Part 7: Boundaries in Dating, Continued
The Importance of Giving Each Other Space
Few things are more exciting than when you first start dating someone who’s a lot of fun and you want to get to know better. It makes you want to spend ALL your time with them! It’s easy to lose yourself in the infatuation and passion of the moment. And even though you want to spend every minute together, it’s important to allow for time apart.
Giving each other occasional space is an important boundary.
Time apart allows you and the other person to decide what’s important and how you feel about each other and the relationship.
Without time apart, you can become engulfed in the relationship and lose your sense of perspective; space gives you the chance to see how you feel about the situation. It also gives you a chance to miss the other person.
Another benefit to giving each other space, is that it protects your individualism – you’re able to pursue your passions and interests, and socialize with your friends.
If you spend all your free time with the other person, you may lose touch with the important people in your life, or let personal priorities slip. It’s important to set aside time for what matters most to you.
For example, consider setting aside a day once or twice a month where you hang out with your friends or loved ones without the person you’re dating. This ensures that you don’t accidentally cut off people who are important to you while infatuated with someone else.
Know How and Where to Express Yourself
Besides taking time apart, it’s important to know how and where to express yourself and your boundaries with your partner. Never have difficult or emotional conversations in a way or place that makes the other person feel uncomfortable or attacked.
Boundaries are meant to help create and maintain a healthy relationship.
For intimate discussions, find a safe, private place where your conversation won’t be overheard. Some good ideas are parks or public places that afford a measure of privacy. If you feel safe and comfortable, and it’s appropriate, perhaps consider having this important conversation over a romantic meal at one of your homes.
However, a safe rule of thumb is to pick a neutral location so that neither individual feels as though they have the upper hand. Places like coffee shops, parks, or restaurants are good, neutral places for civil conversations.
Lastly, it’s not a good idea to catch your partner off guard with an important conversation. The responsible thing is to choose an agreed-upon time. This ensures that both parties are prepared emotionally and mentally for a productive conversation.
Whatever you do, don’t call up the other person and start dumping your feelings and concerns on them. Chances are, they’ll become defensive and pushback, especially if they’re stressed or feel blindsided.
Listen to Your Partner’s Needs
Your partner has boundaries and needs. Do you know what they are? The relationship isn’t just about you and what you want. For the relationship to last and be healthy, your partner needs to feel heard and respected. Thoughtfully consider and respect their boundaries. Boundaries are a two-way street.
It’s always great when you and your partner’s boundaries are similar and fit well together. It isn’t unusual for certain boundaries to conflict. Don’t panic if this happens. Boundaries can be flexible. Explore flexibility within your boundaries and negotiate a compromise if possible. Make it a win-win. The only boundaries that aren’t flexible are your non-negotiables.
Dating is fun and exciting. Healthy boundaries safeguard the relationship and foster harmony and respect. Share and enforce nonnegotiables early in the relationship; be flexible and compromise on your other boundaries if/when needed.
Remember the importance of having boundaries relating to time apart and expressing yourself.
Lastly, be a grown up – listen to your partner’s wants and needs because dating isn’t all about you and what you want. Genuine love is more about giving than getting.