Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Boundaries in Dating

When you are entering into a dating relationship, it's important to get clear with the other person just what is going on with you in your heart, where the two of you stand and where you are going. This is what boundaries are all about; clearly defining your own self relative to the other party.

Coming from a place of zero self love and boundaries, I simply did not have the skills to know my own boundary needs--much less assert my boundaries and set limits with my romantic partners. I wanted so much to be loved that I basically gave myself away for nothing. This is not sexually speaking, but everything. Rather than offend the person I wanted in my life, I would comply with their wishes and not say a word. Inside my heart would cry out, but I could barely hear what it needed. My relationships never quite worked out the way it should. I was a doormat.

This led to much frustration in my life and needless heartache. Finally, I started to understand what boundaries are all about, although, it's always a progressive endeavor to clarify my feelings and express my needs effectively. Having boundaries is a requirement for having a healthy relationship--the better your boundaries, the more of you there is to love and receive love. 

This article will discuss setting boundaries in a dating situation. Here are a few things I've learned about setting boundaries in dating that are crucial to success:

1. Don't be afraid of talking to the other party to define where you two stand at any time. You have a right to know! Don't hide yourself under a barrel and allow the relationship to ebb endlessly out of your control. You need to take the reigns and clarify exactly what is going on. Will boundaries spoil the mystery and romance? Perhaps, but it is more important that you're grounded in reality than mystery, in my opinion.
  • So, is this a date? 
  • Are we exclusive, or are we seeing other people?
  • Are you looking for a long-term relationship?
2. Set limits on behavior. Even if you really like the other person, you need to set limits in order to establish the boundaries of yourself. This is an act of self respect and it will earn you respect from the person you're dating. Setting pre-determined limits will give both of you an idea of expectations and will help prevent your emotional train from going off track.
  • I don't take phone calls after 10pm.
  • If you want to communicate with me, I prefer you call me on the phone than text all the time.
  • I am available after 6pm if you'd like to give me a call. 
  • I can only speak for a few moments. 
3. Express your needs and wants clearly. Don't be shy about explaining what you expect and what you need. If you don't explain who you are, the other person will never get the chance to really know you. Besides, you are a human being and you have the right to get your needs met. You must know what you need and express it assertively as you go to prevent a giant blow-up at an inopportune time that can potentially ruin your relationship.
  • I drink Pinot Grigio.
  • I prefer that we not drive around all evening. 
  • I'd prefer we date more in person before we get really involved in phone conversations.
 4. Stick to your boundaries. Setting boundaries is difficult, especially when you're just getting started. It is much easier to lay down on the ground and let people walk all over you. However, nobody likes a doormat, so you must get up, dust yourself off and stand your ground. Don't let the other person land blast you. Be firm in your resolve to keep your boundaries intact. Without boundaries, you cannot have a lasting relationship, so deal with the discomfort and be vigorous in protecting your personal, emotional identity and space. You train others how to treat you. They will only treat you as good as you treat yourself, so stick to your boundaries as a way of showing them that you're no pushover.
  • Don't give in, even if he or she insists.
  • Don't placate someone trying to override your boundaries. 
  • Remember, they are watching you! Train them right.
5. Take time to examine your own heart. It's difficult to know where you stand when you're getting involved in a great, new relationship. Your heart may be a'flutter and your hormones may be surging dramatically, however, you must--at all costs--take time to examine where you're at. Where is your heart? What is true and real? What is fantasy? What is really happening? What is he or she really saying? What do you really think about what they're saying? How do you feel? What do you need? What are you getting too much of? What is missing?
  • Take breaks no matter how much you like the person.
  • Step back and take the space you need to consider what is happening.
  • Pull yourself back to yourself rather than going into fantasy-land about your partner.

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