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What Does "Maybe" Really Mean?

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

I used to say "Maybe" when I really meant "No". So one thing that maybe can mean is, “I want to say no, but I’m scared.”

Sometimes we say"Maybe" because we’re really not sure what we want. This can mean a lot of things, from “I want to do something with you, but I’m not sure I want to do that thing,” to “I want to do that, but I’m not sure right now is a good time” to any number of combinations that make us unsure.

Sometimes we say "Maybe" because we are having a hard time knowing how we feel. We may have a lot of chatter in our minds, and we may be experiencing a lot of different sensations in our body. It could be overwhelming and cause us to be confused about how we actually feel about something.

This is why in our book, we recommend encouraging people to default to a “No” whenever they want to say "Maybe". There are several reasons for this.

When I used to say "Maybe’ when I really wanted to say "No", it led to a lot of exhausting and stressful mental convolutions as I went home and stewed about how to avoid the thing I had just said "Maybe" to. I would really live with a cloud of negative anticipation hanging over my head.

For people who say "Maybe" when they’re not really sure how they feel, or what exactly they want, it simply creates an atmosphere of uncertainty between people and creates discomfort for themselves, others, or both.

On the other hand, if we default to "No" whenever we’re not an undeniable and authentic "Yes", we provide clarity to others while gaining time and space to think things over and figure out what we do want. We can then come back to the conversation with a clear vision of what we would like, and collaborate to find a mutually agreeable outcome.

This simple advice - say "No" when you’re a "Maybe" - has changed my life. Try it out and let me know what happens for you!

In the Consent Culture Intro workshop, featured in our upcoming book Creating Consent Culture: A Handbook For Educators, my co-author Marcia Baczynski and I share fun and interactive exercises that help students to experience and practice saying “No” in a safer environment. We also share simple exercises for youth to check in with themselves, explore their internal feelings, and learn to notice embodied clues as to whether they are a "Yes" or a "No".

To learn more about the workshop and the book, visit

#consent #creatingconsentculture#consentculture#consentmatters#consentismandatory#consentculturecoalition #consentcultureinitiative

Order the book here!

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