Boundaries are a pretty hard thing to get a handle on for both men and women so I expect most people to struggle with them. That’s why, when I met the amazing guy I’m dating now and he actually knew how to treat me with the respect and dignity I deserve, I had no idea what to do with myself.
Let’s just define what good boundaries look like for me.
Good boundaries look a little different for everyone, but for me, they’re still holding onto parts of our own lives – not canceling activities that are important to us for a date. Also, they’re being on the date for a reasonable amount of time (maybe an hour or so) as opposed to all day. Boundaries are refraining from talking all day, every day before we know each other. They’re taking the physical aspect as slow as is needed for both parties. Lastly, it’s spending solid time apart as well as together.
I have a history of codependency.
To lay the groundwork to understand why this new guy is so shocking to me, I have to admit that my historical experience with relationships is riddled with codependency. I’m quite familiar with getting lost in people and blurring our lives into one toxic puddle. However, I know that this isn’t helpful or how I want to live, so I’ve been working to change my ways the past few years.
Even though logically I want to maintain my independence, it’s too easy to fall into old habits.
It takes a really long time to break an ingrained habit. I know I’m not going to magically become a healthy boundary-setter in relationships over night. But, I do want to learn. Despite that desire for change, a part of me still wants to stay comfortably in old habits. Can you tell I’m going back and forth in my head? It’s scary to do things in new ways even if they’re good for me. As Jack Heath said, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
I’m used to dating guys without good boundaries.
Just because my boundary setting has grown successfully, it doesn’t mean the guys I’ve dated have also been successful. I’ve actually never dated a guy who was able to set solid boundaries for himself. I’ve usually had to be the one to do the work. So, when this guy I’m seeing came along, it was totally cool and scary to share in the boundary-setting.
Despite my discomfort, this is what I’ve been hoping for.
Sure, I’m terrified and uncomfortable, but I’m also psyched and enamored. I’ve been hoping and dreaming for a partner who’s growing in this way just like I am. Now that I have him, I’m definitely wrestling a bit with what to do, but it’s all a great thing because these are the kind of habits that leads to a healthy partnership.
This is some next level crap.
You can probably draw the conclusion that as my past is littered with codependent relationships, it’s also littered with unhealthiness all around. I’ve been working for this, though. During each encounter, I’ve been working a little harder to be better. Meeting this guy seems like a chance to continue to grow in healthiness with a partner. It’s seriously some next level crap that I’ve never experienced before.
We can learn a thing or two from each other.
I’ve been learning certain ways to set good boundaries, specifically when it comes to getting physically intimate. I haven’t been so focused on other ways to set boundaries, like communicating in between dates in early days. I could learn from him there and he could learn from me in the physical aspect.
Having good boundaries is pretty sexy.
Though my first instinct is to roll my eyes and desire a guy who’s obsessed with me and has crappy boundaries, my second instinct is better. This new instinct is to find this guy even more attractive as a result of his boundary setting and general ways of dating. Where I used to find chaos sexy, I now find signs of emotional health to be sexy AF.
Boundaries mean that he cares for and respects both of us.
In my past, I would think that being told “no” or only receiving one five minute phone call a day meant that he wasn’t interested. Now I know that it means he is definitely interested because he’s consistent and he also respects both himself and me. He definitely cares and wants us both to keep living our lives while also getting to know one another. It’s quite lovely.
I’m okay with being challenged this way in dating — it usually means I’m growing.
I’m not afraid to be nudged out of my comfort zone anymore. Rather, I know that my comfort zone in dating is usually filled with old unhealthy ways of being. Now I welcome the nudge, however scary, and I know that we have a chance at building something beautiful, solid, and healthy.
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