The 2008 Jim Carrey comedy “Yes Man” is about a negative guy who starts focusing on the positive and being open to every experience that comes his way.
The film makes a point about acceptance and openness to life, but its message only goes so far.
In reality, life has many situations when saying no is far more empowering and positive than saying yes.
One area of life where you need to be able to say no and mean it is in relationships. Sadly, even those we love will often cross lines and take a relationship down if we don’t learn to establish our boundaries and stick to them.
Here’s what you need to get used to saying no toward if you want to have a healthy and empowering relationship.
1) (Just say no!) to taking on too much
It’s easy to end up in a relationship where you’re asked to take on too much.
Whether that’s financially, emotionally or in any other way, there’s no reason that you should be the one single-handedly handling everything in a relationship.
Start saying no to taking on too many responsibilities or tasks that exceed your capacity.
You matter, and your limits matter. Which brings me to the next point:
2) (Just say no!) to unreasonable demands put on you
The love between you and your partner doesn’t mean they get to make unreasonable demands on you.
Asking for money they don’t intend to pay back, treating you disrespectfully because they’ve had a bad day, being told to quit your job because they want to move.
You need to have boundaries of what you will do in response to your partner’s demands.
Say no to complying with unreasonable demands or requests that compromise your values or integrity.
You aren’t the only one in this relationship: they have a role to play, too. Which brings up the next boundary you need to establish.
3) (Just say no!) to all give and no take
Relationships often bring out our best and our worst:
They expose insecurities and bring out strengths we didn’t know we had.
When you have self-doubting tendencies and self-esteem issues, a relationship can become a form of people pleasing.
You give of yourself all the time but don’t really expect much back. Or you’re afraid your partner will leave you if you become too “demanding” about them contributing more.
Now and then compromise is necessary, sure.
But it’s crucial to start saying no to sacrificing your own needs and desires excessively for the sake of the relationship.
4) (Just say no!) to having your needs ignored and downplayed
This also ties into people-pleasing tendencies.
When you fear your partner leaving you, or doubt your own value, you will often allow yourself to take a backseat in the relationship.
You let your partner ignore your needs and treat you as second fiddle.
It’s not a good trend to start, and it’s important to stand up for yourself.
Say no to neglecting your physical, emotional, and mental well-being for the sake of the relationship.
5) (Just say no!) to being pressured to ignore your own goals
Loving somebody entails a certain level of commitment:
There are times when you need to weigh your short-term goals with theirs and reach a compromise.
But being asked to shelve or cancel your long-term, deeper dreams because of your relationship is a big no.
Your goals and mission are a core part of who you are, and they shouldn’t be up for discussion or put on the backburner due to demands from your partner.
Say no to neglecting your personal goals, aspirations, and interests for the sake of the relationship.
6) (Just say no!) to one-sided efforts and endeavors
Each person in a relationship has their own strengths and weaknesses.
The key is to make those highs and lows work together in a workable and functional way.
But when you’re the main one putting energy, resources and love into the relationship and you’re not getting much back, it’s time to put your foot down.
Say no to investing all your time, energy, and resources into the relationship without receiving equal effort and commitment from your partner.
7) (Just say no!) to being asked to ignore your gut instinct
Your partner may have very different friends and interests than you.
They may be a daredevil while you’re a homebody.
Whatever the case may be, you don’t have to risk your safety or do things you don’t want to do just because you love somebody.
Get comfortable with establishing your own boundaries even if there’s pressure from your partner to “just do it!”
Say no to situations or people that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.
8) (Just say no!) to allowing your feelings to be dismissed or downplayed
Your feelings matter. So do your partner’s feelings. No fake smiles allowed!
You have the right to ask for respect and a partner who actually listens when you’re feeling a certain way.
Just because your partner feels differently or may not understand something you’re going through fully (or vice versa), doesn’t mean you need to hide how you feel or accept it being pushed aside.
Say no to allowing your partner to dismiss or belittle your emotions and experiences.
9) (Just say no!) to being told to avoid certain subjects or conversations
This ties into the previous point, because far too many relationships end up having subjects and controversies that “shouldn’t” be touched.
When you really want to talk about something or have an issue bothering you, you should be able to ask your partner when it can be talked about.
There shouldn’t be areas of your relationship or topics that are roped off. No walking on eggshells!
Say no to avoiding important conversations or suppressing your thoughts and feelings to avoid conflict.
10) (Just say no!) to disrespectful behavior and treatment from your partner
Every relationship has tough times or periods when you’re fighting or annoyed at your partner.
But that doesn’t make it okay to be rude or hurtful to each other.
If you have a partner who tends to take things out on you, it’s crucial to let them know you won’t tolerate it.
Say no to tolerating disrespect, whether it’s through verbal abuse, manipulation, or disregard for your boundaries.
11) (Just say no!) to having your privacy violated
Say no to invasive or controlling behavior, such as snooping through your personal belongings or devices without your consent.
You don’t need to install a tracking device on your smartphone to let your partner know where you are…
You don’t need to go into detail about how good friends you are with somebody…
You don’t need to accept and validate paranoid or possessive behavior from your partner.
12) (Just say no!) to not being appreciated or valued in the relationship
For whatever reason, many relationships descend into being taken for granted.
If this sounds like the way your partner treats you, it’s crucial to stand up for yourself.
You matter, and you have options. Your partner needs to understand that you’re not just a prop or a person who’s always around no matter what.
You have a right to be appreciated and loved.
Say no to being taken for granted or not being appreciated for your contributions and efforts.
13) (Just say no!) to being emotionally manipulated and blackmailed
Say no to manipulation tactics designed to guilt-trip or control your actions and decisions.
Things like “if you really loved me you would…” are never the start of anything good.
If your partner does this kind of thing, then he or she has a lot of issues to work on themselves:
It’s not up to you to be their emotional punching bag or the victim of their manipulation.
Don’t subject yourself to these kinds of tactics.
Speaking of emotional manipulation, it’s also crucial to say no to gaslighting. Which brings me to the next point:
14) (Just say no!) to being gaslighting and subjected to mind games
Gaslighting makes you doubt your own eyes and judgments.
You are told that what you notice and what you think or feel is incorrect or unjustified:
You’re wrong, you’re dumb, you’re way off base. You’re paranoid!
Just say not to gaslighting of all forms. Once you accept a bit of it, it tends to snowball and only get worse.