In the last few years there have been some great educational campaigns with the message that ‘the absence of no, does not mean yes’. In most contexts this education is aimed at helping people understand that sex without explicit consent is sexual assault.
However, I think that the phrase applies to many other situations as well.
I’ve posted a number of times about my learning to set boundaries with other people, and to hold to them.
That, in doing so, I’ve improved the quality of my life but that frequently the people I’ve set these boundaries with refuse to honour them. As a result it feels like I am constantly reinforcing the same boundary repeatedly.
It’s as so they feel that if they keep chipping away, I’ll give in and drop the boundary once more.
So let’s be clear, the absence of no does not mean yes.
Just because I am not constantly restating the boundary doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still exist. I am not required to say no repeatedly; you are required to respect my boundaries without constantly trying to change them or break them down.
I wonder sometimes if this constant attack on my newly established, and strongly maintained, boundaries are simply about the narcissistic nature of those that refuse to respect them.
In which case, here’s a thought for those of you also dealing with this issue.
Nothing you do will change their behaviour. Forgive them for you but if your boundary includes ‘no contact’ with people who are toxic to you – then maintain that boundary and move on.
If they won’t honour your request for no contact then you are left with having to simply cut them off. It’s hard to do in this electronic age but not impossible.
You can block numbers on your cell so that you don’t receive texts, messages or calls from that number. You can set a rule in your email that automatically deletes any email for certain addresses with or without an automatic reply informing the sender of that fact. You can block people on Facebook and other social media.
Unfortunately, some people still insist on ‘stalking’ you and unfortunately Canadian law isn’t that helpful in such situations. The best solution then is to reduce your electronic imprint as much as possible.
Record all events in a log as over time, you can then prove harassment and sometimes this can help in getting official reinforcement of your boundaries. Especially, if those concerned have ever been in trouble with the law.
Of course, you also need to honour your own boundary. That means that regardless of what they say and do, if your boundary is ‘no contact’ than you don’t respond or reply ever.
That can be hard to do. If you’ve had to go ‘no contact’ then most likely the person concerned knows how to hit all your buttons and manipulate you. Don’t fall for it!
To be blunt….
Or in other words:
Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no