Why do men think a woman's 'NO' means 'YES' ?

When ‘No’ means ‘No’

Riddhi* has been head-over-heels in love with Sidharth* for the past two years. He is smart, successful and suave, your quintessential gentleman. The age gap of 12 years seemed big but well, like they say – age is just a number.

So why did I not approve of their relationship? Sidharth was married, he claimed he was very unhappy in it and he wanted out. I am the last person to judge anyone’s personal relationship choices. My only point here was that if Riddhi was looking for more than a fling then she should have waited till Sidharth sorted out his marital issues. But Riddhi was far too invested in the relationship to make an objective decision.

Riddhi claimed that Sidharth understood her and so she decided that she wouldn’t get into a sexual relationship with him till their divorce had come through. As long as she knew what she wanted and both of them seemed really sorted about where this was heading, I decided to keep my unsolicited advice to myself.

Their long Whatsapp chats soon evolved into regular clandestine meetings. At every opportunity Riddhi was assured that a divorce was in the offing – Siddharth was unhappy, domestic fights were on the rise and it was just a matter of time before he would serve his wife the papers.

I realized that Riddhi was lulled into believing that marriage to her would be the next inevitable step. I could understand that she was also letting her guard down with every consecutive date. I heard of an evening of passionate making out – kissing, necking and the works. To my arched eyebrows, she replied, suppressing a giggle, “I made sure, we had our clothes on. I am ready to wait for him.”

Riddhi wasn’t the ‘virgin’ types but I realized that this relationship either meant a lot to her or she was trying to quench her guilt of dating a married man by telling herself that it wasn’t adultery as long as they weren’t having sex.

Everything seemed fine for a while but a couples of months later, Riddhi seemed to just have fallen off the radar – conspicuous by her absence on social media, unresponsive to Whatsapp messages and even, phone calls.

I assumed the expected – Sidharth had probably gone crawling back to the “evil” wife, leaving her disillusioned about love and life. Whatever, it might be, after 20 missed calls I decided to pay her visit.

What I saw, left me speechless, with dark circles under her eyes, she looked traumatized and depressed. After much probing, she opened up – a special rendezvous with Sidharth led to an evening of drinks and dancing, they headed home where she hoped the night would end after the usual drunk making-out session. It didn’t.

Sidharth wanted to have sex and her repeated refusal didn’t seem to register. Even after she pushed him once and said, “No”, he didn’t seem to get the drift. When he began attempting to undress her and had in fact, almost managed to hurt her in his attempt to maximize “pleasure”, she had to kick him and run out of the room.

The consequent break-up (from her side) had obviously taken its toll on her. What had left her feeling vulnerable and violated that at no point did Sidharth apologise to her. It didn’t even occur to him that what he had done was wrong. The fact that they were in a romantic relationship had entailed him to belief that permission was granted. Her body was his to be appropriated.

She was appalled that her consent just didn’t seem to matter at all. That an educated man like him just didn’t understand the meaning of ‘NO’.

Was Sidharth right in assuming Riddhi’s consent? Did Riddhi overeact?

Are woman wrong to lead a man on? Does consent really matter in this case?

What really is consent?

Tell us in the comments section.

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*Names changed on request.