November 2017
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dealing with disappointment in a respectful, consensual way.


icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

If you can't say no to someone without facing a negative reaction (such as pouting, begging, withdrawing, attacking, or response-blaming), they are not giving you the option of true consent. If someone can't say no to you without worrying about how they will deal with your reaction, you are not giving them the option of true consent. Coercion is the sneaky underpinning to this -- sometimes unintentional, but every bit as much a problem whether it is intentional or not. It doesn't become harmless just because someone isn't doing it on purpose.

Expressing disappointment is fine -- as long as you're not making the other person feel like they are responsible for making you feel better. Usually you will have to overtly take responsibility for handling your disappointment for this to work. For example: "I'm feeling disappointed that you don't want to [do the thing] with me. I'm gonna go [practice self care] to feel better; I'll be back" <- that is great as long as it isn't passive aggressive but is sincere effort to handle one's own emotions.

What is not okay is "I'm disappointed that you won't [do the thing] with me." *waits for the other person to make me feel better* or "I'm disappointed" *goes in another room to sulk and wait for them to come make me feel better*

That is effectively punishing them for saying no by making them do emotional work in order to have a positive environment. If you can't process out of your disappointment very very quickly, don't do it in their presence.

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Comments
meteorology ══╣╠══
Your posts are always so thoughtful :)

I've been on both sides of this and unfortunately they were situations in which the person (or I, as applicable...) had somewhat unavoidably broken a promise or gone back on their/my word, which I think makes it more difficult since hopes are more likely to be raised.

The last time it happened to me was a few years ago and I would hope that I've matured since then, because looking back I do think I made the other person feel terrible (not intentionally; at the time I felt like it was my right to express my disappointment but in hindsight I could have handled it better).

The last time I disappointed someone wasn't that long ago and they took it very badly. I wish I hadn't broken the promise I made to them but it was something that I didn't feel comfortable going through with in the end, but their reaction very nearly made me feel pressurised into it, which I think would have made the situation worse overall.

Sorry, I'm just rambling now but thank you for sharing this.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
you're most welcome and I enjoy rambling comments so thanks! *smiles*
annapandawoo ══╣╠══
This was something I needed to hear. In my previous relationship, with the way things were, we didn't see each other very often. Maybe a couple hours a week. I didn't handle it very well, and I expected him to make me feel better.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* I understand that. It sounds like maybe you had different expectations going in? people don't always realize what expectations they have until they aren't met.
annapandawoo ══╣╠══
Yea, I did. I didn't know I was not a long distance relationship type until after we started seeing each other.
raisedinsuburbs ══╣╠══
This so much this. I have been on the receiving end a few times. I'm getting better at resisting it, slowly but surely.
belenen ══╣strong╠══
good job you! it is hard to resist!
raisedinsuburbs ══╣╠══
Especially when you have been conditioned to want to please and appease people! x
kehlen_crow ══╣squee!╠══
Love that icon!
raisedinsuburbs ══╣╠══
Thanks :D
ragnarok_08 ══╣YGO ★ look in their eyes╠══
Thank you for sharing this, this definitely has given me a lot to think about.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
you're most welcome!
ellie_nor ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣powerful╠══
*grins*
wantedonvoyage ══╣╠══
I am so glad we "met". Every post of yours gives my brain something good to chew on.

I try to practice what I learned as the "hamburger method" of owning your own reaction to a situation. The model is:

"When x happens" (not "when YOU x")
"I feel y"
"because z"

By neutralizing the cause (I would feel the same way if someone else did it) and immediately explaining your reaction, you are giving the person tools to interact with you in a mutually healthy way.
belenen ══╣tree wisdom╠══
awww, thanks!

yes, it makes it much easier to deal with the actual problem when no blame is involved!
lusimeles ══╣╠══
This is definitely a great thing to keep in mind re. relationships of really any kind. Thank you for writing it!
belenen ══╣writing╠══
welks! *smiles*
feladrone ══╣╠══
I really wish more people would do this. It takes so much time and effort to figure out a way to say "no" that won't offend someone and won't invite them to think of a way to get around it. :( And then I feel bad for lying!

When someone cancels with me I usually stick to some variation of "Ahh, that's too bad! But it's alright, I'll do [whatever] instead." and move on to some other topic. (Actually now that I'm thinking about it, this is one of the few times I'm okay with someone lying to me, at least when we're not super close. I can understand that if they don't know me well they might feel like they have to come up with a "good" excuse to cancel to keep from offending me.)
belenen ══╣artless╠══
Me too! If I suspect that someone wants to say no, I will say "that sounds like a no" which seems to make it much easier for them because then they're affirming what I said instead of rejecting an offer. And if they're not a no, they can then voice their objection without worrying that I am taking it as a no -- they can say "well not exactly, [explanation]." It skips a lot of hemming and hawing, which I appreciate also.
seifaiden ══╣╠══
This is why I disappear so much.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
I feel ya.
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
I had/have a problem of making disappointed people feel better even if they didn't expect me too. It's such a hard habit to break!
belenen ══╣dammit╠══
It really is!!!
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
I think this is great for all kinds of situations in which one person A asks person B for a favor or to do something together etc. and B might not be able or feel like agreeing. That should always be a valid option.
There are times when B has agreed to do something before and then changed their mind or has to withdraw for other reasons. If the changed circumstances are in their responsibility, I think they should face A's disappointment and try to make them feel better (within reason).
Or am I missing an aspect?
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
Breaking promises or backing out of an agreement is a thing I would WANT an apology for (and would apologize for), and I'd want understanding for my feelings, but it's not a thing I feel entitled to or feel like they owe me.

Because ultimately if I want people to only be doing things for me in a consensual way, it has to be completely okay for them to NOT do it, without them owing me anything. So it's still not their responsibility to deal with my feelings, it's just a nice thing they can do if they feel up to it. Ultimately I need to be willing to change my expectations with new negotiation, and any delay in that is my responsibility to fix and not theirs.
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
Ah, I see. Thank you for your explanation. I guess I see a promise as a kind of emotional contract. Maybe that's because I grew up with a mother whose word didn't really mean anything.
Again, you gave me something to think about.
volamonster ══╣rakshas╠══
This is so important that I wanted to cheer while reading it.
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
*love!*
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.