When I opened myself to the possibility of new love, in the past, I failed one thing: setting boundaries. I’m human, so I will make mistakes. In the past few years, I started setting boundaries.
Sure, sometimes setting them kinda of hurt. It’s the hurt like a petulant child having a tantrum over candy that they’ve been begging their parent to buy them. Instead of a parent, it’s been myself that has denied, well, by myself.
What kind of things did I set boundaries for?
Well, in the beginning, when I wasn’t looking for a solid long term relationship, I set simple things down, that coincide with my morals at the time:
- Always ask potential partners about sexual history. Most this to make sure they were clean (No sexually transmitted diseases) and when the last time they were tested.
- I can talk to them and carry on an intelligent conversation. I’m turned off if a guy has no brain or some semblance of culture.
- If the guy is pushy, immediately say no, and walk away. Even if a guy has a nice smile, and has nice touches, if I said no and they kept doing it, they are being too forward. I’ve often found that they don’t care about consent.
- I wouldn’t date anyone beyond 10 years older or 10 years younger. Sounds silly, but I’m uncomfortable with dating anyone that is severely younger or older.
So, those were a few boundaries I established a few years ago.
After getting bored with friends with benefits and a few hookups, I decided to try my hand again in the dating pool. However, mind you, I was starting to date again at 36. Prior to my dalliance years, I had long term relationships. Sure, the ending hurt the most, but I had a lot of great memories.
I loved traveling, going to concerts, discovering new things during intimate moments, conversing, and more. When I’m in a relationship, I really commit to taking care of the person I’m with. I usually expect an equal return, in and out of the bedroom.
Of course, since then, I’ve come across all sorts of people with their own personal agendas. Usually it’s the “thirsty as fuck” crowd, that they woo with words, and then, “wham, bam, buh-bye ma’am.” A lot of these types of guys bring unwelcome drama and irritation.
So, when I started dating again, I added more boundaries:
- No hookups. I’m looking to date only.
- I’m okay with sex on the first date, but honestly, I’d like to steer clear of it for a while. Some people can still have relationships after having sex, but in most cases, this could just end things.
- Give 3-4 months to see each other, and then ask if they would like to commit to adding a label, like girlfriend and boyfriend. For me, this is important, as it’s solidifies commitment, and eliminates any confusion.
- If I feel we’re in some type of competition, it’s a no go. I’ve accomplished a lot, in my life, and so have others. I like to hear other’s stories, but when we’re measuring penises, I can’t even think of a guy as dating material anymore. And it makes me wonder if there’s an underlying issue, if bragging is the only thing fueling the conversation.
- If sex is had early on, be firm on reminding the other party about what I’m looking for and ask them to think about what they want.
- Be a friend and let them go, if they really aren’t that into me. Sex might be decent, but it’s not worth heartache to me, if I can’t have my feeling reciprocated.
These last ones have helped.
Exhibit A in Sticking to Set Boundaries
I was in a relationship with a guy, and we did have sex early on. I really felt comfortable with him, and he seemed like he was interested in more. I had explained early on about what I wanted and set my boundary. In fact, it took several months of him pursuing me, to even agree to meet up with him.
I reminded him after the second month about my boundaries. Honestly, I was getting a bit shaky on what was going on, as our communication started to dwindle to when the next time I would be around. When we did have any conversations, he indicated wanting to do things in the future with me, like go on trips and such. I enjoyed our conversation and banter. Additionally, he was a huge cuddler. In my past hookups, and friends with benefit situations, NONE of them cuddled. My ex-husband even barely cuddled. I do like good cuddling. 😉
At the third month, after feeling some mixed signals, I decided to lay all my cards down and be upfront. I needed to know what he wanted. While the interest seemed to be there, in the end, he wasn’t on the same page. He wanted to just go have trips, including a trip where I’d be staying at my parent’s home. My dad is a little traditional, so with this guy, with no commitment to me, other than we roll around in the sheets, it wouldn’t fly if I just brought him in to stay with my folks. Like “Hey, dad, here’s my friend. We just need one room.”
I realize too, from talking with him, that while his “like” could’ve been genuine, he also said he wasn’t ready to date. That’s acceptable and valid. I’m not one to force someone into anything if they aren’t ready or even if they aren’t “that” into me.
I decided, even though it hurt me some, that it was better to step back into a regular friend role. I wished him well, said I would cheer him on, as he had some personal demons to battle, and then, I let him go. I honestly did care for this particular guy, as I know he does have a good heart. I just think he’s gone through a lot of tough and hurtful times, but I had to protect myself, by letting him go.
The lesson was that I stuck to my boundaries. If I would’ve just kept giving and giving, I would’ve become more invested, and in the end, hurt myself a lot.
For a lot of people, setting boundaries is difficult, because they are rules that often, are the most challenging. They help keep a person in check and from not selling out, as well as keep them away from major heartache.