The art of no!

Laugh with your friends this week!

When I retired eleven years ago, I made myself a promise that I would stop doing things that weren’t fun for me. Pretty lofty, isn’t it?

No more business dinners (that was easy) but I also wanted to pare down my social calendar to things that were fun. I don’t have a lot of time left (compared to my 20-year-old self) so let’s make it fun!

In reality, you can’t do that. You can stop saying yes to please others but there are times you do something because you care about someone (yes, those class reunions!). Sometimes it’s in your best interest to do them.

I also adjusted my butt time to 90 minutes max. That means for dinners and most social events, 90 minutes was the amount of time I am willing to give. Especially for dinners. There is nothing worse (for me) than a dinner going on and on and on. I’ve had some whoppers go on for three hours. Numb butt, fried brain and pasted smile. Nope, I don’t do those anymore. I’ve stood up to announce that it was “time” or I would turn into a pumpkin. People laugh as I put on my jacket and leave. Then they are stunned because in their mind, the conversation was stellar and the evening just starting.

Getting all this straight in my head is one thing but practicing it consistently is another. There are sneaky invites that get me to agree or something I want to do turns out to be different.

I take a pass for my mahjongg game. Those women are stuck in a chair for 3 to 3-1/2 hours without a break. I, on the other hand, have to pee and walk around. (They are older than me so where do I sign up for that kind of bladder?) I feel like I’m holding up the game but I’m the only one that doesn’t get leg cramps, stiffness or back issues.

Last week my resolution was put to the hard test. I have a long-term friend. I enjoy her company but not so much her husband. We tried to do “couples” things about 30 years ago and it didn’t work out. I find him crotchety, negative and generally not fun to be around. (He has positives, like being a great cook and he’s smart but that’s not enough.) She broached the topic of a couples get together. Nope, nope, nope. Been there, done that. I declined. She asked why and I was honest. I was so honest (just short of your husband’s a pip) that I shocked myself.

It was hard as I like my friend. She has enough struggles with her hubby, she didn’t need me piling on, but I didn’t want to do it. Making excuses only gets you out of the current invitation. I didn’t want to play the “too busy” card.

A couple of years back, a couple friend of ours (who we like a lot) kept inviting us to pro sports games. They had season tickets. I’m not big on sports and at this point, traveling and being cold aren’t on the top of my list. (They don’t make the list!) After declining a few times, I was honest and said we are not into that sport, not even the beloved husband who is very into baseball and football. The invitations stopped. We are still friends. It survived honesty.

Friendship should be able to survive the truth and you shouldn’t wait until you retire to practice it.

How about you? Do you let yourself get sucked into things you don’t want to do or have you mastered the art of no? How honest are you or would you rather wiggle out?

65 thoughts on “The art of no!

  1. Well Kate, I am done with agreeing to events just because I can’t say “no” … where was this strong-willed me all those times when I smiled wanly and showed up and sat there thinking I’d rather be doing anything else. I was never interested in sports either, likely because my father never followed or watched sports and I had no siblings (back then brothers, not sisters played sports). In college, our newspaper staff hung out together between classes at the newspaper room and we were all single and got together weekends as well. I know nothing about football and agreed to go to the Lions Thanksgiving Day game which followed going to the Thanksgiving Parade. Neither really appealed to me but not wanting to be rude I went. It snowed for both events and I was cold and miserable, but, because parking was an arm and a leg and at a premium in Downtown Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, we drove to one person’s house, left our cars there and went in someone’s van their parents let them use. So I was stuck at that football game, snowing so hard that it was piling up on the arm rests of the seat (outside stadium back then) and collecting in my coat. (Surely someone else was as miserable as me??? Nope!!!) It was then I decided how to say “no”. My 50th high school reunion is October 2023 – not sure I’ll go. We had 613 in our graduating class and my five closest friends and I got together after five years and were hard pressed to have a conversation over dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I think I’m sticking to my “no” rule.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a tough one for me. I am usually honest about things, but will wiggle out if honesty will cause drama. When people have a history of not accepting an honest answer, then I will absolutely weasel a bit to get out of the situation with as little hassle as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I try very hard to hold myself to very similar aims, but at times I get “roped” into something because I’m not honest. I am very close to my almost 90-year old aunt who serves as my favorite role model. She has such a love of life and has remained active and engaged across her lifespan. She also has a lot of friends! But she values her “alone” time and has told me for years that when friends insist on something and don’t seem to accept her refusal of an invitation she comes right out and just says plainly, “I don’t want to!” The first time she told me this I laughed and acknowledged that I don’t know how I feel about that blunt response. But I see the value! She’s honest, and she doesn’t do things she doesn’t want to do. I applaud your resolves, Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. This summer I joined a mahjongg group that meets every two weeks. That’s the first consistent commitment I’ve made since retiring other than walking and almost all of that is by myself.

      Like

  4. We are very fortunate. Our friends are very similar to us — and super casual. Come if you want, don’t come if you don’t want (no one will take offense), leave early (no excuses necessary). And best of all – most of us want to be back home by 8:30 pm max. Oh, the joys of retirement age! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh. Boy. I wish you lived next door so every time I think I have to say “yes” and want to say “not,” I could ring your doorbell and ask for a stronger spine. I totally agree with this post. But I have a difficult time being honest to friends (yes, some I love being with the friend but the spouse? yuck). And those business dinners/ and “his” family dinners. Help me help me. Ding dong (I’m ringing…)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I don’t have to say no often. My friends know I am an introvert, and some things just don’t work for me. When I was young, I tried to fit in even if I was uncomfortable but being old(er) has made me a bit wiser. My friends understand and don’t push when I say no.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This hits home for me because one of my closest friends is married to a woman that neither my wife nor I like very much. They live out of state, so it’s not a regular problem, but they do travel to our state fairly regularly. We just have to grin and bear it for the couple of days that they visit (fortunately they go to a hotel!). – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have mastered the art of saying NO! Part of the reason I’m grooving on my husband’s recent retirement is that there are no more business dinners. Nary a one. My introverted heart is happy.

    We had friends who always had tickets to sporting events. They were boring people to begin with, but add the game aspect of an evening… it was excruciating. Started saying NO! to them a few years ago and they’ve disappeared from our lives. Not sad about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Business dinners were always a mixed bag for me. Some were fun but not all. Some were required and some I could pass on. I worked in one company where a a group of trainees was my responsibility to entertain for one night. That was dinner. Again, sometimes ok, sometimes boring. One time the restaurant (a new one we hadn’t used before) didn’t have enough staff and the dinner went on for 3-1/2 hours. Thought I was gonna die! It was my group so I couldn’t leave and I had to “entertain” so they wouldn’t be as bored as I was. I never used that restaurant again.

      Liked by 1 person

        • It was my job. I had two dinners a month I had to “man.” Most of the time I got to pick the place. I worked with several restaurants and they knew I like it to move along. This restaurant was not my choice and a bit “uppity.” The chairs were uncomfortable (it was old farmhouse style) and the prices outrageous. I don’t know if anyone else used them but I didn’t.

          Like

  9. Yesterday a girl told me “I live for my job” but I told her that this is wrong, that in life you have to have something else and not just a job. But I realize that for most people this is normal, that is, they live only to work and that’s it. I believe that instead everyone should have a space for themselves and do pleasant things. Even if you like your job (it was meant about this girl) you can’t live 12 hours just thinking about work. Is absurd. I work but I don’t spend all my free time thinking about that. In fact, I prefer it when I’m not at work. I don’t like company dinners, it’s just an occasion for betrayal and gossip. I don’t like going elegant, being without breathing all evening, and having to drink because everyone does it. No, I say no.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I believe in honesty. I do try to always be honest. I think you’re right to speak your mind. Life is too short to spend doing things you don’t want to or spending too much time trying to get out of it. Yeah you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve definitely gotten better at saying no for most things except one volunteer group where I continue to get sucked in. As for telling a friend, I didn’t care for her husband, I don’t think I would go that far. I would figure out a way to not spend time with him, but I might just put the issue on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was younger I would say yes to things I didn’t want to do. Now I’m 56 and I say no. I’ve decided that it’s my life and I’m not going to be miserable going places and doing things I don’t like.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Time is our most valuable and irreplaceable commodity ~ a bank account which mandates daily withdrawals, prohibits deposits, and pays dividends when we spend it wisely . . . even if that means saying “no, thanks.”

    Good post, Kate.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’m curious how your friend took it when you were honest about her husband. I used to have a friend like that, too. Most of the time I don’t get sucked into doing things I don’t want to do with friends. My biggest issue was my mom’s bottomless pit of need, even when she was young and healthy. I used to get sucked in there all the time. Now that she’s actually sick, I can’t do that much because of my own health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t have any problem saying no to most things that make me uncomfortable or I don’t enjoy. But friends, relationships with people, I find that hard. I have to really be pushed or feel that it’s just not working. But once I decide it just isn’t going to work, I’m done. Life is short, I am short on energy and I’m not doing things that don’t give me joy. I quit going to mahjongg very recently after getting worn out with a gal that wanted to educate me constantly and do me favors I didn’t need.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m pretty darn good at the NO thing. I have learned to relish my “ME” time and I’m not willing to give that up for much. Some things yes…..most things no. I also gave up worrying what people would think when I said NO. That’s the part that causes lots of people to say YES when they want to say NO. Anyway, probably as a result of this policy of mine we have fewer friends but they are really GREAT people who don’t need explanations. YAY. I wonder if I could clone them?

    Hugs, Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can say no easily for a lot of things. For a friend it’s harder especially when it’s such a personal thing! We have friends who let us know when something is going on. Then we decide if it will work for us or not. That is the best!

      Like

  17. Good for you, I admire that. Just wish I could be more up front when something comes up where I don’t want to participate. Instead I’m a master at playing the “sadly I have another commitment” card. I never want to offend friends by saying I enjoy my company better than getting together with you and your significant other. Couples can be tricky. I can’t think of one I know where I like both equally.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We lost a lot of friends when we said ‘No’. We’d grown tired of being at their beck and call and doing things for their convenience, but invites to means or social events were not usually offered unless of course we were expected to be transport. I can say No to our friends now and know that no offence will be taken, because our friends today are really that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great place to be. We’ve trimmed down to. Most of our friends know who we are and what we like. As we age, we are not as likely to drive distances at night. We won’t go far or to unfamiliar places and are likely to call it an early night. Sometimes we just plain old run out of steam! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. My question is, “Why do we wait until we’re retired to say “no” to things we don’t enjoy doing?” You’ve made me think about the countless hours of time I spent doing things others wanted to do. Example: Going to a movie I didn’t really want to see, going to the same thrift stores when I’d like to find some new ones for variety, going to a restaurant I don’t care for because someone else wants to go there, etc. Because of health reasons, I’m not invited out now for anything that’s past 2 PM because that’s the time, or nearly the time, when my energy will start to drain. And yes, friends can still be friends even if they don’t enjoy the same things. My friend and I ride together to go to the polls at election time, and we are registered to different parties and likely to vote differently, but we’re still friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh, honesty about a friend’s horrible husband or their horrible kids is a very hard line to walk. I have a friend who always wants us to get our families together. I did it exactly once. Her kid wouldn’t stop hitting my kid with toys. She wouldn’t stop him, either. I had to intervene repeatedly. Her husband is a Trumper and a controlling ass, and I can’t stand the way he treats her or the kids. After that visit, it’s “girl weekends” only.

    Liked by 1 person

Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you're thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s