The ability to say no is said to be one of the hardest things to learn, and yet, in many aspects of life it can be one of the most important skills to have. From work life, to friends, family and especially dating, it’s an essential tool when it comes to setting and maintaining effective and healthy boundaries.
I myself found it difficult to overcome when I was much younger, early on in my career; someone would ask me to take on some work for them, and even though I was already stacked with my own I’d feel bad about turning them down, and being desperate to prove myself would take on the additional work. All it resulted in, was me staying in the office stupidly late into the evening to finish all the extra tasks I’d taken on, while the rest of my team got to leave on time…
In my last post, I talked about giving your dating profile, such as Aberdeen Dating a boost for the New Year, but it’s also hugely important in romantic relationships that we set clear and reasonable boundaries. That means being clear from the start, sticking to it, and when needed, say ‘no’.
So how can we teach ourselves to say no, stand our ground, and ensure relationships old and new stay healthy? Well, here’s a few things to get you started;
Practice and repetition
Yes I know, it sounds silly, and the idea of talking to yourself in the car or chatting to your mirror is borderline comical, but for a lot of people it does actually help. Practice doesn’t just have to be alone, there will be real examples and opportunities all over your average day. With people who persistently push for what they want, the repetition of the simple word ‘No’ is sometimes the remedy needed.
It’s very easy to set a precedence, but it can be very difficult to break one. If someone is used to you saying yes to their every whim and desire, the one time you say no is likely to be met with resistance. After all, they’ll probably be aware that it’s out of character for you and know full well that a little push will force you back to their desired outcome, whatever that may be. Due to this, established relationships will take a little more work than newly formed ones, where you can start as you mean to go on. After all, if you are set in your boundaries with someone from the get go, they won’t know any different from you.
Stand your ground
If you keep allowing people to take your time, money or get you to do things you aren’t comfortable with, do you think they’ll eventually stop? Of course they won’t. They’ll keep pushing and pushing for more of the same, and will sadly think very little of the stress or uncertainty they are throwing onto you. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground, as long as you are being fair and reasonable, there really is very little counterargument.
You should place value on your own time and own morals; they are important. If someone wants you to compromise on these values, you really should think about your future relationship with that person. If they are a potential partner, think carefully about whether this is a healthy relationship in the long term, if it’s an employer, think about whether the environment is somewhere you want to continue working.
Something said all too often is “I’m sorry, but…” in an attempt to be polite, or let someone down gently. Don’t be sorry. If someone has asked you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or is unreasonable, you have absolutely no reason to be sorry. You are entitled to your feelings and shouldn’t be made to feel like you should apologise for them.
This very scenario came up recently with a close friend of mine, in which an individual she had been seeing a while ago, came back out of the woodwork, despite her now being in a relationship. She began writing out her reply of “I’m sorry, but I’m actually seeing someone” and then paused, saying “wait, I’m not sorry, he’s on my Facebook, he should already know this!”
He did. He is just one of those sordid individuals who tries his luck anyway. To think he almost got an apology!
Luckily there are many people out there who will find all these points a very normal part of interaction, and will be quite happy to maintain a healthy balance both ways.
Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy relationship?