I discovered today that I never learned to set boundaries because I never had to. I’m an only child that came from a loving home. Unfortunately, I think healthy relationships operate within these rules. I mean, that’s a good thing, it’s just unfortunate that I didn’t do that in either of my marriages. And, this is another big discovery: I think that boundaries would have shortened my marriage, not lengthened it. That would have ultimately been a good thing too though no less painful. I’ll be blogging soon about hindsight too.
I’ll start by telling you what I think boundaries are and then I’ll go research it and come back here and tell you if I was correct. I think boundaries are basically the green/yellow/red flag system. When I’m ready to get back into the dating world (and I really don’t know about this right now – it terrifies me.) I’d imagine a boundary discussion would include topics regarding make or break behaviors such as cheating, gambling problems, some sort of addiction, etc. Yellow flags can be part of a boundary system too. A yellow flag might be complaining about something every time you hang out, unhealthy eating, chronic lateness, no interests, etc. (I was having a hard time thinking of yellow flags so I looked some up. Most of what I found sounded like red flags to me.)
So here’s a sampling of boundaries I’m working on:
- You must ask, “Can I enter?” every time you cross a threshold to my house.
- Your favorite James Bond actor must be the same as mine.
- You must be willing to attempt double dutch jump roping.
- You must the put the shopping cart into the corral after you’ve loaded your car.
- You must defend my honor whenever the opportunity comes up by slapping your opponent on the face with a tortilla until first blood is drawn.
- You must unapologetically be able to watch a cartoon.
- When ordering food at a restaurant, you must sing it to the waiter/waitress.
- You must not be a politician nor sexually attracted to any politician with the exception of Terry Crews in Idiocracy.
- You must be able to guess my favorite color. (If you can’t, I mean… really?)
- You must have entered a timed parallel parking competition and won. Bring certificate to first date.
- You must be able to blow all of the bubbles that Spongebob did in that one episode.
- You must be fluent in all the cuss words of a foreign language.
Ok so here’s what they are from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_boundaries
Defining values: A healthy relationship is an “inter-dependent” relationship of two “independent” people. Healthy individuals should establish values that they honor and defend regardless of the nature of a relationship (core or independent values). Healthy individuals should also have values that they negotiate and adapt in an effort to bond with and collaborate with others (inter-dependent values).
Asserting boundaries: In this model, individuals use verbal and nonverbal communications to assert intentions, preferences and define what is in bounds and out-of-bounds with respect to their core or independent values. When asserting values and boundaries, communications should be present, appropriate, clear, firm, protective, flexible, receptive, and collaborative.
Honoring and defending: Making decisions consistent with the personal values when presented with life choices or confronted or challenged by controlling people or people not taking responsibility for their own life. In a dysfunctional relationship, respecting one’s own boundaries by honoring and defending them often provokes unwanted and uncomfortable responses from the people who are crossing the boundary lines. They may respond with disapproval, shame, resentment, pressure not to change the relationship, or other behaviors designed to restore the familiar old behavior patterns.
I would say that the relationship flag system is close. It is because you set your boundaries that you define a red flag and turn people with too many of them away, proceed with caution with people’s yellow flags, (and thoroughly pick at those yellow flags like scabs with purposeful conversation until they slide towards red or green flags) or eat up those green flags like candy. I ignored too many red flags in this last relationship. Love will blind you. I have to be more careful with my heart.
Boundaries need to be discussed early and often in a relationship. When they are encroached upon they need to be addressed right away in a respectful and loving way to avoid a fight if possible. I believe it is crossed boundaries that cause fights. Nobody’s perfect but if you fight and you can fight correctly, I recently learned it’s just one more opportunity to deepen the intimacy and bond between you and your partner. Wow… and I guess I have my next topic. This shit is flowing, bitches.
I look forward to building a giant concrete wall around myself. Right? This is the lesson, right?
Love, ~Sue Anne
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