This is probably one of the hardest relationship topics I’ve ever tried to discuss. And this is the longest post I’ve ever written. It’s difficult mainly because boundaries are a very conceptual topic. What boundaries you might have someone else might not have, your boundaries might change with time or you might have a boundary you don’t even know about until it’s crossed. Learning how to set boundaries with men is not an easy task especially when we’ve been conditioned to give, give, give to our partners. In this post, I’m going to give you examples of healthy boundaries in relationships.
This post is really going to help you:
Understand why boundaries are necessary;
Identify what boundaries you have;
Identify moments when your boundaries are crossed; and
Understand the common ways boundaries are crossed and how to combat disrespectful behavior.
Why Learning How To Set Boundaries With Men Is Necessary
As women, we’ve been taught to give ourselves totally to our partners and hold nothing back. I don’t know if it’s from watching too many Disney movies or bad parenting advice to “play nice and share,” but women these days are finding themselves feeling lost, used, and walked all over in their dating lives.
You can go on any relationship forum and find constant posts on “Am I being used?” “I told him to stop doing this but he keeps doing X,Y,Z.” “My partner is doing X, am I overreacting?” These are posts about boundaries that were crossed. More often than not, these women “gave in” to the poor behavior and now are concerned about the state of their relationship and left feeling disrespected.
In the end of the day, learning how to set boundaries with men is not about CONTROL but about maintaining your own self esteem, mental health and self respect.
For this benefit ALONE we need to establish boundaries. Because we all have felt that small sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs when a boundary has been pushed or cast aside and we didn’t give ourselves the chance to speak up.
Learning how to set boundaries with men is important whether you’re just dating casually or already married. Setting boundaries early will strengthen your relationships and take the guess work and miscommunication out of any encounter.
How to identify what boundaries you have:
Determining what boundaries we already have is the first step in being able to set them properly. A lot of times when I ask my friends where they see their relationships going or what they want out of their dating experiences I get, “oh, I don’t know, I just want to see where things go,” or “I’m just seeing my options, not decided on anything yet.”
This sort of wishy-washy mindset comes from the hopeful positive belief that if you keep things open, anything can happen. And that’s right, ANYTHING will happen and not necessarily things you wanted or expected.
Example) Jill has been dating Tom casually, she decided to keep things open and wasn’t ready to demand commitment. She was seeing him and a few other guys but she is sexually active with Tom only. After a sexual encounter with Tom, she notices that she’s getting pimples around her mouth and her genitals. At the Doctor’s office, it’s confirmed Tom gave her Herpes Virus 1 and she’ll be getting cold sores the rest of her life. She confronts Tom and finds out he’s also been dating around, a lot. This wasn’t what she wanted out of her open dating experience, but this was the result. (This actually happened to someone I know).
Terrible story, but life doesn’t play favorites and messed up things happen in the dating world all the time.
The key to establishing boundaries is to really THINK what you want out of any encounter, what you want out of your relationships, then determine your dealbreakers. These dealbreakers need to have consequences you stick with. Another essential part is to VOCALIZE your boundaries and ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE CROSSED. Hell needs to be raised when a boundary is crossed.
Jill later decided she was done with these open relationships. She decided that saying no to the forever talking phase was a boundary she needed to set. She knew she was still a catch so she decided to only have sex AFTER she secured commitment first. A lot of men walked away after hearing her demands but one man stayed and took the time to date her properly. She married him 3 years later.
So thinking through what your values are, what you will and will not accept from a potential partner or the partner you already have, and then vocalizing + committing to creating consequences for poor behavior are how you identify and set boundaries.
How to identify when you’re boundaries are crossed
Sometimes we’re presented with a situation that is ambiguous. We’re not sure if we’re being disrespected or not.
There are are two ways that a boundary can be crossed and here are examples of non healthy boundaries in relationships
1) Someone violates what you’ve already expressed as something you didn’t like or felt comfortable with. Example: Jens boyfriend is always late to dates, even though she’s expressly told him she hates it.
2) Someone, through manipulation, misinformation, deceit and lies, gets you to step outside of what you would normally do otherwise if you had all the information. Ex: John tells his girlfriend Megan he’s meeting a friend for drinks at a local bar to catch up. In reality, he’s meeting at a bar where he knows his ex girlfriend works and the bar is having a girls night promotion. Megan finds out when another buddy tags him in pics accidentally. Megan would have said she was uncomfortable if she knew the whole truth upfront, but now John’s backpedaling and calling her controlling and jealous.
Sometimes when boundaries are crossed it happens unexpectedly and is more like someone line stepping to test the waters of how far they can go. In these situations, YOU MUST TRUST YOUR GUT. Logic will tell you that you don’t have all the information and that you shouldn’t react without being 100% sure of the situation. If your intuition is screaming out to you, most importantly LISTEN, then work to flush out the truth.
I’ve never regretted listening to my intuition. I have, however, deeply regretted not listening. Side with your intuition, ALWAYS.
Common ways boundaries are crossed and how to combat them.
1)Rudeness and Negging
Negging is a red pill phrase coined by pick up artists to give women backhanded insults and slights disguised as banter or flirting. Enough of these and your self esteem will start to tank.
I once dated a guy that insisted to find out my “celebrity fantasy.” He swore that everyone had a celebrity fantasy of someone they wanted to date and pushed me to tell him, but I honestly didn’t have a real answer for him. He then proceeded to tell me his fantasy was Jessica Alba. I don’t look anything like Jessica Alba and it kinda left a sour taste in my mouth like Is that what I need to look like for this guy to be attracted to me? Of course it didn’t work out but I was left feeling pretty low about myself after dating that guy.
This kind of behavior is just rude. You’ll really need to learn how to set boundaries with rude men. This and other types of rude behavior should not be tolerated. Things like lateness, excessive cheapness, inconsiderate behavior, pushiness, rude unnecessary pet names, and the like should not be tolerated.
How to combat?
Here is just one of the examples of healthy boundaries in relationships. You keep it simple and say something along the lines of, “Excuse me, but that was rude. I don’t like that.”
He’ll reply. “Why?” (A lot of times they know why, they just play dumb).
Be firm. “I shouldn’t have to explain myself but here’s why [insert why his behavior is rude]
If he tries to justify his behavior and minimize your feelings, it’s time to move on and stop dating him. Because some men don’t care if they’re rude or are hurting their partners feelings. And chances are that that’s not going to change. The dating phase is the BEST behavior he has to offer, so if rudeness is happening on the regular it’s time to stop seeing him.
If he tries to see your point of view and apologizes, it’s worth continuing to date him but keep an eye out for other rude behavior and incompatibilities.
2)Unintentional boundary crossing
Sometimes the guy has no clue that he’s stepping over your boundaries and he genuinely has good intentions in mind.
Ex: Jen has been dating Dan for a few months and things have been going well. It’s her birthday and he wants to be generous and take her to a nice surprise dinner. She gets all dressed up and is horrified to find out he planned a dinner at the World Trade Observatory 100+ floors above New York City. She never told Dan that she is terrified of heights. She knows she could not enjoy this dinner, but they’re already there.
How to combat? Nobody’s really in the wrong.
She should tell him that she really appreciates the gesture but would be happy to eat anywhere else. She should outright explain her fear of heights and why she wouldn’t enjoy this dinner.
At the end of the day a boundary is a boundary and if she continued her dinner, terrified, afraid and acting all weird, it could be misunderstood as ingratitude. Or she might get away with it and he’ll keep taking her to places that have high altitudes.
A high quality man will want his partner to have a good time and go somewhere else, even if it didn’t work out the way he planned.
A low quality man will push through her boundaries and try to minimize her fears b because he wants to eat there and enjoy the fantastic dinner that he had in mind FOR HIMSELF.
If you want to learn how to set boundaries with men when the boundary crossing is unintentional, the key here to to communicate these boundaries and be understanding of the situation. But also be firm in what you need.
Inappropriate behavior within a monogamous relationship
Whether you’ve just started going steady and have been married for years, it’s important to maintain your personal boundaries and self respect.
In long term relationships there’s always room for deceit and dishonesty. The hardest part of being in a relationship and dealing with issues is that it’s difficult to tell when to work on things or just cut your losses and leave. Nobody wants to put in months or years of emotional work and have to cut off what you’ve built, but at times that can be necessary.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO IS TO REALLY KNOW AND UNDERSTAND YOUR PARTNER BEFORE CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED. Once children are involved, it’s much harder for your partner to feel motivated to change their behavior since children serve as a sort of anchor that keeps relationships together. Too many people stay together for the kids.
Here is a list of behavior that I would consider unacceptable. If you find yourself combatting these issues it’s best to nip them in the bud by standing your ground and raising hell over it to correct the behavior or LEAVING. Once you let this behavior slip with a pat on the wrist, it becomes more acceptable and harder to change.
-Cheating of any kind. Emotional or physical
-Complete laziness with housework
-Lack of job or financial contribution whatsoever
-Physical abuse- hitting, forced sex, slapping, unwanted touching, etc.
-Emotional abuse: name calling, ignoring, bullying etc.
-Porn addiction: once porn takes the place of actual sex, it’s an addiction.
This is an inexhaustive list but, for most women, these are the biggest deal breakers. To establish strong boundaries for these examples the consequences should be severe.
Not Severe: “If you keep going like this, I’ll leave”
Severe: “I DO NOT LIKE SAID BEHAVIOR. If I ever see you do this again, I will pack my bags, move out and change my number.” This is one of the better examples of healthy boundaries in relationships.
The first response is an ultimatum and a vague one at that. The second response is firm and specific of what will happen. It’s essential to always do what you say you’ll do, that way actions with consequences hold a lot more weight.
At the end of the day, WE are responsible for what we allow into our lives.
4)How To Set Sexual Boundaries With Men
We live in a world where sex is free. No strings attached relationships and FWB make it so easy for men to have sex with with little or nothing to offer!
In my opinion sex is probably the most intimate physical act you can do with someone. (It shouldn’t be like shaking hands!). And it requires trust and vulnerability.
I’ve heard sooooo many stories from women who thought they would be having an enjoyable sexual encounter but end up being touched in places they didn’t want to be touched, pressured into acts they didn’t want to do, pressured to go without protection or realizing during sex that the condom was removed, degraded or insulted during sex, or outright assaulted while they sleep!
I’m not saying all men are like this (most are not) but if you don’t know the person, how can you be sure that this won’t be you?
Now before I proceed on how to combat this type of behavior and avoid it at any cost, I am in no way blaming women for having endured this. All men should have the common sense and human decency not to engage in this kind of behavior and are 100% at fault if they do. However, women need to be aware that the fun encounter they signed up for can EASILY turn left and they need the tools in how to handle them safely.
I advocate against drinking on dates. If you drink it should be no more than 1 drink an hour. Maintaining personal boundaries becomes much harder when intoxicated and 9 times out of 10, these one night stands are happening after a drunken rampage. If you can’t be expected to drive a car while drunk, something you do with ease on a daily basis, how can you be expected to make other responsible decisions…decisions you won’t regret.
If you do have sex and any of the following happens to you:
-being touched in places you don’t want to be touched
-pressured into acts you don’t want to do,
-pressured to go without protection or
-realizing during sex that the condom was removed,
-degraded or insulted during sex, or
-outright assaulted while you sleep
END THE ENCOUNTER AND LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.
I don’t care if he’s about to bust and seems like he’s enjoying it. I don’t care if he pouts and sulks over it. Tell him outright, you cannot continue sex because he disrespected you. Tell him to get off and put his pants on. Be angry about it so he knows it’s not sex play.
And trust me it will be the most awkward, awful sex he has ever had. But he will never forget that he crossed a boundary and that it gave him the bluest balls ever! And if you choose to see him again (I wouldn’t) the chances that he would try that maneuver again on you will be greatly diminished.
Let me tell you a quick story.
My friend was dating this guy we knew from school. She was sleeping with him and he didn’t put a condom on and busted inside her! She was stressed and worrying about getting pregnant. She was late that month but thankfully got her period. But before she knew he made her take a pregnancy test in front of her. When it turned out she wasn’t pregnant, they both sighed with relief.
Later on she sleeps with him again and he doesn’t put on a condom AGAIN! And he busts in her again! And this time she softly tells him, “Why, why would you do this again when we just got through this stressful situation?” This time she takes a Plan B.
He asked her what she would have done if she was pregnant. She told him she would terminate. He was shocked and said, “I’m spanish, we don’t do that. I should have a say too!”
Moral of the story: my friend really needs to kick this guy to the curb. He obviously didn’t learn his lesson the first time because he keeps on trying to bust in her despite how much the pregnancy scares stress her out and how much she requests he wrap it up! AND he feels so entitled to her body that he should have a say on whether she has an abortion or not!
At the end of the day, us ladies need to protect ourselves and ONLY engage in sex when our partners have proven WORTHY. That means commitment. Otherwise we’re just putting our lives, we’ll-being, health and mental health on the line for a guy who obviously isn’t worth it.
As girls, we were taught to share and be gentle. To be kind and take care of the feelings of others. But as women, we need to learn to value our own boundaries and put ourselves first. It’s hard. Especially when we’ve been conditioned in the exact opposite way.
My heart goes out to all the women who have been disrespected, assaulted, and manipulated. I’m hoping this post reaches the next generation of girls and women who can learn how to set boundaries with men quickly from our experiences and grow from them. This post is meant to inspire and offer examples of healthy boundaries in relationships.
If there’s anything you take away from this post it should be to never be afraid to say, “NO.” That “NO” holds weight, always.
If you like “How To Set Boundaries With Men & Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships” check out:
examples of healthy boundaries in relationships