During counseling one day I worked with a young woman who couldn’t see that she was in another unhealthy dating relationship. She had her ups and downs with a man she had dated for several months. She complained that he wasn’t dependable and always made excuses for his bad behavior. Even though she was frustrated with him she too made excuses for him. It was a toxic relationship for sure! Because she didn’t have clear boundaries with defined consequences, she found herself jumping from one relationship to the next, wondering why the previous one failed.
Setting boundaries in relationships create loving and lasting relationships. So, let’s look at why boundaries are important in maintaining good relationships. Ask yourself this question: How many times has someone who you have dated knowingly pushed your “hot button”? For example, you’ve told your date that you need to be home at a certain time so you can be in bed and be rested for an important meeting at work the next day. Your date coerces you into stopping at his favorite night club to hear the local jazz band. You remind him that you need to get up early but he completely ignores your request. Finally he drops you off at home, much later than you expected and tells you to “get over it”.
As we look at the woman’s situation, I ask, who is the blame? Is it the young woman or her date? How could she have made the evening work for both of them? Do you think boundaries could have helped her avoid getting home so late? Let’s look at how this particular situation could have been avoided. First of all she needed to give him a specific time to be home and left that open for him to decide. Second, she didn’t take control of the time at the night club. This is just one example of having boundaries in all relationships. Personal, employment, and family relationships require boundaries. Boundaries are absolutely necessary in all relationships. It’s up to us to enforce them and follow through with the consequences if they are violated. Do you have boundaries with your spouse? Do you have boundaries at work and with your friends?
Setting boundaries can keep you out of trouble. Had this woman made it clear that she needed to be home at a certain time she would have earned her date’s respect and would have ended the evening respecting herself. It’s not difficult to set boundaries; the hard part is enforcing them. The hardest word in keeping your boundaries is saying ‘No!’. By saying ‘no’ you are letting others know that you and only you are in control! Boundaries in dating are so fundamentally important to creating strong healthy relationships… They will help you determine if you should stay in a relationship – or not. Having your boundaries respected will help you determine if the person you’re dating truly respects you.