Learning to say “no”

Written by Maya Expert Team

Don’t feel awkward about saying no to sex (or kissing, touching or any other sexual advancement). Many a times, women at various stages and ages in their lives are emotionally and socially pressured by partners into engaging in physical intimacy that they may not be comfortable with. A number of factors work in this peer pressure by which especially young girls are seen to make decisions with which they are entirely not alright. Complex notions of masculinity influence boys and young men where they also feel the pressure to become sexually active before they reach their comfort zone.

In Bangladesh’s society, a certain contradiction plays out whereby there is very little open discussions about sex and sexual relations but on the flipside, especially in the case of women, there is a pressure to “give in” to their partners’ demands. The right to say no, therefore is an important word in both sex and relationships to set those boundaries. Find out how you can say no and assert yourself in your relationships and interactions.

No at any point

It is important to always keep in mind that any point in time, you can say no. Nobody has the right to make you go further than you want to. Whoever it may be, a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse, you have the right to say no. Similarly, you must also respect if the other person says no at any point of your intimacy.

First time or not

Different people engage in sexual relationships at different points in their lives. Due to a number of reasons, people may decide to get into intimate relationships, some at a younger stage while many when older.

Irrespective when you and whom you have had sex with last, you can decide against it later on. Even if you’ve had sex before, this does not necessarily mean that you have to do it again. Every time is a different scenario and hence, every time it is a choice that you get to make.

When you meet someone you like, it might take weeks, months or even years before you’re both ready for sex. Take it slow, and think about your feelings, as well as theirs. Never rush or push each other into it.

Try talking about the relationship. Communicating helps you to know when the time is right, and to know exactly how you both feel, rather than guessing.

How to say no

Many a times, young people are cajoled into having sex before they are ready, especially in the case of young girls when there are innumerable cases in which boys/men have manipulated girls to have sex with them. A lot of different tactics and “lines” are used. While culturally the approaches may differ, the actions are similar throughout societies. If approached by these cajoling, here are some ideas of what you can say in return:

They say: “Don’t you like/love me?”

You say: “Yes, but I respect you too,” or “You’re gorgeous but I want to know you better.”

They say: “My friends think we should have done it by now.”

You say: “They don’t know what’s best for us,” or “You should care more about what I think.”

They say: “We don’t need to use a condom.”

You say: “I’m not ready to be a parent and I don’t want to risk getting an infection.”

They say: “Let’s just get it over with.”

You say: “If we wait until we’re ready it’ll be much better.”

They say: “If you loved me you’d want to do it.”

You say: “It’s because I love you that I want to wait,” or “If you loved me you wouldn’t say that.”

They say: “If we don’t do it soon, I’ll explode!”

You say: “You need biology lessons … it’s not bad for you to wait.”

They say: “But we’ve been together for so long.”

You say: “Just because we have been together for a long time doesn’t mean I have to do it. I’ll decide when I’m ready.”

They say: “But we are getting married in any case.”

You say: “If we are getting married, then let’s just wait till then.”

If you both agree to have sex, make sure that:

· you use to protect yourselves from sexually transmitted infections.

· you use contraception to help prevent an unintended pregnancy. Read more about it in .

Practise saying no

It might sound strange, but try practising saying no:

“No, I’m not ready.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“No, it doesn’t feel right.”

Or simply:


If you don’t want to have sex, anyone who really likes you will respect your decision even if you’ve had sex with them before.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend says something to the effect that, “If you loved me you’d do it”, don’t fall for it. It’s emotional blackmail. However much you love or like them, you don’t have to have sex with them to prove it.

When Persistency Turns into Sexual Assault

A sexual assault can range from inappropriate touching to a life-threatening attack. It’s a myth that victims of sexual assault always look battered and bruised. A sexual assault may not leave any outward signs, but it’s still a crime.

Victims are most likely to be young women aged 16 to 24. But men and women of any age, race, ability or sexuality can be assaulted. This could be by a stranger or, much more likely, someone you know. It could be a partner, former partner, husband, relative, friend or colleague. Don’t be afraid to get help.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship is abusive towards another. This could be emotional, physical or sexual abuse, including forcing you into sexual activity against your will. If this has happened to you, help is available. Read more about it in

About the author

Maya Expert Team