What to Do If Your Partner Says No to You

Everyone has the right to say no, but it’s not always easy to hear

Ruth Newton
Jun 29, 2017 · 3 min read

I’m a big advocate of saying no. It’s a skill everyone needs to have and use to build healthy boundaries in all relationships. But it’s one thing to say no and the other to be on the receiving end of one. Especially when that no comes from your partner.

There’s an expectation in romantic relationships to go out of your way to support each other no matter what. It’s in marriage vows after all. But to create a healthy relationship you need to maintain your own boundaries and that involves saying no sometimes.

You also have to accept your partner has their own boundaries, therefore can say no to you. Sometimes, them saying no will be completely fine, others will be hurtful. This article goes through what to do when that happens to you.

Don’t Take It Personally

When your partner says no to you don’t take it personally. I know this is easy to say but not necessarily easy to do. It might feel like a knife to the heart, but it’s not about you, it’s about them.

I’m going to say that again: saying no isn’t about you, it’s about them.

Try and find a way to interrupt your normal reaction. Don’t try and stop the feelings, it’s ok to feel hurt about it, but it’s not ok to lash out because of that. This is where putting your needs first really comes into play. If you’re meeting all your needs it is easier to pause, take stock and practice empathy. If you’re tired, stressed and wound up it’s virtually impossible. This is why I’m such an advocate of looking after you before anyone else.

Find Out Why They’ve Said No

Once you’ve managed to stop the urge to be offended or lash out you need to find out why they said no. This needs to be done in a genuinely curious way. If you are feeling defensive it will come across as an accusation and that will not keep the conversation moving forward.

If you have been hurt by the no (and I’ll remind you here that’s totally ok) you might need to take time to calm down before you make this step. In that case I would simply name how you’re feeling and wait until you’re feeling better.

Remember, naming your feelings is an ‘I’ sentence — “I feel hurt/upset/angry by this”, not a ‘you’ sentence — “you’ve hurt my feelings/annoyed me”. You sentences will create more conflict, which is what we’re trying to avoid.

Decide How to Move Forward

When you find out why, you’ll hopefully discover a completely reasonable rationale for saying no. And from there you can work out how to move forward so both your needs are met in a way that suit you. This is where good conversation, not making assumptions and compromise come into play.

What happens if you feel the reason they’ve said no isn’t reasonable? The first thing I’d recommend is to work out if you can do whatever it is you’ve asked for without them. This sometimes requires a lateral step that can be hard to think of straight away, but there’s always more than one way to do anything so a no doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation.

Once you’ve worked out another way you can honour the no and still get your need met, which is a win-win for both of you. When you do this make sure you don’t use this different way to make your partner feel guilty or bad for saying no. The focus of this is about you taking power of meeting your needs, and doing what you need to do to have a quality of life.

What If They Don’t Like This?

If your partner doesn’t like this fact, you’ll need to have another conversation about why that is, and think about if your best interests are really in their heart. At this point check in on how healthy the relationship is and check in for any signs of abuse. Remember, you’re worthy of being treating with respect and equality. Allowing you to meet your needs is a big part of that so don’t let anyone stop you.

Originally published at www.idealbalancecoaching.co.uk on June 29, 2017.

Thrive Global

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Ruth Newton

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Founder of the Anti-Hustle Project, campaigning against hustle culture for small business owners. Interested in working less, living more & living better.

Thrive Global

More than living. Thriving.

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