As humans, we give ourselves permission to be, do and have things that are’t necessarily reflective of who we are in the main or our stated intentions and values. 

We say we want to cut back on sugar and then, when stressed, give ourselves permission to eat sugary food. These decisions and contradictions are an element of life. There will always be something that we permit ourselves to do that isn’t in our highest good. We’re, well, human.

I receive a lot of Is-it-okay-if-I-type questions. These questions often speak to the part of us that struggles to give ourselves permission. We want external validation and support. In other instances, though, wondering if something is “okay” reflects our awareness of where we’re potentially about to be or do something out of alignment with our values

For instance, a common question I receive is, Is it okay if I date someone I don’t see a future with?

When we don’t see a future with someone, we’re either aware of pertinent information about compatibility or have made a snap judgement. 

So maybe we know that we/they aren’t looking for a relationship and the other is. Or perhaps we’re not attracted to them despite several dates. It could be that they seem pretty keen on us, but they’re not our “type”. Hell, it could be that we know we’re not over our ex and that if they were to spontaneously combust into who we want them to be, or they begged us to go back, we’d be there in a flash. 

The point is, we’ve decided that we don’t see a future with that person. We’ve reached a conclusion that affects our subsequent intentions and actions. 

If we don’t see a future with someone but are contemplating continuing dating them (or already are), we need to consider our broader intentions and values. 

How does going out with somebody with whom we’ve already decided that there’s no future sit with our stated intentions and values? Is it a vote for or against these?

If we want to be in a mutually fulfilling relationship, dating someone with whom we don’t see a future goes against that.

Of course, it’s “okay” to go out with someone we have no future with. That’s our prerogative. In the grander scheme of things, if this kind of decision—passing time, settling—isn’t a pattern or going to impact us emotionally beyond the very short term, it’s “okay”. 

However, is the other party okay with being Person We Don’t See a Future With? 

So, do they know they’re our backup plan, safety net, entertainment systemsomeone to pass time with? It’s all very well us asking ourselves if we’re okay with dating someone we see no future with. Our decision affects that person’s future though. 

All too often, people enter into these decisions without proper consideration of the other party. Particularly in romantic situations, it’s as if we assume someone would be okay with what little we have to give. Like they’d be flattered we threw them a bone. We kid ourselves that it’s quid pro quo: that we’re giving something in return for what we want. I’ll scratch your back, and you’ll scratch mine kind of malarkey.  

When there’s mutual agreement of “no future”, we might be able to attempt to keep it casual. I say “might” because you’d be amazed how so many seemingly mutual casual dating and sex arrangements aren’t. In reality, one party benefits from their agenda and calls it “we”. When it’s mutual, each party knows they’re using the other. Let’s be real: these ‘arrangements’ tend to get messy.

If we’re someone who can go out and have fun dating without getting hung up on outcomes or without trying to switch gears and trying to get the relationship or person to be something else, dating someone we don’t see a future with for the hell of it is “okay”. As in, it’s okay relative to us and the other party being okay. 

If we’ve made a snap judgement, let’s be honest about that. It might be for good reason, or it might not. It’s worth acknowledging why we don’t see a future and weighing the decision. If we’ve made our mind up and we’re not going to budge (in a healthy way), why date this person?

It’s down to us to be and know our values and boundaries. 

That takes a great deal of self-honesty about what we need and want. 

For instance, often, when people date someone they see no future with, it’s because they’re afraid of making a bad call—The One That Got Away—or they’re scared of being alone/single. They think dating will satiate unmet needs that they themselves need to meet. 

If we become aware that something isn’t a fit, we must listen to ourselves and reflect this in subsequent thoughts, actions and choices. Instead of pushing on with something because of instant gratification or our desire to avoid discomfort or conflict, we need to know when it’s time to say no.

Part of becoming more of who we really are and moving towards healthier and loving situations is giving ourselves permission not just to be the type of person we want to be but also to say no to patterns and choices that aren’t serving us. 

The more honest we are about our intentions, the easier it is to understand what is “okay” for us. 

‘No’ and ‘Yes’ aren’t separate, so ‘no’ is also permission. When we say yes and no authentically, we give ourselves permission to experience more love, care, trust and respect. 

The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon/HarperCollins) is out now and available in bookshops on and offline. Listen to the first chapter.
FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites