The estimated reading time for this post is 5 minutes.
The following is a text conversation I had the other night, showing why it’s important to respect my no.
For context, I was with my kids at their house since their father was gone, and my daughter was working on a cooking project for one of her classes. This coworker is a new one, is about 13 years older then me (not a problem), started flirting with me with intent while he was engaged (potentially a problem), and got drunk with me the night his fiancee broke up with him and tried to kiss me and such (sigh). He does not know where I live.
Male coworker: “Where are you guys at?”
Me: “Their house. Their dad is gone this week, so I’m with them.”
MC: “Where is there house?”
MC: “Are you in OurTown?”
Me: “Yeah, they live off of RandomStreet.”
MC: “Do you need some help?”
Me: “Not right now, but I’ll totally let you know if I do. :)”
MC: “I think you do.”
MC: “Is your boyfriend there?”
Me: “He is. It’s his birthday. :)”
MC: “Ok, I will leave you alone then. lol”
This is a seemingly innocuous exchange, at least to some. All I can see is someone who does not care for my boundaries, particularly when I view this exchange in light of the night we went out.
How does this push boundaries? Why, I am so glad you asked.
Boundary #1: he wanted to know where my children live.
We went out one time, the night his fiancee broke up with him. We met at a nearby bar so he could drink and vent a little. No biggie; I’d do the same for anyone. Other than being at work together a few times, this was the only time we’ve been around each other outside of work. We don’t really know each other. We certainly don’t know each other well enough for me to want to introduce him to my children and, more importantly, know where they live.
I am not a reactionary or overprotective parent by any stretch of the imagination, and my kids are well aware that I have large circles of friends, many of whom they’ve met. But those are generally people I know well enough to be comfortable around my kids, and the vast majority of them don’t know where my kids live; they know where I live. Big difference.
Boundary #2: he tried to insert himself into my time with my children.
He is aware of my custodial arrangement; he knows that I don’t actually have my kids in the evenings that often (usually). If he came over, it would be so he and I could interact, thereby taking away from my time with my kids. Why push himself there? If I invited him, sure, come on over. But to push back against my no and to try to insert himself into my evening with my kids? Sorry, but that shows a lack of respect for them and for me.
I have plenty of time outside of children-focused time to spend with friends who don’t have kids (who also want to get in my pants). Try me then.
Insult #1: “Do you need some help?”
I have to admit, this isn’t a boundary pushed; it’s just fucking insulting. Do I need some help? Please. My ex was traveling from the time my children were infants. He traveled when I had a 2 year old who still woke up a couple times a night and an infant who woke up 6-8 times a night. He has been gone for some portion of 5 of the last 7 weeks, and he’s traveling again at the end of this week.
I have flown on planes with my tiny infants/children by myself, I have taken 12+ hour car trips with them by myself, I have spent days upon days with no one else for company but them and the people on the screen of whatever device I’m on.
I have been solo parenting for a lot of years, even for the years I was married. I can do this shit in my sleep with both hands tied behind my back.
I am not a damsel in distress. I do not need saving.
Don’t fucking insult me by suggesting that I somehow need help with my pre-teens (who are, by the way, amazing). Fuck you.
Red flag #1: he ignored my no.
This is where he shifts from pushing boundaries to raising red flags. I told him no. I may have said it with the words “Not right now…”, but that doesn’t change the fact that my response was a no.
And he ignored it.
And not only did he ignore it, but he then tried to convince me that no, I really did need help. Specifically, his help.
This is not funny. This is not flirtatious. This does not make me laugh and want to give in to him.
This makes me blink and take three very large steps back. Because he doesn’t know how to fucking respect a goddamn no. If he can’t respect me saying no via text, how well is saying no in person going to go? The thought makes me wary.
Red flag #2: it took the mention of my boyfriend for my “no” to stick.
I really don’t like to invoke my boyfriend in any conversation I have with anyone. I don’t want to assume that the person in question is hitting on me. They may just be chatting with me and being extroverted, which can come across as flirtatious but often isn’t. And talking about my boyfriend makes it seem like I’m jumping to that conclusion. Also, talking about my boyfriend naturally leads to talking about all my other partners, which is not necessarily appropriate, depending on the situation.
But when it comes to someone hitting on me, I really don’t like bringing up my boyfriend because it shouldn’t take the presence of another male for someone to respect my no.
My “no” should be enough. My expression of disagreement or lack of interest should be enough. My thoughts and feelings and desires and needs should be enough.
They don’t need to know that I have a partner (or partners, in my case). My boyfriend and girlfriends do not control what I do, who I see, where I go. I control that. If I say no, it’s because I want to say no.
Respect that. Because if you don’t, there will be nothing you ever get from me beyond a polite smile and all the doors shut firmly in your face.