When I ask you to stop pressing my forehead, I expect you to stop.
When witnesses of this exchange see you continue to press my forehead after I say stop, they look at you and say what the fuck is wrong with that guy?
And if you still do not stop, one of those witnesses will speak up.
Hey, man, give her a break. What’s your problem? Calm down, weirdo.
Nobody understands your desire to press my forehead beyond that weird subtly aggressive energy that makes you feel like being annoying and grabbing attention.
These people feel confident they will never be on the other side of this criticism of behaviour. There is no negative ego catch in speaking up.
Even when my no thank you is not respected by you, those who bare witness respect it over and above your desire to annoy.
When I don’t feel like letting you borrow my car and you feel like I don’t have a legit reason, you feel like I’m trying to piss you off, or that my right to not let you borrow my car is smaller than your right to access my car, you have a few choices:
A. Move on to the next person who might let you borrow a car
B. Try to convince, coerce, manipulate or shame me into changing my no to a yes
- (Please? Why not? Oh come on! I’ll let you borrow my tablet.
- I thought you were nicer than that. Everyone will know how selfish you are.
- Your face will turn green if you don’t let me borrow your car.
- You’re a selfish bitch, you know that!)
C. Punch me in the face or flatten my tires
The only choice that’s okay is A.
Part of being a human being is having the right to be treated with respect.
Respect includes allowing others to make their own choices about boundaries, regardless of whether it offends your ego.
When my ego is offended, I recognize an issue within myself that needs to be cleared. And I do my personal work. (Hopefully this comes before I react from a place of scarcity.)
Here’s something really important to clear up in this whole consent matter:
Some people have a hard time saying no.
It can come from the way we are raised or pressure to fit in (sideways need for love and acceptance) or fear of criticism or a number of different fears.
These people say no in ways that are not verbal. They make a face that indicates displeasure. They move away. They shift back.
Can you think of other non verbal examples in your own life where it was clear a person did not want to do something? Or wanted something to stop?
Have you seen the face of a child asked to eat broccoli?
Have you seen a kid step away from an impromptu ball game to avoid getting hit?
A man waving his hand over his glass in a restaurant when the waiter asks, ‘refill?’
Arms crossed over a chest.
A head shaking side to side.
And what about ‘mixed signals’? Let’s say we’re at a restaurant and you ask me if I’d like to order the daily special.
Shrugging is not a yes.
Whatever is not a yes.
Maybe is not a yes.
Even if I wore a nice dress to a fancy restaurant where I planned to eat a meal of food, it doesn’t mean I want to order the special.
As far as I’m concerned, when a person who has a hard time speaking up does anything that indicates no or maybe, it’s the responsibility of those who have asked for something to clarify what is meant instead of just going ahead and ordering the special on his or her behalf.
Consent is giving permission. It is important to be clear on what is being asked and what permission has been given.
Do you have permission to press my forehead? No. Never.
And if you get the urge to press my forehead, I suggest that you ask before you do, or you might have to do some personal work to assuage your ego.