This guy tried to take my pants off tonight....repeatedly.
Everything was fine and consensual until he yanked at the waistband of my "everything must be soft because I'm in my 30s" stretchy pants and I yanked back up, and he yanked again and I had to say, "Hey, I need to slow it down." This was respected for awhile until it wasn't and I found myself repeating the request from before which he didn't believe or hear correctly because it happened a third time and then I left. But! Not before explaining that although I do like him, I am serious when I say I need to move slowly. I am not DTF, so knock it the fuck off.
The thing was, before he got pushy there was a point where I did waffle a bit. I went into the evening with no intention of sleeping with him, but he's cute and smart and smells good, and has a firm, present quality of touch that left me feeling safe and cherished while we cuddled and watched "Exit Through the Gift Shop." I was turned on and feeling it, reaching a point where I was grateful I'd bothered to shave my legs recently. I began to desire a more intimate exchange but I've become a bit skittish about intimacy and knew I needed to wade in thoughtfully...and fully clothed. Then my feelings changed in response to his shift in behavior.
Desire is a living, breathing creature constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of the individual. What I desire now is not what I desired even six months ago. What I desire can change instantly. I went to the taqueria for tacos the other night after thinking about them for days, and I ended up with nachos. They were delicious and satisfying and I regret nothing. If it were my job to satisfy my date's desires, I would've let him remove my many winter layers, but as it were, my only job is to satisfy myself.
Living a life of service is a beautiful thing. However, many years as a professional caretaker has taught me that if self-care is not a priority, if you do not put yourself first enough of the time, you cannot be effective. You will burn out and begin to resent those you care for (I used to get so mad at my clients when I was delivering particularly good massages). If you allow your desires to guide you from moment to moment, you will live in a continuous state of self-respect. We are taught, particularly as women, that desire is wrong and leads to our ruination, but it is when we don't allow our desires to lead the way that we get lost. We honor ourselves and keep ourselves safe by paying attention to what feels good...or not. We should absolutely never do anything that we don't truly want to do.
A few years ago I was sexually assaulted because I suppressed the expression of my desires. I didn't listen when she told me not to go out that night. I didn't listen when I decided that what mattered was appealing to some idiot guy. I didn't listen when she told me all she wanted to do was cuddle and kiss. HE didn't listen when I quietly, passively refused him. That is HIS fault. However, had I listened to my desires from the start, I never would've ended up there in the first place. Had the fulfillment of my desires been my priority, I would have honored what she asked for and let her keep me from terrible compromise. That is a end result of suppressing your desires: compromise that may be too expensive to afford.
In order to ensure that everyone is within the realm of what they desire, we have to be able to first identify what our desires are, and then be able to communicate them. There is an essential necessity, as well, to understand that desires change, sometimes rapidly. It doesn't mean that you check in with your friends or lovers every minute to make sure they're still into playing bocce ball or being slapped, but you have to be open to sudden course corrections. If your lover clearly tells you to slow things down, you better stop trying to literally get into their pants...or they'll leave and go home to write about you on the internet.
Slow down means slow down. No means no. When your desire involves another person and you are refused, you cannot continue pursuit. Stop immediately and check in. It may be fine to carry on if you respectfully receive your lover's current desire and modify your behavior accordingly. But you MUST COMMUNICATE. Asking permission puts us in a vulnerable place. Rejection almost always feels awful. However, that whole "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" thing doesn't apply within the context of human intimacy. If your marriage isn't open and you sleep with someone who's not your spouse, it's not cool. If you really want to try anal, but feel embarrassed about asking, you better NOT slip it in "accidentally." SO FUCKING NOT COOL, BRO.
This is why it's so essential to decriminalize desire. If it is okay to ask, then people will be more inclined to ask. This would be helped by learning to hear desires without feeling the pressure to go against our own by agreeing to something that we don't really want. We must stand for ourselves and respect the truth of our hearts, balancing this with the ability to hear another's truth. We can hear and not agree. We can speak our truth and be refused. This may sting but we will not die. We're just gaining practice asking for what matters most to us, and this is a good and right thing. It only makes us better communicators and helps us remember that no one is obligated to serve up our desires on a silver platter.
There is no entitlement. There are no obligations.
The only things worth having are those that are offered freely and joyfully, from a place of authentic desire.
Know and respect your desires, and those of others...and don't you ever do anything that you don't really want to do.
Life's too short for such expensive compromises. You're worthy of far more than that.