When To Say “No!”

draw_the_lineWhere do you draw the line?

Do you even know where the line is?

At what point do you say, “This does not work for me and I won’t put up with it?”

Or better still, if you are in the process of creating a new relationship, “Here’s what would not work for me and, if it should occur, I will not stand for it.”

Obviously, we’re talking here about boundaries, values and expectations.

First, do you know what yours are? Second, have you communicated them to your existing partner or would-be partner? Third, is there a fit?

If the fit is not good, and you haven’t already committed to this person, move on quickly, no matter how much in love you think you are. Don’t imagine you will be able to change him or her. You won’t. Run as fast as you can.

On the other hand, if you are in a relationship and there is dissonance over these things, you have to renegotiate it on terms that are in accord with your values and respectful of your boundaries — or leave. Don’t settle.

The fact is, most people enter into long-term commitments without ever having this kind of discussion.

They decide on the basis of unspoken assumptions and expectations and without knowing their own boundaries. Then they get upset when they discover the assumptions were wrong, the expectations were unrealistic and boundaries were crossed. Then they blame their partner for not conforming to their fantasy.

When JoAnn and I got married, a friend came to our house and made us go down a whole list of words and say what they meant to us both. Words like commitment, fidelity, monogamy, polyamorous, open/closed marriage, sex, money, control, children and so on.

The idea was to see whether there was agreement over all the most important issues likely to arise in our relationship. Fortunately, we were more or less on the same page.

If, once having awakened, you want to create an enlightened relationship, the only way forward is to declare what you want in the relationship from this point on, no matter whether it’s the one you are in or a new one.

Setting boundaries is not about imposing conditions on the other person, making demands they can’t meet, setting expectations they can’t fulfill, or controlling them. That’s the old way.

From here on it’s about how we relate to one another so that we respect each other’s boundaries and values and honor each other’s needs and desires.

This is not an easy transition to make. Old habits die hard. But the first step is for each of you to establish your boundaries and know exactly where you draw the lines. At what point would you say — “That’s a deal breaker?” Do you need some help to figure that out?

In the Expanding in Love Workshop, you will be shown how to define your boundaries through a Radical Healing Conversation that doesn’t become an argument or blaming session.

You will also come to understand your own sexual personality and that of your partner, giving you a better understanding of your and your partner’s boundaries in this important area of life.

I’d love for you and your partner to join us for a wonderful weekend of expanding in love for yourselves and others. When your relationship is strong and balanced, everyone around you benefits.



P.S. If you want to find out more about the Expanding in Love Workshop, join me on February 13 for my FREE class, “Assessing Your Relationship.” Join me, won’t you?

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7 Responses to When To Say “No!”

  1. Shirley says:

    I recently realized I wa not honoring myself in a relationship when I don’t have and act upon my boundaries. I wanted the relationship to exist so bad I complied with behaviors that I knew were questionable for me. I chose to let that relationship go and am now willing to forgive myself and the other person.

  2. Ruth Wilson says:

    I really appreciate how beautifully stated this important post is.
    Early in relationships when we are dazzled with the other person, most of us write off confusing behavior as an anomaly, when it is actually an important indicator that behavior was not consistent, our boundaries may have been crossed, or there may be a fear of honestly confronting our expectations.
    From my work with those entangled in disrespectful relationships, I assure you that dealing with boundaries responsibly as soon as you recognise the issue is the very least painful way to go! Thanks Colin

  3. Ford Doran says:

    Setting a boundary is only the first step in living congruently with our values and others. The second part of the equation is holding that boundary we’ve set. Others may challenge or outright defy the our boundaries and we may have to defend that line we have drawn and laying out consequences when that line is crossed. Merely setting a boundary without holding firm to it is useless and will set us up for failure and encourage others to not take us seriously.

  4. Dorothy says:

    Wish I had this information as a young teenaged girl. Even more so as a young woman. Could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak- but I got two wonderful children out of those two disastrous marriages, who are now adults. So, things happened the way they were supposed to happen.

  5. A timely post for me! Thanks!

  6. Lucy says:

    When i was growing up we were studying in schools so many subjects. We’ve got so much totally useless knowledge i have never used in my life. Up to date i am wondering why on earth should children learn that stuff ? I wonder more: why in thousands of years of existence humanity is failing to fulfill it’s absolutely basic and necessary need -to be happy! There is education for everything except for being happy! And why the information/knowledge like the one we got from Colin now is never a subject in schools?????!!!!!

  7. Valerie Deane says:

    Setting boundaries, This has come back to haunt me 20 years later.
    I used to love sewing and making things for my pleasure. My next door neighbour found this out over a cup of coffee and arrived with all her curtain matieral and landed it in my lap saying I’m just the one to make her curtains, I’m so good at sewing, I loved the praise and went on make then, only to but everthing on hold, sewed day and night to make her curtains, She hung them up and praised me again on how great I was on my sewing. No offer of payment nothing only praise.

    Now she has turned up again 20 years later, saying I thought of you and how good you are at sewing, and I need a costume made for a victorian tea party, I contacted the dressmaker but she is so busy,so I though of you,

    My response was I’ll think about it,
    She didn’t listen only to hand me a photo of what she wanted.

    Well 20 years later I’m on to all the games playing out here. I now have boundaries in place, but it has brought up so much stuff for me,

    I will have a cup of coffee and say I’m busy and I am….

    Thank to you so much for you workshops,

    I have understood the working of it all.

    Love Valerie

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