Practical wisdom about dating, courtship, and relationships to improve your love life.
“All her life, Claire had had a problem figuring out where other people ended and she began. All her life, she’d taken on the world’s hurt; she held herself responsible. But why?” - Elin Hilderbrand
Why Boundaries Matter
Nothing good comes from loving without boundaries. When you love without boundaries, you may have good intentions, thinking you are being selfless. You may not realize the far-reaching effects of becoming a man’s doormat. Or you may think love means having no boundaries because of your romantic notions about love.
If you are not honoring your boundaries in your romantic relationship, you will feel exhausted, overwhelmed and/or drained. You will be consumed by the drama around you, find yourself in the midst of a lot of conflict, or have a hard time focusing and making decisions.
Loving without boundaries will cause you to sacrifice your integrity and happiness. You may be taken advantage of, lose your self worth, and feel bad about yourself. If you put your partner’s needs over yours and go along with what he wants, you will lose yourself in his life. Ultimately, you will feel uneasy during your relationship because you are doing and giving too much without receiving the same in return.
How to Create Boundaries
Boundaries are so powerful that when set and enforced, will help you create the love you desire. Here are five specific ways to create boundaries.
1. Honor your values
One of the best ways to create boundaries is to look at things you most value. For instance, if freedom, happiness, peace, honesty and kindness are important to you, you will want to set boundaries around these values. This means you will want to date guys and be in a romantic relationship where you are free to live these values. If freedom is one of your values and you meet a guy where you aren’t free to be your true self, this is a sign that he is not for you.
2. Notice what drains you
Reflect on what causes you to feel drained by certain guys you spend time with. These are the areas to set boundaries around. For instance, if forced conversation and thinking of what to ask a guy next drains your energy, a boundary you can set is to date and be with men where conversation flows naturally. This would be where there is a good exchange of both asking and answering questions, and listening to what is being said.
3. Turn unhealthy patterns around
Identify the outcomes and patterns that continue to keep you from what you most desire. For instance, let’s say you have always wanted a lasting relationship and tend to sleep with guys too soon. You’ve realized that having sex early on has resulted in hanging out and hooking up. A boundary you can set to keep this from happening is to wait until you both get to know each other mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc., and to only have sex when you feel a meaningful connection. This may mean dating for 2-3 months where you are seeing each other consistently and communicating in between dates.
4. Determine how you want to be treated
Determine the ways you want to be treated. For instance, if you want to be treated with respect, only date guys and be in a relationship where he treats you respectfully. If you want to be cherished like the queen you are J, let your man do things for you that make you feel cherished. Never settle for less than how you want to be treated.
5. Be responsible only for yourself
If you tend to take on your man’s disposition (i.e. feeling depressed because he is depressed), or feel responsible for his struggles, you don’t have to take on this role. He is a grown man with his own path in life. His disposition and struggles may just be the forks in the road that build character and make him a stronger person. You can be supportive and encouraging, but if you start to feel responsible (i.e. your body will feel tense, stressed, contracted), step back and let his journey unfold the way it’s meant to.
Enforce Your Boundaries
It is not enough just to create boundaries. Creating boundaries without enforcing them is like telling a guy it is too soon for you to have sex and then continuing to make out. Boundaries are meant to be enforced and will open the door for love to come your way.
Enforcing boundaries comes down to who you are being, which teaches others how to treat you. If you are honoring your own boundaries, others will too. If you treat yourself with love, respect and kindness, men are more likely to treat you the same. Whenever you find yourself with a choice to make, ask, “Is what I’m about to do honoring my boundary of __________?” Always choose what in favor of your boundaries.
As you honor your boundaries, your love life will shift towards what you desire. Guys who are wrong for you will fall by the wayside and more of the right men will show up. The struggles you once faced will diminish and you’ll experience your journey to love with more ease. In the process, you will learn what you are made of and grow into your best self. What boundaries will you create and enforce?
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Copyright Love for Successful Women, 2020.