Disappointments are a part of life.  And they most certainly are a part of relationships.  It is impossible to be in a relationship with another human being and not experience disappointments in one form or another.  Sometimes you can be disappointed in your loved one’s choices or actions because they don’t match up with your values or expectations.  Other times you can be disappointed when your loved one is unable or unwilling to meet your needs or requests.  Both are challenging but today I want to focus on disappointment number two.

I am a big proponent for honesty.  I believe that an open, honest relationship is an intimate, healthy relationship.  It creates trust and integrity.  It creates safety and growth. The challenge comes when you need to say that dreaded two letter word—no—to the person you love.  Knowing that you will disappoint the very person you want to make happy is not easy. However, saying yes when a no is indicated is worse.  Here’s why.


  1. You may become angry with yourself for saying yes when you know you really needed or wanted to say no.
  2. It is important to learn how to deal with other people being disappointed.  If you don’t, you will end up giving a lot of your personal power away to others.
  3. You’re at risk for taking your resentment out on the person you love even though he or she doesn’t deserve it.  No matter how much he or she tries to convince you to say yes, at the end of the day, you are responsible for the final call.
  4. It is easy to act out and become passive aggressive.  In other words, you may forget to do the task requested, do it wrong, or in some other way sabotage fulfilling the original request.
  5. It breaks down the trust in your relationship.  One of the ways you express trust is by being able to speak your truth no matter what.

Although it may sound paradoxical, when you do something in order to make someone else happy when it is to your detriment to do so, you actually cause more harm than good.  People need to learn how to deal with disappointments. Sparing them the opportunity to do so does not serve their best interest in the long run.  Parents are particularly guilty of this, but we all do this from time to time with the people in our lives.

On the flip side, it is never fun to hear that two letter word.  It is normal to want what you want.  When a person you love gives you a “no”, you are left to deal with the emotional aftermath. Understanding what gets triggered will empower you to deal with disappointments with more ease and grace.  Tune in next week when I’ll take a closer look at why we struggle with this endeavor.

In the meantime, share with us a time when you had to disappoint someone you love.  How did it go?  How did he or she react?  How did that reaction affect you?

Join the conversation because Your Relationships Matter!

Be well,


Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery

Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com