Do you Find it Hard to say ‘no’?

I was asked this exact question recently, and it really got me thinking…

Since being involved in BD$M I have gotten a lot better at communicating boundaries, but I still find it very difficult to say “no.” 

There are so many valid reasons why this seemingly simple task is so difficult – it risks conflict, breaking connection, and hurting peoples feelings.

I am a serial people pleaser. I also worry WAY to much about hurting other peoples feelings – even when they probably deserve it.

For these reasons, it occurred to me that I may not be the best person to teach others how to say ‘no’ when it’s something I still struggle with myself. 

But then again, maybe that’s what makes me the right person to teach this? 

If you are a serial people pleaser like me, you probably don’t need someone telling you to channel your inner Samual L. Jackson (although that would be pretty glorious 😉). 

It’s probably much more helpful for you to learn some boundary setting strategies from someone who understands how hard it can be!

If this resonates, then here are my top 5 strategies for saying “no”  (for serial people pleasers like me). If you can add to this list, then please leave your strategies in the comments for others to read! 

#1 If you can’t do it for you, do it for them!

Understand that your partner is only consenting to play within your boundaries (not break them). If you do not tell  your partner when your boundaries are being crossed, this is actually a violation of their consent, as well as your own. If you can’t say no for you, do it for them!

#2 Invite communication

Saying ‘no’ can sound harsh. Try saying “can we talk about that?.” This will pause the play, and invite more communication. 

#3 Saying yes to yourself

Try reframing saying ‘no’ to someone else, as saying ‘yes’ to yourself. Remember, your needs and feelings are just as important as your partners!

#4 Offer alternatives

“No” doesn’t always mean you want the play to stop completely. It can mean you just want to play within your boundaries. Try adding an alternative to your “no” to see if you can come up with a solution together. For example “No I don’t think I’m ready to have sex just yet, but I would be happy if we could make out a little?” 

#5 It’s ok to hurt people’s feelings sometimes

If you have expressed a boundary or asked someone to stop, and they continue to push you, then it is absolutely ok to hurt their feelings! Pressuring someone when they have clearly communicated a boundary is never ok. If asserting your boundaries means bruising someones ego, that does not make you a bad person, that is on them. Also, we are all adults and getting your feelings hurt sometimes is part of life. 


These are some of the strategies I have found to be most useful when trying to communicate boundaries. These may look like simple dot points, but in reality, this stuff is HARD so please be kind to yourself, and give yourself a break if you don’t always get it right!

Can you add to this list? 

I would love to know what strategies you use to communicate your boundaries? Put them in the comments, and let’s help each other!

Harley 🐰 xx

For a detailed discussion about this topic, listen to episode #27 of my podcast Turns Out I’m Into It – available everywhere you listen to podcasts. 

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