I never thought I’d be on the offending end of not respecting another’s boundaries. Respecting a person’s “No.” seemed to be one of those things that were common sense- something you just did. Period. It was black and white, no gray area. “No” leaves no room for debate, thought, or anything like that. It’s straightforward. You get the idea.
I’ve always been an advocate of No Means No. I will always be an advocate for it. There’s no other option in my eyes. No means fucking no.
I feel like anyone with common decency would be an advocate of respecting someone’s wishes- especially when it comes to saying “No. You can’t go further.” with touching their body or anything in that area.
However, for all my talk, and for all my rallying in the right corner, I’ve found myself in a situation where I didn’t respect a “no” when told it.
Let me tell the story before everyone gets up in arms and comes for me with pitchforks and what not. (Though I will say once I realized what I was doing, I came for myself with a pitchfork.)
A longtime friend of mine and I started fooling around more recently on the internet. We tried our hand at online BDSM, and they domed me for a while. I enjoyed it, but for one reason or another it never quite worked out for both of us. It would start off well and eventually end in someone upset or what have you.
It continued this way for a while until they said maybe we shouldn’t do things because, well, it sucked in the end. Tearily I would agree and we would go about a few weeks just being friends- but, eventually, I would ask “Can we try again?” Reluctantly they would give it a go, but it would, once again, end with “This isn’t really working.” And the cycle would go on like that.
Sometimes I would go to people for advice, asking their opinions on what I could do to make it work, or convince my “partner” that it could work, and countless times I was given advice on trying this or that, saying this or that, what have you.
But what I didn’t stop to think was every time we stopped, when they broke up with me and ended things, in their own way, it was a “No, I don’t want to do this anymore.” And repeatedly trying to persuade them otherwise, was me pushing them and going against what they wanted and what they were happy with.
Never in my times of thinking about the situation, asking advice about the situation, etc, did I, or anyone else, stop and say “Well… They said no. Respect that no.” It’s like, just because it was on the internet, and just because my Dom always gave into me, their voice and feelings kind of didn’t matter.
I’m not proud of this, but I think it could be a great moment for teaching.
I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I never listened to their “No.” and I’m ashamed that I never stopped to think about how they felt to be continuously persuaded to change their mind.
No means no, no matter if that no is a “I don’t think this is working.” Or a “This isn’t fun for me and you… Maybe we should stop?”
No sounds like different things, and after thinking about that, I think it’s important that I, and maybe so many others, take a second and think about the “No’s” we’ve been told in various ways, and think about if we listened to them or not.
I, for one, haven’t listened to all of them, and wow I’m horrified by my actions. I could make excuses- say that “They never explicitly said “’ No. Stop.’ So I was confused.” I could say that I was given advice from others and others told me to pursue whatever solution for my problem. I could say a lot of things to try to make myself look better.
If I do that, however, it takes away from my chance to learn from my terrible, problematic behavior. It takes away from the chance to look at a situation candidly. Most importantly it takes away from my ability to talk openly and honestly about it and maybe reach out to people who have made the same mistake I’ve made.
Talking to my friend, now ex-dom, about this and apologizing for my behavior helped too. I never realized that by doing what I was doing, I was putting a strain on that awesome friendship and I was probably hurting their feelings. I’m lucky enough to have an understanding best friend, and I’m lucky enough that they forgave my transgressions and simply said it was water under the bridge if my behavior changed.
Maybe not everyone is that lucky. Maybe not everyone can be forgiven- and in those cases I’m sorry, but, no means no. All variations of no are important to listen to.
I hope that if one of you reading this realize “Fuck, I’m fucking up like Wendy did.” Or “Fuck, I fucked up like Wendy did.”, you change your ways, apologize, and start new with a pair of new eyes and a new perspective. Remember though, no one has to forgive you for not respecting their boundaries. Even if you apologize. If it’s too late, respect their choice and take this as a really important learning lesson. It might be hard to lose a friend/partner/etc, but it’s harder to have your comfort ignored.
Furthermore, if you find yourself on the receiving end of someone not respecting you and what you’ve said, and your situation is similar to mine, try sitting them down and talking candidly about how their actions make you feel, and about how if they continue, you worry it might end the relationship or friendship. Make your voice heard. Air what you need to say. If they don’t listen even after that, then maybe it’s time to leave. Because listening to you in that way is a major sign of if someone respects you or not. You deserve respect.
As an aside; writing about these things is never easy for me. It’s messy. It’s scary. It makes me wonder if I’ll lose friends, or followers. But I think it’s worth it if it helps someone else. I texted my good friend Zoe about if I should post this or not and explained my fears, and she gave some bomb ass advice (per usual). She told me it’s so important to be vulnerable in writing, and damn she’s right.
If I can’t be vulnerable and open on a blog I made to do just that then where can I be? Nowhere.
I promise to always be vulnerable and honest with y’all. In a way, each of y’all who read my blog are my friends. I wouldn’t lie to a friend. I wouldn’t hide my feelings from a friend. I won’t do it with y’all either.
I hope someone could take something from this post and use it. It’s important to respect your friends and your partners. It’s important to listen to what they say even if it makes you sad that you can’t continue to do whatever. Above all, it’s important to put that relationship first. If it’s important to you, cherish it and respect it.