First, remember that another word for boundaries is limits. You are going to decide in advance what limits you are will set in whatever areas are important you. Some areas that people consider important in dating are sex, time spent, and money spent. Another area is how fast you want things to go.
Some people think that setting boundaries is what you do once you're in a relationship. Wrong.If you're one of those, you may be asking yourself constantly why you can't make a relationship work. It's because boundaries need to be set during dating. You need to know yourself well enough to know what will work for you and what won't.
One way to know that is also to figure out what your dating goal is. Are you looking for a life partner right now? Are you open to that? Are you just playing the field? For each situation, your boundaries will be different. They might be more stringent if you're in the market for a life partner and fast and loose if you're just playing the field. So, therefore, first figure out your object.
So let's get into the nitty gritty: how to figure out your boundaries.
In order to do this, you're going to need to ask yourself some questions and write down the answers. It's a process.
First, let's talk about sex.
Sex and Boundaries in Dating
Remember, sex isn't just the 'main event'. It's also everything leading up to it -- all physicality. It starts with hand holding, then might progress to a hug or a kiss, then making out and so on. So let's start at the beginning.
- At what point do I hold hands?
- At what point do I kiss someone?
- Am I ok with kissing on the first date? If yes, under what circumstances?
- Regarding kissing, what kind of kissing is ok the first time, what is ok the 2nd time?
- What needs to happen before I'm willing to be alone with someone? At what point am I ok with someone coming over to my house? This is important because being alone, in true privacy, with someone you're highly attracted to often can lead to a sexual situation.
- What is my position on birth control and STDs?
- How do I feel about an unplanned pregnancy? What would I want to do in that situation?
- Regarding unplanned pregnancy - what if my partner's ideas about the actions to take in that situation are different than mine? Do I stick to my original plan?
- Do I keep dating someone who disagrees with my limits?
- What is ok on the first date?
- What is ok on the 2nd date and the third?
General Dating Boundaries, Money, and Time Spent
- What do I think about dating and finances - ie who pays? On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date?
- How does my dating process work - do I meet someone for coffee first and then go on the 1st date later?
- At what point do I decide to either keep dating someone or decline further dates?
- What are my deal breakers - things that I cannot accept?
For example, when I was dating, I could not deal with someone who was unemployed or lived with their parents. If they seemed shady or said anything condescending about women, then they were not for me. I knew that condescending statements about women indicated poor boundaries (who would ever say such things to someone they were trying to impress?) as well as attitudes that I might later have to deal with. No thanks.
- How much time do I spend on dating? One evening a week? Two lunches? A lunch and a coffee? etc.
- If I have children, when is it ok for this person to meet them?