Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sunday night's chat: Boundaries in Dating with Expert Emily
Emily Shupert, LAPC, MABC, (let's call her "EE") leads a monthly chat at Cache' Connections, and her focus is now on Boundaries in Dating, one of her favorite topics. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the chat that took place in The Meeting Room on Sunday night:
Chatter: Please define boundary.
EE: A boundary is a property line that defines you from another person. It allows you to think and act differently with those whom you are in a relationship. That is the brief definition but in dating, it allows you to maintain a self in the midst of a different person. Many times you can define boundaries best by seeing where boundaries are lacking in relationships.... Have any of you all be in relationships where you felt like you "lost yourself"? Lack of boundaries in dating can have several faces to it and losing oneself is one of the many types of boundaries lacking in dating relationships.
Chatter: So are we talking a beginning relationship not led to marriage yet?
EE: If you have been taken advantage of in past relationships, it is helpful to know that this is part of your story in order to look for someone who doesn't override your boundaries. It is really easy for someone to lose themselves early on....
Sometimes people are more in love with the idea of love that they enter into a relationship with someone whom won't allow them to be themselves. It is far more "romantic" to enter into a relationship without any thought than to maintain yourself and your boundaries.
By stepping back when someone tries to force their beliefs onto you, their opinions, etc. Also, suggest to him/her that you feel like you are needing to assert yourself a bit more in the relationship. By using "I" statements, they won't feel attacked. It is important that your actions and words are congruent with one another.
A situation where someone might lack boundaries in a dating relationship is when a man or woman is speeding up the relationship without the other person feeling comfortable.
Chatter: So I would say mostly is making sure you present yourself and be yourself and keep that, and if they do not like or enjoy then time to move on?
EE: Yes...but there area other areas as well such as lacking boundaries by dating the wrong people, not dating at all in order to be "safe", or having romantic friendships.
Chatter: Often times people don't understand what kind of boundaries to set.
EE: If you are in a relationship where you feel angry and taken advantage of it might be a sign that someone has overridden your boundaries or you are overriding someone else's boundaries. Boundaries isn't limited to simply "standing your ground" but it can also be when people are in romantic friendships where it is more like friends with benefits (emotional or physical). In the Christian world, it is a lot easier to have romantic friendships because it appears to be "safe" instead of dating...however there is a false sense of intimacy without any commitment.
Chatter: So, then I guess, I am assertive, how might I know if I have stepped over someone else's boundaries? Or is there a way to know others if they do not communicate them?
EE: You cannot be certain that you are overriding someone else's without them telling you but you can also pray and ask the Lord to show you where you are living beyond areas of your control. We each are told to carry our own load but if you are carrying others loads or taking control of what isn't yours to control, this might be an indicator.
Often it is helpful to ask others for honest feedback, those who love you well, and ask if you are steamrolling over them at time. This takes great courage to ask for feedback. But it is helpful because others can be a mirror to you and help you become a better person.
Chatter: So then if he calls too much it is a problem as well, correct? How often should a man call a lady at beginning of a relationship?
EE: I think it is fine if he calls and he can be direct by asking, "How often would you like to talk?" It might but you can say, "I really like talking with you on the phone and I want to make sure that I respect you, your time, and your boundaries..." "So let me know how often you would like to talk so we can get to know one another better."
EE: Where else have you all struggled with boundaries in relationships?
Chatter: What about when a person wants to know about your past? Do we have to tell them anything?
EE: You don't owe anyone an explanation on your past until you feel comfortable. It is Your story and you get to decide when to share. Many times in relationships individuals feel like they need to disclose everything or nothing at all....it is your decision to share information when you feel comfortable. Comfort is based on one's trust and as you begin to trust more, you can disclose more. You don't have to share the ins and outs...would you share that info with a stranger on the street at first meeting? If not, then you don't need to do that to someone on a date.
Getting to know someone is the most important process and I've never heard someone come into my office with marriage issues saying "we waited too long to get married" :) A year is very beneficial because you are able to experience the person throughout all the seasons, meet their family, and get to know the "real" person.
... Keep checking your boundaries and date with integrity :)
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