Friday, July 22, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: The Real Time consequences of "I can’t say no"

A few months back we were having a very enjoyable discussion with a friend when they said the words that made me stop mid sip on my cup of tea. They said “I can’t say no.” I paused and when I was done running through my mind all of the sarcastic things that I could have said, I ended up picking the nicest thing that I could think of in that moment. “Yes you can, you just choose not to.”
In the week or two that followed I heard the “I can’t say no” concept a lot, and it bothered me deeply. It took me some time to calm down and formulate actual thoughts about why this concept is so disturbing to me, but when I did I was able to put to paper my thoughts on the subject.
So, let’s take the concept of not being able to say no apart from the bottom side and the top side.
When the bottom decides that they are unable to say no, what does that really mean?
1) They are not accountable for when a scene goes too far or not far enough. Because not being able to say no means they can’t say when things are too tough on them or if they can go for more.
2) By saying that they can’t say no, they are not required to emotionally grow. Emotional accountability starts with having boundaries and maintaining them. Emotionally healthy relationships need boundaries on both ends to grow.
3) Not being able to say no, means that the bottom is topping from below. (I’ll get to that one later.)

From the top side:
1) When the bottom won’t say no that makes scenes complete guess work. The more that the bottom won’t communicate the more risk the top takes in actually causing damage to the bottom either emotionally or physically. Because no one is a mind reader, the top is going on what they are feeling instead of being able to trust that when they check in with the bottom for guidance, the bottom will be honest as to what space they are in. So if the bottom is in a really bad space but won’t say so, and at the same time if the top is flying high, then the scene continues.
2) When the bottom won’t say no the maintaining of boundaries in the relationship emotional or otherwise falls completely to the tops. The bottom is free to do whatever they want to because “hey, the top knows that they can’t say no.” and the top is relegated to being the enforcer of boundaries even if they don’t want to be. Also if the top needs to take some time for themselves, that takes second place to maintaining the boundaries that the bottom refuses to maintain. This cycle is exhausting and draining to the top.
3) When the bottom won’t say no, they are topping from below, in both the scene and the relationship. Refusing to communicate means that the tops entire experience becomes about finding out what is behind emotional door #3 so to speak. Because tops are usually vested in the safety of their bottoms, in this situation they end up continuously chasing the bottom, and everything else becomes secondary. This type of emotional chasing stops the top from being able to relax and enjoy the scene because they have to have a forced hyper vigilance about the bottom, and even then there is no guarantee that the top will pick up on signs of things going wrong. This hyper vigilance is beyond the normal checking in, and so the back and forth power exchange that is the intention of sceneing becomes about a one way pouring of energy as the bottom withholds their thoughts and emotions and energy, while the top gives up all of theirs.
So here is my rant about the inability to say no.

If you can’t say no then don’t play. To my way of thinking the inability to say no isn’t cute, or funny or endearing. It’s dangerous. And it makes you dangerous as a top or a bottom. Do something else that doesn’t require communication, honesty, or the use of sharp objects. Like sleeping or sitting in a padded room.
If you can’t say no, then don’t have a relationship, then do the world a favor, if you can’t be emotionally responsible to yourself and someone else, then get a plant, or a pizza, something that doesn’t require self awareness. And don’t expect the plant to last long.
And if it all boils down to you really and truly are incapable of saying no then send 100$ cash to…
If you are interested in play parties, hands on workshops, or power munches in the Albuquerque area please contact the 20 year organization, of AEL at:
If you are interested in an active online community find:
Group name:
New Mexico Fetlifers

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