When my daughter is old enough to start dating, I plan to sit her down for a thoughtful and extended conversation about establishing boundaries in relationships. Blurred boundaries can lead us to tolerate anything in the pursuit of love, attention, and validation. I want her to understand the idea that even when there is profound love and respect for someone, boundaries are essential. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of 12 fundamental boundaries that every woman, (and indeed every person,) should adhere to.
Examples of boundaries in a relationship
“I will not date a married or attached person.”
To protect your emotional well-being, avoid complicated relationships with people who are recently separated or show no signs of finalizing a divorce and those who are not emotionally over their past relationships. You are not an emotional crutch or a placeholder. This boundary maintains your self-respect and ensures that you’re not deceived by someone misrepresenting their relationship status.
Value your time and self-worth
“I will not waste my time waiting around”
Whether you’re waiting for their calls, hoping they’ll change, or wondering about their commitment, it’s important not to put your life on hold… for anyone! When someone is genuinely interested, there’s no doubt about it, and they won’t keep you hanging. This boundary encourages self-respect and prevents you from getting entangled in vague or non-committal relationships.
“I will not engage in any relationship where I’m not treated with love, care, trust, and respect.”
This boundary sets the tone for mutual respect from the start. It’s essential to uphold your self-esteem by not tolerating disrespectful behavior. By expecting care, trust, and respect, you lay the foundation for a healthy, fulfilling relationship and weed out those who won’t meet these standards.
“I will not continue dating someone who reveals themselves to be a Future Faker or a Future Avoider.”
This boundary guards against people who make false promises or avoid discussing future plans. If someone over-promises initially but doesn’t follow through, or avoids discussing commitment, it is a sign they may not be serious. This boundary saves you from investing time in someone who does not share your future goals.
Equality in the Relationship
“I will not date someone who controls the relationship on their terms.”
Always make sure that your relationship is balanced and mutually fulfilling. Avoid situations where one person dictates everything and stifles your input. If your attempts to balance the dynamics are met with resistance or avoidance, it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship. This boundary promotes equality and respect in your romantic relationships.
“I will not allow someone to use me for sex, devalue me sexually, or treat me in a less-than manner.”
If you want casual sex, make sure it aligns with your genuine desires and it’s not a backdoor attempt at a deeper relationship. But if you are looking for a meaningful connection beyond physical intimacy, make it clear. Perhaps you’re worried that if you make your true desires known, he may walk away. Let him! Yes, it is painful, but do you want to waste time on a relationship that will probably go nowhere? This boundary safeguards your emotional and physical well-being.
“I will drop people who manage the bulk of the communication in our relationship by text, email, or instant messenger.”
Maintain standards for communication. Lazy or distant communication shows emotional unavailability and a lack of genuine interest. If he doesn’t have time for you, you shouldn’t have time for him! It’s important to establish and uphold this boundary to ensure meaningful, connected interactions.
Honesty and Transparency
“I will not allow lies in my relationships.”
Insist on truthfulness and straightforward communication. Denial, listening to lies, or distorted truths have no place in your relationships. This boundary promotes transparency and maintains trust.
Respect for Rejection
“I will not pursue someone who has either directly or passively rejected me.”
Recognize and respect rejection. If someone isn’t genuinely interested, continuing to pursue them only devalues your self-respect. Let him go and trust that someone else, someone better, is on the horizon—and while you’re wasting time with someone who is not that into you, you’re blocking passage for the right person. This boundary ensures that you prioritize your self-worth and avoid chasing after uninterested parties.
No Fixing Others
“I will not play Florence Nightingale.”
Avoid relationships with people struggling with substance abuse or emotional/behavioral issues that hinder a healthy connection. Yes, everyone has challenges, but it’s important to distinguish between personal issues and excessive baggage. This boundary encourages partners to address their own problems independently.
Kindness and Empathy
“I will not date someone unkind/cruel, lacking in empathy, and who takes advantage or abuses me.”
Uphold a boundary against cruelty and abuse. So often we tell ourselves—he’ll change, he was just in a bad mood. Get out! You’re a Queen, you don’t deserve to be treated with disrespect, ever! Prioritize your emotional well-being, self-respect, and safety.
“I will not make up excuses for other people’s behavior or make exceptions to my boundaries. My boundaries are non-negotiable!”
Ensure that your boundaries are steadfast and unchanging. Avoid making excuses or exceptions, even when pressured to do so. This boundary enforces your values and self-respect.
Personal Boundaries for Healthy Relationships
Setting and upholding these boundaries will help create healthier, more fulfilling relationships in both your personal and romantic life. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect and can lead to stronger, more respectful connections with others.
Here are some essential boundaries to set and uphold:
Prioritize Your Well-being: Never compromise your mental or physical health for the sake of someone else. Your health should always come first, and it’s not selfish to take care of yourself.
Respect and Accountability: Refuse to be the “black sheep” or tolerate people who can’t apologize, admit their mistakes, or find common ground through compromise. Healthy relationships require mutual respect and accountability.
Respect for Personal Space: Acknowledge the need for space when it’s requested, especially during intense discussions that may become unproductive or harmful. Everyone deserves time and space to cool down and collect their thoughts.
Open Expression of Feelings: You have the right to express your feelings, including the negative ones, without fear of judgment or reprisal. Honesty is essential for healthy communication.
Unwavering Boundaries: Be firm about your boundaries and never allow anyone to cross them. Consistency is key to establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Saying No Without Guilt: It’s perfectly acceptable to say no when you’re uncomfortable or when something doesn’t align with your values or desires. Your feelings and comfort matter, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritizing them.
From one friend to another
When I first started dating, I had no boundaries. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s the truth. If he said, “jump,” I’d ask, “how high?” It was ridiculous. However, by the time I met my husband, things had changed. I was 27, I had learned a lot, and I was ready to settle down with the right person.
After a year of dating, I suggested that we move in together. He said no, and I said goodbye. I loved him, and I didn’t want to lose him, but I also didn’t want to be strung along by a man who was not committed. He said that he didn’t want to break up, but wasn’t ready to move in. So, I gave him an ultimatum: in six months, we either move in together or we break up. I understand that ultimatums are generally discouraged, but I make no excuses for it. For me, it was about self-respect. I wanted to get married and have babies, and I wasn’t willing to waste my time on a man who didn’t share the same goals.
I share this story with you because I felt like a hypocrite regarding the last tip I offered about ‘unwavering boundaries’ since I negotiated a boundary. Let me explain.
I believe that you should be steadfast about your boundaries. Boundaries should not typically be up for negotiation, but not everything is black and white, right? There are nuances in every relationship. He may not have been ready to commit to moving in together when I was, but six months later, he was, because he understood that if he didn’t commit, he’d have to say goodbye.
Here’s another example. Very early in our relationship, he said something rude and disrespectful to me. I immediately and firmly responded by asking him who he thought he was talking to. He has never crossed that line again.
I’m not a professional, but from one friend to another, I’d say that you need to be clear about your boundaries and communicate them with your partner so that there is no misunderstanding about what is acceptable and completely unacceptable to you. You are a queen; you deserve love and respect, and if someone can’t give you that, they’ve got to go!