In last week’s column, I wrote about a letter to Scarleteen, the sex advice Website for (primarily) teens and young adults. In this letter, a 17-year-old girl complained about her boyfriend who said he respected her sexual limits, but then kept asking for the same thing… over and over and over again. Scarleteen suggested that, since the boyfriend had made his desires clear, the ball was now in her court: his continued requests had crossed the line into pressuring, and he should bloody well knock it off.
Now, like I said last week, when it comes to the particular circumstances of this particular letter, this principle is very clear-cut. No matter what you might decide about the nuances and gray areas of “asking versus pressuring,” surely “asking for the same damn thing every single time you have sex with someone when they’ve clearly said ‘I’m not ready for this now and won’t be until at least (X)’” lands squarely on the “pressuring” end of that spectrum. Scarleteen’s advice on that front was entirely solid. If anything, I’d argue that they cut this guy too much slack. Personally, I’d be less inclined to advise his girlfriend to have a serious heart-to-heart about why he keeps bringing this up when she’s made her limits very clear… and more inclined to advise her, as Dan Savage so often does, to dump the motherfucker already.
But like I also said last week: I don’t think it’s fair that the ball should always and forevermore be in the court of the person who said “No.” I don’t think it makes sense that the person who said “No” to a particular kind of sex should always be the one to raise the question again. If “asking for something over and over again every single time you have sex” is a lousy place to draw the line between “asking” and “pressuring,” I think “asking once and then never bringing it up again for the entire duration of the relationship” is a pretty bad place to draw it as well.
So where should we draw it?
How do we value the right to say “No” to any kind of sex we don’t want to engage in — while still valuing the right to ask for what we want?
How — specifically, practically — can we make this distinction?
Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, the follow-up to last week’s piece: How Often Should You Ask For Something? Part 2: The Specifics. To find out my specific, practical thoughts on asking for what we want in bed without it crossing the line into nagging or pressuring, read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!