5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries in Dating
Healthy boundaries are essential in dating and relationships. They set the scene for men to respect, value, and cherish you.
Many of us grew up with fuzzy boundaries. I had no idea how much work I needed to do on setting healthy boundaries until after my divorce. My marriage was sorely lacking in respect for personal boundaries. I had almost no privacy, except in those delicious moments when I’d take a bath because it was the only door in the house with a working lock.
You don’t need to lock yourself in the bathroom to enforce boundaries! But it is so important to set those boundaries, especially when dating. Here are my best tips for identifying and setting boundaries to create the lasting, loving, respectful relationship you yearn for.
5 ways to set healthy boundaries when dating
#1. Don’t say “yes,” when you mean “no.”
It’s important to stop saying yes to men when you mean no. Say no to accepting crumbs of attention from men. Once you have your clear “no”, figure out what you will say “yes” to. For example, say yes to believing that you are a woman of value, worthy of respect. That’s a clear boundary. In setting effective boundaries, you will stop saying “yes” when you mean “no.”
Also, pay attention to the words you say when you’re not happy with something a man says or does. Words like “it’s fine” or “whatever”. Those words are signs that you’re not speaking up about what’s bothering you. In other words, you’re not setting or enforcing your boundaries.
#2. Say what you feel, even if you think men are not ready to hear it.
Please stop living in fear that men can’t handle your truth. When you don’t express how you truly feel because you’re afraid of his reaction, you’re not being authentic, and you’re not valuing yourself.
The more you speak your truth, the more you will be valued and respected.
No more editing your thoughts and feelings based on a feared reaction from a man. Speak your truth, and you will be valued for being your authentic self. Life and love are so much more in flow when you come from a place of truth rather than twisting yourself into a pretzel and suppressing your true needs.
#3. Become comfortable asking a man to pay you back or return something he borrowed.
Many women are afraid to ask men, family members, or friends to pay them back what they’re owed. Do you feel bad asking to get paid back? Afraid to hurt the borrower’s feelings? This is an important boundary to set. When you lend money, books, CDs, or anything else, be clear about when you’d like them returned.
In the past, whenever I met a man I liked, I would share my favorite books. It was a way for me to bond. When I realized I didn’t want to continue the relationship, it was hard to get the books back. I had to learn to either stop lending books out to men on the first few dates, or set a clear boundary about how important it was for me to get my stuff back. It took a bit of time—sometimes months—but everything was eventually returned.
I no longer lend books to men unless we’re in a long-term relationship. And I make it very clear that I’m lending, not giving, unless I choose to gift a book. That way, when things don’t work out, they know to return the things I’ve lent, ASAP!
#4. Don’t let a man rule your life.
Are you tired of receiving late night texts or phone calls? Or maybe you are fed up with the lack of attention from a man you’re dating, the guy who won’t call or make the next date?
It’s time to set a boundary on letting men rule your life and/or make you crazy. I often hear from women that they can’t stand the crappy behavior from men in their lives, even men they haven’t yet met in person! One woman wrote in that she missed my last webinar, because she was waiting for a man to call her for the first time. When he was a no show, she was devastated!
Why do you put up with this bad behavior? Because you don’t yet know how to set this important boundary. Let a man know that it’s not okay for him to call you late at night, or text incessantly without calling, or say he’ll take you out and not follow through.
Whatever the behavior is that doesn’t work for you, tell him and set that boundary. If he’s open to changing his behavior, that’s great. But if he gets defensive, he’s not your guy. Walk away with your head held high. If you want to be treated with respect, set a clear boundary and let him know from the very start.
#5. Don’t put your life on hold for any man.
Have you ever put off making plans, waiting for a man to ask you out? How many times have you not taken care of your own needs by prioritizing a man’s needs instead?
Did you ever cancel plans with a friend at the last minute to accommodate a man’s schedule? Did you give up your workout because he said he’d call at that time?
It’s crucial to set a boundary regarding your availability if you want to gain the respect from men you’re dating. If you stop your life to accommodate his needs or schedule, you’re compromising your needs. And that’s not okay. Let him know you’re not a last minute woman. You need a few days advance notice to plan a date. And practice saying “no” when something he says or does doesn’t work for you.
A guy once asked me on a three-hour hike for a first date. I said, “No, I prefer to meet for a coffee or a drink on a first meeting, to see if we like each other. Let’s see if we connect. If we do, a three-hour hike sounds like a great idea for a second or third date!”
Boundaries are not empty threats made when you’re angry. They are not words you say in an attempt to manipulate or exert power.
Boundaries are clear, kind, firm, loving words we say to assert our needs and how we want to be treated in life and love.
Remember that setting boundaries is critical to dating as a high value woman—with dignity and self-respect. By practicing setting clear boundaries, you will get the results you want — a healthy, fulfilling, respectful and loving relationship.
Have you ever struggled with setting clear boundaries in life or love? Please share your experience with boundaries in the comments below.
Photo: Flickr/Marina Carvalho