Personal Journey

The No That Changed My Life

I’ve been to many sexy parties in my adult life. Hell, during my first bachelorette party, I wore lingerie and danced through the apartment while all my friends cheered me on. Yet, the parties I attended when I was eighteen and nineteen silently drew the line at lapdances and sexy outfits. There were rare moments where we took the things further, but it always felt taboo – like we were doing something we shouldn’t. I always felt tension at these parties because I wanted to go further, yet I lacked the language to ask for what I desired. I didn’t want someone to say yes because they felt obligated. My relationship at the time was monogamish, and I felt conflicted about how to move forward to live the sex life I wanted. Eventually, that friend group spread all across the world and my relationship ended. I didn’t think I would ever have an opportunity like the sexy parties I attended in that era.

Later, I moved to Orlando with another boyfriend, but monogamy and conflicting kinks quickly ended our relationship. When I first entered the online dating scene, I often found myself matching with polyamorous people. After I had befriended several of these norm-breakers, I was invited to my first polyam party. There were several rules, but two stuck out to me:

  • You can ask for anything as long as you accept whatever answer your receive.
  • No means no, and yes means yes.

Ask for anything? Well of course I couldn’t ask for my weirdest desires to be met, I thought. I’m sure they do some weird sex stuff, but of course, I can’t ask for anything. I would see what it was like at the party.

I discovered a hedonistic paradise that night. Walking in, I saw both men and women in sexy outfits. There was dancing, but also cuddling. Both lively conversations and silly stunts. People asked each other for hugs. I saw one man ask to be slapped and his friend obliged. Still shocked by that, I turned to see one attendee come through the door. A woman in lingerie asked to hug him, and he said the most important thing I heard that night: “No, I don’t want to be touched right now.” She didn’t guilt him into it or shame him. The conversation wasn’t over – They negotiated a greeting that worked for both of them, waving at each other, and then went about their night.

At that moment, I realized that it was true. I could ask for anything as long as I could accept a no. In previous sexual spaces, I feared asking for what I wanted because I wasn’t sure if someone agreeing was doing so out of obligation or guilt. But in a space where no is respected, you know that yes truly means yes. One of the misconceptions about consent culture is that it makes sex less frequent and less enjoyable, but that’s the opposite of my experience! By respecting no, I can ask for anything I want. Even if someone doesn’t want to do exactly what I want, we might be able to find something to do that satisfies both of us. Consent culture has freed me to ask for anything my heart desires throughout my life: At sexy parties, in kinky dungeons, and in my own bedroom. That powerful no opened the doors to so many wonderful, sexy, and satisfying ways to say yes.