Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recaps from Sunday night's chat with Expert Emily

Emily Shupert, LCPC from Atlanta, Georgia leads a monthly chat in The Meeting Room on the Cache' Connections website. One of her favorite topics is "boundaries in dating." Here are some highlights from this week's chat:

Emily: Boundaries are property lines that separate us from one another and keep the good in and the "bad" out....they keep us healthy in relationships by not overly connecting with someone and losing who we are in the process, being smothered, or overpowering someone else.

Chatter: so a form of appropriate balance? so we maintain our identity and our identity is not "blurred" by getting involved with another person.

Emily: Yes, right on! Many times we get into relationships and lose who we are because we get so excited in the relationship that we either overpower the other person or let them do that for us.

Chatter: does taking it slow and keeping the physical "at bay" help to keep the relationship healthy and boundaries intact?

Emily: It can for sure. There are several types of boundaries made such as physical boundaries (what you will and won't do physically), time (how much time you have together and separate), and relational boundaries... These are all taken and adapted from Cloud/Townsend's Boundaries book but I use it specifically for each client.
There are several dimensions and while one might display physical boundaries (only kissing, no sex before marriage, etc.) they might lack boundaries in others.
Boundaries are wonderful in relationships because they help us maintain our self in the relationship and thus help the relationship thrive.

Emily: Anyone else have any questions? Have either of you all been in a relationship where you wondered if there were/were not boundaries present?

Chatter: I have a female christian friend with whom I'm pretty upset right now because...of lack of boundaries in her dating relationship with men... she will go on a picnic to the park for a first date...pretty intimate for a first date!!

Emily: Sounds like you are watching her make unwise decisions. It is really difficult watching people we love make decisions that we believe to be unwise but it is hard because we also have to exhibit healthy boundaries when we see them go in that direction. I would encourage you to be a supportive presence and if she says something to you/asks for feedback, I'd ask that you consider sharing your insights. With grace and love of course....but sometimes people aren't available to hear.

Chatter: I think same-gender accountability is very important.

Chatter: I'm afraid this may reflect poorly on me....by association I mean.

Emily: You get to decide if it is someone who will be open or not to feedback. However, I would encourage you to maybe ask her "are you available for feedback?" If she isn't, then you get to decide to move forward but you might be able to help her by saying "I've seen some things and wanted to share my observations..."
Come from the offense versus saying "you always" or "you shouldn't" because using defensive terms will shut people down, trust me. If you say something, I hope it is helpful but if she isn't open to feedback then you get to move away. Not because she reflects poorly on you but because she might be toxic in your environment where you are trying to create healthy relationships. It isn't that she is a horrible, awful person but if she is negatively going to influence and take away from your relationships, then it is negligent for you to keep her "hosting" on your healthy relationships....does that make sense?

Also, love her when she responds as if she is a rival. The greatest way to combat insecurity and a difficult person is by loving them but not feeding into their game.
Yes, friendships do have to have boundaries and many times we confuse loving others with enabling their unhealthy and childish behavior. In friendships, as in relationships, we are able to say "this is ok with me and this is not ok with me" as a form of boundaries. She is a great person or you wouldn't be a friend with her but it is important to make sure that her unhealthy behavior doesn't negatively affect you. Love her well by speaking truth and love if/when she is open.

Chatter: How do you know the difference between a woman playing hard to get and running for her life?

Emily: I think I lost him but will try my best to give as much helpful feedback with the knowledge I have from the situation.... If the person gives clear responses that she isn't interested by commenting about wanting to be only friends, not wanting to date, or not being available to go out several times in a row...these are typically signs that she might not be interested. In regards to playing hard to get, she might be playing hard to get but eventually she is going to have to show that she is interested. She might be shy so it would be helpful to tell her that you are interested. Or, she might just be someone who likes making someone race after her..... Not sure what type she is but I think eventually you have to let the games stop and be direct with one another....but then again, I'm biased b/c I don't really promote games :)

Life is short, let's tell each other that we are interested or not....go straight or go home :) Some folks love the rush of the game but if you like someone, just tell them...life is too short!

"Expert Emily" leads a discussion monthly at Cache' Connections. CLICK HERE for scheduled events and chats.

~ Linda
Cache' Connections

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