Before you walk the line, you’ve got to draw it.
What makes a relationship healthy? Good boundaries are vital. Setting healthy boundaries at the beginning of a relationship helps resolve conflict better than drama that occurs after someone has already crossed a line, which can lead to a big blow up. Raise your hand if you want to deal with that… (Silence, Crickets sound in the background)… What does a good boundary look like in a romantic relationship? To form a good boundary, we have to know what’s important to us: what we value. We can then use boundaries – or limits- to protect those values and ourselves.
So, what do we value? Some things might be friends, good communication, education, family, responsibility, faith, independence, honesty, trust, commitment, etc. People in healthy relationships share at least some values. For example, if I value friendship and my partner wants me to be available every waking moment, there needs to be a boundary somewhere. If I value compromise and my partner is controlling, we may have an issue. If I value health and my partner eats only junk food, smokes and drinks, this can also be problematic. It’s important, when thinking about values, to decide which ones are the most important to me, which ones would be a deal-breaker if they are not shared or dismissed by my partner.
Healthy boundaries are never more important than when dealing with sexuality. We need to be clear about what we want, our comfort level, and our limits. In a healthy relationship, our partner will respect us and our wishes. If we say that we not ready, and our partner pressures us on a regular basis, then we may need to re-evaluate the relationship.
Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect. We need to communicate our boundaries clearly. Then, we must respect our own values and be guided by them, and if our partner doesn’t respect them, well, “Next one. Please.”