Dating in the 21st century is a complicated jumble, not least because everyone on the dating scene has their own playbook and rules they abide by. The proliferation of dating apps and hookup culture means relationships are as complicated as they are disposable. It makes it all the more important to know what you’re about, and to be clear with others about your intentions and boundaries in dating.
The place of boundaries in relationships
God has made each of us as distinct, unique beings that reflect our Creator. Though we share many similarities with other people, we are a complex and singular combination of personality, nurture, and interests. Because of this, our needs are also unique, and this includes our needs in relationships.
Boundaries are important in relationships because they demarcate where one person ends and the other begins. Having those distinctions clear helps the people in the relationship know how to best love each other and meet each other’s needs effectively.
Even in new relationships, being clear about boundaries is a way of knowing who the other person is, what they can tolerate, and what they consider non-negotiable. If you’re on board with those boundaries, that’s part of starting on the right foot and building a strong relationship.
Some examples of boundaries in dating
When you’re dating someone, it can be tempting to cast all restraint aside and immerse yourself headlong in the relationship. When emotions are heady and overwhelming, it’s easy to overlook things that you ordinarily wouldn’t. It’s important to know and assert your boundaries in all your relationships, and that includes when you’re dating.
Not only does setting boundaries help you love and honor each other better, but it sets the parameters for a potential future relationship. Some examples of boundaries that you can have and set while dating include:
Whether the relationship is exclusive or open. You don’t want to invest yourself only to discover that your counterpart is dating other people.
How you’ll handle social media.
Social media is a huge part of people’s lives. For some people, unless you can post about your relationship, it may not even be real. You can talk about what’s okay to post, whether you can follow each other online, and how you interact with others in the digital space.
How much time you spend together.
How you spend your time is an indicator of what you care about. Some people want to spend every possible moment with their new significant other, while others require some space to invest in other relationships. Do your dates spend time with your family during holidays? This can become a point of friction if you’re not clear about what your boundaries are.
How to communicate with each other, and how often.
Phone, text, voice calls, FaceTime calls. We have a wealth of resources and are infinitely reachable at all times. Too many texts can be suffocating, or maybe that’s how you thrive. Some people want instant responses, while others let messages linger before replying. Some people like texts over voice calls, and vice versa. Get that settled so you know each other’s preferences.
Physical and emotional intimacy. If you desire to honor God with your body, then there may be limits to what you can do in the intimacy department while dating. Some people like public displays of affection, while others detest them.
Gift-giving is an integral part of dating. However, the value and occasions for gifts may require some discussion.
You may or may not be willing to loan money or do other favors for your partner like detailing their car or picking up their laundry. It’s good to be clear about these things.
How to bring up boundaries in your relationship
Bringing up your boundaries can be daunting. For one thing, many people fear that it’ll make them seem high-maintenance or demanding. However, if you don’t talk about your boundaries, you may get endlessly frustrated with each other when your partner does things you don’t appreciate. You can talk about your boundaries up front in various ways, including:
- If on a dating app, you can put your main boundaries up front. For instance, you can say that you’re seeking a committed relationship.
- Let it come up naturally in conversation as you touch on different topics. For example, when you’re sharing your holiday plans, talk about how you handle holidays overall.
- Bring it up for discussion when a boundary is violated. It is important to recognize when you are uncomfortable with something.
Your boundaries are a key part of who you are, and honoring them is a way for your partner to love and care for you. If you want to find out more about boundaries, including how to set and maintain them, you can consult with a counselor at Redding Christian Counseling in California who can help you understand your boundaries and give you the tools to value and set your boundaries. Call us today to connect with a Christian counselor in Redding, California.
“Reading Together”, Courtesy of Thought Catalog, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cuddling by the Lake”, Courtesy of Mindy Sabiston, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Loving Couple”, Courtesy of artawkm, Unsplash.com, CC0 License