Women's Sexuality: Why Her Body Says "Yes" When Her Head Says "No"

Updated on March 22, 2020
Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr. Billy Kidd researched romantic relationships for 15 years. He held focus groups in various cities across the nation.

Sometimes, a woman's body says yes while her heart says no. What does this mean?
Sometimes, a woman's body says yes while her heart says no. What does this mean? | Source

In a Mindy McCready song, her date has her body screaming “Let’s get it on!”, while her mind is saying “I don’t think so.”

Any woman who has been in this situation might have given herself a guilt trip about the decision she made. But she shouldn’t—not when her head says, “No.” Scientists have discovered that women’s yes/no sex debates stem from the very core of their biological processes. It is not something women simply conjure up in their minds. In fact, studies show that it is common for a woman to have the maybe-yes/maybe-no debate up to 20% of the times she feels sexually aroused.

Putting the YES/NO Sexual Debate Into Perspective

Let's look at the mind/emotions versus bodily excitement where men and woman are different or similar.

1. Sexual Arousal Is Only Half the Ballgame

Sexual relationships do not take place in a mental vacuum. That is the case unless you and your partner are working hard at having a no-strings-attached affair. Sometimes, of course, no-strings-attached does not work out that way, and a person feels lousy afterward. That’s because you slip and get emotionally involved and maybe guilt-trip yourself over it. That happens because there are five relationship feelings that can engage when you are being intimate with a partner: the sexual feeling, the in-love feeling, feelings of friendship, the feeling of being a couple, and the feeling of wanting to help each other. This is why, from a biological standpoint, sex does not always happen in a mental and emotional blackout

2. Women Evaluate a Sexual Situation on Two Different Levels

This creates two different takes on a sexual situation: the physical and the mental. These two perspectives arise from two semi-independent biological processes. So it’s natural that, on occasion, a woman will have conflicting feelings about sex. Her physical feelings of arousal just do not match her thoughts. In certain situations, a woman may be focusing on the emotions rising from her thought process so intently that she may not even notice that she is physically aroused.

3. Women Have Conditional Feelings of Excitement

Women’s emotional urges to have sex are generally dependent on the situation that she finds herself in. It’s normal for a woman to be thinking: “Is it safe, secure, non-hostile, interesting, or just plain cool?” The relationship itself generally matters to a woman. This is why women are concerned about men being friendly, helping, and cooperative partners. These things tend to make sexuality an intimate emotional act that takes place with a particular partner. Sex is generally personalized, in other words, unless a woman suppresses these emotions so she can have the sexual experience without any feelings of attachment.

4. Men Have Fewer Conflicting Feelings About Sex.

Men’s emotional responses are often more closely aligned with their physical responses. That means that a man generally has a hard time arguing against his erection. Men, of course, are aware of the emotional aspects of sexual relations. But they do not monitor the difference between their emotional and physical feelings as closely as women do. Further, men are often less emotional engaged towards a possible partner when compared to women.

5. Men Focus More of Their Attention on Sexuality Itself

Some men’s awareness is more self-focused when compared to a woman’s response. This may give off the impression that men need to take charge of sexual activity–as if testosterone propels them to be sexually aggressive. But sexual aggressiveness is not related to testosterone levels whatsoever. Rather, aggressiveness is a product of a man’s values and his life experiences. Aggressiveness is not some innate male compulsion. So a woman should not change her mind when a man is badgering and guilt-tripping her to have sex. This is simply an act of a man’s supposed self-power.

6. Some Men Have Limited Emotional Engagement.

Men get emotionally involved when they are in love and the friendship or family-feeling buttons get pressed. Sometimes a man isn’t aware of his emotional involvement in a sexual relationship until after the fact. Men, like women, are hit with bonding hormones when they reach orgasm. That makes them want to be with their partners. But some men and women have learned to suppress those thoughts and feelings.

7. Dealing With YES-NO Sexual Cues.

A woman cannot simply change who she is to accommodate a man’s sexual interests. And she should not have to. When a woman is feeling the Yes-No debate, she is not ready for sex. She needs time and her own space to understand what she is thinking and feeling. While she cannot argue with a man’s erection, she can talk around it. Switching the topic and simply moving on to some other activity is her best recourse for the moment. Or she can simply say, “I’m not ready for this.” At times a woman just has to get up and go. As women mature, the Yes/No Debate Becomes Easier.

8. Machismo and Sex Addiction

Some men refuse to listen when a woman signals she’s not interested in having sex. They will badger and harass because they want a quick sex "fix" to escape their feelings of frustration, anger, and powerlessness. Or, they enjoy exploiting and hurting women and feel entitled to do so. For them, sex is not about the woman at all--it’s about the expression of male power and the use of force. Today, this is changing for many young men. One-fifth of their girlfriends make more money than they do. This changes the nature of some sexual encounters, with women feeling more adamant about their needs being met.

9. Women Respond Sexually Because of Who and What They Are

Women are a product of their experiences and their instincts. This individualizes sexual decisions. A woman does not have to have sex because of the group pressure of the hookup culture. People are as often dissatisfied with the feelings left by a one-time sex thing. It’s OK to respond to group pressure with a simple “No.”


Remember this: If your head says “No,” you are not ready for sex. And that is OK. Your mind might be saying it’s the wrong time, place, person, or a dozen other possible things. Saying “No” when your body says “Yes,” is simply part of a woman’s nature. When you are thinking “No,” you are being responsible for your own sexuality. You are not responsible for the other person’s sexuality and feelings if you say, “No.” So there is no reason to feel guilty. Guilt arises from going against your thoughts. As women mature it is easier to make these yes/no sexual decisions.


Ben-Zeév, A. Is sexual desire an emotion? Psychology Today, np. Downloaded on 12-30-2018 fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-name-love/200811/is-sexual-desire-emotion.

Chivers, M. L. & Brotto, L. A. (2017). Controversies of women’s sexual arousal and desire. European Psychologist, 22(1), 5–26.

Clark, C. (2014). Brain sex in men and women – from arousal to orgasm. Brain Blogger, np. Downloaded on 1-12-2019 from http://brainblogger.com/2014/05/20/brain-sex-in-men-and-women-from-arousal-to-orgasm/.

Kidd, B. (2009). Low Stress Romance. The Romantic Relationship Institute, Portland, Oregon.

Moss, G. (2015). How Is sexual arousal different for women? 3 ways female arousal is different from male arousal. Bustle, np. Downloaded 12-21-2018 fromhttps://www.bustle.com/articles/104995-how-is-sexual-arousal-different-for-women-3-ways-female-arousal-is-different-from-male-arousal.

O' Connor, D. B., Archer, J., & Wu, C. W. (2004). Effects of testosterone on mood, aggression, and sexual behavior in young men: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 89, Issue 6, 1 p. 2837–2845. Downloaded on 1-4-2019 from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/89/6/2837/2870329.

Snyder, S. Fifty shades of women’s (hetero)sexual desire. Sex and relationship therapy, np. Downloaded on 1-5-19 from https://www.sexualityresource.com/blog/fifty-shades-of-womens-heterosexual-desire.

Stieg, C. (2017) Why some people have an easier time separating sex & emotion. Refinery 29, N.Y. New York, np. Downloaded on 2-19-2019 fromhttps://www.refinery29.com/en-us/couple-sex-separating-emotion-benefits.

Victory Unlimited (2013). How ‘friends with benefits’ can backfire on men. The Good Man Project, np. Downloaded 12-17-2018 from https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-friends-with-benefits-can-backfire-on-men/.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • Dr Billy Kidd profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      18 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hello Dashingscorpio!

      Yes, you're right. Both men and women can suppress their thoughts/emotions and just to do sex without attachment. That makes a glitch in the romantic relationship conundrum. It's the only big issue that hounds romantic relationships which otherwise require a particular partner.

      I like your analogy comparing eating and ice cream.

      As always, B.K.

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      18 months ago from Chicago

      Very interesting topic!

      However I suspect like a lot of other things in life sexuality is a personal trait one interprets for his/herself. I've read other articles which claim women are likely to "bond" with their lovers due to the oxytocin hormone.

      And yet we have the existence of prostitutes, porn stars, and women who have been known to cheat on their mates even in lesbian relationships. This would seem to suggest there are women who are capable of compartmentalizing sex as well as men are thought to.

      As for the yes/no debate I believe we all have that one and not just when it comes to sex. A person who needs to lose weight and yet has an urge to order a pizza or dive into some ice cream most likely is going through the same thing. Need and want are in conflict.

      I read sometime ago a definition of discipline was "putting off immediate gratification" for long-term results.

      Resist giving in to "temptation" is a challenge for us all! :)


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