a date to prom. There are more examples of her not being able to say no to a guy and I think it is dangerous for her because I know she just doesn’t want to be rude, and thinks this is what she is supposed to do. She has no problem saying no to other things like drugs and alcohol, I have witnessed that my self. But when she is around boys, she just can’t turn them down.

  2. I agree with all this. I honestly feel that everyone goes through this whether they say yes or no. As I was reading this it made me think about one of my bestfriends. She is a really nice person. She has been depressed for this reason for a long time. She met this guy and she fell desperately in love with him. The only thing she ever though about was him and how she wanted to be his girlfriend. Finally the day came and they started going out. I felt that he just asked her out because she would always be around and he felt lonely. He had just recently seperated from his ex wife. I would talk to her and let her know that he wasnt ready to be in a relationship and that he would end up hurting her. As time went on I noticed that she would hardly talk to me. She started keeping a lot of things to herself until one day she burted in tears. She told me how she felt like he didnt care. She addmited to me that she had lost her virginity to him and that she felt as if he would just use her for it. I talked to her many times and she wouldnt listen. She ended up pleasing her partner just so he would stay with her. She was always fear of rejection so she didnt want to end up alone. She just wanted to be accepted by him. She felt like she needed to have a boyfriend in order to be liked and for people to think she was attractive. Months went by and she couldnt deal with it anymore. Im just happy that she realized what he was doing to her. This made her really depressed and made her feel even worse about herself afterwards. Saying yes to sex when you dont want it can never lead to something good.

  3. jaylene caampued

    till this day this situation still goes on. i feel that either way, if you say yes or no you are still going to loose in some way. for example, if you say yes you are uncomfortable, not ready, feel pressured and that means the man just doesnt have any respct for you or your feelings and you take the risk of him doing a “hit it and quit it”. then if you say no, he will be upset with you, and he might even find someone else who will do it. either way to me its going to be a loose loose situation in some way. mightess well go with how you feel. if he can understand and respect it then you got yourself a winner!!

    its a very sad and hurtful situation thought because my ex who i was with for 3 years always pressured me to do things i didnt want to or wasnt ready for. he was more sexually experienced then me so it was hard. he would make me feel bad, or we would fight. come to find out that he cheated serveral times. i wonder if it was because those girls were easy and did what he wanted or because i gave him a hard time and just wasnt ready. who knows, but all i know is i am now with someone who respects what i will and will not do and im very happy for that.

  4. Anneshirley Nyako

    Sadly, I have personal experience with this topic most definitely. About two months ago, I lost my virginity to a guy I cared deeply for, and considered my best friend. After lots of me resisting, and saying no, and him coaxing, and being persistent, I ended up just caving in because I felt like I had no other option and I really cared for him, so I knew he wouldn’t hurt me.

    Unforgettably, he did. Even though the physical pain was excruciating, it was the part after that hurt the most. I ended up losing someone I had been friends with for since the sixth grade, and it made me question the authenticity of our friendship. I even lost respect for myself, because I had been the one out of all my friends that was waiting until she was married to have sex.
    I made the decision, and I can’t go back and change it, but I do believe that this topic highlights a lot of things that I went through too. Wanting to please, a fear of rejection, all came into my experince when I had sex for the first and last time before I was married.

    It took me a while to heal from the hurt, but I am proud to be cellibate, and starting all over.

    I truly believe the best sex is when you have commited to one another and even through marriage, where children can be considered a blessing, and not a curse.

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