Hearing ‘no’

This is an old advert about relationship abuse that I am sure many of you have seen before – now we can all agree that the way the lad behaves in this film is unacceptable and is abusive and should never be tolerated… however, I would like to think about why he behaved in that way. What is the turning point in the scene?

Now at no point are we condoning his behaviour – but it is worth understanding why he behaves the way he does.

The turning point in the film is when she says no to sex. In fact, she does everything right… she says no clearly, explains why and is quite firm with him. The problem is not with her or anything she has said or done it is with him – he doesn’t hear no… he hears something very different.

Often when people say no to sex, instead we hear I don’t love you, or I don’t fancy you, or you are rubbish at sex. Instead of hearing the fact that right now – our partner is not in the mood – we take it as a personal rejection.

Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that we are often told that sex is something we should only do when we are in love – so it stands to reasons that if someone doesn’t want to have sex with us, it means they no longer love us… Obviously, this is nonsense – but when it comes to sex who thinks rationally?

Instead, our lad in the film takes the rejection badly – panicking that there is someone else or that she is going off of him. There is also the hint that he is worried what his mates will think (‘I’ll tell everyone that you are frigid’ Nice way to romance her into bed!).

Again he has made the mistaken assumption that because her folks are out then sex is on…

He takes the no as a rejection and feels hurt, so like any other bully, when he feels small he reasserts his authority and makes her feel scared and intimidated to make himself feel big again.

The fact is, we all have the right to choose when and if we say Yes or No to sex. That means we have to learn to hear ‘no’ for what it is.

Being told No to sex does not mean that someone doesn’t love you – it means that right now, they don’t want to do it… nothing more.

Being told no does not give you the right to bully the other person or to sulk or to behave badly – that is just a sign that you are not ready to be in a sexual relationship.

Don’t assume…

Remember, just because your parents or your partners parents are out does not mean that sex is on.

Just because someone invites you over or into their bedroom is not an indication they want to have sex.

Just because someone is dressed a certain way or flirts or dances with your is not an indication that they want to have sex either.

And, even if someone thought they wanted to have sex and changes their mind then they have that right to say stop at any point.

Remember you are in control of your behaviour – no one is ever asking for it.

Listen to what your partner says, not what you think it means.

And don’t assume that just because your partner is a guy that they will always want sex and that girls don’t. There are plenty of guys that feel under pressure from their partners to have sex too.

There is nothing wrong with saying no – but there is definitely something wrong with not hearing it though.

© Going off the Rails 2014. Adapted from ‘Playing Downstairs’ by Jonny Hunt

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