A reader asked:
… If someone acts defensive and argues when you criticize them for touching you, and from then on is very careful not to touch you, then they’re just nervous and don’t like criticism. That’s fine. The problem would be if they really act as if they have a right to touch you after you’ve asked them not to. Or actually the problem would be if they keep doing it, for whatever reason.
I don’t think it is at all ok to be that resistant to criticism.
Sometimes it’s ok and right to argue if you think someone is misjudging you, but it’s not ok to have that be your default response every time someone says no to you.
Especially when what they are saying is along the lines of “I don’t like being touched that way, please stop.”
It’s not ok to resist that kind of thing, and it’s especially not ok to try to get them to back down by arguing about it. People have the right not to want to be touched. People who don’t understand this and put pressure on others to accept touch from them are dangerous.
It’s definitely better to argue and then respect the boundary from then on than it is to not stop at all. But that doesn’t mean the arguing was ok to begin with. (Everyone makes mistakes, and if you find that you have argued in a boundary-violating way, the first step is to apologize.)
It’s ok that sometimes things hurt to hear; it’s not ok to try to make that hurt go away by arguing or otherwise putting pressure on someone to let you do what you want to them. It’s ok to be nervous or uncomfortable about criticism; it’s not ok to pressure someone else into making you feel better by doing what you wanted.
It can be hard to learn to hear no when you really want someone to say yes, it can be hard to learn to respect that and not push someone into something they don’t want, but it’s really, really important.