How do i navigate my partner's (understandable) disappointment when i say no to sex/sexting?

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honeyandtea
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How do i navigate my partner's (understandable) disappointment when i say no to sex/sexting?

Unread post by honeyandtea »

I have a close friend i'm currently in a comfortable friends-with-benefits relationship with. We've been close for years and we've built a lot of trust with each other and we know each other really well. lately we just sext bc of the pandemic, but sex is really important to the both of us although our relationship centers on our deep friendship.

it's rare that i feel the need to say no to sex/ting, but when i do, it's really hard to and more often than not, I end up talking myself out of it, convincing myself that i just need to warm up, or that i can fake it to make my partner happy. i genuinely can't tell when i just need time to warm up, or when my body is telling me it needs a no.

The times i do say no, my partner is understandably disappointed, especially if we had made plans to sext at some time but at that time i can't follow through. he always respects my decision, but the disappointment makes the both of us feel awful. it kind of makes me wonder if it's worth it; i do feel bad after sex/ting that i didn't want because it betrays his trust in me and my own trust in myself, but honestly, the disappointment hurts far more and it hurts the both of us rather than just one. we do love each other very dearly and the relationship is very important to us so i want to find a solution.

i don't know how to navigate this, and it's complicated by the fact that i struggle to trust myself that i deserve to say no (regardless of who my partner is), or that i know when my body needs me to say no. does anyone have any advice on the subject ?
Sam W
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Re: How do i navigate my partner's (understandable) disappointment when i say no to sex/sexting?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi honeyandtea,

This sounds like a really stressful situation, and I have a few thoughts on how you might be able to navigate it. To start with, when you say your friend is disappointed when you say "no," what does that disappointment look like? And does it often seem like you're the one who's stuck trying to "manage" his disappointment or make him feel better?

Can you also say a little bit more about why you feel like you don't deserve to say "no?"
honeyandtea
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Re: How do i navigate my partner's (understandable) disappointment when i say no to sex/sexting?

Unread post by honeyandtea »

I should add, part of the issue is that my partner wants me to let him know well before we could start sexting, which i think is fair. i dont always do that, if i let him know, its usually right before we would start, so i know this is on me as well.

His disappointment looks like telling me he feels disappointed, that he feels bad for feeling disappointed because he wants me to feel like i can say no, and he vents a little bit. He also apologizes a lot, and it's clear he's genuinely sorry he feels upset. I want to be clear, it's not manipulative, there's absolutely no intention of trying to guilt me into a yes, and he wouldn't accept a yes under those circumstances.

I don't think i'm the one "managing" his disappointment? i do try to make him feel better, but really what happens is i let him say what he needs to and then we take space from each other for a little while or until the morning, and i think he deals with it during that time.

i feel like i shouldn't say no, because there have been times in the past when i really did just need time to warm up, or have been able to fake it enough that its very close to okay, and i make myself wonder if whatever time i said no could have been like that and thus avoided all the hurt. we've also had issues in the past where i didn't follow through on (non sexual) commitments that i made, and even though i'm more reliable now, i feel guilty breaking any commitment. i'm also very bad at saying no even to non sexual things with anyone. it's also influenced by how much i care about him, i'd far prefer no one is hurt, but if it's unavoidable, i'd rather it be me than him. there's a lot of factors/excuses, it's hard to pin down just one or two.
Sam W
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Re: How do i navigate my partner's (understandable) disappointment when i say no to sex/sexting?

Unread post by Sam W »

Thank you for all that detail, it's really helpful.

So, I'm going to make two recommendations to start. One is that you ask him to not vent to you about his disappointment. Even if he's not doing it to be manipulative, it's still clearly making you feel like crud and is making you think you should put your own boundaries and comfort aside so he won't feel that way. Ideally, when we're disappointed that a partner turned us down for sex, the reaction to aim for is something like "okay, some other time then." Not venting, not saying that we're disappointed or feel bad for being disappointed; just accepting the no and moving on. So, the next time you need to say no and he says he's disappointing, do you feel like you could say, "hey, I'm not the best person to process that with, do you want to take a break from chatting and talk again later?"

The other big recommendation is to, as much as you can, stop framing sex as a "commitment." Being sexual with another person isn't a commitment; it's a very personal decision and a fluid process, one which we can (and should) stop when we need to. Our interest in sex is influenced by so many things, including the stressors or other things we encounter during our day. That means that we could say "sure, I'd love to sext tonight" and mean it, but then find that when the time comes you're really not in the mood. Is that disappointing to the other person? Sure. Is it rude or a sign that you're causing a problem? Nope, absolutely not. In fact, his ask that you tell him you're not in the mood well before you're supposed to have sex isn't that realistic; yes, sometimes you can tell you're having a day where you just won't be in the mood. But lots of times, it may take until sex is close to happening for you body and brain to go "nope, not feeling it." Does that all make sense?

Since it sounds like boundaries are something you have a hard time with in general, I also want to give you this article, since some of the tools in it might help you out: Be Your Own Superhero: Learning How and When to Stand Up for Ourselves
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