Sexual Assertiveness Sexual Assertiveness
Let’s start by saying that there is probably no harder time to be assertive than in any sort of sexual interaction. We won’t lie... Sexual Assertiveness

This is part 7 of twelve articles for Assertive Communication Series.

Let’s start by saying that there is probably no harder time to be assertive than in any sort of sexual interaction. We won’t lie to you. Sexuality is still taboo, even though sexual revolution (one of them) occurred in the ‘60s in the USA. Every sexual encounter is, by definition, enormously emotionally charged, evoking both great pleasure and our deepest insecurities and inner conflicts.

What Does It Mean to be an Assertive Lover?

Yes, it is hard to be assertive in sexual situations. But there is hardly any more important situation to be assertive in! It’s interesting to note that, even though modern societies are rather sexually explicit, most people still find it extremely hard to be authentic and true to their needs when it comes to physical intimacy. We are afraid of different things – that we will be rejected if we are too pushy, or judged as being promiscuous, that we will hurt our partner’s feelings if we say what we don’t like, that we won’t be seductive enough… We are also often quite unfamiliar with our own sexual identity, and where exactly our borders lay. All these factors come between us and our partner and rob us out of any true directness. The roots to the problem can be found in our upbringing; but let us regain the control over such intimate and important moments in our lives:

  • Know yourself! This is the first and foremost prerequisite for self-respect. Take some time to verbalize your sexual identity. What are some personal rules you want to follow, that will ensure you always feel respect for yourself? How quickly will you become intimate with a new partner? What are your risk triggers – what do you want to avoid (alcohol, for example?) in order not to cross your line? How do you feel about one-night-stand? What do you like already, and what would you want to try? Knowing yourself will help you communicate your wishes to your partner – it’s hard to say what you want when you don’t know it yourself.
  • Remember your assertive rights? Apply them to sexual situations. You, above all else, have the right to say NO. To whatever. And we’ll all agree to this on paper, but we may feel under so much pressure in a real-life situation. But it doesn’t matter how far you already went with your new girlfriend – that doesn’t mean you need to take the next step. And remember the right to be your own judge? Don’t buy into manipulative criticism – if you know your desires and your borders, you’ll feel confident enough not to be swayed by it. You also have the right to change your mind. Yes, the new technique might have sounded great at first, but now you are not so sure anymore. Be considerate to your partner, and respect that she may feel disappointed (don’t go into a preemptive attack “If you loved me, you wouldn’t push me into doing it!”), explain your point of view, but don’t ever do something you are not comfortable with.
  • Take control over your automatic thoughts. Pay attention to the inner voice that’s making you insecure, and stopping you from saying what you want, when and how. What cognitive distortion may be governing your vocal apparatus, so you can’t speak up? Are you afraid she will think you’re a stiff, a spontaneity killer? Or too overt? She’ll leave you? Assign yourself a homework for this week – complete an automatic thoughts diary, detect all your automatic thoughts in regards to sexual situations, and replace them with new, more realistic ones. In that way, you’re going to cope with your fears and insecurities, and help yourself come step closer to being assertive the next time you are making love to your partner.
  • Remember the assertive communication techniques? After you have completed all the previous points, practice talking to your partner about your sexual desires in a mutually respectful manner, without being indirect, aggressive, or simply being quiet about your needs. Always acknowledge her point of view, accept the part of a criticism that may be true, respect her feelings about it, offer a solution, and ask for her opinion on it. The best thing is to have these talks in a non-sexual situation, as soon as possible, and then you can move on to having a wonderfully intimate moment without anything unsaid between you.
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There is no universal recipe for successful relationship in any aspect. People are beautifully diverse, and every one of us needs to find our own way to communicate with our partners in a healthy way. But what is universal is that being assertive in your sexuality comes hand in hand with knowing, accepting and respecting yourself and your partner.



Stanislava P. Jovanovic

Stanislava P. Jovanovic

Stanislava Puacova Jovanovic is a psychologist based in Czech Republic. She had worked with socially endangered groups for many years, mostly with children and young people. She is a certified peer educator and a peer life coach, with vast experience in organizing workshops, trainings, courses, seminars etc. She is also a certificated assertive communication trainer.