why i don’t “push” past the no (or try not to!), a.k.a. attempting not to be a hypocrite

Businessman push large boulder up to hill. in brown paper silhouette style. By phloxii

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 to indulge? Someone who thinks it’s fun to play with your head?”

I cannot stand the sort of person who makes you violate consent in order to “gain” them. I’m annoyed at the (mostly) men who enable that childish behavior. But– if I’m entirely honest, I’ve been one of those annoying enablers.

I cannot pretend I’ve never pressed against another person’s “no.”

I regret it after, but I’ve done it. But 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?

Now, mind you, I’m not speaking of never speaking up for yourself.

I don’t mean you shouldn’t fight for a rightfully earned raise. I’m not saying to o along with every single no uttered by your demanding little two year old. Children will always try to push your boundaries, that’s how they learn. And bosses, well, they can suck.

No, what I am speaking of, explicitly, is to please stop telling other people what they want or don’t want. When it comes to how they live their life or their personal boundaries. 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 I know that I’ll never again push past the person’s “no.” Not because I’m scared of being left, but because I’m worried they might stay. Because what if I had been able to make this one person do something they didn’t want. Because what if I had to be with them now. And every day they made my life a little darker. No, that I cannot deal with.

(Oh, and by the way, it actually doesn’t work unless THEY drop the no. I’ve screamed at a brick wall trying to make someone talk to me before, so, yeah, it’s not like taking a stand would’ve made the slightest difference.

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. My life might be different.

But maybe, just maybe, it would be worse.

For both of us.

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