Boundaries can be hard to set, simply because they are hard to understand. My personal definition of boundaries is a list of things you need and don’t need. For instance, let’s say you are a person who needs a lot of communication to feel secure. Your partner, whether you have been seeing them for three days or three years, needs to give you the communication you desire. If they are spotty with communication and can go on for days without checking in, they are not living up to your communication standards. That standard can be seen as a boundary. If you value your connection with this person, you can express this to them and let them know that in order to continue in a serious capacity, they need to meet your communication standards. If they cross that boundary it is your prerogative to cross them off the list.
Nothing is just that simple, but the point is to know what lines are drawn between you and your loved one so that either one of you doesn’t cross them. These lines should be drawn with romantic partners, family, and friends. Often times, boundaries may be very apparent in your mind but they are only dictated by your voice. You must always express what your boundaries are, and you must remember that they are ever-changing. It is important to note that a discovery of something you don’t like is just as valid as something you’ve hated your whole life.
My partner and I have been discussing boundaries since we met and we continue to update and edit this list. Below are three basic boundaries my partner and I discussed:
1. Communication isn’t an option
I am a person who needs consistent communication to feel secure in a relationship. I have come to realize that physical touch and quality time holds the same emotional weight as words of affirmation. I need voice calls, I need FaceTime, I need messages as updates, and I need affectionate messages of love. This shows me that I am on my partner’s mind, that I am important, that I am of high value in his life, and that there is no resistance in allowing me to know that. There is a passion and vulnerability in our communication that is pertinent to me.
2. No questions are off-limits
Many might find it intrusive for my partner to want to know a lot about the nature of my male friends, but it is a security I find essential to provide for him. I allow all questions, of all sorts, all the time. I believe honesty is key, and the omission of information is a form of lying. Thus, my openness plays into my philosophy of life and plays into my partner’s ability to trust me. Particularly in situations, he would otherwise find unbearably nervous and uncomfortable.
3. No other man should simulate my partner’s role
As a previous poly romantic, non-exclusive bachelorette, I had many potential lovers and a few past lovers I had to create boundaries around. I can no longer see them in the same capacity, and that had to be a very candid conversation between my partner and I. We settled on the fact that my connection with other men simply cannot look like the connection between us. There is a way that I hug, flirt, touch, and kiss my partner that must exclusively be reserved for him. If someone is able to assume me and a male friend are dating by closeness and body language, perhaps I am too close.
For all reading, remember that what you need in a relationship can only be determined by you. Be honest with yourself, do not allow anyone to gaslight or belittle your emotions, and trust in yourself and only make room for the person who can love you the way you need to be loved.
An honor of boundaries is a respect we all deserve.