You finally meet someone you like…
And he pressures you to do something you don’t want to do.
You’re convinced he’ll lose interest in you if you don’t do it.
It’s been so hard to find someone you actually like, who returns your interest…
That you go ahead with what he wants.
You want this relationship to have a chance, after all.
At first, it seems to work. He seems very happy.
But you feel uncomfortable. This isn’t what you wanted. You’re on unfamiliar ground. You feel off balance.
Meanwhile, he’s quite confident. You agreed to play by his rules. He knows you’ll go along with him, because you want this relationship so much you won’t say no.
When you’ve given your power away…
It’s very, very hard to get it back again.
Is This Just How It Is Nowadays?
I hear some version of this story from so many of women who read my blog or write in about their relationship concerns in our private forum.
They meet someone they really like. Then they feel pressured into doing something they’re not ready to do in order to keep him.
They feel pressured into sleeping together too soon. They feel pressured into letting him move in with them. They feel pressured to open up their relationship.
These women tell me that they don’t feel they have any choice.
If they say no to him, he’ll leave.
And they don’t want to lose him.
Besides, they tell me, maybe what he’s asking for is normal. Maybe sleeping together this soon is just how it works nowadays? Maybe asking to be exclusive is too much?
They look at me with such conflict in their eyes, thinking I’ll tell them they’re making a big deal out of nothing.
But that’s not what I tell them.
What I tell them is that they have a right to set the terms in their relationships.
If they need certain things to feel safe, comfortable, and respected in a relationship, then it doesn’t matter whether anyone else needs those things, too. This is what YOU need.
It’s up to you to say so and accept nothing less.
He Needs to Know Your Boundaries
Do you know what you need to feel safe and comfortable in a relationship?
Are you able to tell a man that?
Not everyone can.
Some women find that trying to set boundaries ends in disaster.
He feels attacked, harsh words are exchanged, and their connection never recovers.
It’s easy to blame men for this. Men aren’t always good at hearing no.
But shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown suggests that it’s important to own our part, too:
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”
For example, how do you respond to a man who’s looking for a casual relationship and puts pressure on you to sleep together without commitment?
Do you get angry at him for being such a jerk?
Or do you simply say, “No, that’s not going to work for me”?
When you know your boundaries and feel no hesitation about letting him know, you don’t feel as triggered by his behavior.
If he suggests doing something you don’t feel comfortable with, you can just smile and laugh and say no.
5 Ways to Say No
The secret to good boundaries is feeling confident in your right to have what you need.
Women who aren’t sure that they have a right to ask anything of a man tend to have more difficulty communicating their boundaries.
But when you feel confident that you can have a relationship on terms that make you feel good, you often find that men are amenable to doing things your way.
If they’re not, you know it’s not going to work before giving away your heart.
The next time you’re not comfortable with the direction things are going, try one of these phrases:
- “No, that’s not going to work for me.”
- “That’s not something I’m able to do.”
- “It sounds like you’re looking for something I’m not able to give right now.”
- “I’m not the right person for that.”
- “My body says yes, but my mind and heart say no.”
Be honest, be confident, and be matter-of-fact.
You’re just letting him know where you stand.
I want to end with one last quote from the inimitable Brené Brown. She writes:
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
It’s okay to let a man down, when the alternative is letting yourself down.