When I was single and dating, I met someone who made a strong impression on me. We were quick to get together. And he was quick to cross a boundary, of which I didn’t quite understand the significance at the time.
I just knew I had grown attached to him when it happened. I also knew if I had confronted him about it, it would be the end of our relationship. And, frankly, I wasn’t ready to let him go.
So I kept quiet. “Maybe it wasn’t that bad,” I bargained. I allowed myself to move closer to him while being in denial about what he did to me. I thought I could go along with it but the truth was I was losing myself, little by little.
I started to become critical of him for the smallest things and act erratically. Eventually, he broke up with me. My anxiety immediately spiraled even though I’d seen it coming.
But, more than anything, I was angry. He wanted nothing to do with me anymore but he hadn’t paid for the boundary he had crossed, I thought.
What ensued was months of going back and forth between crying over the breakup and shouting at him via texts in an effort to keep him accountable for what he did.
However, unsurprisingly, my emotional walls of texts were met with one-word replies or silence. He didn’t give a shit. He didn’t say sorry. Nothing was acknowledged. He made me feel crazy.
I realised regrettably that I had lost my window to draw my boundary.
That day, I chose being with him over my own dignity, and I had a price to pay.
I also realised that it was impossible for me to turn a blind eye to a boundary being crossed. No matter how much I wanted to lie to myself because of fear, desire, and whatnot, deep down, I knew it was not okay and so, I’d be increasingly tormented by the self-conflicts. I’d sabotage the relationship to the point of no return to save myself eventually.
It all started because I couldn’t bear the pain of detachment. But it had to be done.
I still remember, on our first date, I didn’t really tell him anything about me, including my job, and he made a remark, “Do you think I’m too stupid to understand what you do?”
He wasn’t stupid, but in retrospect, I wasn’t being myself with him because I didn’t really see it working out. But I was hesitant to make a decision on it because I couldn’t say no to gratifications.
Clearly, it was a mistake, but it was an invaluable lesson for me to learn.
Detachment is hard. You’re not meant to detach from someone like you change your clothes.
The trick when dating is to know who they are before you allow yourself to get attached to them. Getting attached should be a deliberate process. You should be very intentional about whom you let in— not everyone deserves a spot… in your bed, your heart, and your life.
When someone crosses your boundary or hurts you in any way, always choose yourself. It’s how you build respect for yourself and take back your power. It’s how your sense of self and values get solidified over time. Don’t let anyone get away with treating you less than what you deserve.
Remember the best time to draw a boundary is right there and then. Make it right as it happens. Make it clear what you don’t accept and show them the consequence: out of your life.
That said, it’s never too late to stand up for yourself. Now is better than never.