In a perfect world, we would only ever do anything we were a “Hell Yes!” about.

There would be no hesitation, no having to make compromises, nothing but getting exactly what we want, how we want it, when we want it.

Unfortunately, the truth of reality is that our desires are but a small drop in an ocean of wills. To be able to find this level of mutual gratification all across the board is improbable if not flat out impossible.

We are all acutely aware of this, and find different ways to cope. Sometimes by bulldozing our way into getting what we want, or by learning to acquiesce our own desires to fit into someone else’s agenda. This is where consent breaks down.


“Hell Yes or No”

At cuddle events, we work on healing this in multiple ways: by teaching and practicing how to ask and wait, hear and say “No”, and honor boundaries with enthusiasm.

During this safe practice time, we opt to overemphasize the Hell Yes. We encourage tuning into what it feels like: that yes without hesitation, the vibration in your body when a request aligns with something you really want as well.

“If you’re a maybe, say no”, is what you’ll hear us recommend. This is an exercise meant to disrupt our habit to be agreeable when it comes to our pleasure. It challenges our pattern of bending our wills to fit into the wants of others.

The choice to prioritize the Hell Yes over all else is extremely liberating and empowering. We highly recommend using this as a way to practice tuning into what it is you really want, as well as exercising your ability to say “No” in honor of that. 

However, things aren’t always so straightforward in everyday situations. We acknowledge that desire is not quite so black and white. There are many shades of wanting and not wanting in between a “Hell Yes” and a “No”. To ignore that would be to oversimplify connection.  

In this not so perfect world, learning to set aside some of our wants from time to time is essential. But how do we do that without perpetuating the problem of ignoring our needs and violating our own boundaries?


50 Shades of “Yes”es

The first step requires us to understand the entirety of our response. 

Here are a few familiar responses that are different from Hell Yes (or a “Yes, please!”) 

  • Sure!
  • Why not
  • Okay
  • That’d be alright
  • I think I’d be ok with that
  • Hmm… maybe
  • I’m not sure
  • Okay… fine…
  • Probably not
  • Not really
  • I don’t think so
  • No
  • Hell no!


As you can see , there are lots of nuanced responses between a clear yes and a clear no.

Hell Yes isn’t the only “correct” answer. Sometimes, it can be rewarding to choose to say yes from a place of willingness instead of wanting. Our willingness can come from many places: a desire to serve, to support the desires of the larger group, to give something a try… all of it is wonderful and healthy, as long as the choice we’re making is clear to us, and we aren’t constantly trading our Hell Yeses in for them.


Deciphering Your Response

So what if someone requests a back rub from you, and you’re not a “Hell Yes”,  but you’re an “I think I could be ok with that”? Time to investigate and look for clues!

Before you decide on saying “Yes” or “No”, pause and ask yourself a few questions.

1. Do I feel empowered to say “No” here? Be clear that you’re not saying “Yes” out of avoidance.

2. Does this impede me from getting something I need right now? If so, say “No thank you”, and go take care of your own needs.

3. Do I need more specific information about the request? Is there something unknown that is making me hesitant? What exactly is involved here?

4. Do I have any needs, limits and boundaries around fulfilling this request that I need to address? e.g. How long would I be comfortable doing this for? Is there a certain action in this activity that I’m not willing/ready to give? Would I require receiving something in return to feel good about this? A massage in return, gratitude and acknowledgement, or maybe nothing at all?

5. Final check: will anything I do here lead to me feeling resentment?

Ultimately, it’s our job to ask ourselves what it would take for us to do this with full presence, and with generosity and cheerfulness. If you can’t find it, the answer is “No”. If you can, then by all means, go ahead and give the gift of someone else’s Hell Yes to them.


Learning from Our Reservations

When we make space to investigate our responses, we’ll often find our own needs and desires tucked into those hesitations and reservations. If we turn toward them instead of ignore them, run away from them, or shut them down, we get an opportunity know ourselves and all of our specific needs and wants with even more depth. 

This sets us up for successful connections in the future. We’ll be able to advocate for our own needs in every situation, and when it comes time for us to ask, we will be able to do it with a level of specificity and sophistication that we wouldn’t have arrived at otherwise.

In short, just because you’re not a Hell Yes doesn’t mean you need to write it off. Simply investigate, and make a decision that is fully informed and is made of from clarity and empowerment instead of avoidance.


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