Learn to say no without explaining yourself. We have been conditioned (especially women) to let people down easy. Our culture has taught us that just saying “I don’t want to” isn’t a good enough excuse for anything. Even saying you don’t want to go to a party or a friends house can be considered rude. It shouldn’t be. You should be able to be clear about what you don’t want to do, and avoid white lies.
You Aren’t Being Rude
The excuse I get a lot from people when I say they should just say no is that they don’t want to be rude. I have been told I’m abrasive because I will outright say I don’t want to do something. The issue with this thinking is that it assumes that I am responsible for other people’s feelings. I’m not. As awful as that sounds, you own your own feelings. Yes, you should avoid being an asshole. No, you are not responsible for letting that guy down in the bar easy so he won’t get aggressive with you. Unfortunately we have been conditioned for the easy let down, which is problematic in general and especially in relationships.
Poly Needs Clarity
Over and over again I have said that polyamory requires clarity. You need to be very clear with your feelings, and you can’t gloss over the ground rules and boundaries of how you want to love. The way things go sour is if you have something you need to say and you don’t say it. Some problems arise in poly that can just be glossed over in monogamy. Your partner asks you if you want to share a bed with him and your metamour? If you can’t say no if you’re uncomfortable, you might end up crowded in a bed and really unhappy about it. A no up front will save everyone some pain down the road.
What To Say Instead of An Excuse
I’m a fan of not lying. Even white lies. I don’t want to lie and say that I have something else going on during the weekend when I’m invited to an event. What if I end up going out somewhere else and the person who invited me to said event finds out? The repercussions of lying are so much greater than just saying you don’t want to. Here are some other explanations that you can give that aren’t a lie or an excuse:
- “No thank you, I don’t think I would enjoy that activity”
- “I think that weekend I want to spend some time by myself, I have some projects I want to work on”
- “I’m not interested in doing that with you”
- “I’m feeling overwhelmed with some things in my life, and I don’t think going to dinner would make me happy”
If someone pushes back and whines, assert again that you don’t want to. In an ideal world we should be able to accept a ‘no’ and move on, unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. If someone continues to push and try to convince you to go, here are some gentle ways to tell someone you aren’t comfortable:
- “I feel like you aren’t respecting my wishes. I would appreciate it if you would accept my no”
- “I understand you are disappointed, and I am still your friend. I just don’t want to do ___ with you”
Be Your Own Advocate
The bottom line is that your time, your body and your attention are your own to share, or not share. No one else is entitled to your time. Even your partner, husband, employer. None of these people own your time. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. Becoming comfortable with ‘the no’ will help you be a better communicator, and in the long run the people who you share your time with will appreciate that skill much more than being let down easy.