I'm bossy and I have a big mouth. Another way to say this is that I am an assertive woman, or, if I were a man, ordinary. It's an extremely helpful and important trait in dating. When people meet each other for the first time, they want to know: Who are you? What are you like? What would it be like to hang out with you and talk to you? Be who you are, all the time. That way people know what to expect. It's reassuring. It can also quickly weed out anyone who won't be a good match anyway. This is important when first meeting, and it's even more important when it's time to consider whether to take things to the next level. There is no rule book for this stuff. There are only the "rules" that you and your potential new partner make up together.
This is roughly the boundary speech that I would give to contestants:
"I'm a one-man woman. I don't cheat and I also don't share. If you have any questions in your mind about whether long-term monogamy works for you, go in peace. If you want to be involved with me, then it needs to be exclusive. If you want out, just be honest, and we can do it without drama.
If you cheat on me, I will break up with you and tell your mom.
If you ever use physical violence on me, I will break up with you, press charges, and tell your mom and your boss. Not that you would ever do that, of course - just saying.
I don't do raised voices. It's unprofessional. In my opinion, there is no need for yelling at any time unless someone's life is in danger. I have completely cut off contact with more than one person for yelling at me. Let's just be nice to each other.
I have brothers, male cousins, uncles, and a lot of close male friends. I hang out with them, text them, email them, and talk to them on the phone. So I totally get it if you want to hang out with your female friends. It would be a little weird if you didn't socialize with women, actually.
What are your deal breakers?"
This probably sounds painfully awkward and horrible. It might be, if it were sprung on someone you'd just met, rather than a friend you've known for a while. Oddly enough, it is a conversation that has led to a couple of long-term relationships, one of which is my current marriage. It turns out that many men appreciate the direct approach. Many men have been befuddled by the game of "if you don't know, then I'm not going to tell you." Most people do not like guessing games or "tests" or hidden rules.
Some guidelines: First, be a good listener. It's about a thousand times more important to LISTEN and pay attention to this new person in your life, because you already know what YOU think, and you really, really need to know what HE thinks. The better a listener you are, the more he will relax and open up, and the more you will know about him. If he starts talking about jealousy or evil exes, listen even more closely. Ask yourself what version of this story the other party would tell.
Second, set your boundaries firmly in your own mind, and stick to them. It's always when we start rationalizing bad behavior to ourselves that we reel ourselves in. We set ourselves up for trouble, sometimes for danger. We should never have to talk ourselves into being with someone. It's not our job to make excuses for anyone.
I dated a guy who cheated. I forgave him and he did it again. I forgave him and he did it again. I broke up with him and he cried. Aww.
I dated a guy who was extremely jealous. He flipped out when I told him my uncle was staying at my apartment for a few days and he accused me of lying and cheating on him. He hacked into my email and read everything in my inbox and even my sent folder. I broke up with him.
My first husband spent our entire house savings behind my back and lied about it. I forgave him, and a few months later he asked for a divorce. I moved out, and six months later he managed to damage my credit by trashing our rental house and not paying the power bill that still had both our names on it.
These are things that happen when you trust someone who breaks your trust, and then continue to trust them after they have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy. What else would have happened if I'd stayed with them longer? I'm glad to say that I have no idea.
These are the reasons that I became so mean and suspicious. Actually, I am not mean or suspicious at all - I simply decided to reserve myself for an honest gentleman. I wanted someone who was capable both of trusting and of being trusted. Once he made it through the gauntlet, I could let my guard down. I've been married nearly eight years now, together for eleven.
In a world of seven billion people, almost everyone who exists is going to remain a stranger. We have to reserve our energy for the relatively small group of friends, family, and lovers who will reciprocate our affection. We can't make room in our lives for people who will mistreat us or lie to us. Letting someone in is exposing our family and friends to them, too. Everyone in our circle becomes vulnerable. It's our job to check new people out first before introducing them around and vouching for them.
Vulnerability is hard. It's at least as hard for men as it is for women. The goal when setting boundaries is to protect all hearts concerned. We don't want any 'meh' relationships and we don't want anyone to feel like we're "settling" for them or "putting up with them for now." We want to avoid spending long periods of time with people we could never love deeply and fully. That's why we should be grateful for the end of weak relationships and the freedom to begin strong ones. Strong relationships require strong boundaries, an agreement on how to love one another properly.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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