I told someone the other day that I never push past the no.
“I would never do that,” I say. “There’s absolutely no point, anyway, and it violates their consent. If they decline your pursuit, respect that.” “But what if they really want you to chase them?,” they ask me. “What if they do,” I respond, “Is that what you want? Someone who thinks it’s fun to play with your head?”
Today, I cannot stand the sort of person who pushes you to violate consent, in order to chase them and “catch” them. At least not anymore. I used to be one of the enablers, if I’m honest.
I used to think pressing past the “no” was part of the game.
There was a time when I thought that was what I should do. That was when my partner’s then spouse decided to leave him for a man she loved better. A common enough happenstance. But I balked at it. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t. Didn’t he want her to stay? What about their children? They deserved both parents in their lives, not having to be shifted back and forth between houses. Fine, she didn’t care. But didn’t he? I couldn’t understand why he didn’t make her stay.
But he was right.
You can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want; and if you can, you probably don’t want them. Besides, that’s what abusers do.
My partner refused to agree to his ex’s “no” when it came to his personal relationships and boundaries. But he didn’t say no when she left.
And I knew, but I knew that you weren’t supposed to be pushy with folk when it come to their romantic wants and needs and their personal life.
I knew you weren’t supposed to be pushy with another’s romantic wants or how they lived their life. You don’t push someone to come to a party they’re reluctant to attend. You don’t make someone stay with you who doesn’t want that. But sometimes I just knew better than they did what they wanted, right?
But I was upset. I wanted to make her sit down and talk it out. Explain why she felt she had to leave. Couldn’t we all just make it work together for the sake of certain individuals who needed that from us? Couldn’t we just be adults and find a balance?
(That’s what you’re doing, by the way, when you push past someone’s no. You are treating them how most people treat a child. And think of how much you liked being “treated like a child.” Probably not very much.)
I don’t know what’s right or not. All I know is what happened.
He didn’t make her sit down. So she never did. In ten years, she has only had one real talk with any of the concerned parties– court ordered– because a judge refused to respect her no and told her to do it, anyway. As one would treat a child.
And me? I’ve screamed at a brick wall trying to make someone talk to me before, so, yeah, it’s not like taking a stand with her would’ve made the slightest difference. In my heart, I know this.
Sometimes, of course, I think I let them get away.
I’m not infallible. I don’t always have confidence in what I’m doing. Sometimes I think I should’ve made them see what I could bring to them. I should chase them, in dramatic fashion. The panicked run through the airport, buying a ticket just to get to their gate, and some super romantic gesture, “Please, you know we’re meant to be together!” Like in the movies.
I think maybe I should go after those girls I see wanting to be chased. Maybe I’d be happier if I caught them. My life might be different.
But maybe, just maybe, it would be worse.
For both of us.