How to Say No

How-to-Say-No

Teens may hope that they can always get along with their boy or girlfriend, but conflicts arise in all relationships, and teens need to learn to say no when their boy or girlfriend wants them to do something they’re not comfortable with.

All teens needs to say no sometimes, even to people they care about. It can be over something small like saying no to a party or date when you have homework or a job that needs to get done, or over something serious like drugs, alcohol, sex, or other risky activities. Saying no to someone does not mean that you don’t like or care about him or her, or that you disrespect him or her; in fact, saying no shows that you respect yourself and the other teen enough to be honest and try to make the best choices. Always saying yes to avoid conflict can have serious consequences, like:

  • Being pressured into things you don’t want to do
  • Losing respect for yourself and your boy or girlfriend
  • Being treated unfairly or taken advantage of
  • Feelings of powerlessness, anger, or depression

If you do not feel confident about saying no, it may help to think of your reasons for saying no, and explain them to your boy or girlfriend. This will help him or her understand that you still care about him or her, but need to say no. It may also help to practice saying no. Some things you might say include:

  • “I would like to, but I really have to do _____ instead.”
  • “I don’t think that would be good for me/us.”
  • “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
  • “I’m not ready for that yet.”
  • “I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”
  • “No thanks; why don’t we do _____ instead.”

Your boy or girlfriend might be frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, sad, or even angry when you say no, but if they care about you and respect you, they will also respect your decision and won’t hold it against you. A person who pressures you to change your mind or holds your choices against you probably doesn’t care about you or respect you, and may even be controlling or abusive. An abusive or controlling boy or girlfriend might also:

  • Criticize the way you look, act, or talk
  • Try to control what you do, who you hang out with, or what you look like
  • Yell or put you down in public or private
  • Try to physically control you, including hitting or pushing you or other things
  • Use drugs or alcohol

If your boy or girlfriend does these things, it is best to get away from him or her and find someone else who will care about you and treat you with respect. A person who tries to pressure you into things you don’t want to do or control you is bad for your self-esteem, and can be dangerous if they continue to try to control you. Develop a healthy respect for yourself and others, and you will be able to have happy, healthy relationships.

How to Say No Sources:

  • GirlsHealth.gov, Relationships: Family and Friends