6 Reasons why people struggle to say no.

As much as we love people, there are challenges with saying no to those we love. This article gives the six reasons why we struggle to say no to those we love.


Having people in our lives is one of the most important need we have as a human species. There are some activities we do subconsciously to make sure that we keep the people in our lives at all cost. The series’ and movies we watch have sold us a perverted image about the nature of relationships; this has made decision making and commitment difficult for many people because of the images that are embedded in our minds. Additionally, people cannot say no to those they love because in all honesty they can’t picture the ramifications of that simple word, “no”.

Is it bad to say to say no to those you love?

I am not a perfect being nor am I a relationship expert, but I can say that there are some truths that I have learned about saying no to those you love. One of the truth is that saying no is not always bad. The key to understanding that short statement is in understanding why people actually want to say no to someone.

We all have values, some of these values we know well and most of these values we are not aware of, because they are normally subconscious. The easiest way to realise the difference between the values we know and the values we don’t know is by answering these questions: 1. What are your values? 2. What makes you happy and what makes you angry? These 2 questions are important because they are often the foundation for why we want to say no.

We don’t say no, just to say no to people. We say no because there are values we are always trying to protect. Like two children who are ready to fight, we are forever drawing a line hoping that people will not dare to cross the line. This is one of the main reason why most people just feel uneasy with agreeing to something they were asked to do, because in that moment that line could have been crossed. So we say no because we want to protect our values from being overthrown; we also say no because we don’t want to be taken advantage of. Remember that abuse is inevitable when there is no sense of responsibility in any given relationship, so in the end we say no because we want people to act responsibly towards us.

With all this this in mind, saying no is still not easy. Here are some of the reasons we find it difficult to say no:

  1. Fear being abandoned.

I remember a few years back, this was my biggest struggle with saying no. I had a friend who was like family and by family I mean this person was like my mother’s child who was born to just complement me in most areas of life. But I could never say no to this person because I feared that they would end the relationship and I would be stranded trying to find a new friend. So, without being aware, I compromised so much that my character started changing in unhealthy ways.


This is common in many relationships, where people are willing to let values be overthrown because they fear losing this person. This false motive of being appreciated if one of the reasons people struggle to say no to those they love or those that simply do a lot for them. They trade their values for love and simply feel a sense of abandonment if they don’t sense the love being given back to them. In very few words this is among many reasons why many High School students struggle with peer pressure. In the end, people are not willing to fight for their values because they fear being lonely.


  1. Fear the anger of those they love.

In all honesty, I don’t like conflict in a relationship. If I could have my way, I would pay people not be angry at me. This was one of my struggles as a leader. I failed to set limits to people I was leading with because of how everyone reacted the last time I said no and set a limit. Surprisingly, this was one of the main reason I never wanted to say no to my mom while growing up. I mean, I would do pointless things just to make sure that there is no conflict between my mom and I. Every time I would say yes –when I really wanted to say no- I would get the fastest flashback of how my mom can be when she is unhappy with something. A lot has changed now and I’ll be sure to write an article about all the changes and how they came about.


So, the pictures that we have of people being mad at us, make us very careful when it comes to saying no to those people. So people struggle to say no because they can’t stand the anger expressed by those they love towards them. And once again, they would trade their values so that they don’t see the other side of an individual.


  1. Fear being seen as selfish.

“You are so, so selfish.” These words are the words I never wanted to hear from someone I love. It’s like they come at you like a fiery dart piercing the heart and most of the time we never expect these words.


Like I said in the opening statement, we are created to survive this thing called life with relationships present in our lives. We always out to protect our values and in doing so it does not make sense to say something like, “I really love you and I would like to, but I’m going to have to say no to that.” Many people then think that because we love people so much, we must always say yes to them and their needs. And when people don’t say yes, they label them as selfish.


  1. Feeling guilty

I always thought about what it would be like saying no to someone and then the person cries on the spot or seeing the person emotionally withdrawn from the environment we would be sharing then. This was always tormenting. I soon realised that the amount of power we give people often affects in ways we can actually control. And this helped me get over feeling guilty about saying no because I could not determine how much power people gave me in their lives. The sad truth is that, “We are the captains of our own ships.”


Many people are motivated by this guilt feeling. In their eyes, it’s the most negative emotion they could ever feel and will literally avoid saying no because they don’t want to feel bad afterwards. It’s like in all their actions they are simply trying to earn a sense of goodness towards those they love. They keep saying yes to avoid the possible feeling of guilt.


  1. Payback time.

I love the legal drama Suits. I was subconsciously affected by it, because every time I would help out a friend there was always clichéd disclaimer saying, Just remember that now you owe me one.” I enjoyed this until I noticed how I didn’t like it when people said it to me, because most of the time people would want a repayment of their favours at really awkward and difficult times. I could only imagine how others felt when I did the same to them.


Most people struggled to say no to people who have done them good at a certain time. When they receive their favours, there is normally a guilt message attached to it. These guilt messages come up in words like, “We need to square out that favour.” Or “Don’t forget, you owe me one.” As honest as these words sound, they make it difficult for people to say no because they feel the need to pay back their debts. This can also come from parents saying words like, “Back in the days, I never had things as easy as you do now.”


  1. See other people’s problems as really big.  

Growing up, there were many problems that I never dealt with and every time someone had a challenge in the area I never dealt with, I would always try and be the biggest help in that person’s life. Surely this was unhealthy, but I was never aware of it, because I really enjoyed that good feeling that came with being a helper.


Many times people still struggle to say no because they have not dealt with their personal failures and losses. When this happens, people feel like they can’t say no because the other person’s problem is really big, so big they can’t imagine saying no to this person.


The point in all of this is to recognise a very important element in relationships, freedom. We need to realise that when we don’t have the freedom to choose, then there is a degree of unfairness in that particular relationship. More importantly we need to recognise how we communicate with others, whether or not we leave people with a choice is very important in healthy relationships. It creates a sense of responsibility and it avoids statements like, “I guess you leave me with no choice.” Which is a general red flag in relationships. In most of my relationships, I have maintained freedom by remaining honest about how I feel and what I value.

I encourage you to talk about these points. I think you’ll even learn more about people’s values when there is open communication. I’ll be sure to write an article about how to say no in the near future. In all your relationships, I wish you all the best.

Feel free to leave your comments about this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends and stay tuned for next week’s article. Thank you for reading The Common-Line.

Leonard Lebere




Author: Leonard Lebere

Leonard is: Introverted. Love Reading. Value Friendships. Kingdom Builder. Natural Leader. Exude Confidence. Writes Differently

One thought on “6 Reasons why people struggle to say no.”

  1. One of Oursagekids over here was telling me that she was told by her teacher that ‘it is not wrong to say no’.
    You know, that is one thing i had issues with while growing up(saying no). I was timid and always wanted to please(didn’t want to offend). But I’ve learnt in the long run and it has been worth.
    There are just sometimes we just have to say no(for the best).
    Great post,Leonard.

    Liked by 1 person

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