A Letter To The Me Who Did Not Say No

Hey you :)

Reading the headline of this letter, you probably think this is not for you. Because you are good with limits. It’s just that in this particular relationship, you don’t seem to have many. Am I close?

You will not be ready to hear a lot of the things I want to tell you. You need time and space to experience, to make mistakes, grow, and embody the lessons. But maybe these words can plant a seed.

I know you have already started to notice that you are unhappy in your relationship most of the time. And that you tell yourself that those unhappy times are just moments. The happy times, sporadic as they are, are the essence of the relationship. Right?

That is the story you tell everyone. The story you tell yourself. Yes, the relationship is challenging, but that is how you both grow. And you have so much fun together, travelling the world, having adventures, working together. So much love.

Deep breath.

You are terrified all of that will disappear if you are not good enough, if you are not open enough, fun enough, caring enough, useful enough. You’re terrified it will all go away if it turns out you have desires that don’t match theirs. Or limits for that matter. So you ignore those and marvel: isn’t it miraculous how your desires and limits match up so seamlessly to theirs?

When they speak of a desire you rush to fulfil it. This is your chance to show them you are worthy of their attention, their love. You are not going to spoil that with something as silly as limits, with something as disrupting as a ‘no’. You will just pull through and get your reward: being allowed to stay.

Meanwhile you feel lousy most of the time. You are so focused on being the Perfect Partner that you do not even realise you are constantly crossing your own limits, and letting them cross those as well.

You feel resentful, but don’t let yourself feel it. You cry most nights, but tell yourself you are just tired. And you are tired. So tired. But that is surely because of jetlag, work, or stress. It is certainly, absolutely, not because you are in a relationship where hardly any of your needs are met while you bend over backwards to meet theirs.

‘Deep breath. ’

How is your body feeling? As I write this, I can feel tension in my neck and shoulders. So I pause, stretch, and have a sip of water. What would make you, me, feel more comfortable?

As it turns out, you will lose a lot once you start to honour your desires and limits. The fun will stop. The travel will stop. The work will stop. The love will stop. And it will hurt. And you will be ok.

You will learn that there is no amount of accommodating you can do that will make up for a bad relationship.

You will learn that accommodation is a theme in many parts of your life. You will learn to notice, and eventually even to stop doing it most of the time. It will be scary as hell, but you will be brave and you will be ok.

You will learn that you have desires and limits of your own. And how to notice, trust, value and communicate* those. You will feel vulnerable and uncomfortable in the process. And you will discover that wanting or not wanting things and being honest about that actually brings closeness and intimacy.

You will learn that the more you show yourself – including the bits you think others will find inconvenient – the more you get what you want. More connection, more fun, more love.

You will learn the meaning of that thing a friend told you a while ago: “More of you is better”. It doesn’t mean “more of the you that you think others find palatable is better”. It means: “more of you, including your emotions, your clunkiness, your doubts, your screw-ups and yes, your desires and limits, is better”.

You will learn, in short, that you are worthy regardless of what you do or are for others. Regardless of whether or not your desires and limits match up at any particular time. You are worthy just by being.

I say ‘you will learn’ as if that process is finished. It is not, and I don’t expect it will be any time soon.

Just yesterday, while driving home, my – your – current partner said they’d rather not stop for a dip in the river, and I forgot that my wants counted too. I took their want as the be-all and end-all and could already feel the resentment bubbling up: I was going to be so hot once we got home, with no way to cool off. Why was this chance of a swim being taken away from me??

Because I did not speak up.

Thankfully, they noticed and lovingly called me out, giving me the chance to voice that actually, I did want a swim. Turns out they were perfectly willing to make the extra stop. It was not their first choice, but a close second. Being honest and vulnerable about my desire gave us the information we needed to make a decision that felt good to both of us.

As I felt the cool water of the river move around me, my body relaxed. I was proud that I had showed up for myself, had allowed myself to be slightly inconvenient. A tiny piece of the puzzle had shifted into place a bit more snugly: more of me is better.

That I had gotten what I wanted was a great bonus.

My lovely little cutie, there is a lot coming your way. I know you will be brave. You will, at times, ask for the support you need. You will mess up. And you will be ok.

I love you,


P.S: Google ‘wheel of consent’ and go to a training. Alone. It might give you a head start.

None of the linked healthcare professionals endorse any products or brands