You may be one of the folks out there who think that a fulfilling relationship is based on mutual support and selfless giving. Setting boundaries is not necessary because you want the other person to know that you care and will do anything for them.
But while this works and feels good through the first stages of a new and exciting relationship, a fulfilling relationship has to be constructed after the honeymoon ends and all those responsibilities you let go, the friends you’ve ignored, or the exhaustion of being out of your normal rhythms kicks in. You’ve been saying ‘Yes’ to everything this wonderful, new person asks of you because, well, they’re wonderful and you want them to be happy! But at some point you feel a shift. The excitement is gone, you feel more and more that you CAN’T say no, especially if they really need your help.
If they are struggling with something, it upsets you and you want to be there to help them out. Because you care for this person, it is actually painful to watch them struggle. Worse, you may be afraid that if you do say no, they will get upset, get angry or accuse you, or they might even leave.
But when one person is always saying yes, trust never really has a chance to build. If you are always saying yes, then at some level you are likely to be wondering, “What would happen if I stopped saying yes? Would this person still want me?” Because you are always doing what you feel they want, you never really learn to trust that they want you.
So you start feeling used and suspicious. Further, you may be saying yes to their requests or wants when it isn’t what you really want. So you end up subverting your wants and needs to make them happy. Eventually, you become resentful, wondering “When is it going to be my turn?”
Your partner, on the other hand, because they never hear the word ‘no’ from you become suspicious of all your yes’s. While on the surface they feel you are the perfect partner, completely supportive and taking care of their needs and wants, at a deeper level they begin to wonder: “Are you doing this out of obligation just to keep me happy? How do I know you really WANT me if all I ever hear is ‘Yes, dear’?”
Saying no to the people you love can be scary, for sure, but when your loved ones know that you can say no (because they’ve heard it), it makes them trust you that much more when you do say yes. And when they stick with you when you even when you set that boundary, you can trust that they love you for more than just what you do for them. You will trust that they love you and want you for who you are.