Lies to avoid offending (“I don’t want to”)

I’m sure most people – even if it is quietly hidden deep inside themselves – despise the fact that most everything has to be sugar-coated and “politically correct” these days. Even such dreadful situations like having to say no (“I don’t want to”) to just about anything. Most people we know in New Jersey and beyond have to make up some lie – as if they’re calling out sick from work. Whatever happened to being straight up? What’s worse? Potentially offending someone, or lying?

I don’t want to

by James Walpole

“I don’t want to.”

When was the last time you heard this from an adult?

Children have no problem speaking their minds about their preferences. You’ll hear this several times a day at least from a 3-year-old – at least until they’re shamed out of it.

Surely we adults haven’t stopped *not* wanting to do things. It’s just that now we’ve acquired the habit of bending over backward to avoid saying what we want.

We “can’t come” or “won’t be able to” or “had something come up” or “have to be somewhere.” If we do say “no thanks” we feel obligated to add caveats and explainers.

Sometimes these are legitimate responses. But come on: sometimes they’re just our way of avoiding something we don’t want to do – and avoiding the need to acknowledge that. It’s understandable: people rarely want to blunt enough to say “no, I’m not interested.” But it’s probably unhealthy that we so rarely bring our own preferences into the picture.

It seems like we feel like we need to have unselfish reasons for everything we do – something probably learned from negative childhood reinforcement. So we rely on (or manufacture) external circumstances rather than just speak our minds. And our friends are left wondering if we don’t like them or just don’t like bowling.

Why isn’t “not wanting to” enough?

About the author


NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.