How To Turn Down Sex In One Easy Step

ILLUSTRATED BY LY NGO.
Dear Kelsey,
What is the MOST polite way to turn down a threesome? I don't want to hurt either parties' feelings, but I'm also not interested. I'm going to have to see them often, so I'm desperate to not make it weird.
Signed,
No Way Threeway


Dear No Way,
Here's the short answer: "No, thank you."
Seriously! That's all you need! What's the most polite way to turn down a threesome? You turn them down — politely. There is no "most polite" in this situation. Quick reminder: These people are asking to have sex with you. They're not asking you to housesit or be a bridesmaid. They are asking you to take off all your clothes and do sex with them!
We're at a very cool and complicated time when it comes to doin' it. On the one hand, "consent" is the buzzword of the day — and quite rightly. We emphasize the vital need for confirming enthusiastic consent before and throughout all sexual encounters. We teach our kids that consent is non-negotiable and that it need not be a buzzkill, but above all, it means that no one has a right to their bodies and vice versa.
On the other hand, we have the rise of sex positivity. Kinksters welcome! Toys for everyone! As long as it doesn't harm anyone else, we know that we should not shame or judge others for their sexual expression.
The problem is, we often struggle to juggle our sex lives between these two hands. Consent is key, but we also want to be cool and accepting of other peoples' sex lives. But see that part I bolded like it's really important? It is. "As long as it doesn't harm anyone else" is just "consent" with a bunch more syllables.
Having sex with someone you don't want to is harmful. Being pressured or coerced into sex is also harmful. I'd also say that being made to apologize or feel bad for declining sex is harmful as well. At the very least, it is truly bad etiquette.
ILLUSTRATED BY LY NGO.
I get it: These people are friends or acquaintances, so on the surface, it's complicated. But deep down, where it really matters, it's so simple. You don't owe anyone access to your body, whether they're creepy strangers or best pals. Furthermore, you don't owe them an explanation. Maybe you don't enjoy threesomes. Maybe you're in a monogamous relationship. Maybe you're just not interested in this particular opportunity. I don't need to know your reasoning — and neither do they. That's your business. It's everyone else's job to respect that. That respect is the very pillar of sex positivity.
Here's one more thing that's their job and definitely not yours: managing weirdness. These folks approached you with this very intimate request. They took the leap. Therefore, they run the risk of falling flat on their faces. Sure, you have the opportunity to ease the landing with some social grace, but you are under no obligation to give these people a consolation prize. Weirdness management is on them.
Yes, when sex enters your social life, things get complicated. But in this case, you're not the one who complicated it. If someone who is not your doctor asks you to take your pants off, you don't have to say sorry for keeping them on. You can say, "No, thank you," or "No, and fuck off," if that's how you feel about it. Politeness is a courtesy that is yours to offer. But if weirdness shows up, remember: You're not the one who brought it.

Welcome to Unprofessional Advice: a new column to help you handle problems of all kinds. Got a relationship query? Workplace drama? Is your roommate a narcotics kingpin? With zero professional experience and a complete lack of credentials, I will take on your issues with compassion and humor. Got a question? Email me at: unprofessionaladvice@refinery29.com.
This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more right here.

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