Do you Say “Yes” When You Mean “No”?

When you are The Pleaser, you say “yes” when you want to say “no.” You take care of others’ needs and ignore your own. You don’t set boundaries or hold boundaries and then you don’t get what you need.

In my book “Why did you load the dishwasher like that? 9 Whopping Mistakes that Push Love Away,” being “The Pleaser” is one of the Whopping Mistakes!


Do you make their needs more important than yours? Of course, there are times when that is part of the give-and-take of a relationship that is a partnership – at work and in your personal life.

When you always put others first, you train people that you will take care of them. (There are exceptions, such as infants and people who are sick, but we can’t keep giving and giving endlessly. Sometimes, you do it because you care, and then they expect it. Maybe you are afraid that they won’t like you as much, or even continue to love you, if you didn’t do what they asked.  Maybe you are afraid if you said “no,” they would leave you.   If this is your challenge, what would you say to a friend if they were afraid to ask for what they want and then felt resentful when they supported others and never asked or received what they wanted. If it’s a mutual relationship, then that means both of you have your needs met (if not in the moment than overall).


If you are The Pleaser, it’s unlikely that you will have a chance of getting what you want unless you ask. They don’t know what you need because you don’t tell them, and they are not mind-readers.  And if they wouldn’t like you if you didn’t do what they wanted or if you started asking them to help you, what kind of a partner, friend, or colleague are they?  You deserve better!

Most of my clients want to have relationships that are a partnership, where there is mutual support. Why don’t you give the people in your life a chance to contribute to you?


One typical characteristic of The Pleaser is that they grew up not getting their needs met so they stopped asking and stopped expecting … anything. They didn’t think they deserved to get their needs met. They didn’t think they were worthy of friendship and love. They thought if they asked for something, the other person might leave. The relationship, even if they don’t get what they want, is better than being alone.  And the bad news is that they thought this when they were young, and they still do.

You are worthy of love and respect. You deserve kindness and caring. Now is your time. Own your Goddess-ness. You have a right — and an obligation to yourself — to ask for what you want. Ask with kindness and without expectations. If they say “Yes,” that is fantastic. If they say “No,” then you have lost nothing. Recognize that you have trained them that you don’t ask for what you want. You might want to have a conversation with them, especially if your requests are normal everyday requests appropriate for your relationship.


A boundary is not a request. A request means the other person can say “No.” A boundary is something that you are saying is important and generally it is not negotiable. Your roommate cannot go in your room and borrow anything. Your children must pick up their toys every night and put them away (unless negotiated, such as special circumstances like they are sick or got home too late). However, a request may be a good first step for you asking for what you want.

I watched the show “This is Us” when Randall didn’t want his daughter Deja to ride the city bus (Series 4: Episode 3, I think). On reflection, he adjusted his “boundary” so it worked for both of them.


A request is NOT a demand. A boundary is a demand in the sense that it is required even if some aspects can be negotiated. It has to work for both of you.

The people in your life are not mind readers so you must verbally state the request and it must be clear – what and when and any other requirements. If they say “No, and it really is important, now you know you have to speak more clearly about what you need. If you haven’t made it clear to them that this is important to you, now is the time to clarify this is non-negotiable.

If the other people don’t listen and at least try to meet your needs and respect your boundaries, then it’s time to hold the boundary. You cannot be the only giver if it is a true relationship.


Money is often an area where boundaries are not set or violated. You might have a friend or family member who borrows money regularly, promises to pay you back but seldom or never. Set a boundary! What could you say from love and kindness that is a firm “no?”

If they ask again, set the boundary again. Don’t engage. Do not back down. If you back down, then your boundary wasn’t real and next time they won’t honor it because they know if they ask enough, you’ll cave.  Hold your boundary.

If you are not responsible for their financial situation, then you are under no obligation to give them money. If they have not kept their agreements to repay and done so with integrity, know that you could be undermining their opportunity to step up and own their life by saving them.


What if you are single and dating someone who wants to have sex and you are not ready? If they do not honor your “no” early in the relationship, they never will. If you say “yes” when you want to say “no,” you are letting others use you.

What if they are late all the time or not reliable in other ways that are important to you? Their car is dirty. Their house is a mess. They wear jeans when you’ve invited them to a special event – a party, or to meet your friends or family. Have a discussion with them. Understand their point of view and share yours. The point of dating is to find out if you are a good match and can accept with the things that you don’t love about them.


What if a family member – partner or child – has promised to help you prepare meals and clean up and then is too tired to keep their promise. The photo above tells it all. How do you create the opening for them to see their partnership is critical to the family and you? Create a conversation where you come to mutual agreement about each person’s role so it is workable and no one has an unfair burden.


Think about this : Others teach you how they want to be treated. You must teach people how you want to be treated. You can start today. Tell them how you feel.  Tell them what you need. Both people can negotiate – there doesn’t have to be only one person who gets what they want!


If you want support to set and hold a boundary, and you are ready to take action and don’t have a mentor or a coach, I invite you to reach out to me via my website Contact form  for a complimentary session with me! You will see what it’s like for us to work together and how I could support you in having the results you want.


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