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When I do a calculation of times I've said yes to sex, based on estimates of how often I've had sex in 23 years of being active, it's around 7000. Seven thousand yeses. I would say almost all of them were positive and this is in large part because I knew how to say no. A main reason the curious, adventurous parts of me can consent to intimate acts and new experiences is that I know my boundaries. I know when something is a yes because I also know when it would be a no. Or if it's an 'I don't know' I have ways of working out that decision. The sense and ability to reject offers or situations that I don't want helps me to feel safer trying what I do want.
NOTE: that doesn't always mean that I am safer. Saying no doesn't guarantee that others will honor our limits but it is a start in caring for ourselves.

This episode is slightly blurry, the sound and lighting are amateur due to my inexperience with the equipment, but Sexpla)inauts encouraged me to post it, so I said yes, trusting that they would have said no on publishing if they wanted to.


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I'm Dr. Lindsey Doe, clinical sexologist and host of this sex-curious show, Sexplanations. 

I love having a curious attitude, one that's like "yes, tell me the things, show me. I want to learn it all!" Part of the reason I can be this way is because I know when and how to say "no". No, I don't want your dick pic, no, I'm not interested. Here are twenty-four examples of me saying no to sex so that you can use them as permission, as modeling, as support for you to do the same if you need to.  

In my dorm room, in college, "this doesn't feel right". At a sex party, when my partner asked to play with someone else, "no". I didn't explain in the moment, but it may be helpful for you to know the reason why I said no is because the person they wanted to play with was very intoxicated.

"Can I cum inside you?" "No." Sometimes I'll add, "I'm ovulating", or "come on my tits" (laughs). "I really want you to go down on me and your semen will change the pH of my vagina, making it less pleasant if you do that later." Other times, "no" is it. 

"Can we do it without a condom?" "No." "Can we do it without a condom?" "No." I had a partner prod for a blowjob, saying, "Tommy's girlfriend gives him a blowjob whenever he asks for one." Okay, I'm not Tommy's girlfriend? Are you not grateful for all the other things that I do? Aren't you glad that when I give you a blowjob, it's because I want to, not because I feel obligated? I can say all these things in my head, and then just reply, "so what? No."

Another time, I was on one of the most incredible dates ever, and before we got into bed, I said, "uh, I don't have a way to brush my teeth, so I can do other things." It was just a rejection and then a redirection. No kissing, blowjobs. 

Once at a barbecue, someone said, "oh, so you're a sexologist, does that mean you wanna have sex with us?" (sighs) No.

Recently, I received an email asking to climb between my legs and please me. No thank you. Sometimes there's push-back, people who don't trust my ability to make decisions. They argue and question and full-out ignore my rejection. But I'm not afraid to protect myself! Report them, block them, privately and publicly call them out. It's okay to reject someone. It's okay to be rejected. It's not okay to harass people. 

At the movie theater, my date put their hand on my thigh and then moved in to my crotch. I moved their hand at first to non-verbally communicate, "uh, no", and then they pushed harder inward, at which point I raised my voice in the movie theater, and said, "No, I don't want you there." They never did it or anything like it again. 

Sometimes I wish that I didn't have to speak up for myself, but I'd rather that than have a resentment toward people because I didn't tell them when they crossed a boundary. Human beings don't come with instruction manuals like 'how to not piss off Dr. Doe'. But we can communicate compassionately in relationships as we learn about each other, and we can do better. 

For example, not everyone knows that oral herpes outbreaks can be instigated by acid, like fruit juices or vaginal fluid, so after cunnilingus, nope, you can't do that, you have acidic vagina all over your face and if you try to kiss me, you can trigger an outbreak on my lips and nose. No! It's not the end of the world, it's just rejection! 

The same thing goes for bumping my anus with a penis, then trying to have vaginal sex. They ask, "Why did you stop? Can I not go back inside?" And I get to reply: "No, you bumped my anus, so you need to go to the bathroom and wash your penis before you can come back and have sex with me. I don't wanna get sick." And then after they go to the bathroom, I ask, "Did you use soap? Nope? Then you still can't go inside my vagina, because I don't want bacterial vaginosis or a urinary tract infection from pathogens that can't be rinsed off with water." If I got an infection, we wouldn't be able to have sex for days or weeks; that's way longer than the sixty seconds it's gonna take you to wash your dick. 

I don't always educate people while I'm shutting them down. Sometimes I will maneuver my hips, close my legs, push them away with my hands. I may also switch to something that is a yes for me. No, you can't go in my vagina, but you can go in my anus. My breasts are tender, but you can give me attention on my neck. I love the neck stuff.

There are many different tactics- some work better than others- sometimes it's about the other person. I was on vacation with a friend who surprised me with sexual advances. I declined, I wore extra clothes to bed, I created a pillow barrier between us when we slept. I gestured refusal. Other times, I was silent. Sometimes I say no by saying nothing at all. It was awful, but I don't have to rescind or apologize for my rejection. 

No one else gets to decide what I do or don't want. People get hurt, egos get bruised, but more often in my experience, communicating boundaries alleviates more pain than it causes. I have worn out my body thrusting, humping, all of the movements, and have had to say, "No, I've gotta shut this down so that I can recuperate." Those nos look like "we've gotta stop, it hurts. I need serious time to heal. Ahhh, nope! I'm gonna go sleep in the other room because we can't keep our hands off each other. No, still not ready." 

Even if my body doesn't ache but I don't wanna have anything less than great sex, I may forego sex until I can get that. I've said, "I'm really tired. I don't want to have anything less than great sex. Can we wake up in the middle of the night after having slept a little bit or try again in the morning? Or you can masturbate and I can moan while I doze off."