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How (and Why) to Set Dating Boundaries


Part III of III

I’ve always thought that dating was meant to be fun, exciting, romantic and glamorous. And I’ve always wanted the guys I meet to think I'm carefree, easy-going and fun to be around. But dating in real life isn’t at all like dating in my daydreams.

Dating can definitely be fun, exciting and romantic but these days it seems less than glamorous, especially considering much of the initial stages of dating usually takes part over technological devices. And then me, carefree? Easy-going? Not so much. I think I can be fun to be around, at least that’s what people tell me, but I have far too many aches, pains, rules, and boundaries to be carefree and easy-going. Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy rigid and unbending, I'm just looking out for numero uno now.

I’ve had to set some pretty strict boundaries with myself around dating. I really resisted doing it because I wanted dating to be all about the romance and being wooed by gallant men. But not setting boundaries was starting to cost me - I ended up

repeatedly dating guys who weren't for me, and my health went on a downswing because I wasn't respecting myself or my body. So these days ardour and gallantry have had to take a backseat to my well-being. And besides, I have standards I'm not willing to compromise on now that I'm a little older.

I have to confess though: I am the worst about sticking to my rules when I'm dating. I get caught up in the moment and say "to hell with it, I'll deal with the consequences tomorrow!" But that never works out well, does it? When I do stick to my rules, I'm happier with myself, and feel better the following day, inside and out.

Even if you don’t have a health condition, there may be some boundaries you want to set around dating. Here are a few examples:

  • Requiring at least one or two (or more) days’ notice to make plans. No making dates the day of the date.

  • No longer being available if he's more than half an hour late.

  • Meeting in public places on a first date and not accepting a ride with him until you know him better.

  • Putting a limit on how many drinks you have.

  • Not having sex until you are genuinely ready.

  • If you need your rest (like I do), deciding what time you will go home. If things are going well, there can always be a second or third date.

(OMG, I just read that list and it sounds so boring. Let me clarify, dating is still fun and romantic even if you do have boundaries in place.)

So, set the boundary with yourself first, commit to it, and then hold yourself accountable. Once you are on board, then communicate it to your date, firmly yet kindly:

  • "No, thank you.",

  • "Would you be willing to…..?"

  • "I'm sorry, you were 45 minutes late, so I made other plans."

If you are willing to break your rules, just know that you are setting a precedent and he will expect you do to the same in the future.

If you're worried he's not going to like you if you set boundaries, don't. It's important for you to be yourself, and chances are he's going to respect you more for it. Be yourself now, ask for your needs to be met right away, set your boundaries at the beginning, and you will be happier with yourself and with the relationship in the long term.

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