When is the last time you enforced a boundary?
In other words…
You told someone that a certain behavior wasn’t okay. You explained what would happen if they did it again. They did it—AGAIN. You followed through.
Sounds so easy, right?
But it’s the HARDEST thing in the world to do when feelings are involved.
You can be fabulous at setting boundaries with coworkers and acquaintances…
But when it comes to family members and friends, your backbone turns to mush.
You wouldn’t let ANYONE treat you the way you let your family treat you or your boyfriend treat you.
Because you don’t want to lose them, you allow them to behave in ways that aren’t really appropriate.
So what can you do?
The Right to Boundaries
The first thing to know is that you have a right to boundaries.
I know—groundbreaking information, right? 😉
But a lot of us don’t realize we get to have boundaries even with the people we love.
Now, it’s a beautiful thing we do:
When we fall in love with someone, we give them EVERYTHING.
We give them our hearts… our time… our bodies.
We don’t set limits, because limits feel unloving.
We think that limits pushes a man away and puts up walls.
When you love someone, surely you accept EVERYTHING about them.
Sometimes they do things you don’t like, but part of love is forgiveness, right?
Women are amazing. Their hearts are so huge and their powers of forgiveness so vast that they can forgive men cheating on them, abusing them, and using them.
But they shouldn’t have to.
Women get to have boundaries in relationships.
Women get to set limits in relationships.
Women get to say no to the men they love.
In fact, they SHOULD do this.
They should do it because it helps them love him better.
Yes, Boundaries Make You More Loving
When we don’t feel we can say no to him…
When we don’t feel we can mention a behavior that hurt us…
When we don’t like to set limits…
We end up feeling resentful.
We said yes even though we didn’t want to.
We let him treat us in a way that didn’t feel good.
It feels like he’s taking advantage of our good nature.
We remind ourselves to forgive. We try to smile. We let it go.
But deep down we know we’re in an unequal relationship.
We give more than he does.
We do more for him that he does for us.
That feeling twists our love for him.
It causes pain.
It makes us wish he could be different…
Even though it’s our silence that’s keeping him from knowing how we feel.
Good Men Love Boundaries
A good man doesn’t want to hurt you.
He wants to know where things aren’t working, so he can make it better.
But if you do something you didn’t want to do—and then resent him—he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.
He’d change his behavior if he knew what was bothering you, but he can’t read your mind.
You expect him to know how you like to be treated and what your limits are, but he can’t know those things unless you tell him.
He likes it when you give him boundaries.
It helps him love you better.
Users Hate Boundaries
Tell certain men no, though, and they delight in twisting your arm.
You can ask him not to do something a thousand times, and he’ll still do it.
He doesn’t listen to you.
He’s not interested in changing.
His interest is in how YOU make HIS life better, not in how he can make your life better.
These men shame you for having boundaries.
If you really loved me, you’d do X.”
And you want to prove your love, so you give in.
These men will NEVER respect you.
You will always give in to them. They will never take responsibility for being an equal partner to you.
Show these guys the door. They’re not worth it.
Take it from modern-day goddess Brené Brown:
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
An Even Bigger Challenge
Where most of us get tripped up isn’t setting boundaries.
We can tell someone when they did something wrong. We can ask them not to do it again.
Where we get tripped up is enforcing boundaries.
A person violates our boundaries again and again. We’ve asked them to stop, again and again.
What can we do?
Well, we can tell them there will be consequences next time.
If they continue to do this, we will walk away. Or hang up. Or stop hanging out.
And then, when they do it again (which they will, because they think you’re bluffing), we enforce our boundary.
We walk away.
We hang up the phone.
We end the relationship.
It’s so, so hard.
But we do it for us.
We do it because…
We deserve to feel safe.
We deserve to feel respected.
We deserve to feel loved.
And if any one of those three factors isn’t there, this isn’t a love relationship that can last.