Someone sent me an article a month ago that focuses on doing things in your life that you are enthusiastic about (take five minutes to read it); the thesis of the text is that if you’re not saying “Fuck, yes!” to something, then you should just say no — especially in relationships (sexual relationships, romantic relationships, friendships; all the ships). The piece begins with the question: Why would you ever choose to be with someone who is not excited to be with you?
People sometimes stay with partners they’re not that into for reasons of financial or emotional security, sex, a boost in self-esteem, or out of habit. Or because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. Most people have experienced power imbalances in their relationships, and many of us have been hurt by people who have held onto us while only having lukewarm or ambivalent feelings toward us.
Someone recently said to me that this is a bullshit binary (not in those exact words), which is a fair point. There is a lot of grey area between being stoked to be with someone and feeling “meh” about a partner, and it’s hard to be in a state of excitement all the time because, realistically, we have lives outside of our relationships that need tending to. The ways we feel about people can’t be shoved into a binary, and peoples’ feelings and relationships change and grow over time. That being said, as Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert say in More Than Two, “ambivalence has little place in romance” — it can be and often is incredibly painful. Which is exactly why “Fuck yes or no” IS a binary (hence the or); emotional purgatory is the worst place to be.
A few important things I took away from this article:
1) Know thyself. Know what you want in a partnership.
2) If you’re not sure how someone feels about you, ask, and really be ready to hear their answer. If you’re not sure how you feel about someone else, then tell them so they can make informed choices. If your feelings shift while dating someone or fucking someone or mid-relationship, say something.
3) When you really feel excited to be with someone, tell them you are, because maybe they don’t know it! Conversely, if you know someone is really into you and you’re not feeling it, even if you think it will hurt their feelings, be honest about it.
Basically, just communicate more often, more honestly, and more compassionately.
**A note about the “Fuck, Yes or No” article: I like the premise, but it’s problematic. It’s heteronormative and it uses war imagery to describe relationships, sex, and love (happiness is not a war). The author claims that the law of fuck yes or no “instantly resolve[s]” consent issues. What the what? Consent is an ongoing conversation that can’t be “solved.” He says if someone is “pressuring you into doing something you’re unsure about, your answer is now easy.” No, it’s not. It’s never easy to say no, especially while being pressured. Finally, this article (this blog as well) is situated in a framework of privilege. I have the privilege of entering into and exiting from relationships freely without the threat of violence or coercion, in a community and culture where sexual activity and relationships are choices. I don’t have financial obligations that require me to stay with someone I don’t want to be with, or children to take into consideration. This is certainly not representative of everyone, and it’s important to acknowledge that there are people who don’t have the choice to say, “Fuck, yes or no.”