Last week I asked readers “Do you have boundaries in your relationships?” which threw up some interesting comments. I want to continue to address the issue of the lack of boundaries in relationships and the significant impact that it can have on your health and the types of relationship that you engage in.
One reader, ARulesGirl2TheEnd encapsulated the whole boundary issue when she said “My mum taught me about boundaries when I was in my teens; she told me to think of it as a kind of Me Club. Set the rules of the club and when people break those rules, politely ask them to leave.“
At times you will even find that you can’t be polite! The main thing is though, that you do ask them to leave.
What is concerning, as I mentioned in the original post and it was reflected in the comments, is the complete absence of boundaries with women, or in some cases very little.
Boundaries are required for all relationships – that’s friends, family, colleagues, and lovers. Everyone.
By having boundaries, you teach people how to treat you and regard you, and those that don’t play ball and cross or bash the boundary lines, get turfed out of your club.
I often find that women who have poor relationships fall into two camps:
They have none or poor boundaries across all of their relationships, or
They have no problem getting medieval on people like their female friends but clamp up around men.
Men don’t deserve special treatment like their kids or pets that don’t know better!
Every relationship you have requires that you have boundaries in place. Boundaries act as your guiding light and you know whether to pass ‘go’ and collect £200, whether you should hang back or proceed with caution, or whether you should take a parachute and jump because you need to abort the mission.
When you have boundaries, you get alerted to inappropriate or downright unacceptable behaviour and you act upon the signal created by having boundaries in place because you listen to yourself, make a judgement, and act upon it.
But how do I set boundaries?
Once you know you have none or very little boundaries, you have to put boundaries in place and the easiest way to do this is by learning to say ‘NO’.
‘NO’ is not a dirty word! Life is not about being a yes person and rolling over so you can be walked all over and kicked whilst you are down. Being in a relationship is not about being a martyr!
The word ‘NO’ allows you to respect you…and for others to respect you. Nobody can say yes all the time and regardless of whatever warped messaging is telling us the contrary, nobody expects you to say yes all the time…unless they’re an assclown.
Ask yourself, ‘What am I not prepared to accept in a relationship?’ so that you can define your boundaries.
If you can’t think of something, you know something’s really, really wrong, because we can all find at least ten things that are a serious no-go for a relationship!
If you accept everything that comes your way, how would you make the decision to opt out?
The truth is, if you’re a woman who’s like a dog with a bone and won’t opt out and instead is expecting him to change, for him to become like you think he should be, or just cruising along blaming yourself and accepting that life and men are sh*t, you have no boundaries.
Boundaries force you to be accountable and take responsibility for your own happiness…or your misery.
We’re often scared of having boundaries as if being a pushover who is all accepting is a really attractive quality because we’re scared of being alone, scared of trusting our judgement, scared that he’ll magic into The Ideal Man if we tell him to take a run and jump, and just plain scared of saying ‘NO’.
This is like being scared of assigning value to yourself.
So go back to basics….
What should you be saying no to?
What do you want to say no to right now but can’t get the words out?
What makes you feel miserable and taken advantage of?
What are your consistent negative threads (your patterns) in your relationships and what has it taught you about what is and isn’t acceptable?
Ask yourself if you’re a ‘yes’ person and what could you cut back on
– one woman I spoke with cut back on her ‘yes’ instinct and injected a ‘no’ into her day by literally, for every 9 yes’ saying no, and then introducing more. She found it excruciating initially but at the same time empowering and people adjusted around her. Guess what? She’s happier.
Are you pretending to be happy and grimacing your way through life? You know when you smile but it’s a tight one, or the smile doesn’t reach your eyes because you’re in turmoil within? What is bugging you?
Do you have boundaries in other areas of your life such as with family and friends? What can you apply to your relationships with men?
And I should say, often there is very little difference between the fundamental boundaries and you shouldn’t be prepared to accept more shit in your life because it has a penis and testicles hanging off the end of it…
List your potential boundaries that have arisen through your introspection – you’ll find that a number cross into each other and can be summarised into one boundary. The likelihood is that you should be able to find at least ten things that are major nono’s for you
The important thing though, is that whatever happens, you need to ensure that you enforce boundaries because that is the true test of them – that you live by them. It’s incredibly empowering and what you’ll find surprising is that saying no or opting out of situations that cross your boundaries, actually feels good.
Don’t spend your time trying to analyse the crap out of his behaviour and make excuses for it because you’re missing the point – it doesn’t feel good to you. End of. He’s crossed your boundaries. You don’t need to find an excuse for that – you need to process the information and opt out.
Get ahead on understanding waste of space men and relationships with my ebook, Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. Find out more and download.