Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you thought that your feelings don’t have legitimacy?
I guess many of you will answer these questions with yes. Welcome to the club!
Recently, I experienced a romantic liaison with a man I really liked. Because of long-distance, lockdowns, and other incidents, it seemed unlikely that we would ever have the possibility to get to know each other better. Additionally, I got the feeling that our priorities were just too different.
It bothered me that we were still in contact even though we knew that our connection would lead nowhere.
Don’t get me wrong! Not all affairs have to end in a relationship. But it just didn’t make sense to me to be in a friendship with someone I had feelings for. I didn’t want to complicate things, so I decided it’d be healthier to cut off the contact.
However, it was (and still) is so hard for me to set boundaries with someone I never had a relationship with.
It is like my feelings don’t have legitimacy. We never spend more than one night together. We had sex only a few times. And most of all — we haven’t seen each other in a really long time.
I don’t want to be the stupid girl who falls in love immediately after a couple of beautiful nights. I want to be cool with it and live my life without even thinking of him. I’m almost 29. I made some quite mature and healthy decisions in the last few years.
That’s why I’m wondering:
Why is it so hard to tell him that I don’t want him to turn my life upside down?
Even though it was a hard decision, I decided that a contact ban would be the best for me.
There were warning signs that showed me that I had to change something to give myself back the power over my own (love) life.
Here’s how I recognized the red flags and some practical tips on how to set boundaries:
How do you know that it’s time to set boundaries?
In general, you should always trust your gut feeling.
When the other person’s actions hurt you, and you aren’t sure where you both stand in your relationship, always make sure to rethink your connection.
Communicate your boundaries to the other person and be clear and consistent about your values.
I’ve observed some patterns in my own love life during the past years. The following signals showed me that it’s necessary to change something:
1. Your mood becomes dependent on how often the other person writes you
I’ve experienced the following situation several times in my life: You have a great connection to someone, and you feel comfortable in their surrounding. You text regularly, and suddenly you don’t get an answer for many days or even weeks.
It hurts because it is a sign the other person doesn’t value the connection as much as you do. In the past, I blamed myself for this reaction. I thought that I was too clingy, annoying, or boring.
Today I know that it has nothing to do with me. Whatever reason there may be, it’s never your fault that the other person doesn’t text you back. Still, your mood may become dependent on the frequency of answers the other person is giving you.
That’s one of the first signs that you should overthink your connection. You should ask the other person directly how he/she feels about you. It may be helpful as some people don’t like writing text messages or have other plausible reasons to act this way.
You’ll likely learn the reasons for their behavior in this way. Even though the other person is telling you that they cannot imagine a shared future, don’t blame yourself. This decision has something to do with them, not with you.
You deserve someone great who loves you as you are!
I assure you that you’ll find that person if you are consistent about your boundaries and only commit to someone who meets your expectations.
2. You are afraid to make mistakes
You like the other person so much that you don’t want to mess it up. That’s normal.
But if you change your behavior, interests, or even your values because you think that you’ll please the person in this way, you should be careful!
When I was 19, I dated a man who told me that he would never move to a bigger city. I was already thinking about a shared future, and even though I always loved urban life much more than living in the countryside, I agreed with him just because I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to date me anymore if I told him the truth.
Instead, I should have used this disagreement to evaluate our current situation and to talk to him about what we both wanted in life.
Remain loyal to yourself! It doesn’t mean that you cannot show interest in the other person’s life, but don’t change who you are just because you want to please someone. In this way, you’ll never be happy in a relationship or with yourself.
Find out what makes you genuinely happy and where your values and interests are. Stick by your intentions, and don’t be afraid to do or say something the other person wouldn’t like.
3. The other person is turning your everyday life upside down
Even though I’m an active person who loves running and exercising on the weekends, I like sleeping in and staying in bed on Sundays.
I sit in my bed with my laptop or a good book, spending my time reading, writing or watching a TV show. Often, I don’t get dressed until 1 PM.
My first boyfriend never liked it to stay in bed on Sundays. Instead, he made me feel guilty to be “so lazy” and mostly convinced me to go for a walk with him. I hated it! I just needed a break from everyday life, and Sunday morning was my time to relax and recharge. It didn’t help me at all to walk through the cold and empty streets of the city with my body just needing some rest.
I let him change many habits even though I knew it wasn’t right for me. I thought that I had to suit him.
You may see this kind of behavior from the beginning, even though you aren’t in a relationship yet. If you feel that the other person influences your habits and your everyday life negatively, it’s time to set boundaries!
Don’t let someone change your life completely! It’s okay to adopt new everyday rituals and habits, but only if you feel comfortable with it.
4. You don’t feel comfortable and safe in his presence
Fortunately, I never experienced abusive or offensive behavior in a relationship. But I have a friend who used to date a former Marine who had PTSD.
One day, she found herself locked in the bathroom to protect herself from him. He brutally beat her, and she had to call the police to avoid the worst.
She loved him genuinely, but she ignored many warning signals and fought for the relationship again and again.
If you sense aggressive behavior, end the connection immediately! It is not about boundaries but protecting yourself from mental and physical abuse in the future. There are considerate, mentally healthy, and loving men out there who’d love to be in a relationship with you!
How can you set healthy boundaries even though you never dated?
As mentioned above, it can be tough to set boundaries with someone you never had a romantic relationship with. You are about to get to know each other, and mostly you enjoy your connection. Still, there’s something that’s bothering you, and your concerns become stronger and stronger. It’s time for you to speak up!
Here are some practical tips on how to do it:
Write down your thoughts and structure them so that you see clearly what you want to say.
If you feel insecure about telling others what’s important to you, practice it in front of the mirror.
Record a voice message for yourself and practice your statement several times. You’ll feel more and more comfortable with your boundaries. This exercise can be quite empowering!
When you are ready to talk to the other person, be clear and concise about your boundaries. Explain how crossing your boundaries makes you feel like and what kind of behavior you need from your counterpart to feel comfortable.
Don’t wait until you can’t hold it back anymore! It’s crucial to speak your truth and to tell the other person how you feel as soon as possible. Be brave, and don’t be afraid of the outcome.
If you set healthy boundaries you’ll give your feelings the validation they deserve. Whatever happens, it’ll be for your good. It doesn’t matter if you know someone only for a week or even hours. Your feelings are always important!
If the other person respects your boundaries and still wants to be with you, it’s the first step to a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
If the other person respects your boundaries but doesn’t want to be with you, you’ll be better off on your own. You’ll find someone who loves you just the way you are.
If the other person doesn’t respect your boundaries but wants to be with you, you should end the connection. It makes no sense to be with someone who doesn’t value what’s important to you.
There’s no need to hold back your truth! You are perfect as you are, and your feelings are important. Let the world hear them!