Too many women learn the importance of having boundaries by engaging in the unwanted behavior.
When we don’t know where our own boundaries are, we let people cross them, and too often go too far. We end up with men we are not fully attracted to, doing things we later feel ashamed about, often using alcohol to help quiet the intuition, that is trying to tell us this is not the right thing to do.
And in the extreme, it can push you to having sex when you don’t want to, agreeing to things you don’t want to do, and creating trauma around sex, your own sexuality and womanhood.
I was there myself, and I witnessed more than one of my close girlfriend follow the same pattern.
Before you can say ‘no’ and disentangle yourself from unwanted male attention, you need to know where your own boundaries are.
What are you ok with? And what are you NOT ok with?
If you don’t have clarity on your boundaries, men will try to push you, and test you. They can sense when a woman is not in her power, and many of them – if attracted to you – will see how far they can go.
That doesn’t mean men are bad or trying to use you. But they do like the game, and if you’re letting the door open for them to go in, they will.
It is important to remember that you are the one responsible for your own boundaries, your wellbeing and your safety. Not everyone has good intention. Your natural instinct will tell you when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’, but it’s you who gotta do the talking.
So why is it so damn hard to do it?
To women, being liked means surviving. This is why the need to please others is so strong in us. Saying ‘no’ to a man means displeasing him, which means he will not like us, which in our reptile brain is translated to the possibility of being excluded from the group. Being likes secures our part in a tribe and protection of that tribe. We are safe in a group, but alone, chances for surviving go to zero.
If this mechanism is so strong in women, is there anything we can do to unlearn it?
While rewiring your survival brain is not that easy, there are things that can help you.
Understanding what your ‘no’ does to you and men will make you feel more comfortable about stating your boundaries.
Men are hunters. They like the chase, they enjoy a challenge. If a man wants you, he will be happy to go through a few obstacles to get you. Cause when he finally does, it will feel like a huge accomplishment. His masculinity and confidence will be boosted. He will feel like a hero.
So now imagine that you don’t say ‘no’ to men. That means that getting you is not a challenge. Since you say ‘yes’ to so many other men, he is not interested in trying. He sees no accomplishment in getting a ‘yes’ from you.
Your ability to say ‘no’ makes your ‘yes’ so much more powerful.
So try focusing on your man (or any man you currently like), and compare what is more important for you: not displeasing men you don’t really care about, or making the man you do care about feel happy and fulfilled?
For me, reminding myself of this is what gives me the courage to say ‘no’.
There is one big mistake many women do when they decide to become more assertive.
See, it’s not just important to say “no”, it’s also important how you say it.
We are empathic, we can easily relate to others and we care about connection. Saying ‘no’ does not mean you should forget about these qualities! On the contrary, the beauty of the feminine is her ability to say ‘no’ in a loving way. No one likes being rejected and this is not about rejecting a man. After all, what are you gaining by crushing his ego? It is about stating your boundary, that’s all. You don’t need to be cold or bitchy to do it.
Let’s look at a few examples of saying no to men:
A man asks you out for dinner:
“I feel really flattered you’re asking me out and I appreciate your courage. And I have to decline, because I am not currently interested in dating.”
A man offers to give you a massage:
“Thank you for your offer. I have to decline, because I feel it is too much, too fast. But you can take me out for coffee.”
A man who keeps staring at you and makes you feel very uncomfortable”
“You attention is intimating. I would appreciate if you could give me more space”
Here is a simple formula you can practice:
thank him and acknowledge his proposal + AND + decline + explain your reasons + say ‘yes’ to something else
(Notice ‘AND’ instead of ‘BUT’. I know it sounds weird to say it, but it is a powerful emotional message, so try to train yourself to eliminate the word ‘but’ from your vocabulary as much as possible).
Practice, darling. The more you do it, the easier it will become.