NEED TO RESET RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES?

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Submitted Date 03/30/2019
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In December 2018, I wrote an article on Relationship Resets that started out as a way for me to process my own thoughts. When things go bad in a relationship, it is easy to give up especially when friends and loved ones tell you “You deserve BETTER.” Of course, you do. We all do.

The ugly truth is we are all human. Regardless of what relationship we are struggling with, we need to learn to take the bad with the good. Or the good with the bad.

In my twenties, I focused on my education rather than settling down with the first guy that got my attention. Oh, do I remember that guy! Probably the worst decision of my life to choose to love a man who would disappear for a week here and there without a word.

My problem was BOUNDARIES, something I couldn’t grasp having grown up with a dysfunctional family marked by adultery and narcissistic men. What happened was predictable. He was my first everything—first kiss, first love, first date, first infatuation, first (maybe, multiple) heartbreaks.

While I could have been bitter and say the guy ruined my life and took my virginity with him, anyone that knows me would say I am resilient. Nothing keeps me down for long.

Over time, I realized the success of relationships we have with others is about setting and respecting boundaries. And sometimes, they need a reset? Whether a relationship succeeds for fails depends on multiple factors. Are the two people being honest about their boundaries? Are they respecting them? Is it possible to compromise them?

Get Over the Cliché Boundaries

In my twenties, I assumed my boundaries were a lot of cliché No’s.

· No sex on the first date.

· No anal (ever) or other sexual activity outside of the norm.

· No sex with other people.

· No threesomes.

· No interfering with my studies.

Discovering Your Boundaries

It did not take long for me to realize that society cannot be my conscious when it comes to boundaries. The ugly truth is some boundaries are not negotiable. Some boundaries are not about drawing the line, but also about pushing it to the limit.

When I found myself in an unhappy marriage, I realized I did not speak out enough when a line was crossed. I also allowed societal norms to control my choices to not explore something I wanted to experience.

I wanted to be successful but worried about emasculating my then husband. I wanted to start a family but thought I had to wait until he was ready. I dismissed my concerns that my clock was ticking for the sake of my partner. Nothing like losing an ovary to give you a kick in the ass.

Apart from professional and family-related boundaries, sexual boundaries are a big factor these days. Most people are more vocal about their desires especially with the animosity of online dating. People can be themselves without fear of being discovered. If someone tells you they have a particular fetish, you could just block them without ever knowing their full name or going on a first date.

In order to have a successful relationship, boundaries need to be laid out on the table from the beginning and as they unfold. A willingness to discover your boundaries determines not just your own happiness but that of your relationship.

Redefining Your Boundaries

So, when I found myself dating again after years of marriage, I vocalized my boundaries to the point that men thought I was crazy. As a thirty-something woman, I made very clear:

· Don’t waste my time.

· I want to start a family someday.

· I want at least one kid.

· I want a career.

· I train BJJ which means you need to comfortable with me grappling with my teammates. Let me be specific. You need to be comfortable with me grappling with men.

Some men would tell me they had kids and did not want more. Some told me they hated being a dad because they had no time for themselves.

Having these tough conversations made me realize the kind of man I want to be with. It helped me discover another boundary for myself: I want to be with a man who loves being a dad. I also learned I was not willing to compromise my desire to have a kid to be with a man who already has kids with an ex.

It is great that someone is content with the kids they have, but I want kids too. Is it fair for someone to expect me to give up something so important because they have already checked that off their list? This leads me to the next topic; some boundaries cannot be compromised.

Some Boundaries Cannot be Compromised

We all have boundaries that deserve to be respected. Sometimes, respecting them means parting ways. Respecting one person’s boundaries should not mean you have to compromise your own.

As a 35-year-old woman, I have a ticking clock and have realized that if I do not have the chance to have a kid with someone I love, my chance to be a mother is not determined by a man's willingness to participate. Nowadays, sperm banks deliver the needed equipment in a nitrogen tank. If a partner truly loves you, they make a choice to support your choices. Since I was 16 years old, I have continuously sought ways to improve my fertility after being told I probably couldn't have kids. More than a decade of wanting kids and not thinking I could have them...is torture. Having the knowledge I can possibly make this happen made me realize one of the most vital boundaries for a partner--be willing to start a family with me or support my decision to try alternative methods. Granted, this is a deal breaker for many. Deal breakers are not compromisable.

 

Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

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