Life’s complicated, and important decisions can take time. Should I or shouldn’t I? Will we or won’t we? It can be tempting to ask advice from anyone and everyone, or just say “meh,” and go with the flow. But here’s the thing: some decisions in love and life can only be made by you—and sometimes going with the flow means you’re actually deciding not to take control of your happiness or your future.
It’s not always easy to know what will make you happiest now or down the line, but there are some areas of life where it’s worth figuring it out and then fighting like hell to make what you want happen. Here are six situations where you have more power than you think—and you should use it.
1. When you feel stuck at your job.
We know what you’re thinking: Does it matter if I hate my job? I can’t quit. We get that. There are so many instances in life where we find ourselves feeling stuck, but the first step to move forward is to identify things that make you happy and things that make you unhappy. Once you do that, you can think about concrete ways—big and small—to improve your situation. Maybe you can’t quit right now, but you can work toward a promotion or start looking for other job prospects. Maybe you can do something small each day before (or after) work to lift your spirits while you figure out your next step.
2. When bae wants to take things to the next level and you’re not ready.
Whether it’s monogamy, moving in, marriage, or just a second date, relationships are an area where focusing on what you want can save you and your partner(s) a lot of heartache. You’re amazing, so it’s natural that people might want to make you theirs, but just because someone nice wants to settle down doesn’t mean that’s what’s right for you right now.
If you’re having mixed feelings, take your time and explore your options, including staying single. This also applies when you’ve been in a relationship for a while. Maybe you rushed into something you weren’t sure about, or maybe it started off great, but just isn’t lately. Here are some questions to ask yourself if lately your relationship has felt more like work than pleasure.
You have the right to leave if you’re unhappy, and you don’t have to wait for “a good excuse” to end things. Little by little, begin to think about how you’d like to exit the relationship, and when you’re ready, go for it.
3. When someone wants to have sex (and you don’t).
We know how it is when a relationship is going well: everything is amazing, your partner is awesome, and you start to feel optimistic about the future. Sometimes, to keep a good thing going, you feel pressured to have sex—or to have sex in a way you’re not comfortable with. We get it—and we know that libido can be a mysterious thing and sometimes one of you might just be more into it than the other. But in a world with so many things we can’t control, how and when you have sex should always be in your power. If you’re “meh” about sex for any reason, you have the right to say no. If someone doesn’t respect your no, that’s sexual assault and it’s not okay.
4. When your sexual health could be at risk.
While we think it’s great to include your boo in your sex-related decisions, we want you to feel comfortable saying no to anything that puts your sexual health at risk. Whether or not your partner agrees, you have the right to get tested for sexually transmitted infections, use condoms and other birth control methods, and choose not to have sex whenever you feel uncomfortable. If your partner forces you to have sex, refuses to use condoms, or tampers with your birth control, that’s a form of abuse. Relationships involve compromise and collaboration, but when it comes to your health, you have the final say.
5. When you could have a baby, but you’re not sure yet.
When you’ve met someone dope and things are going well, it’s tempting to develop a “whatever happens, happens" attitude about getting pregnant. Here’s the thing: “whatever happens” will create major ripples in your life. Take a minute to really think about how having a kid right now would affect you. Maybe now is the right time. But if the sex is great, the relationship is everything, but now isn’t the best time to have kids, birth control can help. In fact, there’s research that suggests birth control like IUDs makes sex even better.
6. When you’re dealing with anything that doesn’t feel right.
If you’re reading this and a specific situation pops into your mind, you have the right to say no to that too. Whatever decision you’re facing, tap into your true feelings to figure out exactly what you want. When we ignore the voice that says, “I don’t really want to do this,” we can end up mad we didn’t listen to ourselves.
Control is a beautiful thing when used wisely, and once we figure out we have some, we can make choices that move us toward what we want. It may not be easy—you may even piss some people off—but when you take control in small ways, the big decisions get easier.
P.S. If you know you’re done having kids or don’t want to be a parent ever, another big decision is whether to commit to permanent birth control. Here are some things to think about.