I have to admit I was on the fence about cancelling it because there weren’t many RSVP’s…Boundaries is not a topic many people want to talk about. I decided to stick with the discipline of consistency, and it turned out to be the BEST discussion we have ever had…at least that was my opinion and others.
So only the brave attended…a mix of eight random singletons who included:
*The Newcomer who boldly participated and shared her own stories
*My Sidekick, a young-at-heart senior, my right-hand woman in leading the group, whom everyone loves
*Man who is 50, doesn’t say a whole lot but we love it when he does
*Man with a psychology background who always asks insightful questions to the group
*A Teacher who is just starting to date again, she is reflective, sweet and light
*A bold woman who is closer to 100 than 70 and knows what she knows, but loves to learn
*A “Hot,” Young Player who we give a hard time, but he rolls with it and sometimes shows some depth
*Then me, the Dating Coach who tries to lead us to dig beyond the surface but doesn’t always succeed.
What a varied group we were! I have to admit I was excited with anticipation to see what would happen with our eldest member and the youngest (the player) in the same room!
Setting boundaries is something almost everyone struggles with in some area of their life. People often just become very passive about things that are important to them without ever communicating their expectations. When I was a Bible thumper, there were two verses that I always liked about boundaries and expectations and they were “Do two men walk together unless they agree to do so?” And “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” We often don’t lay out our expectations and then get mad when people don’t read our minds or we don’t even keep to our own boundaries.
This is so true in dating. There are tons of unspoken and hidden expectations and rules and so often, it prevents us from finding healthy love. From working on this with countless clients, it seems people fall into two camps.
One is we have so many expectations that we have built up an Iron Gate around our heart that no one can possibly penetrate. These are the people who are told “You are too picky!” We become picky from being hurt and then try to figure out ways to prevent it in the future…but so often, this prevents any love at all. The second way is we say nothing and slowly disappear as our own person, catering to the others’ every need. Eventually the unsuspecting love interest hits their limit and we explode, end the relationship, without ever having communicated at all.
As our group talked about being in the right mindset of boundaries…having to have those conversations that make you or the other person feel uncomfortable, and to just lean into your feelings at times, I found there was just a peace that sort of settled between all of us, despite our different experiences and demographics. Getting really clear on your own boundaries, thinking about how to make them known before you start dating someone became evidently important.
In my Transform your heart program, we spend a lot of time getting clear and talking about how to handle it when your boundaries are crossed, being open to hearing an opinion that is different than yours. We even spend time finding out if your non-negotiables really are fair to you and preventing you from finding love. Have you ever sat down and thought about your own? About how and when you communicate those? How you communicate when you feel they have not been respected?
Speaking of respect, perhaps my favorite moment came when a theme with the women appeared. When we stopped respecting our past husbands/boyfriends, this is when we stopped loving them. Men have an innate need to be respected by their women…they need it more than need to feel love. As we sat there, I realize that the women, including myself, thought we knew how to make a man feel respected but that we actually might not know at all.
So I asked the men to tell me what made them feel respect from their woman. For a long time I have been teaching women that they need to let men help them do things because it’s a NEED they have. I also teach my male clients to not give up if an independent woman is having a hard time letting him do things for her. So I wasn’t completely surprised by the answers, and our player, a true ‘alpha-male’ probably explained it better than anyone else.
The men said that they like it when we ask for advice or to learn something from them that is new to us. More importantly, the men said it was respectful to them that if they asked for advice that they actually follow it. They don’t have to follow it every time, but if you are asking for advice and never following it, then you are not respecting their opinion. They also felt respected when a woman is encouraging them, as well as, trusting his heart and intention even when he makes a mistake.
Although those things don’t seem like they are too difficult to do, I can tell you the longer a woman is single, the more in charge she is at her job, the harder it is for her to easily respect a man she’s just met. Just having an awareness of what he needs (and probably can’t communicate to you) and being mindful and caring enough to work at it, will almost assuredly change the results of your dating life.
So in closing, think about your boundaries in relationships…the way you need to feel, the way you need to care for your partner, the openness to understand, connect and care for them. Also think about the way you both need to respect each other and create a nurturing and safe place to communicate and start doing it from DAY ONE! I have a feeling it would be a whole new dating world if everyone started with just that mindset.