Woe Is Me! “I Don’t Like Sexting, but It Feels Like My Guy Expects It. How Do I Say No?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I don’t want to sext, but instead want to talk to the guy normally. How do I say no politely?”
— Unsaid rules of intimacy
DR: Like this: “Hi, I really enjoy staying connected with you over chat. But I’m generally uncomfortable with sexting, and I’m not sure if that will necessarily change as we get to know each other better. My discomfort isn’t a reflection of how I feel about you; it’s just the way I am. I understand if you consider that an integral aspect of communication with potential partners, but unfortunately, that’s not something I’m in a position to offer.” Of course, you can modify it to suit your situation and perspective further, and proceed depending on how he responds. For starters, it will establish a firm boundary and help him understand what not to expect from you in the equation the both of you share. If he’s willing to respect that, well, there goes the issue flying right out of the window. If not, well, time to send him flying out of your heart, and hope you meet someone who’s willing to work with the boundary you’re setting.
At the end of the day, only you can advocate for yourself — as difficult as it might seem, it’s the only honest way to avoid a situation like this, where you make yourself uncomfortable simply to make another happy. Having said that, in the same way that you shouldn’t feel forced to sext, it would also be unfair to expect the other person, who may truly consider sexting important — be it to check your sexual compatibility, or achieve a pseudo-physical intimacy from a distance, or connect emotionally with you through desire — to stop caring about it. Once you initiate a conversation, either you can reach a mutually respectable “compromise” (for lack of a better word that I can think of, at the moment), or you can part ways and find someone more compatible with your preferred communication style.
QG: Why do you have to say no politely? Why don’t you just tap into that female rage burning inside all of us and scream at him saying “No means no.” Maybe you could gift him a dictionary highlighting the word “No” since he’s having so much trouble understanding the word? In all honesty, men are tiring and you don’t owe them politeness. Your comfort zone and boundaries come before anything else. You must protect them. So, if this guy tries to overstep them, make them crystal clear to him. He might try to gaslight you and make you feel like you owe it to him — you don’t. But, on the off-chance that he might be respectful of them (assuming the best about men doesn’t come to me naturally, apologies!), you can maybe try to air your opinion and boundaries to him clearly in a conversation. If he understands, that’s a win! If he doesn’t, you can take the trash out.
RN: Here’s an idea: type the letters N and O. The word itself is not impolite. What’s impolite is someone trying to sext without asking if it’s okay first, or checking in on your comfort beforehand. Perhaps, this is an assumption I’m making, but in any case, you are well within your rights to assert your boundaries at any point, to anyone, irrespective of how long or how well you’ve known each other or how intimately. But having said that, I get that saying no is hard. It helps to understand that if saying “yes” isn’t considered rude, why should its opposite — saying “no” — be otherwise? It’s the simplest, most straightforward word we have for expressing something clearly and without ambiguity. If you’re still wondering how to tell him without hurting his feelings (which, if he was mature, a simple “no” wouldn’t) — try “I’m not into this right now. Do you mind talking about something else?” Or any variation of that.
AS: I think it’s great that you know what you want, and don’t want to just do something simply to meet others’ expectations. The next time they bring up sexting, how about you just try putting it plainly, stating that you don’t feel comfortable with it, and then you could try suggesting another topic or method of conversation — or, perhaps, even a game? If they don’t get it, or get upset even though you put it frankly and politely, then I would say it’s their problem and you might be better off speaking to someone else.