10 Things You Never Owe Anyone, No Matter What They Say

A lot of society’s unspoken rules seem to suggest that we owe people something just because they’re in our lives. We’re often force-fed insinuations that tell us that we probably should act a certain way if someone acts a certain way towards us. Truth be told, it’s not healthy for either party to believe that the world owes someone something over certain gestures. It’s really not. Here are 10 things you certainly don’t ever owe anyone, no matter what they say.

  1. No one is ever owed a date, sex, or a phone number.  You are never, ever entitled to sex or a date with someone, no matter what you do. You can’t force someone to be attracted to you, and you cannot force someone to have sex. Being nice, or buying a drink, does not mean that we are going to go home with you. Expecting us to “pay back” this gesture will not work, and will just frustrate both parties. You don’t get a cookie for being nice. As a functioning member of society, you’re expected to be nice because it’s nice! People who buy gifts with strings attached usually lose friends and potential love interests because of that behavior, and yet they never seem to understand why.
  2. We don’t have to invite someone somewhere just because they invited us. Admittedly, this was a very hard pill for me to swallow in high school, since I was the odd girl out. I thought that if I invited people, they’d come, then they’d invite me places. In reality, this doesn’t always work. Much like with rule #1, you can’t force people to be your friends if they don’t want to be your friends.
  3. Girls don’t owe anyone a “smile.” Seriously, cat callers need to stop asking girls to smile. Granted, I don’t get asked this anymore, since my Resting Bitch Face turned into a Resting I-Will-Kill-You Face.
  4. As sad as it may be, no one is owed attention or friendship.  This was also a very hard pill for me to swallow. No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, there will be people who just don’t like you. They won’t hang out with you, they won’t include you in their crowd, they won’t be good to you, and they will end up (at best) using you. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the harder you try to get attention and friends, the less likely it is to work, too. Either way, nothing you do will ever guarantee friendship.
  5. You don’t owe anyone a child.  There, I said it. Society makes it seem like having kids is important thing #1. It’s not. Wake up and smell the coffee, you don’t owe anyone – your parents, your doctor, or your husband – a kid.
  6. While, we’re on the subject of kids, no one owes anyone free babysitting or free kids’ toys unless you’re part of one of those childcare pools. Seriously, nothing is less appealing to people than to see new parents basically beg for free babysitting from friends, or to see them panhandle for toys. We are happy for you – really! However, there’s a certain point where all that begging for favors and chores will make your friends feel used.
  7. Actually, you really don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you want something or don’t want something. Unless you’re in a professional setting, you really don’t owe people much of an explanation for the way that you live your life. No one has the right to ask you why you don’t want something, why you do want something, or why you do the things you do. Strangely, this isn’t something that many people in society has figured out quite yet…
  8. If you don’t agree with what someone is saying, you don’t owe them validation. Validation can come in a lot of forms – silence, open agreement, or even just going with the flow. If something goes against what you believe in, you do not owe it to the other party to just smile and nod. You don’t owe it to them to just agree to make things easier. You also don’t owe them silence, because in many cases, it’s staying silent that allows people who really don’t have good interests at heart to gain traction.
  9. If someone’s rude to you, you don’t owe them manners back. Unless you’re currently at work, you do not owe people who are rude to you niceness. If someone is being a royal jackass, they often need to be called out on their bad behavior. Otherwise, they will think it’s acceptable and will continue to do it.
  10. You don’t owe anyone anything if they’ve made you feel uncomfortable. Ever have one of those moments where your gut instinct is telling you to run, because the person nearby is making you feel scared or uncomfortable? Too often, we ignore those because we assume that we have to be polite. Part of the reason why a lot of people who did commit violent crime were able to lure away their victims is because the victims felt that they had to be nice and polite, and that it would be reciprocated. Trust your instincts, and listen to your gut. It may just save your life.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.