People in all kinds of relationships say no to one another all the time.
Bosses say no. Employees say no. Spouses say no. Friends say no. Exceptionally close friends say no. Girlfriends say no. Boyfriends say no.
Everyone who regularly spends time with someone will also routinely say no.
Some people will want you to treat no as a special word to be used only in emergencies. Those people are wrong.
Saying no is normal and routine.
I have A LOT of trouble saying “no.” And just as much troubling hearing it from others. Something to work on .
This goes hand in hand for a lot of people.
One way it can play out looks like this:
- People have trouble saying no because they feel like it’s inconsiderate or otherwise bad
- So then they don’t say no when they ought to, and think of this (consciously or otherwise) as being considerate and having basic respect
- Then they expect (consciously or otherwise) that other people will reciprocate by not saying no to them
- And then other people actually *do* say no in circumstances where it’s appropriate
- But they feel like it’s horribly inconsiderate and ungrateful
- Mary regularly asks Samantha to go to parties with her
- Samantha enjoys this sometimes, but also finds parties really overloading and would sometimes rather say no
- But Samantha almost always says yes anyway, because she knows that Mary really wants her to, and she feels like this is what good considerate friends do
- Samantha really likes going to movies, and doesn’t like going alone
- So she regularly asks Mary to see movies with her
- Mary generally only says yes when she wants to go
- Samantha gets angry and resentful, because she goes to parties even when she doesn’t want to, and feels like Mary should reciprocate by going to movies she doesn’t want to go to
- It would be better if Samantha learned to say no when she doesn’t want to go
It might be worth watching yourself for this dynamic. When you have trouble accepting no from people, are you resenting the times you felt like you couldn’t say no?