Even women who’ve been around the block a few times, can have trouble saying “no” in some dating situations. Despite the major strides women have made with the women’s movement and equality, many women are still raised to be people-pleasers who don’t know how to say “no.”
Why is that a problem? Why should you say “no?” When we say “yes” to things we don’t want, we can end up over-committed or taking care of others instead of taking care of ourselves. You can become resentful if you often do only what others want because you don’t get what you want. Having trouble saying “no” is a big problem with dating, because it keeps you from getting what you want from men. It also doesn’t work very well in most relationships when you don’t know how to stand up for yourself. When you don’t get your needs met, you can feel unhappy or angry with your partner.
Feminism has added an extra layer of complexity to dating when you have even the slightest tendency to be a people pleaser. Women often don’t stop to think whether they are making choices solely based on feminism instead of figuring out whether their approach will actually work for them in a particular dating situation.
Some women make the case that being equal to men means we should equally take the initiative — and the risks in love. But why is there a “should” in their rationale? Why make decisions based on what is politically correct rather than our own unique feelings? Expecting women to ignore their emotions is denying our individuality — which is actually what the women’s movement was about, not simply saying men and woman are the same. As Gloria Steinem said, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
Feminism isn’t the problem, it’s how we translate it. Being true to yourself is doing what’s best for you, whether others like it or not. When you put yourself first in that way, it may require you to be able to say “no” to a man, your friends, family, or to feminism. This doesn’t mean that saying “no” has to be abrasive. But, if you’re a people-pleaser, it can be hard because somebody may not be happy with you.
Can you say “no” to what you don’t want? Take this simple “yes or no” quiz to find out. For each question, give yourself 1 point if you…