Push your boundaries, but don't push mine

Confident young woman wearing lacy lingerie sitting on a bed

Are you a bit of a thrill-seeker? When it comes to sex, I love pushing my own boundaries in pursuit of new experiences. But my adventures in swinging, kink, and sex work have taught me that pushing others just isn’t okay … and although I enjoy challenging myself, I don’t like being pressured by others.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Someone I’m messaging might ask to meet up over and over, even though I don’t know them well enough yet. Or someone I’ve met in person might insist we go back to their place, even if I’ve told them I’m not comfortable with sex on the first date. Sometimes the pushy behaviour happens when we’re already getting sexy, and they’re trying to negotiate for what they want: ‘How do you know you don’t like anal when you haven’t tried it properly?’ or ‘Why can’t we do some bondage? Don’t you trust me?’ They even say, ‘You told me you were adventurous, so why aren’t you into this?’

I love trying things that are a bit challenging or a little bit scary, when the mood is right. But if my date tries to push me where I don’t want to go, it’s a huge turn-off.

Good sex means being good at boundaries

When it comes to sex, knowing how to set - and respect - boundaries is essential. 

A ‘boundary’ is any decision we make that defines our needs. It could be anything - for example, what kind of sex I want, whether I want to have sex at all, the kinds of safer sex I require, or the kinds of relationships I want to have. All these, and more, are personal guidelines that define my behaviour and how I’d like to be treated.

Of course, the people I date have their own rules too. So, what happens when two (or more) people want to do sexy stuff together? Who gets the final say on what happens?

This is where consent comes in. Basically, sexual consent means that everyone involved agrees on what’s happening. If anyone stops agreeing, the sex stops too. Getting consent from your dates is pretty straightforward if you know how to use your words. From the pre-dinner cocktails to the bedroom dirty talk, our communication helps us decide what we’d like to do together. “What are you into?” “Would you like to try this?” “How do you feel right now?” If I’m getting along with someone, finding out what they do and don’t want is just part of the process of being on a date.

Of course, this kind of negotiation only works when everyone respects each other's boundaries. When I chat with potential play partners online, I pay attention to whether they can tell me what they’re looking for, and I check that they aren’t afraid to say ‘no’. It means we can play a lot harder, because I don’t have to guess what they want … and I know they’ll respect my wishes if I need to slow down, stop, or change things up. This kind of trust makes for relaxed, comfortable sex.

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Of course, life isn’t just about doing the stuff that’s easy or comfortable - sometimes we want to challenge ourselves. Whether it’s skydiving or sex parties, many folks find novel ways to ‘step out of their comfort zone’ - to experience something ‘just scary enough’ to feel new and exciting.

You might be thinking, ‘If pushing our own boundaries - and trying new things - is good, why can’t I push someone else, and encourage them to try things that they find challenging? Won’t I be doing them a favour?’ Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Here are a few reasons why pushing for what you want is usually a bad idea.

1. Everyone’s different

Sometimes, when we’re horny, we convince ourselves that we know what’s best. You might try to get sex from someone you have a crush on, for example, because you’re sure they’ll have a good time if they just give you a chance. And if your playmate is an adventurous person too, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that they’ll love all the kinky, pervy stuff you have in mind.

But just because I like trying new things doesn’t mean I’m into the same activities as you! I still have preferences, and I probably have a hunch whether I’m going to enjoy something, even if I haven’t tried it yet.

Your adventurous suggestion might feel like a small ask, but it could be a much bigger deal for your partner. Everyone’s comfort zone looks different. For some, just getting naked with another person can feel terrifying! Others might feel challenged by trying a new kink or experimenting with group sex. It all depends on our personality, past experiences, and level of confidence.

I’ve made this mistake in the past. I love introducing my partners to new things - new types of sex, new kinks, new adventures.  But it used to get me into a lot of trouble. I had so many ideas and fantasies about what I wanted that my mind would race ahead, making lists of all the things I wanted to try. I’d plan big adventures like trips to a strip club or new kink scenes, even if my lover wasn’t 100% enthusiastic. And if they said no, I’d bring it up again … and again … and again. I was convinced that if they just gave it a go, they’d like it.

Eventually, they’d usually end up going along with my plans. They never had as much fun as I’d hoped, and sometimes they freaked out. I always blamed them: ‘It’s not that scary,’ I’d say. I didn’t realise that they might have different feelings, and that by ignoring their ‘no’ I was forcing them into situations that made them uncomfortable. It led to a lot of awkwardness, lots of arguments, and more than one breakup.

Nowadays when I go on dates, my number-one rule is to never make assumptions about what my date wants or needs. I always ask. and if they say ‘no’, I trust that answer and move on.

2. Everyone needs to go at their own pace

Adventure is best done slowly. Expanding your comfort zone is a process - you try something new, take a break to recover, then get used to the experience.

When it comes to sexual adventures, moving too fast can feel pretty scary. A friend of mine calls this the ‘rubber band effect’: you can stretch your own boundaries a little and have fun, but if you stretch them too much they might snap back - and when they do, it hurts! Going too far or too fast can lead to anxiety, shame, fear and regret - all the things we don’t want happening during a sexual adventure.

Even if your friend or playmate has indicated an interest in something adventurous, such as swinging, or kink, or open relationships, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ready to jump in head-first. It might still take them some time to learn more, get in the right headspace, and experiment. Pushing them into situations and activities they’re not ready for can make them very uncomfortable.

This ‘too far, too fast’ issue is a classic relationship-ending move in non-monogamy: one half of a couple wants an open relationship, the other cautiously agrees. But when the first person rushes out to bang as many people as possible as quickly as possible, their partner feels overwhelmed and the whole thing falls apart.

Just because something is happening (or might happen) doesn’t mean it’s okay to rush it. Let your playmate set the pace, so they feel as safe as possible.

3. Pushing versus jumping: agency matters

Even if you’re convinced you know what’s best, there’s another reason that pushing someone’s boundaries is never okay. To explain, I’m going to tell you a story about one of my hiking trips.

A few years ago, I went on a hike. A group of friends and I walked down a mountain to a river, where we planned to inflate some kayaks and paddle downstream. It was a hot summer’s day when we got to the river, and it should have been a huge relief to cool down, except for one problem: we had to jump from a high ledge - about two metres - into deep water. Guess who’s afraid of heights?

I had no idea how I was going to do this. I let everyone in the group go first, watching them jump, plunge into the river and bob to the surface. Finally, it was just me up on the ledge, looking down. I could easily have decided to turn around and walk back to the car. Instead, I jumped, screamed, fell, landed in the water, and felt completely fine.

When trying scary stuff, we need to be in control. If one of my friends had pushed me off the edge before I was ready, I would have been traumatised. But because I made the jump voluntarily, it was exhilarating rather than awful. This is what’s called ‘agency’ - having the power to make the decision for yourself.

On a date, being pushed into something when I’m not ready feels unsafe, and because I’m anxious, it usually means we’ll end up having bad sex. On the other hand, if I’m in control of how fast and far I’m going, I feel empowered to try new things.

We always need to choose for ourselves. We can jump, or not. But it’s never fun if we’re pushed. 

How to ask without being pushy

Like I said earlier, I’ve definitely messed up in the past. These days, I never let my enthusiasm - or my needs - overwhelm someone else’s boundaries.

I’m also alert for the same treatment from others. If I’m hassled into going on a date, pressured for sex, or repeatedly asked about trying something I’m not ready for, I get up and leave. Being asked to ignore my own boundaries doesn’t feel sexy - it’s awkward, nerve-wracking and totally kills the mood. Once it’s happened, I’m no longer interested.

Does this mean you’re never allowed to ask for sex or recommend your favourite kink? You might be thinking, ‘What’s the fun of getting it on with someone if I can’t share my fantasies with them?’ I’ve found an approach that works for me: ask, and then give the other person time to consider. “I’m really into this, but I understand it might not be your thing.” I might say, “Want to think about it and let me know?” Sometimes, if it’s a really big deal (such as opening our relationship or trying a more extreme kink), I’ll ask them to do their own research before they make up their mind.

Above all, I never move ahead until I get an enthusiastic ‘yes’. It’s taken some practice to slow down, but I remind myself that things will be much hotter when my playmate is fully onboard. And if they say ‘no’, it’s never the end of the world - I’d rather move on than try to make them do something they don’t enjoy.

Like I said, I love adventures. And I’m willing to take the time to get them right … to build trust, get consent, and make sure everyone feels comfortable. If you know how to do that too, we’re going to have an unforgettable time together.

4 comments

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  • Maid.In.Oz

    Maid.In.Oz

    More than two weeks ago

    Thankyou very much for this article ... very informative .... I get sick of guys who have Thick on their girth then turn around & say they're not that thick? Come on guys,say what you mean/say what u have without embellishment! I dont do thick for a reason, if u cant appreciate that then dont contact me, how easy is that?

    Reply
  • QuietBrett

    QuietBrett

    More than a month ago

    Very thorough and beautifully written. I especially appreciated your honesty about your past overstepping, the consequences, and what you learned from it. Authenticity takes courage 👍

    Reply
  • Blue262

    Blue262

    More than a month ago

    "But it’s never fun if we’re pushed. "

    Not many blanket statements lack an exception. Some people really need someone to push them, they end up appreciating it later. So many of us are passive and have little clear direction.
    When we use language like agency and empowerment, let's remember we're dealing with complex creatures that struggle with road rules, every day.

    Reply
  • Darkstud

    Darkstud

    More than a month ago

    True! If one door closes there is always another you can try. And I am talking from my own experience.
    As far as the communication between two consenting adults is straight and clear, there should be no worry about pushing the other persons boundary.

    Reply
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