Looking back, I realize that one of the things that probably most contributed to my rocky relationship roller coaster rides was the whole thing about boundaries, or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Although there are many different definitions and ideas out there about what boundaries are and aren’t (and a whole bunch of self-help books on that exact subject to go along with it), the simplest way to think of boundaries regarding these relationships we’re in is this question: At what point do we stand up and let someone know we are not okay with something they are doing?
It’s not. In fact, it's far from simple. See, here’s the thing. If we had been letting our guy know at what point we were no longer okay with something he’s doing that we don’t like, what we won’t tolerate and won’t put up with, he would have had three choices: 1.) Respect that boundary and stop doing it, 2.) Negotiate with us about it, or 3.) Ignore us and keep doing it, in which case we have to decide for ourselves if we are going to stick to our boundary and stand up for ourselves.
But here’s the problem with this that I’ve discovered along my journey, and it really is a big problem for many of us: in order to set a boundary, in order for us to actually have boundaries at all, we have to a.) know ourselves, b.) we have to actually respect ourselves, and c.) we have to be willing to take a risk knowing that in setting and standing by a boundary, if he isn’t willing to respect that boundary then we have to choose respecting ourselves over him – and that will most likely mean the end of the relationship.
Set the stage.
But if we let these guys know early on in the relationship what we are and aren't willing to put up with, what our deal breakers are, they will know early on what it means to have us in their lives, and that will set the stage for the whole relationship. But in in order to start off on that note, you first have to know yourself well enough to know what you are and aren't OK with; you have to know what you don't want. And here’s the clincher: They have to be your own. They can’t be what your friends, parents, books, relationship experts or anyone else says is OK or not OK for your relationship.
Stand up for what you deserve.
These boundaries have to be your own so that you can feel comfortable standing up for yourself and saying what you need from him in these areas and you have to know in your heart that you deserve it. And that’s a real important point - you deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated and if you are steadfast on that and don’t wimp out just because you really really like this guy and want him to be the one, then it might mean you have to say goodbye to him if he can’t respect that boundary. If he can’t respect a boundary you set, it doesn’t matter what he does, how much you want to hang onto him. He’s not the guy for you if he can’t respect that you have a certain standard for yourself, whether he likes it or not!
Stick up for yourself.
You might wind up the same - alone and heartbroken - either way, but if you stick to your boundaries and limits in the beginning and the relationship winds up being over closer to when it began, the difference is that you’ll still have your self-esteem and confidence intact. You’ll have more inner strength because you stood up for what you believed in, and the way you know you deserve to be treated. And you’ll have saved yourself a lot of wasted time and energy that you could be using with the guy who’s right for you, the real thing, instead of hanging onto what you know in your heart is more about your dream of what this relationship could be than what it actually is today. Because if he doesn’t respect your boundaries when you set them, he’s not going to respect you.