Reminder: You’re Always Allowed To Say “No Thanks”

Even to loved ones

Kris Gage
Kris Gage
Nov 18, 2019 · 2 min read

I love my family. I would take a bullet for any of them, and I could name all of the specific ways in which my love manifests, but doing so feels either self-aggrandizing (I support them!) or infantilizing (I support them!) or both, so I won’t.

But all of that being said: sometimes, like I think everyone feels, being near my family is stressful.


I moved away in my mid-20s, hopping and settling in three different cities over the last several years. And I always go back from Christmas, but I have yet to move back. No matter how “awesome” my home state (CO / i.e., “oh my god I love Colorado!”) is. No matter how much friends wish I still lived there. No matter how many times my parents and siblings lament to me over egg nog* at Christmas: when are you coming home?

*it’s beer and wine.

And every time they ask me this, I shrug and give the same answer: “I don’t know” or, more specifically: “I’m fine where I am for now.”

I can breathe.

I don’t always want to be home. I want my own space. I don’t even want to be tugged or hung on during the holidays, and I especially don’t want this for more than, like… a day. Period. I want to visit, yes, but then I want to leave.


Sometimes love needs to look and feel a certain way to serve both parties and not just one.

And yeah, my love is self-serving to a point. But shouldn’t all love be??

I am opposed to “selfish love” (which is an oxymoron, btw.) My writing should make that clear. I’m not advocating that anybody monopolize through their relationships and loved ones.

But I am an advocate of everyone negotiating their needs, even against others’ wishes and wants — and compromising on what they’re willing to give, when, where, why, and how.

I will support my family. I’d take a bullet for them, sure, if necessary.

But I will not make myself physically and bodily available just because it’s “that time of year,” and I certainly won’t do it for 16 hours a day for a week straight. I don’t want a permanent place setting at the Sunday dinner table.


These are the sorts of boundaries we all have to define for ourselves — and we have to be honest about them, both in our own lives, and with others.

And this, to be clear, does not just make us okay loved ones — it makes us stronger ones. Because when someone understands and is clear on where they draw the line, they can also give more freely — and earnestly — with the rest.


Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store