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Boundaries & Dating: How to make your standards known early in relationships

Personal boundaries are defined as "the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships." Many empaths and codependents were raised by parents who didn't have boundaries of their own, and also did not respect other peoples' boundaries. Toxic people find others' boundaries to be "rude," but boundaries are in fact an important part of establishing one’s identity as well as a crucial aspect of mental health and wellbeing. Boundaries can be physical, and emotional and healthy boundaries can sometimes be something people have to work at establishing for themselves. I am here to tell you that it is absolutely, one hundred percent vital to establish healthy boundaries for yourself, and to make them known as soon as you can when it not only comes to romantic relationships, but professional relationships, familial relationships, and friendships.

Because when we do not establish and protect our own boundaries, we can easily fall into the clutches of toxic people or in narcissistic relationships. If you need to know where to begin in setting and establishing healthy boundaries for yourself and what those might look like, check out this article which can help.

Here are a few quick tips when it comes to boundaries and dating:

  1. Test his respect for boundaries: One way to do this is to establish a small, innocuous boundary from the beginning to see if the other party will respect it. If your name is Stephanie, and you go by Steph, make mention of the fact that you prefer to be called by your nickname rather than your full name. If they are a toxic person and they may choose not to respect this small boundary, they are testing the waters to see how rigid you will be in keeping this boundary and might see what else they can get away with.

  2. Phone Numbers and Communication: Another example for the divas who are on dating apps is to not give out your phone number, Instagram handle, or any contact information. When a man asks you for your phone number, simply inform him that you prefer all communication to be done on the app until you've met someone in person. Him: "Hey, I hate using this app. Could I get your number so we can text?" You: "I don't give out my phone number until I've met someone in person. I'd prefer to keep chatting on here until we've gone on a date." In some cases, men will unmatch--and that's OK! In fact, that's GREAT information to have. If someone can't respect a simple boundary, then you don't want them anyway!

Boundaries in Relationships Once you've moved into a committed relationship with your man, you may have to navigate some challenges with how to deal with his former lovers. Ideally, he doesn't have ex-girlfriends who are still in his life.

A former lover who sends emails, calls, hangs around, shows up and makes a pest of herself is still obsessed with your boyfriend. She is not done yet and she hangs on to the idea that she can get him back. Now you must figure out whether he is enjoying this game or not, even though he complains about this woman. If she is just a pest and he doesn’t want to see her again, he won’t answer the phone or respond to her emails. If he is tricked into taking the phone call from her, he will tell her not to call him again. If she comes around, he will find a reason for not seeing her. If she is vengeful, and if he really wants to be rid of her, you will know it because he will change his phone number and change his address as well. But if he enjoys this game with her, he will take phone calls, respond to her emails, and so forth, even though he says he wants to be rid of her. In that case, you must set boundaries clearly, so you can say this to him, “If you consent to her game, this is a depraved courtship, and I must move on because my standards won’t allow me to stay in something like this.”

If his ex-wife has remarried or has her life together and doesn’t call except to say when she will be by to pick up the children, you are lucky! This is a very pleasant ex-wife. Although you can like her, she can’t become your friend. Your relationship with your boyfriend has to be your No. 1 priority and can’t be watered down by being his ex-wife’s friend. Her views of him can affect your view of him.

You might end up having the same relationship with him simply because you anticipate the same problems, according to what she has told you. Worse still, what she says could be out of her own secret agenda of not wanting to see him happier with another woman. It is a very rare ex-wife who isn’t slightly curious and perhaps slightly jealous of you as her replacement. Her ego will cause her to compare you with herself. This ex-wife may not be as nice about you behind your back as she appears to be to your face. She may truly like you or she may only seem truly to like you. It doesn’t matter. Your behavior should stay the same: If she isn’t a worry, be friendly and civil, but also be smart enough to protect your relationship from his ex-wife’s influence.

This boundary in dating must be set very clearly. A problematic ex-wife knows all his hot buttons to pull out all the stops, i.e. blame, guilt and shame. Never put up with problematic ex-wives. Any ex-wife who still comes over or calls for advice is infringing and has no right to fairness or to anything else. That’s exactly why she is an ex-wife. If your boyfriend still spends Christmas together with his children and his ex-wife or has lengthy talks on the phone a few times a week with his ex-wife, they are only technically divorced because they are still psychologically married.

Another sign is they meet for dinner or coffee when he brings kids back from visitation. That is a red flag. Furthermore, when their conversations are peppered with “my ex”, you know they haven’t consummated their divorce psychologically. The word “my” is a personal pronoun which shows possession. This pronoun denotes a lingering connection. It’s okay to use this pronoun occasionally, but if it’s used too often, it indicates a continuing status of possessive connection.

So, here is how to set boundaries when this situation arises:

In order to be emotionally free, individuals must divorce not only on paper, but also divorce each other’s possessions, divorce each other in their behavior toward each other and divorce each other in their speech references to each other. Therefore, you need to tell your boyfriend to use his ex-wife’s name whenever he refers to her, e.g. “Jennifer did this…” or “John’s mother did this…” Pro tip from Shay Levister (Certified Love Transformer™): When you are talking to your boyfriend, you should try your best not to mention his ex-wife, because each time you mention his ex-wife, you are reminding him of her once! Get rid of this woman in your conversations with your boyfriend, please.

His children & your children

If a man tells you that he can’t marry you because his kids need him to do this or that right now, here is the reality that I have to tell you – A guy can use his children as an excuse to vacillate or hedge. This is another way to avoid commitment. Though he can make himself sound idyllic, noble, angelic and honorable that he is thinking about his children’s needs and being such a great father, the truth is he is hiding behind his kids and using them as an excuse not to commit to you – you are not his No. 1. He is not ready for a real relationship with you and you are letting yourself in for meddling by kids and for second-place status with him. If this happens, it is certainly a no-win situation. How to set boundaries in dating when his children are involved:

Don’t try to be a second mom.

Don’t be a baby-sitter for his kids.

Don’t let him use his kids as an excuse.

Don’t ingratiate yourself to his family.

Don’t get involved in issues with his kids.

If you are a single mother, you might tend to make peers of your kids. Your talk to them as if they are your friends and you may even confide your problems to them. If this is true, you may unconsciously move your child from friend into spouse position psychologically. I really don’t want to say the words, yet you have to know that this term used for giving a child spouse-position priority is called “emotional incest”. I understand that you would never intend this, and that’s why I have to be honest with you. The problem caused by emotional incest from spouse-position priority treatment is if you find a new guy and get married one day, your child will feel betrayed as a wife does when she finds her husband has left her for another woman. Your child will feel emotionally lied to, cheated on and filled with anger and depression. Don’t let this happen without your realizing it. Boundaries are essential to self-love. When you set boundaries, you are showing yourself that you know yourself and what is best for you. When you let someone disrespect your boundaries, you are allowing yourself to feel negatively, which is not in the vibration of love. Boundaries are also the BEST way to show and tell someone how you demand to be treated.

Shay Levister, known as “Shay Your Love Diva™,” is a Certified Love Transformer®, international best-selling author, founder of Shay Better LLC and world-renowned speaker voted top 5 female love coaches in the world with a thriving love coaching practice that helps high-end singles all around the world. Apart from being a “Master Certified Love Coach”, Shay is also a Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) practitioner. Shay’s “Boss Diva University” program is designed exclusively for elite and successful single women who refuse to settle when it comes to attracting the love of their lives.

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