97

Based on a comment I made in another post about why saying "no" and just leaving is often not enough.

Throughout my life I have often experienced that when I say no to something, because I don't want to do it, it's usally a cue for the requester to start "negotiating". This can be anything from suggesting something slightly different to guilt-tripping or even anger. "I am only asking you do x/y/z".

It's usually not untill I become angry myself and start using profanity that people will drop the subject and go with plan B, which is to resolve the situation themselves or ask someone else. It usually ends with the following parting line: "I was only asking. No need to get angry about it."

Which usually leaves me thinking "Oh, really? I didn't need to get angry? Then why did you not accept my no when I was still calm? "

I can't even count the number of times this has happened and I get it from both men and women. A child wants to play a game, but I don't? I should just do it and not spoil his afternoon. Someone wants me to do them a favor, but it's a huge time and energy commitment on my part? It's just a "little thing" I should rearrange my schedule around, just because they asked.

I find that often I'd rather lie and tell a requester it's impossible than tell people no, because that's usually the start of an argument.

Has anyone else experienced this? Why is saying no so fucking hard?

Based on a comment I made in another post about why saying "no" and just leaving is often not enough. Throughout my life I have often experienced that when I say no to something, because I don't want to do it, it's usally a cue for the requester to start "negotiating". This can be anything from suggesting something slightly different to guilt-tripping or even anger. "I am only asking you do x/y/z". It's usually not untill I become angry myself and start using profanity that people will drop the subject and go with plan B, which is to resolve the situation themselves or ask someone else. It usually ends with the following parting line: "I was only asking. No need to get angry about it." Which usually leaves me thinking "Oh, really? I didn't need to get angry? Then why did you not accept my no when I was still calm? " I can't even count the number of times this has happened and I get it from both men and women. A child wants to play a game, but I don't? I should just do it and not spoil his afternoon. Someone wants me to do them a favor, but it's a huge time and energy commitment on my part? It's just a "little thing" I should rearrange my schedule around, just because they asked. I find that often I'd rather lie and tell a requester it's impossible than tell people no, because that's usually the start of an argument. Has anyone else experienced this? Why is saying no so fucking hard?

72 comments

[–] Lipsy 34 points Edited

Gurlfrennnn. This is literally my personal mission.

With practically every Woman i reach the level of even rudimentary friendship with, i find a way to segue into, "How many times do you think you've ever said 'No' or 'No, thanks' followed by NOTHING?"

I've raised the same issue with reasonably empathetic husbands and boyfriends and fathers and mothers, too. It's a compact and extremely effective instance of what the second-wavers called 'consciousness raising': a rare and valuable teaching tool.

The answer for a positively frightening number of Women—many of them neither young, nor shy or easily intimidated—has been zero. ZERO. Not one fucking time in this whole earthly life.

Every "no" has an immediate follow-up that's /1/ an apology, /2/ a qualifier/conditional that minimizes the significance of the No answer, or /3/ a straight-up fucking bullshit excuse that all too often sounds like "YES but". (One common example of #3 is "oh, no, sorry, i'm married"—which has a dastardly way of sounding like "I'd totally go home with you right now if my husband wouldn't beat my ass for it later"—when what's actually meant is "No thanks, I am not attracted to you one tiny bit.")

It's... well, it's at least been the very beginning of something good in a bunch of these cases. Look, I'm tryin' here.

.

As for me, I have no problem at all giving unqualified "no"s. I practically LIVE for that shit, actually. In seriousness. Ruffling the feathers of privileged people, mostly males, who clearly aren't accustomed to having their feathers ruffled just might be my single favorite pastime.

But, i can point to at least 4 solid reasons out of the gate why I turned out this way

.

1/ I'm a high-conflict person. I'm just a firestarter. I pick fights. I escalate shit for fun. I have an uncommonly high capacity for empathy and a tendency to use it to find people's proverbial buttons and then push them over and over and over nice and hard (a trait I share with most of my best friends—from the outside it looks like we're just being Mean Girls to each other for no reason all the time, but, it bonds us and we keep each other humble). I've even reached orgasm—literally—from a good screaming match a few times.

"Starting shit" with the aforementioned entitled males, especially, is a conscious power move for me. I am completely in control, of myself and my situation, when I'm expressing anger (whether productively or otherwise)—smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone—while dudes get flustered and testy and LOSE control of themselves and the situation. It's fucking glorious, tbh.

(This part might seem weird to anyone here who's read much of what I've posted here, because online I'm pretty diplomatic and level-headed, and not at all like anything in the above description. I mean, 🤷🏽‍♀️ but mostly because none of that stuff works without having somebody in front of my face in flesh and blood.)

.

2/ If some dude ever feels like getting violent to defend his insecure little fee-fees, I am pretty confident in my ability to defend myself. I have black belts in Krav and BJJ, and my prosthetic lower leg can even hide a bladed weapon without encumbering my movements. Also importantly, I understand that the actual fucking point of Female self-defense against a bigger stronger dude is to debilitate him for long enough to gtfo, so I'm not going to make the possibly fatal mistake of wanting to "win" a fight of that type.

.

3/ Controlling and manipulating silence is the easiest way to grab the upper hand in a conversation that starts to turn a little frisky—especially with swaggering alpha-dog type males, who are usually even less capable of handling pregnant pauses than other males (which is saying something!).

Say something terse and crisp. No follow-up. Just give boyo an enigmatic stare. Positively luxuriate in the silence—and in dude's growing unease with it. Give him a cute condescending little smile when he blurts something out. You make the silence, he breaks it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And most importantly, enjoy. 💖

The best thing here is, all of this works even better with particularly unexpected silences... like when a Woman says, simply "No." The magic word.

.

And 4/ My sisters and I were seriously raised right, by my widowed dad (mom passed when I was 43 days old, so he's the only parent and caretaker I ever had) who is the rarest of all birds: a male source of authentic Womanspiration.

My dad ran a tight ship in our house (e.g. i remember the hilarity of meeting kids in elementary school who were SHOCKED at the idea of 3-year-olds helping with laundry and light cleaning—and me being SHOCKED right back, at the idea of 3-year-olds NOT helping with those kinds of things bahaha) but in a way that's alws been supportive. My sisters and I grew up being told things like "You should smile less". He called us out as many hundreds of times as necessary on all kinds of little mannerisms that, if unchecked, have a way of eroding both self-confidence and respect from others (like ending sentences with that cutesy upwards inflection that makes everything sound like an approval-seeking question). Etc etc.

Maybe most significantly of all, I was raised in the solid conviction that Female "anger issues" are only "issues" because so many lesser people are afraid of a Woman who can control and express anger. In other words, NOT issues. My dad treated even my worst screamy shit-fits as high-bandwidth, exceptionally honest, communication—in other words, as a primal statement of deep emotional needs that aren't currently being met. Which is definitely not something to be afraid of, now, is it... Considering just how much my own batteries run on anger (see point #1), it's pretty sobering to reflect on all the ways my life could have gone sideways without that emotional support.

None of this even makes logical sense, btw. My dad is from a very socially conservative country (that's a close US intelligence ally) and spent most of his life in the almost entirely male world of military intel, so, I don't have a single clue where or how he got his superpowers as the self-sufficient competent overconfident daughter whisperer. But... well... yeah.

Living the dream of the Definitive NO.

Rock-The-Fuck-On I especially like all the personal defense training.

I was a definitive NO. Also empathetic but I did just the opposite you. I didn't find the buttons to make them apoplectic. I found the buttons to make them SAD

[+] [Deleted] 2 points

*the buttons to make them SAD

Luv it.

.

I especially like all the personal defense training

To any prospective beginner who's trying to decide on a martial art, I highly recommend Krav Maga—both because it's well suited to hand combat in close quarters, and because it was developed specifically to be conducive to mastery on a short timeline. (A complete beginner who can maintain a commitment to regular practice is likely to progress to brown belt in a single year, and to black belt in just two years total.)

I've even reached orgasm—literally—from a good screaming match a few times.

What

[–] Lipsy 0 points Edited

For real 😶

I still don't think I understand what's going on 100 percent, but, there are enough parallels (with 'the usual' kind of arousal that produces orgasms) that it makes intuitive sense to me now.

It's a dopamine positive-feedback loop... it's sympathetic nervous system arousal... It sometimes feels like practically every muscle in my body is tensed up, but almost alws the PC (pubococcygeus / pelvic floor) muscle—the same one that gatekeeps orgasms—is wound up good and tight.... and the whole thing is a surprisingly similar type of cathartic release.

Kinda amazing how much of the same physiological stuff is happening, really. Plus, lots of uncanny parallels on the social/psychological/emotional side, too (...for starters, a good screaming fit—just like sex—gets more intense and more visceral the more emotionally invested I am in someone).

Your dad sounds amazing. My dad for the most part didn't really enforce gender on my or my sister's either. It really makes a huge difference to a girl to have a great dad.

Yep. I've frequently only been listened to by men once I'm at the level of screaming/crying. Like, FFS, how is it that hard to listen to me when I'm firmly and calmly saying no? Why am I repeatedly disrespected?

This is exactly what I mean, but I sometimes get women jumping in on the bandwagon when a man is requesting something and it even adds to the pressure. It's like when a man wants you to do something a whole crowd pulls together to get you to do it.

Haven't personally experienced that. Sounds like internalized misogyny/female socialization. :(

Re men asking for sex specifically--I remember hearing a woman in a seminar pointing out that we teach children and young adults to respect a woman's 'red light' or 'stop sign'. But what does a red light or stop sign actually mean? It doesn't mean 'stop'--it means 'wait'. So with enough patience or enough cleverness you'll be able to proceed past the red light or stop sign. There's no metaphoric way that no actually means no, not now, not later, not ever.

When that happens, generally the easiest way to shut the person down is to turn it around to them, "I'm sure you heard my answer. Now, please respect my boundaries," and when they object, then "You seem to have a problem respecting my boundaries." Then, say absolutely nothing, change the subject, walk away, etc.

But that doesn't solve the problem in and of itself, because you are still repeating and denfing your answer as though it needs defending and repeating. When really they heard you clearly enough the first timr around.

[–] sonic_fiXXation 27 points Edited

I think a lot of women lie and tell people it's impossible. I think that's useful when you really need to keep the peace (there's something valuable that you don't want to lose) but most of the time that's too self sacrificing.

I'd make it clear that I didn't get angry because they asked, I got angry because they wouldn't accept no for an answer. I think it's social conditioning and people are completely oblivious. Women are supposed to be selfless servants, it's assumed rather than demanded, and so when you say no, it doesn't compute with them. Hence they say things like "why? can't you just... blah blah", because they were expecting that you'd comply.

Maybe it's time to start calling it out with bluntness. Tell them you don't have an excuse not to do it, you don't need one, you simply don't want to do it, so you won't be doing it. It's likely they will get angry instead. That's their problem. You can ask them if they're ok and point out the ridiculousness of their inability to respect other people's boundaries.

Agreed. And saying "no" gets much easier the more you practice.

People familiar with you will start to recognize that when you say no, it is not negotiable. And really when you do say Yes to something, they appreciate it more.

999,999 likes. In every case i've seen, this is the kind of thing where it's hard the first time—maaaaybe hard once per each different type of situation—and then never all that hard ever again.

I struggle with saying no and the OP has highlighted something fundamental about it which is helpful.

I've saved the second paragraph of your reply where I keep helpful snippets of ways to respond to people who are pushy. It inspires me when I need a kick up the arse to be more forthright. 👍😁

Maybe it's time to start calling it out with bluntness. Tell them you don't have an excuse not to do it, you don't need one, you simply don't want to do it, so you won't be doing it. It's likely they will get angry instead. That's their problem. You can ask them if they're ok and point out the ridiculousness of their inability to respect other people's boundaries.

'I'd make it clear that I didn't get angry because they asked, I got angry because they wouldn't accept no for an answer.' Really good point, that I need to remember to take on board. Sure, it's fine to ask, but remember that it's my choice whether to agree or not.

I'd make it clear that I didn't get angry because they asked, I got angry because they wouldn't accept no for an answer.

You can ask them if they're ok and point out the ridiculousness of their inability to respect other people's boundaries.

This is excellent advice, it really is.

[–] Free_Metis RadFemMcGonagall 4 points

I had multiple arguments with my husband because he would always ask "why not?" after I would say no. I don't know if he finally understood that I do not owe him a reason for my "no", but he did finally stop asking why.

[–] scriptcrone 19 points Edited

We're hard up against cultural assumptions. As one super-creepy guy said to me on our first AND LAST date, "When she says 'no' she means maybe, and when she says 'maybe' she means yes."

It took time, but these days my 'No' is pleasantly said (because I have internalized that I have the right to say no and am not battling my own reactiveness). There may be a "thank you", or an "I'm afraid", but any attempt to push me is met with silence that only gets more stubborn the harder I am pushed. I grew up in a no "backtalk" family, so became very good at keeping my mouth shut, no matter what was being said to me about my character and motivations. As well as saying 'no', I learned to enact no.

I've had guys legit be surprised when they express that sort of attitude and then at some later point I say I'm not interested in a relationship. If they ask why, my response is something along the lines of 'when I say no, I MEAN NO, and I'm sure as hell not going to date anybody who disregards and disrespects me like that.'

They're legitimately shocked, and that is horrifying.

I hope it's horrifying for them and not for you.

Unfortunately no. They're just shocked. I don't even want to think about how much porn they've watched, that they genuinely think 'no' means 'maybe' (or, worse, 'playing hard to get').

I'm not really friends with any of them anymore, either. I hadn't done much reading into radical feminism at that point, but even without being able to articulate it too well that just freaked me out.

That's really useful too. Keeping quiet and refusing to explain yourself can be really powerful too.

I've noticed I often end up inventing excuses instead of saying no: I have a headache, I'm really tired, I have to meet someone else, etc.

I suck at saying no not only to men but in general, many times I haven't wanted to do something and still did it because I couldn't find an excuse good enough, as if I believed that me just not wanting to do something want good enough, somehow always putting other people's needs our wants before my own, like I just didn't deserve to actually choose.

I'm working on it, trying to say no consciously and deliberately but it's fucking hard! I think it also stems from feeling that saying no will lead to conflict, which it often does, and feeling like I won't be able to hold my ground. Either I will end up crying and feeling like shit and the other person will think I'm being childish or overdramatic or end up being seen as mean and a ba as person or even violent and it's such a burden I don't want to go there most of the time.

[–] Fluffy_gender 7 points Edited

I found that this is the case with drinking. Especially for younger people. Someone says no to the drink or dares say he or she doesn't drink and then the persuasion attempts for that person to try a certain drink /have just a little /live a little never stop.

That's a really good example. It's peer-pressure and not just among young people either. Coworkers will do it it. In certain cultures it's worse than in other, but it happens so often we put pressure on each get one person who doesn't want to to go along with it.

I wonder if part of it is that we never get to practice. It starts when we're little girls, the cajoling and the overburdening. I was basically taught I could never say no to adults.

I know some people are trying to change this, teaching kids they don't have to hug a relative if they don't want to, which is good but it's so little so late.

I'll even take the long way out of the grocery store if someone is asking for donations or whatever near the door. This is one thing I don't like about myself. And I have no problem with being perceived as or called a b*tch! It doesn't make sense.

It is very common to just lie and say you can't because it's. "impossible", for this exact reason.

There is a book called The Dance of Anger that you might like. It is about this issue (in part) of having to become angry to enforce your boundaries and how to avoid it. Might help you.

But yeah, if someone is badgering you they deserve it IMHO.

Every moment of my goddamn life. It is because they can't conceive of women having boundaries and think we must be available for everything. In my culture it is a thing to say no a few times before you accept something (whether it is food or gifts) and it drives me insane because my family uses it for everything on me.

Load more (16 comments)