When / how do I take no for an answer?
February 23, 2019 12:32 AM   Subscribe

I have always been taught to never take no for an answer from business books- especially from someone not authorized to tell you yes (I think that one was from church, which I no longer attend). I am not afraid of confrontation or challenging authority and can be aggressive while my partner is the opposite. Doing so has yielded me more often than not great results (upgrades in hotel rooms, discounts, access to the things i wanted). However i realize it's a problem in my relationship

My bf says one of the reasons he is apprehensive about marrying me (one of the many) is I don't take no for an answer. He says it can be embarrassing and tiring (sometimes itll take a while to get my way and I have wasted heaps of time in the past trying) and by association make him look bad (he cares about what people think of him). Especially if I don't get my way after really trying and finally give up, ill be left feeling angry, dejected and sulky.
I have started therapy and I realize on this recent round of us reconciling after breaking up for his hesitancy to marry me that I am essentially doing the same thing (not taking no for an answer because of my desire to keep our good - in my opinion - life going). I realize I felt like I know what is best and he just needed to open his eyes, stop being scared of commitment and take the next step but this mentality is probably wrong and bad.
I've essentially pressured him into trying again but I'm trying to be a better person (meditating, working on my anger / flaws, not bring so mean and ornery) and I don't know whether I should be fighting for our 7 year relationship because I don't want to be the person who just gives up or if its honorable to keep trying since sometimes it works out for other people (putting in the work to make the relationship work - especially since he seems willing now).
How do I find this balance - know when to keep trying or accept no? Should i go back after all the pressuring I've done as we are currently reconciled and say, i am now accepting your no even though its changed to a maybe / yes / I'll try. It feels disruptive and needlessly dramatic to do so now.
Some background : he proposed in Jan then admitted in Feb his gut was telling him no, so we broke up for a day but I called and pressed and now we are back together again and technically engaged again. he divulged what those real reasons his gut was telling him no were: fears, anxiety, insecurities, luster has worn off (as all relationships this long tend to do), interracial and geography issues being that we are from different countries although we both live in the u.s.
posted by soooo to Human Relations (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, I think that you're pretty much on the right track! You show a lot of insight into yourself in this post, and if this is what you're communicating to your therapist, they should be able to give you a lot of more personal advice.

On that note, one thing to think about might be trying to decouple this behaviour from your relationship. It's woven through your post, but the parts about pushing to get your way for a long time and being dejected if you get a no... That's a tough way to live in general.
posted by sagc at 12:49 AM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

A marriage is not a room upgrade so you are right to think seriously about whether what you want is actually right for him too. The thing about ambivalence is that it can quickly sour to resentment if the person being pushed felt they had no genuine say in the matter.

It would be different if he were hemming and hawing about inconsequential stuff but the issues listed are valid concerns in any relationship and not things you should sweep under a rug. They’re not necessarily dealbreakers but if I was expressing worries about them and my partner was all like “It’s not a problem! Love conquers all! Don’t be ridiculous!”, what I’d be hearing is “My desires are more valid than your concerns so shut up and put up!”, and I’d be off.

If things seemed ok before the proposal it may just be that the reality of a forever commitment is bringing these issues to the fore for him, in which case you just need to let him air his piece and have you sit with it for a while, without trying to change his mind. Make it clear what your preference is but if you can genuinely hear him in good faith, and have him be confident that you will honour his choice, it will set you up for a much stronger relationship in the future.

You can give him a deadline by all means, and you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to continue this relationship if marriage is not on the cards, but is important that you give him space to respond truthfully.

With regards to the wider issue, I think it’s great that you are reflecting on these tendencies - understanding how to negotiate your needs whilst accepting the validity of others’ perspectives is a skill that will take you far. I am pretty strong-willed so this is a lesson I learned through painful experience: there is so much grace and empowerment in NOT strong arming people into bending to your will. The world opens up in amazing ways when you look for mutuality rather than domination.

Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but life is considerably less fraught for it.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:43 AM on February 23, 2019 [21 favorites]

From your intro, you still seem convinced of the benefits of "never taking no for answer". I think you should reconsider this - pushy sales/business people, customers making a scene to get a discount or upgrade - I find a bit cringe worthy and even if short term successful, I think it fails longterm. I get where it's coming from, I'm ambitious and stubborn with it myself, but I try to direct that to things under my control. Learn more about negotiating strategies, aim for win win outcomes where everyone benefits if you compromise a little.
posted by JonB at 2:05 AM on February 23, 2019 [56 favorites]

When / how do I take no for an answer?
When you understand that kindness, compassion and compromise are frequently more rewarding that winning. You sound like someone who 'knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing'.
posted by Thella at 2:31 AM on February 23, 2019 [81 favorites]

Maybe try to stop thinking of things in terms of ‘getting my way’. Because most things aren’t that way. And for things for which that sort of makes sense (eg he wants Chinese for dinner, you want burgers), why do you think you’re entitled to get your way and other people are not?

Sure, most people will eventually decide that eating burgers is preferable to listening to more of your badgering. I’d argue that at that point you’ve lost something important, but you seem to still think you’ve ‘won’.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:16 AM on February 23, 2019 [50 favorites]

From the perspective of somebody who imagines going on a trip, to an event or meal with you there are quite a few problems with this. Your partner or friends may not care for the ‚thing‘ you are pursuing so they only get what they perceive as downsides:

- having to witness/be embarrassed (by association) by your efforts
- having to wait for you to finish this tedious process
- having their wishes/preferences of how to conduct such things ignored
- etc

For me that would take a lot of the enjoyment out of spending time with you. And that is just from you doing this with the buisnesses/providers you encounter as part of your personal life. If you actually badgered your partner or friends in the same way it simply wouldn’t make you a very nice person to spend time with. So perhaps save it for big ticket purchases like cars, real estate, furniture and value the shared experience of the people you’re with more than the upgrade?
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:41 AM on February 23, 2019 [22 favorites]

Best answer: Should i go back after all the pressuring I've done as we are currently reconciled and say, i am now accepting your no even though its changed to a maybe / yes / I'll try. It feels disruptive and needlessly dramatic to do so now.

You could just ask him again and then simply accept whatever answer he gives you. I don't think it's particularly dramatic or disruptive to occasically check in with someone if they're still on board with something. If they are, great, matter settled quickly, if they aren't, good to know, no? People can change their minds!

I mean, sure, it can be overdone - constantly asking "do you still want to be with me?" might make someone feel bad about their own ability to show their love, as if no proof of love could ever be enough. Also it can be exhausting. But I think right now, you're safely far away from that scenario. Personally, I would always rather err on the side of checking in too often rather than too rarely.

In your case, I think there's an extremly low risk that bringing up the issue again would be read as "above average need for reassurance". He already gave you a yes, but a very tentative, conditional one - right now, you two are at a trial stage. At some point that trial stage has to come to an end, and he'll have to make up his mind whether to break-up or take the plunge and commit for good. You'll want him to feel comfortably secure in the knowledge that you could handle the break-up graciously, not just because that's just the right way to behave in a relationship, but also for the very selfish reason that you probably don't want him to drag things out longer than necessary for fear of you not taking no for an answer. I'm sure you know to value your own time. If it should really turn out that he can't make it work with you, it's in your own best interest that he tells you sooner than later.

So you really don't to have to "accept his previous no" (which would kinda mean dismissing his current, tentative Yes), but you could say, "Hey, I know we're still in the trial stage, you're making up your mind, and you don't need to do it just now - I just want you to know, that when you do, I'll accept your answer, no matter what. I understand if you doubt that, based on my previous behaviour, but I'm really working on it, and I want to thank you for giving me a chance to dispel your doubts."

And then you dispel any potential doubts by just accepting his nos, from the smallest to the biggest issues. Good luck! I think this post already shows a promising amount of self awareness. You can do this!
posted by sohalt at 4:01 AM on February 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

Pushing people in order to get your way often works, but it's not very kind. You might get what you want in the moment, but the people you deal with will think of you as obnoxious and will do the bare minimum for you the rest of the time. It often pays dividends, albeit in a more subtle way, if you are kind and friendly and easygoing—people will then like you and look for ways to go the extra mile for you, and you'll find your path smoothed in ways that it would not be if they perceived you as difficult and demanding.

Also, as others (including your boyfriend) have mentioned, it can be embarrassing to be around someone who is always doing things like picking fights with customer service. Can you imagine a world in which everyone did that? It would be even more miserable and antagonistic than the one we actually live in, and nothing would get done for all the squabbling.

Think of it as your job not to win every interaction, but instead to make every interaction as happy as possible. If you can make people smile and see you as more than just another customer—let alone a difficult one—your life will be more pleasant, the world will be more pleasant, and you'll still get the occasional bonus in the form of small gifts and extra services that are freely given, rather than grudgingly.

And your boyfriend will find you a much easier person to be around.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:09 AM on February 23, 2019 [26 favorites]

I think there are two issues here. One is your desire to work on accepting no for an answer. Sounds like a decent thing to work on, though the core of your personality shouldn't be in question, you're allowed to be an assertive, emotional type of person who is learning to dial it back to give others space to say no. That's fine, because we're all imperfect and the only thing that is truly worrisome is people who think they have nothing left to learn or grow.

The second issue is: Do you feel your boyfriend loves you? Do you really feel loved? People with flaws on the level of "pushy with hotel clerks, working on that" are allowed to be loved. Everyone has flaws. It doesn't mean loving partners don't want us to change difficult aspects of our behavior, even ingrained habits. But if you don't feel loved for you are now, do you think you'll feel loved as your true self once you do manage to dial it back with the "can't take no for an answer" attitude?
I don't know the answer to this of course, it is not a rhetorical question, I'm certainly not implying your bf doesn't love you, but it's a more important question to ask yourself than how long you've been together or whether you can change the kind of part of yourself that is changeable.
posted by nantucket at 4:20 AM on February 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Insist on getting your own way all the time, sulk and stamp your feet and hold your breath until you turn blue, begrudge others for trying to be fair or do something different: Not attractive in children, downright repulsive in adults.
Once in a while try to make sure everybody is having a good time. Relax and go with the flow.
Good for you for going to counselling. But in my opinion you should let your boyfriend go.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:26 AM on February 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

What you have is a powerful skill that you just need to work on being more judicious with. For example, it's worth it to go to the mattresses with your insurance provider when they try to weasel out of covering something that clearly should be covered per the policy. Or your mechanic if they tell you a part will cost $500 when online research says it's actually $50. It's probably not worth it to spend 10 minutes getting a 5% discount on your meal.

Here is why I *don't* usually press on this stuff: 1) I know how angry and frustrated I get 2) I know how crappy it can be to be on the receiving end 3) My time and energy are finite and valuable.

My suggestion is to give yourself a month of asking and then accepting the first no (except in cases of injustice, attempted fraud or weaselry). Is it possible to get a discount on the hotel room? No? OK, thanks for checking. Make it your goal to get a no and respond graciously, sort of like the guy who sought out rejection for 100 days. Maybe role play with a friend or your therapist.

I find it easier to deal with accepting a no on a relatively trivial request when I've set myself up to save face in the event of a "no." If I go all out with demanding something and then lose, I feel like a moron. If I set up the request as a "You can say yes or no and I'll be okay either way" it's a lot easier to shrug and accept.
posted by bunderful at 7:06 AM on February 23, 2019 [19 favorites]

When thinking about how this not taking no for an answer manifests, perhaps thinking about how it impacts the other person would help... Beyond your boyfriend, did it make that person working on their feet all day for $11/hr feel horrible and make their day worse?
The more you can put yourself in others' shoes, the better.
posted by k8t at 7:21 AM on February 23, 2019 [18 favorites]

You know the advice “don’t date someone who treats the waiter badly?” There’s a good chance you’re the kind of someone they mean. You’re absolutely worthy of love and respect, make no mistake, but this pressuring, aggressive behavior can, will, and has already come at the expense of relationships of all stripes. Who knows what sort of things you’ve missed out on by confronting instead of connecting?

This behavior is part of your current worldview, and it takes a lot of work and time to change something so ingrained, but it’s possible. You’ve identified the problem and you’ve started therapy, both of which are crucial. In the meantime, you could try two things:

First, change your objective with all interpersonal interactions. At some point, do you think “I have to win this” or “I have to get X”? Replace that with “I have to get this to a good spot for both of us.” Or all of us: the person at the hotel desk, your boyfriend who doesn’t want to make a scene, the people in earshot who are distracted by the scene you’re making, the people in line behind you who might be tired from traveling and just want to get to bed, or might have problems more pressing than an optional upgrade but are now less likely to get what they need because you’ve exhausted the hotel staff’s goodwill on getting what you want. You can’t make all of those people happy, nor do you need to, but you can at least avoid making their day a little worse.

Second, try to keep attuned to your boyfriend’s feelings as much as possible. Don’t get overly deferential or dig for things (“Are you sure you’re okay with this? You’re sure? We don’t have to. You’re sure?”), and keep in mind that sometimes people like having the other person decide and maybe that’s how your boyfriend is. But if you pay attention and put what you want on the back burner, you may notice more hints of hesitation from him, things that he’s uncomfortable with but won’t bring up because he expects you to barrel right over him. Maybe he’s adjusted his confrontation style so that he’s now saying “well, uh” when he means “hell no.” Leave him more room to push back and he’ll get more comfortable doing so.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:45 AM on February 23, 2019 [14 favorites]

Reading this question, regarding your boyfriend, I keep thinking of the phrase "enthusiastic consent." You don't want to bully someone into marrying you; you want someone who wants to be with you. If his issue was really just with the idea of commitment, it would be different, but no, he's not sure he wants to choose you. Pushing him into it is not fair to him, any more than bullying someone into any other kind of intimacy is okay.

I agree with sohalt--don't break up with him, but make it perfectly clear to him that what happens next is actually up to him. You don't have to wait forever, but if you understand that you can only control your own behavior, then you can decide whether you want what he's giving or if you want to walk away. You can tell him what you want and then give him room to make a decision that fits his needs, given this information.

In general, too, start thinking about WHY you shouldn't accept no for an answer. What's wrong with no? Sometimes there's an answer--something is important, or outside of the rules that apply to most situations. But often, there is no reason at all that "no" won't serve just fine. Try to be aware of the emotional fallout of these encounters for everyone involved and think about whether what you're gaining is worth it, not just to you, but on balance for everyone involved.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2019 [7 favorites]

I don't see how this relationship continues, because what you describe is abuse. Assuming you're starting to see the light now and don't want to treat people like this anymore (though it seems like you DO, just not this one person, so that ultimately you still get what you want), how do you unpoison the well? How do you make up for all the times your partner has been pressured into accepting your personal, financial, sexual, lifestyle choices over his own? How do you undo the dynamic that you are always right and he is always wrong if he disagrees? Do you even understand what that does to a person, to treat every decision and preference they make like a hotel upgrade you feel entitled to?

You could decide you're going to sit on your hands and never do it again, but that's not going to work either. A healthy relationship fairly negotiates, compromises, comes to an answer together with respect for the other person's feelings and values, but that's not the dynamic you fostered and it's not fair to expect him to trust you to do it now. Any attempt to get you to compromise is going to be accompanied by stress and fear, there will always be the wince that you're about to trample all over his agency just as he's starting to trust you to hold his best interests at least equal to your own.

That whole thing about not taking no is maybe the worst guideline to live by, certainly as a human and very often in business too. People who "won't take no for an answer" strongly overlap in a venn diagram of people who think every idea they have is spectacular just because they thought it, and they are definitely Good At Business so anyone telling them no is just not as smart as they are. It's always unsurprising when those customers stop being able to pay their bills.

Not everything in life needs to be bullied. Not every authority needs to be challenged. Not every human on the planet needs to have to deal with your aggression.

Maybe you should take a six-month break to give him time to actually hear his own thoughts for a minute, while you focus hard on therapy. It's likely that he will figure out that this relationship is not a productive one for him, but you will maybe be able to course-correct before you end up in this dynamic with someone else in the future.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2019 [16 favorites]

I've essentially pressured him into trying again but I'm trying to be a better person (meditating, working on my anger / flaws, not bring so mean and ornery) and I don't know whether I should be fighting for our 7 year relationship because I don't want to be the person who just gives up or if its honorable to keep trying since sometimes it works out for other people (putting in the work to make the relationship work - especially since he seems willing now).

this is all the wrong way around. you shouldn't give up on your relationship as long as your partner hasn't either, but this is not a reason or a requirement to pressure someone else -- it's the reason you can't do that. at the moment, he's given a tentative and conditional yes, right? so, continuing to ignore a No OR a Yes from him would mean giving up on improving or maintaining the relationship; you can pressure him or fight for the relationship but they are opposites and you can't do both. learning to respect his stated wishes without forcefully trying to influence them is what fighting for a relationship means.

you aren't caught in a terrible paradox here -- you don't have to choose between respecting him and fighting for him. you are just mistaken about what fighting for love requires. it doesn't require you to force your will on a situation; it requires that you don't do that. fighting for a relationship is just a dumb metaphor, anyway; there are other dumb metaphors that won't hang you up on rhetorical contradictions. build it, work for it, take care of it, etc.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:27 AM on February 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Consider: How much is your time worth per hour? How much is your effort and focus worth? How much is your state of mind worth?

The answers could serve as the background for a simple cost/benefit checklist you run through in your head when you need to decide if something is worth fighting for. Maybe something like:

1) Is this a matter of justice or fairness?
2) What is the possible benefit? (A few dollars? A few thousand dollars?)
3) How likely am I to win?
4) What is the possible risk/cost? (Your time, your good mood, loss of face, your partner's frustration or embarrassment, your relationship with a service provider you deal with regularly)
5) Is this a fight that I need to have now? (If it's a matter of true injustice, you might be better served delaying the conflict until you can come up with a strategy).

As someone who dreads conflict, I would very much like a partner who is better at it than I am - who will firmly point out to the mechanic that their numbers aren't right, but also who will also handle conflict in the relationship in a way that is calm and thoughtful. Even if this particular relationship does not work out, you will not regret doing this work on yourself.
posted by bunderful at 8:27 AM on February 23, 2019

You slipped this into a larger issue but it jumped out at me:

If you think that being "interracial" is a valid reason to terminate a relationship, than I think you should definitely terminate the relationship and not marry that person. Also, don't have (interracial) kids with them.

I'm not saying this on principal. I'm saying it as a person who is the product of an interracial marriage, AND who has closely observed dozens of interracial marriages as they evolved over decades, AND as a person who is currently in an interracial marriage myself, AND a as a person who is raising mixed-race offspring.

Racism is hard. BIPOC need actual allies in their corner to navigate a world of aggression and invalidation. Whichever one of you is deeper under the thumb of oppression deserves a partner who's in it 1000% and can support them as they navigate this shitty phenomenon that hurts and puts actual wear-and-tear on human psyches and bodies.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:51 AM on February 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't think it's honourable to badger someone into agreeing to marrying you. I also don't think you should be marrying someone you think needs to be manipulated into making adult choices that are good for them. (Making those decisions for others is parenting, not partnership.) This also doesn't seem respectful and I don't know why you'd be with someone you didn't respect (unless you have NPD or something?)

Were it me, I would release your boyfriend from the engagement and invite him to ask again if and when it feels genuine to him. If you want to have your own schedule, like if he hasn't asked in the next two years you'll need to make different decisions about your future for yourself, that's reasonable adult human behaviour.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think the therapy is good for you in order to learn how to separate business negotiation from relationship negotiation, and your realization of how this plays into your current situation.

In practice, some "no"s in life are characterized as having good boundaries, where others are denigrated as overt aggression. Suss out the motives of the person passing judgement, before you take it onboard.

I am +++nantucket: just because you drive a hard bargain doesn't mean you are unloveable as is!!!

Looking back at your other questions about this gentleman, could your therapist help you pick apart why you want unconditional commitment from someone who has treated you so lukewarmly at many junctures of your history?

Consider whether the future you want is one of continuing to wrangle your partner to the rodeo, while simultaneously pruning yourself back into a bonsai human; e.g. doing an outsize share of pragmatic and emotional labor to sustain the relationship while accepting being pruned back from your natural, blameless, tendancies. Best.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that this trait isn't necessarily a problem so long as you have a partner who is comfortable and firm enough with their own boundaries to give you a No for an answer, because that's the make it or break it point where one or both of you will have to drop it, compromise or negotiate.
If one partner isn't comfortable stating and asserting their boundaries, they will feel bulldozed, trampled on and as though their wants are unimportant, and the other can become even more pushy and demanding trying to get a No for an answer to determine where their partners wants and boundaries lie.
This isn't a one sided problem, it's a dynamic imbalance that takes two.
If I were you, I couldn't continue the relationship past the point where I knew and was aware that my partner had reconciled out of pressure/giving in and was technically engaged though they didn't want to be. How could you ever trust this person actually wants to be with you after that?
Remind yourself that this is a trait that has so far served you well in life, and is a very hard earned trait for women in general in society. You might do better with a partner who admires you for it. I mean, you definitely have room to work on your reactions when you don't get your way, but there are just as many people in the world who won't think your strong personality traits are an embarrassment to be snuffed out.
posted by OnefortheLast at 10:06 AM on February 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Relationship-wise, you could go back to "dating" status rather than "technically engaged." So not a break-up, but a downgrade nonetheless, especially since it sounds like the proposal and engagement had lots of doubt to begin with, anyway. I think that would respect his feelings of not being quite ready to be engaged.
posted by tinydancer at 10:28 AM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

DBT's interpersonal effectiveness skills are a way of getting at your core question -- how do you figure out your interpersonal goal in an interaction (self-respect, the relationship, or the objective goal), and based on that, how do you phrase your request and pitch your intensity in such a way as to prioritize that goal while also being respectful of the person with whom you're interacting. That linked page has a super-broad overview, but you might ask your therapist if they have any DBT skills classes or workbooks they'd recommend as you continue to develop these skills.
posted by lazuli at 10:34 AM on February 23, 2019

I was brought up in a poor-ish family with a mother who was shy and rather traditional in gender roles. As a result, we got pushed around a lot by other people and institutions. As I got older and got to observe more privileged people, I came to realize how many "nos" are really just institutional laziness, selfishness, desire for control rather than having any meaningful basis. So I don't think your attitude puts you wholly in the wrong. However. I have a friend who defaults to pushing back hard when she doesn't like a situation. I've learned a lot from her about what you can "get away with" without actually plunging the situation into conflict and chaos, but I've also seen how it can come across as unnecessary, unfair, or wasteful aggression. You need to train yourself to think about when it's worth it. There are costs to this approach--often, the goodwill of the person you are dealing with and may need to deal with again; time; your mood (I don't know about you, but I don't find it great for my mental state to be constantly in conflict mode); the comfort of the people around you. When you're talking about people you're associating with socially over a sustained period of time, people you want to enjoy spending time with you (in this case, their whole life!), it's often very counterproductive. Most people don't enjoy being steamrollered!
posted by praemunire at 11:31 AM on February 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

“I realize I felt like I know what is best and he just needed to open his eyes, stop being scared of commitment and take the next step but this mentality is probably wrong and bad. I've essentially pressured him into trying again.”

I think this is the crux of the post.

From what you’ve said I think your attitude to others has a tendency to be forceful, I think you already know that this can easily tend towards bullying.

That he broke it off with you and then pressured him to take you back does not bode well for positive or heathy relationship boundaries for either of you.

That you can see and acknowledge this yourself is a good thing, and a positive step, when you recognise this as potentially abusive but can’t stop, and he is so easily manipulated into acting against his own stated interests seems like a red flag for both of you.

I think you’re right on the right track about taking stock and working out where you go from here for the sake of you both.
posted by Middlemarch at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Maybe let this one go and hold out for a partner who enthusiastically wants *you*.
posted by bunderful at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you basically bullied him into getting back together with you even though he’s made it very clear that the answer is no. If you keep trying to pursue this relationship with him, it will eventually blow up in your face because he doesn’t want to be with you. The fundamental problem is not that you’re rude to customer service people to get discounts (although that isn’t a great personality trait), it’s that you are trying to force a relationship with someone who is trying to break it off.
posted by a strong female character at 2:27 PM on February 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think your boyfriend was well aware of your assertiveness from the first date onwards. It‘s not a hidden personality trait, right?
And I suspect it‘s partially attractive to him. Because if you tend towards the passive, more easily pushed around, it‘s quite attractive to see your partner barrell past the arbitrary institutional barriers the way you never could. And it makes your boyfriend‘s life easier, because if there‘s any unpleasant stuff to deal with (insurance, service call centers, annoying neighbours etc.) he can rely on you to do it because you‘re just „so much better at this“, right? I mean, I‘m just guessing here, but it wouldn‘t be an uncommon dynamic.

So what I‘m saying is, it sounds like he‘s pretty much given you the steering wheel while he sits in the back complaining from time to time. You‘re doing an awful lot of the work of making the relationship be a relationship on your own while he‘s just...having it happen to him.

I think if you want him to choose you, you need to step back a lot. It‘s way too comfortable, passive and hopeless for him to make any sort of move right now. I mean, he sort of tried to break up but then inertia struck again and you came back with all your energy and drive and barrelled all over him.

You need to give it all a chance to go pear shaped. For him to fail to save your relationship out of whatever reason. Because if he doesn‘t get the chance to lose you, he doesn‘t get the chance to choose you.

Some of this sounds like a control issue. Like, you can‘t bear not being able to control the outcome of the situations you are in? You have to make then go a certain way?

But...you‘ve already lost this one. He‘s not a partner you want, he‘s just someone who‘s dithering around.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I find the fact that your boyfriend/fiance has "many" apprehensions about marrying you pretty concerning. Do you really feel like he is someone you should marry, if he has so many reservations about marrying you?

As to the question of when to take no for an answer: You might want to consider not bothering to ask for all this special treatment in the first place, except for when it really matters. Just because you can ask for it doesn't mean you should. You know, pick your battles. And it helps to put yourself in others' shoes.
posted by wondermouse at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure why you believe you're entitled to the "great results" that your aggression and confrontation win you.

I work in customer service. The company I work for has certain polices in place, and it also empowers workers at my level (non-managers) to make reasonable exceptions to those policies. Customers who come in with the "refusing to take no for an answer" attitude can ruin a whole day. You have to explain the policy, then explain the policy in a different way, then try to defuse the tension/remain polite as the customer continues pushing. Usually at some point a manager has to come over and get involved, the policy is explained another 2-3 times, and by now everyone is agitated including the 15 customers who are stuck waiting in line because the customer thinks they're entitled to something that the vast majority of other customers won't receive. Sometimes there's yelling involved, which makes me start shaking, and now I have to pretend to not be a trembling mess when I continue helping the 15 other now-agitated customers who've been waiting.

Not taking no for an answer might feel like a good way to, like, game the system or something, but I'm here to tell you that the system is made up of other human beings just trying to do their jobs, and I'm not sure why you believe that you have the right to ruin their days in order to score a deal. Maybe that would be something to investigate with your therapist.
posted by coppermoss at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2019 [42 favorites]

I say this with no disrespect to anyone who's ever felt or been bullied, but OP, you need to face this problem fully selfishly:
This man is claiming he did not want to get married but proposed anyways, changed his mind and then backed out, then tried to blame you saying you pressured him.
He's done the same with reconciliation.
How are you ever going to trust this man wants to be with you, trust that he loves you, trust that he's having a good time, trust that yes he wants that for dinner, trust that he really did just consent to the sex you just had, trust that he's not going to change his mind and back out and blame you for pressuring him while you're in labor, after you just moved in together, after you take a new job in a new city, after and with any major or minor decision you ever make together? Can he be pressured by others in the same way? to leave you or cheat too? To compromise your health or safety? To do illegal things? Where are his boundaries with you or anyone? Does he even know?
This man can't hold his own beside you. He's told you that and showed you that repeatedly. You can't trust him with anything he ever says or does together with you or anything in your favor ever again. You will question and second guess everything he ever says or does for the rest of your life together. If he'll actually go get a ring and freaking propose out of "pressure," then he'll do or say literally anything out of pressure. No amount of softening your core personality traits will ever make him able to hold his own or own his own shit.
Break up with him and find someone who says that, "fuck yes" thing to you and a life with you, and trust me that you won't regret it.
posted by OnefortheLast at 5:34 PM on February 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

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