If you want to know someone, say no to them

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

You can tell a lot about a person by what happens when you tell them ‘no.’ This is possibly one of the most useful lessons I’ve learned as a sex blogger, so I figured I’d share it with you: if you want to know someone, say no to them. 

In the course of my work, people often ask me for advice. How do I have a threesome? How do I get my partner to try my kink? How do I tell my partner they aren’t giving me head the way I like it? And very recently I got an email from a gentleman with a specific question about a particular fetish: ‘I am submissive and so is my partner. Do you have any ideas for things we could do together, as subs? Should we do [X]?’

I’m not going to tell you what [X] was, but suffice to say it was a pretty decent idea, although expressed in a very awkward, porny way. My response to this gentleman was ‘ask your partner.’

That’s often my response, I’m afraid. If you mention a partner anywhere in your email, and it’s not immediately clear to me that you’ve had this conversation with them, the only thing I’m likely to tell you is to talk to them about it. I may be a sexual adventurer, but I have not yet ventured into the magical realm of mind-reading. I can’t advise you on how to fuck your partner any more than you could tell my partner how best to fuck me.

This guy asked for my advice, and I gave it. I gave him the only advice that was possible at the time: talk to your partner.

He did not like it.

When a stranger will not listen to your ‘no’

This stranger kept pestering me, on and on, over the course of 6 or 7 emails, even after I had repeatedly told him I didn’t want to get into a discussion beyond telling him to speak to his partner. He wouldn’t let it lie. ‘I know you say ask my partner but what do YOU think?’ and ‘Should we also do [Y]?’ and ‘I know I said we should [X], but do you think we should also consider [double X] or even [triple X]? I want to have a go but we are a liberal couple and I’m worried this would make me toxically masculine.’

I calmed his fears about toxic masculinity – this was not a kink that would be impossible to fulfil in a way that was consensual and kind. But the key thing, I repeated for the umpteenth time, is that you have to ask your partner. For this kink or any others, you can’t let a random sex blogger dictate what you do and don’t do. This is really important for me to say, because while I strongly encourage you all to share posts and stories you enjoy with the people you’re fucking, and asking them ‘how do you feel about this? Do you fancy trying it?’ I cannot bear the idea of someone taking suggestions to their partner and saying ‘do this – Girl on the Net said we should!’

When this guy realised I wasn’t going to send him a stream of personalised smut tailored directly to his expressed kinks and wishes, he became rude. And angry.

‘Of COURSE I’ve talked to her about this!’ he ranted. ‘How dare you even think that I wouldn’t have? Why would you even talk to me in the first place if you thought I hadn’t done this? What is wrong with you?’

To which I replied that he wouldn’t be the first – or the last – guy in my inbox to do exactly this, and I urged him to stop worrying about the ‘toxically masculine’ implications of his kink, and instead consider the toxic implications of asking a woman for advice and then getting enraged when she doesn’t deliver exactly what he wants.

His response: ‘you seemed so much more intelligent in your writing.’

If you want to know someone, say no to them

He is far from the first guy who’s done this, and he definitely won’t be the last. There was that guy who fired aggressive sexual questions at me then became angry when I pointed out that he hadn’t even said ‘please.’ The ones who have asked me to join in their projects then hurled my polite ‘no thank you’ back as if my rejection is the equivalent to a deliberate punch in the face. The ones who have ignored me when I’ve said ‘I’m busy, this may take time, so please don’t rely on me if you need to get help for this elsewhere’ and just kept ploughing on asking again and again and again, expressing the urgency of their request and how their lives will be ruined if I don’t fulfil it right now.

Not all these people are terrible people. Many of them are struggling or hurting or panicking about things which seem so big to them they can’t comprehend why I don’t do what they’re asking for right now. But the weird thing is, none of them can see the same might be true of me. That I might also be struggling or hurting or unable to do, right now, exactly what they’re after. Many of them hold me up as an ‘expert’ but decide later that I am not one, based solely on the fact that they do not like my advice.

It’s knackering.

Or is it flattering? I get confused. Sometimes it really is flattering to hear that someone needs help and they reckon I can give it. I’m usually pretty up for helping if it’s in my remit and won’t take up hours of my time. I especially love giving advice to new or aspiring sex bloggers, because I have a massive vested interest in more people talking about sex. But I’m fairly clear in my FAQs about the kind of help I can – and can’t – give people, yet still some people pop into my inbox asking for things I have told them I won’t do.

Individually-tailored smut. Feedback on dick pics. Free advertising. I’m not writing this post to lament these things – the fact that people ask for this stuff is a symptom of success, which comes largely from luck, for which I’m incredibly grateful. So I don’t want you to get out a violin and start playing me a misery waltz, I just figured that the lessons I’ve learned may well be helpful to some of you.

So here goes…

If you want to know someone, say no to them

Someone’s response to a ‘no’ is usually a decent barometer of whether you might want to deal with them in future. Some will hear your ‘no’ and respect your boundaries. Others will hear your ‘no’ and do their level best to pressure you into a ‘yes’, or to make you feel bad for saying ‘no’ to them in the first place.

Some will be condescending…

“We do not pay bloggers for adverts, but if you write a couple of articles about us for free we may consider paying you later down the line.”

Some will wheedle and plead…

“I know you don’t want dick pics, but look at this one and give it some marks out of ten? It won’t take long, it takes you longer to reply to say no than to just give me what I want!”

And others will try to insult you…

“Why would you even talk to me in the first place if you thought I hadn’t done this? What’s wrong with you?”

The ones who really matter won’t do any of these things. They’ll listen to your ‘no’, respect it and move on.

Or in other words – if you want to know someone, say no to them.


  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    This is so true. (And sorry for all the twats you have to deal with, by the way.)

    In an entirely non-sexual context, I recently refused (reasonably, I thought) a request from a friend of mine. He took it so badly it almost ended our friendship. His attitude, and his refusal to take no for an answer, certainly made me re-evaluate it. And made me pity anyone unfortunate enough to get into a relationship with him.

  • fuzzy says:

    ‘you seemed so much more intelligent in your writing.’…

    I’m sorry, this made me snicker. I guess i’m enough of a nerd that I would consider your email exchanges to be writing, and the fact that they are therefore *personal* would only emphasize to me the seriousness you attribute to them – to stop and take the time to write to me personally would be a massive signal that you care and that I should take what you are saying at face value and stop and listen hard.

    I and several people I’ve encouraged to read your blog think you are awesome. For every post I make here, I have 3 posts I didn’t, and apparently none of my friends who read you comment — but they send me notes about things you say that move them.

    Personally I think the title of this post of yours is one of the best pieces of advice anyone can receive in any context, as SpaceCaptainSmith so clearly illustrates above.

    As a female supremacist I’ve spent years learning to listen when a woman talks, instead of just waiting until I can speak again. I still catch myself sometimes interrupting, and then I stop and when/if I can (depending on context and appropriateness) I apologize and explain why I’m apologizing.

    Best wishes and happy holidays. And thank you for all your work and the wonderful things you share with us.

  • Phillip says:

    Chinese food for X-mas? It’s not a kink, but very few other restaurants are open. Christmas is always this big open question. I hope you do better. Actually my mind just turned to a nice roast capon with a fat lemon and rosemary inside. Rubbed down with olive oil and salt. There could be a box of stuffing (better than mine from scratch) and homemade cranberry sauce (I’m good at this). Asparagus maybe? No! Beets! We seldom have them and there are some nice yellow ones in the store. GOTN, get yourself and ‘He’ on an airplane and I will make enough for five diners extra. With legal pot in Ca. I could get something not too devastating. That way all the food will be eaten. I’ll get a large pie just in case the pot is too good!


    Yes Fuzzy. It is tangential. We have an insane political melt down in progress and pretty much everything you want to do (loot) goes. It won’t disturb dinner…..some things one just can’t let happen. Have you noticed that Trump is a criminal? I mean really a gangster! I’m frightened. He makes Boris look like a baby. All of Trump’s loony followers have these little lethal guns and those stupid hats. If that fool wins (actually he didn’t win, as the popular vote was 3,000,000 more for the winning candidate) maybe he will have a heart attack or choke on a steak bone.

    Tangentialism is OK during the Yule Holidays. Merry X-mas Fuzzy!

  • LittleMouse says:

    ‘You seemed so much more intelligent in your writing.’

    Ugh. I am reminded of a story I read once about an economics professor who decided to stop telling people what he did for a living at parties, because whenever he did the odds were that the person would respond with “Oh, you’re an economics professor? Can I get your opinion on ?” Only they never wanted his opinion; they wanted to tell him their opinion and for him to agree with it. And if he did, they’d swan off back to their friends and say “Guess who’s as smart as an economics professor?” And if he disagreed, they’d swan off back to their friends and say “Guess who’s SMARTER than an economics professor?”

    Fscking people, man.

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