How Saying ‘No’ In Sex Can Bring You To A Surrendered 'Yes! Yes! Fuck Yes!'

Updated: Jul 11

So you’ve heard me talk often about boundaries. They are important in every part of our lives. And this week, as I’m sharing with you what I’ve learnt and discovered about myself in my own journey. I’ll be showing you how saying ‘no’ has actually meant a more surrendered yes in my intimate relationship with my partner. This is very much my experience as a cis-gendered woman in a heterosexual relationship. I understand that other people with different genders or non and different sexual orientations will experience things slightly differently to me but I’m hoping the overall message of the importance of ‘no’ reaches you too.


I was recently interviewed for a podcast aimed at parents regarding how to teach sexual boundaries and sexual consent for children. Being a parent myself, I understand that how children view the world is through the eyes of the caregiver. How they interact with the world is how it is modelled by their caregiver. How they see themselves and how they believe the world sees them, comes from their caregiver. So how we learn as children to say ‘no’ is integral to learning to say it when we’re older. It isn’t just learning to say ‘no’ but also learning that when we say ‘no’ that it’s respected. Showing them, that as they grow up, a loving, secure person will respect their ‘no’ and if they don’t respect their ‘no’, this is a red flag. A warning, because for them, ‘no’ was always respected.


Unfortunately, many of us have grown up giving, pleasing and self-abandoning. ‘No’ feels uncomfortable,. It feels shameful. How the other person might feel regarding our ‘no’ we take the responsibility for. Women especially are prone to this.


Sugar and spice and all things nice.

Girls don’t get angry.

Girls are easier than boys.

That’s not very ladylike.

If he pulls your pony tail, it’s because he likes you.


From a young age, girls who become women are given these subliminal messages that their body is not their own, that they are expected to behave in a certain way. Be a good girl, look pretty and then find a husband to take care of you.


These subliminal messages are in fact affecting your intimate relationships. There’s the old joke of women ‘having a headache’ or going to bed after their partner to avoid sex. Women who fake orgasms so that their partner feels loved. Women who allow their partners to do something which they don’t find pleasurable because they don’t want to upset them.


So let me explain my journey a little…


Moving from an anxious attachment style to a secure one the biggest lesson I have had which has had the biggest impact on my healing is setting boundaries. The second biggest lesson is learning not to feel responsible for how another person responds to those boundaries.


When learning about boundaries and starting to use them, I would use the term often with my husband. ‘Please don ’t come downstairs and unload your work day without checking in with me first please. This is a boundary I’m setting with you.’ Potential feeling of rejection from husband would result in a reply such as ‘this is my boundary, I’m sorry if you are feeling rejected but that is not my responsibility.’ I’ll be honest and say that it took my husband a while to ‘get’ boundaries. He thought I was being rude. He also never learnt to say ‘no’ directly, being avoidant attached he would just ghost people, avoid them, not go out with them again or complain incessantly to me about them (another boundary I’ve put in place!). I spent a lot of time explaining how tone is of course important. I spent time explaining about the internal thoughts that someone might have for a boundary being set, but that is their own wounding and inner-child coming out. He really did start to get it. Which made boundary setting easier because I could ‘trust’ his reaction to that boundary. My husband began to learn and understand that my ‘no’ was not a rejection.


So… fast forward to now… during lots of the exploration and transformation practices I have started to feel a sense of more power in myself and sexuality. Tuning into what I wanted and what I didn’t like and being more happy with those ideas. I started to feel more comfortable in my skin and my own ideas of the world and my place in it. I began to feel more comfortable in my own sexuality. Empowered.


So, when I was with my husband, during foreplay, during sex and also in conversations outside the ‘bedroom’ I started asking for what I wanted. To change how I was touched. To ask for things that I had never asked for before because I had always been concerned about how I might be viewed. That my desires or fantasies might be received with shock or suspicion. But now knowing that any reaction that he may have, would be his responsibility and not mine gave me more freedom to be able to say what I wanted without the worry of how I might be perceived. Any potential negative come back would be his wounding, projection or shame. Due to spending time working on this outside of the bedroom and learning to take responsibility for our own projections it became easier to ask from a place of safety. We both started to become more aware of how past relationships and reactions from previous partners also affected certain elements of being intimate. Our nervous system perceived certain behaviours as a threat, so recognising these in ourselves, being honest about them and supporting each other to rewire the nervous system into a positive meant that we were able to really relax and settle more into our relationship, on all levels, not just at a sexually intimate level.


We also began to move away from a ‘goal’ orientated approach to sex - that we should both orgasm and failure to do so meant that something was ‘wrong’. We began to actually enjoy all elements of intimacy and have fun and enjoy the ride instead of going for some artistry measurement of how many/long orgasms I had.


Being able to say ‘no’ took the pressure off both of us. To just have fun and stop and change when we want to without worrying about hurting the other person’s feelings - because we are both aware our feelings are our own individual responsibility. And as a partner you can be there to witness what comes up without taking it on. That is their ‘stuff’ that they need to work through.


When you are able to say ‘no’ and it’s respected (the other person takes responsibility for their own feelings), then it creates a container. A container of safety. A container in which you feel loved. A container in which you feel you belong in that space. That you are welcomed just as you are, including your ‘nos’ and your discomfort. Having this container available allows you to relax, to know that someone will ‘catch you’ so that you can be completely present, no expectations and no ego stories to concern yourself with. Just you, your pleasure and your partner and their pleasure. Your body relaxes, your mind chatter stops and all there is, is the here and now. And with that, comes surrender.


My experience to getting a more full on ‘yes’ and surrender in bed is to create intimacy and vulnerability outside of the bedroom. And if you are too much in your head, stop, take a break, remove the pressure or just take it as an opportunity for a vulnerable share and create more of an intimate connection and sharing of yourself at a deeper emotional level.


Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at hello@carlacrivaro.com.

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