The Happy Trail

Tips and tricks to avoid having unwanted sex

Now that Suzy has given you a good dose of comedy, it’s time to take our sexy to a more serious level. Have you heard? In a typical two-week period 26 percent of college men and 35 to 50 percent of college women reported engaging in an unwanted sex act according to “The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships.”

That number should terrify you because it means that at least a quarter of our school population is regularly having a crappy time in the bedroom—to say the least. And for the love of all that is sexy and fun, that shouldn’t be cool with anybody!

First off, let’s clear up “unwanted.” “Unwanted” is not just graphic rape à la “A Clockwork Orange.” “Unwanted” is any time when you just don’t want to—you have to study, you don’t feel sexy, you aren’t into the way your partner treated you earlier that day…whether you’ve had sex with this person before or not, whether you like this person or not—“unwanted” is when you just don’t want to.

Yet sometimes, when your feelings for the person are complicated, it’s tough to say no. I know that when things start getting “friendly,” I too am guilty of not always voicing my true desires.

A few years ago, I was getting over an ex when I ran into an old flame at a party. He invited me over and I agreed, because he’d asked and I didn’t know what I wanted.

This was the problem: I didn’t know what I wanted. I had sex with him, even though I didn’t know what I wanted.

Long story short, I ended up crying to myself in the dark at four a.m. while this man blissfully snored away next to me. Point being: if you’re not enthusiastic about your “yes,” don’t do it. If you don’t hear an enthusiastic “yes,” don’t go for it.

There are many ways to say “I don’t want to” if you aren’t able to say exactly that (these are, of course, all dependent on the situation).

One way to go about it is a good friendly “let’s…” For example, “let’s not jeopardize our friendship” or “let’s not complicate things since we’re in the play together.” When you say “let’s…” instead of “I…” you take the sharp edge of rejection out of your words. You make your refusal into a team effort, a goal that the other person is helping you accomplish.

While it’s not pain-free, it’s the most merciful way to go, for both parties. Too often people avoid saying “no” because they don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings.

Other refusal tactics include “The Good Friend”—“I’m going to take my friend home and make sure she’s okay,” “The Diseased”—“I feel sick, I don’t want to get you sick” (“I have mono” for the braver among us), or “The Boyfriend”—“I’m already seeing somebody.” All three of those present you, the refuser, as a noble person who cares about the feelings of others. And the refused’s ego emerges (relatively) unscathed.

This advice may seem like catering to somebody who isn’t paying attention to your needs—but this particular article is about protecting yourself. It doesn’t apply to all “unwanted” situations, but it’s a start.

Besides, all too often we are not honest enough—with both ourselves and others—about what we want. Frankly, we’re all dopes when it comes to understanding one another. So “let’s” take our desires seriously and find out what one another really want—because all sex should be of the “wanted” variety!