Setting Healthy Boundaries: Dealmakers or Dealbreakers?

Keen Category: Love Advice

Couple Setting Boundaries Over Strippers

Are you one of those women who have a string of relationships with men who are emotionally unavailable trailing behind them? If so, have you ever wondered why you don't apply the common sense you use with non-romantic relationships to those that are romantic?

First of all, think about your own standards before you get involved with your next potential boyfriend. This will help you understand your values and what you expect and want in your relationships. Your standards serve as the basis for the boundaries you set in your non-romantic relationships and that you will ideally transfer to your romantic relationships.

Identify what makes a relationship work for you. What standards work in your platonic relationships with friends, family, co-workers, clients and the clerk at the supermarket? Your standards should really reflect who you are as a person – how you treat people and how you like to be treated.

For example, courtesy may be very important to you. You expect to be treated with politeness and respect in your non-romantic relationships and you reciprocate with the same courteous treatment.

Often women have no trouble setting healthy boundaries in non-romantic relationships. The things we like and want in these relationships can serve as our 'dos' or dealmakers.

The Dealmakers List

What Works?

Think about what makes your best platonic relationships work:

  • What makes them enjoyable, desirable and fun?
  • What personal standards and positive boundaries result in healthy, happy relationships that enrich your life?

Make a list and be specific!

For example:

  1. Mutual honesty
  2. Consistency – we each follow through with what we say we will do
  3. Consideration – we have consideration for each other's need for personal space

Your standards are the qualities that help your non-romantic relationships work in a healthy way. If there is a big disconnect between these qualities and the behaviors you accept, rationalize, adjust for or excuse from the man in your life, this should raise a big, bright red flag. You are most likely setting yourself up for heartache with a partner who is not available to meet your relationship needs.

The 'don'ts' or things that go under the dealbreakers list, are those that raise a red flag and make you seriously reconsider or step back from someone as a potential boyfriend. These boundaries are your own "line in the sand," and knowing them before you become involved with someone can save you wasted time, tears, and heartache.

The Dealbreakers List

What Bothers You?

Think about the things you dislike, bother you, aren't comfortable with and aren't prepared to accept in a relationship.

Make a list and be specific!

For example:

  1. Abuse of any kind
  2. Married or attached
  3. A player

Once you are clear about what your dealbreakers are, in combination with your dealmakers, you'll know whether the qualities and behaviors of a man you're interested in are what you really want – before you become emotionally invested and involved.

Now you have your standards and your dating action plan. If the man doesn't meet the basic standards from the start, or if you find he has stepped over the line or tested the boundaries you've identified as unacceptable, you need to take action.

Real action is not a long discussion or an explanation or justification of yourself or your feelings. Run away, or at the very least, take one huge giant step backwards and stop. Your boundaries only mean as much to others as they do to you. If you won't honor your own, it's very unlikely that others will.

The behaviors you accept, rationalize, accommodate or excuse from the man in your life can quickly become the relationship standard or status quo. It's much harder to reject a behavior once you've quietly accepted it. By rejecting the behavior early on, you give a man a choice – to respect you and your boundaries or to let you alone.

Healthy boundaries and personal standards work! They affirm that we respect ourselves, love ourselves and want those things in return from our relationships.

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