Saturday, April 19, 2014

Men & Women: Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship

April 2014

some names have been omitted in this post 


Sitting curled up on the couch in the den with a gray blanket wearing jeans and a soft oversized sweatshirt I balanced the laptop on my lap… the faint sound of a weather update was given by a meteorologist on the flat screen across the room as I began scrolling profiles and with quick eyes skimming ages alongside smiling photos. Finally, I slowly closed the laptop with a click setting it aside on the wood coffee table. 

"Well… signing up for these dating websites has been a real experience…" I remarked. 

I wasn't interested in dating anyone in the near future but was open to the possibility of male friendship if he was someone whom I believed could be a possible match down the road… in no rush, I wasn't going to just pick someone for the sake of picking someone. I'd wait as long as needed. In the interim it was proving to be an interesting experience to say the least. She sat beside me on the other end of the couch where she was reading her chick lit book and looked up… 

"What's happening?" she asked. 

"It appears the majority of them do not observe and follow boundaries…" I replied dryly… "I should be shocked I suppose and yet I'm not. Typical." I couldn't help but add with a grimace. "If you include on your profile you're only looking for someone within a very limited age range and that you're not looking for a "father figure"… the fifty year plus set still contacts you. It goes right back to that post I wrote on older men preying on younger women. I realize some women are fine with it… but honestly, there is a large group of us that find it disrespectful. And yet these older men continue to push the limits. They continue to send "smiles", messages, etc. If a man can't follow what is clearly written in black and white on a woman's profile why does he believe that woman would give him a chance? Why does he believe he is the one exception to her rule? It's ridiculous. She's a grown woman. Believe it or not, she does know what she wants. And all he is doing is further solidifying her belief of men in his age bracket… that they are more often than not, egotistical, overbearing control freaks." I stated while pulling my hair into a ponytail with a brown hair elastic. 

She concurred and spoke "I agree. I don't understand why they would believe they are the exception. I mean, the ego is unreal. It would be like a woman fifty something reaching out to a twenty five or thirty-something guy. Most women, if not any women are going to do that… yet men for whatever reason have no issue, no qualms, no hesitation in doing it… it's a total double standard."


When we are looking for someone either in the pursuit of mere friendship or possibly more… whether we are searching for serious or friendship with the possibility of marriage later on… it's important that we keep our mind on what we are looking for… not just blue eyes, tall and athletic… not just stocky, dark hair and health conscious… but instead what really counts… yes, we all want someone we are attracted to, obviously… but we don't want to miss the mark on our must have's, our biggie's, our deal breakers, etc.

We can keep in mind that with regard to our relationships it's best to keep boundaries between us and the other person. When we set boundaries we aren't being mean or distrustful… unlike what some people may try to tell us otherwise. But instead when we set boundaries we are giving our relationship a healthy outline to stick to, a framework of sorts, a strong foundation.

With healthy boundaries we have the autonomy of being ourselves, of not being controlled by others or a servant to people pleasing, to not feeling stifled or claustrophobic, etc. Boundaries let others know what we are willing to put up with and what we won't tolerate. This is why it's so incredibly important to know exactly what you believe to be essential in a relationship. Naturally, everyone is different and each of us have beliefs of what is acceptable and what is not, yet there are also some general rules of what is healthy and what resembles toxic.

Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship:

1. Being honest with each other regarding likes and dislikes. It's always better when in the early days of dating someone if when they tell you "I go bike riding every weekend"… to just be honest and say "I don't care for bike riding". Get it out there. Throw it on the table because if you don't you may be signing up for thirty or forty decades of bike riding. Better to be yourself now at the beginning than to find yourself years later cringing every time the weekend rolls around.

2. If you've already signed up for the lifetime plan of bike riding, golfing, bowling or whatever for every weekend the rest of your life because you didn't follow number #1… it's important to be respectful of his hobby, his past time, whatever you call it… but that also doesn't mean you have to do it all the time either. Encourage him to go with the guys and have a hobby or interest you call your own you can do.

3. Just because you're exclusive, married, etc doesn't mean you have to be hitched at the hip every five minutes. A little space is a good thing and allows you to then come together to talk about your individual experiences… enriching your relationship. So go on an occasional girl's trip, on that weekend getaway with your mom and sister, go jogging alone, or join that women's basketball team… it's good for you and him.

4. Setting physical boundaries is a good thing as well. Women, dating and sex seem to be a topic that is a constant source of articles being written about in magazines and online websites because so often women feel pressured to give in to having sex before their truly ready. No matter what your age or situation… no matter what your stage in life… if you're not prepared to have sex until after you're married that is your personal right. That boundary may weed out a lot of men and the truth is… it doesn't matter what he wants if it doesn't match up with your beliefs and the boundaries you've set for whoever you date. You never ever have to apologize for setting boundaries for yourself or feel guilty for setting them.

5. Someone who truly cares for you will be respectful, honest and trustworthy which will show by their actions. They will look out for your best interests above their own (which is extremely difficult to find today) and the relationship will largely be based on equality. Yes, chivalry is wonderful but we aren't talking about him opening the door… but instead is he working with you as a partner would… is he asking for your opinion? Is he listening to your input or merely waiting for you to hurry up so he can dictate what he believes to be right? Does he value your thoughts? These are things to scrutinize and contemplate. If you see what resembles a power struggle for control, for the upper hand in the relationship it's time to cut it short and move on.

6. Is the relationship enhancing your life or draining it? Are you chronically tired, suffering from unexplainable body pains, aches, headaches, a twitching eye, heart palpitations, general fatigue, depression, teeth clenching, anxiety or just feeling like you're walking on eggshells? If you are experiencing any of these in a relationship or just feeling jumpy in general those are all a big blinking sign you are not in a healthy situation and need to seek help in cutting ties whether it be gaining help from a friend or seeking support from a family member… it's essential you take care of yourself and not allow your health to be put at risk just for the sake of staying in a relationship.

7. The last one is about change. You know how every year so many of us each January try to set a goal like exercising more or eating healthier and we often fail within just a few weeks? It is undeniably so incredibly difficult to rid ourselves of a bad habit or to change ourselves for the positive. If it's so hard to change something about ourselves why on earth do we ever think for a second that we will be successful in changing someone else? It's not happening. If someone is continually overstepping our boundaries, making us feel like less than, stressing us out and sending us reaching for the chocolate cupcakes, a beer or glass of wine way too often, we have a serious problem and it isn't us. It may be time to say "adios" and shut that door for good behind them.

© ~ 2014 

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