In last week’s blog, I laid out two “rules of the court” for addressing issues in your relationship. Let’s look at another.
Say no when you need to say no
When used properly, no is a good thing. You each need to trust that the other is taking care of themselves, so you can pursue what you want. If you can’t trust their no, then you can’t trust their yes. If your partner isn’t safeguarding himself or herself, they will have sex they don’t want, or they will engage reluctantly. In that case, you get a hollow experience or end up feeling like a villain who stole something. If your partner isn’t saying no when they should, you’ll either participate in unwanted sex and feel bad about it, or you’ll start trying to read your partner and provide the no for them (perhaps by not initiating in the first place). Saying no is their side of the court. One of the clearest signs that they are taking care of their side is that they set boundaries when they need to. As hard as the word no may be to hear (or say), it can be a very good sign. Imagine greeting each no with “Okay, I understand. Thank you for taking care of yourself!”
Likewise, if you’re the one who hasn’t been saying no when you need to, you are undermining the trust in your relationship. This sets up your partner to either hang back or become tentative as they try to read you. Remember to take of yourself. Sometimes that means saying no. It may not be easy, but it eventually strengthens the foundation of trust and honesty.
Conversely, it is a problem when no is used to stonewall, and it can be hard to tell the difference. My basic rule of the court is to say no when you need to say no. When you just want to say no, it’s time to evaluate your motives. Are you stonewalling? Are you holding out (or being stubborn) over some other issue? Can you stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and give them what they want and still feel good about it? Where is your no coming from? If it’s stemming from something else that needs to be addressed, address it and move on. That way, when you’re taking care of yourself, you can say “no, not now” more confidently.
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