Why is it so important to say “No”? I’m Doctor Liz from Sex–Positive Psych. And today, I’m talking about the second most common problem I see in non–monogamy and that is not saying no. I see so many folks who, in their relationships are really afraid of hurting their partner’s feelings. And so they don’t say no even when they mean it. What do you think happens though when your partner asks for something and you say “Yes” but you don’t really mean it? What I see is resentment. All of these yeses that people give that they don’t really mean, they build and they build and they build until someone feels so resentful and angry that they can’t go forward anymore.

A lot of us growing up don’t learn how to have good boundaries. We get punished for saying no. We get told that our “No” isn’t valid or important or that our “No” is hurtful and harmful. The thing is a grownup, that’s not actually a helpful lesson. Your “No,” your boundaries are hugely important. The people in your life do best when you take care of yourself. And if you’re not saying no, if you’re not setting boundaries, you are not taking care of yourself. Imagine if you said yes to every single person who wanted to date you no matter who they were no matter how they asked. Do it on the street catcalling you, that’s a yes. A person who made a random comment on your Facebook, that’s a yes. Would you ever have any time to date the people you really wanted to date? No.

Imagine if you said “Yes” to every single appointment that someone asked for from you, every person who wants to hang out, every party that invites you, you say yes to them all. If you’re anything like me you’d end up skipping from party to party to party to party. Ten parties in a night just trying to make sure that you never had to say no to anyone. I think that our cultural fears around saying “No” are part of why ghosting has become so common rather than actually telling someone “I don’t want to date you.” It’s easier to just stop responding and pretend you don’t exist anymore. All of us owe each other the courtesy and the kindness to say no. If I ask someone for something and they tell me no, it frees me up to find someone else who wants to say yes.

For instance, if I’m at a sex party and I really want someone to finger me. And I walk up to the first person I’m like, “Hey would you like to finger me?” and they say, “Oh, sure.” but they’re not actually into it, am I going to have a good time? No. I would so much rather they say “No” and free me up to find someone who wants to do it. Your no is a gift. Your no is a profound act of self-care. Your no is important and when you don’t say no, you’re falling into one of the biggest pitfalls that I see in non-monogamy. So problem number two with non-monogamy, not saying no. How do you fix it? Set good boundaries. Take a chance say no. You deserve to get the things that you want and you deserve to be able to say no.

Anyone who gets super pissed at you or makes a really big deal out of your no is someone who doesn’t respect you. No’s can hurt, no’s can be hard to accept but at the end of the day, your no is how you take care of yourself. It is how you make sure that you are getting what you need. And anyone who says that they care about you or love you and can’t take your “No” is someone who is not doing what’s best for you so say no. Give it a shot, practice with it. Try it in low stick situations first, even ask a partner for an experiment date where you’re going to say no to everything first.

You can always change your mind, change it to a yes but your default position is going to be no. Try it out, you might be surprised how much no can do for you. So number two, problem number two, biggest, most common problem I see in non-monogamy is people not saying no. If you have questions or comments, take them on down there and otherwise I’ll see you next time. I’m Dr. Liz from Sex-Positive Psych.