Why You Don’t Have to Bend Your Dating Boundaries

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Why You Don’t Have to Bend Your Dating Boundaries
Lessons Learned from Hercules

By Jehn Kubiak

“No chance, no way, I won’t say it no, no…I won’t say I’m in love.”

These are a few famous words that Meg sings in Hercules.

Meg has a pretty brutal past; she trusted pretty much anyone who said the word “love” in her presence. She swooned for handsome men––and she found one. However, her boyfriend soon died. As a result, she sold her soul to Hades, unable to bear the thought of living without the love of her life.

Meg’s devotion is admirable; but she found herself in a heap of trouble because she didn’t set relational boundaries. Meg discounted her personal life for the sake of her boyfriend. Guess what? He completely betrayed her. Innocence and ignorance is bliss; seeing the best in someone else and discounting our personal potential is not the answer.

Looking at this, we can see that Meg didn’t have self-respect, which is actually an important part of a relationship. Without self-respect, a significant other can walk all over you. They can manipulate your emotions, make you believe lies, put you down, or do other things that result in psychological or emotional devastation.

It’s important to realize that even the best persons have flaws––and while they can learn from their mistakes or correct these negative characteristics, they may also hurt us in the process. Although we love someone, it’s also important that we protect ourselves in the process by setting boundaries.

Those of you who have never really set boundaries may wonder what that looks like. Here are some examples:

  • Tell the other person that they may feel one way, but you will not let them voice those feelings in a disrespectful way.
  • Let them know what level of touch is appropriate: some people are okay with just hand-holding or a peck on the cheek, but others are okay with a deeper level of touch.
  • Don’t let the other person rush you into anything, especially if you have already said “no.”
  • Learn to separate who you are from who the other person is, and don’t believe lies they tell you.
  • Be aware of gender stereotypes. Men, don’t let women berate you for having emotions. Women, don’t let men take advantage of you physically.
  • Allowing both persons in a relationship to have friendships with persons of the opposite gender.

These are only a few ideas, but you can come up with your own as circumstances arise. When in doubt, ask someone who has been married to someone for over five years about the types of boundaries they set.

I’ve personally never been in a relationship––but I have two married brothers, several married friends, and friends who have endured quite a few breakups. I’ve seen the aftermath of adverse relationships as well as the blessings of beautiful relationships. I’ve seen where my friends have failed to set boundaries and where they have made clear marks.

Setting boundaries may seem limiting or even too assertive at first. However, during a class practicum session, one of my professors helped me realize that I’ve often experienced hurt due to a lack of boundaries. This was in a general friendship context, but I realized that it could carry over to romantic relationships later in life if I’m not careful. Her words? “You have no walls.”

Walls protect things––and often seem unnecessary, but we can’t always expect the best from everyone. People have hard days. They get upset. They have addictions and weaknesses that impact us. While we can love them, we still need to set those boundaries at times to avoid being taken advantage of.

That’s most likely why Meg refused to say she was in love with Hercules: she set a firm boundary because she didn’t want a man to hurt her again. And I applaud her. Meg definitely learned from her mistakes. Although many people in my life have told me that I really should start dating (I’m a semester shy of finishing grad school and will turn 23 soon), I’m not rushing into things yet. I’m setting a clear boundary: one that states I will fall in love with a man who deeply cares for me and respects me. I won’t settle for just anyone.

Use your voice: you have permission to have expectations.