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Learning to say "No, thank you."

Updated: Jun 17

I was promiscuous, lackadaisical and non-committal.

Q, she was needy, pushy and manipulative.

I was convinced that all she really cared about was my money.

It wasn’t until a couple of months later from the day we first met that it became clear Q didn't get me. Like at all.

Our relationship was making me unhappy but I stayed on because she promised she knew how to make a woman feels and looks good.

Needless to say, I subsequently took a distance from her, ghosted her even, but her phone calls kept coming and in the end, I lied out of desperation.

My excuses were always the same - I was busy and I would see her another time. I suppose it was bound to happen although I didn’t think Q saw it coming. She probably thought I didn’t have the galls but I finally pulled the plug and it was over.

C'est finis, as the French would say.

So what's this all about? You asked.

This. This relationship started more than fifteen years ago when I received a birthday card with a gift voucher from my bank. In Calibri font-sized 11, the voucher said "As a valued customer, you are entitled to a spa treatment worth RM250."

Well, as they said, the rest was history.

Like most first dates, I was treated like a queen, worthy of the best treatment any spa could offer. Oh boy, was I bloody pampered. I left feeling like a million bucks, but not before being seduced into signing a contract for another six treatments at a promotional rate. I was told in a tone of resolute urgency, "This special rate will no longer be valid tomorrow. It ends tonight so you must sign up today. It's a very good deal, just for you. Trust me."

Being a sucker for big discounts then, I caved without knowing that it would become Q's regular pick-up line, usually right before my contract was about to end.

At this point, I should confess that the climax of our dates were usually good, just not the foreplay. What could have been a perfect moment together was ruined by her customary marketing pitch that usually began as soon as I shut my eyes in the hope for a much needed 2-hour relaxation, peace and complete silence.

Q had a militant way about her. No matter what the condition of my skin was, there was always room for improvement and she never failed to offer solutions. If only she could apply her resourcefulness to achieving world peace.

While she spoke of how treatment A would add benefit to treatment B and how treatment C would benefit more from treatment D, I would often let out an incoherent and non-committal grunt, willing her to shut the fuck up and leave me in peace.

I would mentally run a list of things I would love to tell Q:

  1. I did not pay good money to be harassed;

  2. You have no right to push your products on me without an invitation, not especially when I’m in this sacred horizontal position;

  3. You should stop playing elevator music because it shows a lack of taste and class;

  4. You should learn to tip-toe and whisper because silence is what I expect, and yes, in this sacred horizontal position; and

  5. If you value my patronage, just shut the fuck up and only do what I’ve paid you to do.

These thoughts were never shared out loud as I feared that if I unleashed them, it might result in some sort of inexplicable skin tragedy since I’m not the most diplomatic person in the world. Oh, did I tell you that Q was a very smart lady because she saw right through my weakness and vulnerability and used them to her advantage. The foolish me would end up signing more treatments I didn’t care for. It was a huge price to pay just to avoid ugly confrontation and the fear of God-knows-what crazy things inflicted by aggrieved beauticians from the horror stories I've heard before.

It came to a point when our meetings became something I dreaded. I didn't feel good about myself as I felt like a complete loser and pushover. For fuck sake! Why was I unable to say no to her?!

Soon enough, I began to see other women. The temptation was way too much. With great discounts from a wide range of spas, what was a girl to do?!

Unsurprisingly, they were usually the same. Thankfully though, I had learned my lesson well enough to make it clear upfront that I am not the committing kind, especially if I sensed they are the pushy and manipulative kind.

After six years of this bullshit, I finally met the one, M.

M is kind, respectful and most importantly, understands boundaries. She gets my needs and gives me exactly what I want. We have real conversations, but only when I initiate them. She talked about how she couldn’t wait to leave the establishment and wanted to make it on her own. She would be offering her services from her humble home she shares with her elderly parents.

I like a woman with ambitions and relished in the thought that she’ll be keeping all the money I pay to herself. Fuck the establishment! She deserves it after all and she wouldn’t need to push so hard like these other women.

So I finally told Q that I will be leaving the country, for good. I won’t be seeing her anymore. The distance would make it impossible for me to commit. It was a lie but most breakups are never honest anyway.

From the look on her face, I could see she was unhappy. She tried her best to persuade me to make the most of my remaining stay by seeing her more often. I said no with a smug smile, secretly hoping that she knew I was lying, and yet she wouldn't be able to do anything about it. It would be like me showing her my third finger.

Breakups are never easy but a girl needs to learn to say "no, thank you". Politeness and civility are not an option, not especially when they make you feel like a loser who has to lie just to keep the peace.


The story above is an illustration of unnecessary years of wasted time and money just because I was too timid, shy and unworthy of saying "no" to someone who frankly didn't give a damn about me. I wish I had the courage to put a stop to it from the beginning. If I'm being completely honest, I was partially afraid of being judged - that I would be perceived as a cheapskate, a miser or worse, too poor to be able to afford spa packages. So in other words, my foolish ego had brought misery upon myself. I cared too much about what other people think about me that I made that the basis of my decision. I had no one to blame but myself.

Now that I'm older, I don't need validation from other people anymore, which means I don't give a fuck about how they see me. I wish I was like that when I was younger so I wouldn't have wasted so much of my previous time and energy with people who were just using, manipulating or taking advantage of my weakness and nice nature.

So ladies, saying "No, thank you" is one of your best friends. It comes to your defense when you need it. It has your back.

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