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Perchik's avatar

Relationship boundaries?

Asked by Perchik (4925 points ) December 21st, 2008

My girlfriend and I are planning on setting some boundaries for our relationship. Physical boundaries are easy, we both have ideas about what lines can’t be crossed. But we’re interested in other boundaries. Does anyone have any experience they’d be willing to share? For example, I want to set limits on how much time we should spend together. I’d personally like to be with her all the time, but that’s not healthy and could smother her. She’s kinda the same way. We need to set some sort of limit on that, but don’t know what to talk about. I’m thinking, we need to set limits on how emotionally involved we are, how much time we should spend together, maybe how much money we’re allowed to spend on each other per month or something. Any input is very appreciated.

Just for the record, this is a Christian relationship and we both feel like I should lead the way in the relationship because I am the man. Ideally I should never be asking her to do something that she deeply disagrees with, because I should only be asking her to do Christlike things.

On that note, I’d ask that you not respond to that specific issue. please keep the responses positive

And because I’m sure it will be asked, I’m 20, she’s 21.

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23 Answers

Judi's avatar

Have you read any of the Christian courtship books? They are filled with these kinds of guidelines and boundaries.
this book was really popular a while back.

cookieman's avatar

I say follow your heart but use your brain.

If issues begin to arise, then set some bounderies to counteract them. Trying to anticipate problems by systematically setting up rules to avoid them is a bit robotic and lifeless IMHO.

Love should be messy. It is from chaos that we find order. Jump in with both feet.

If you are a good Christian, than your solid moral foundation will serve as your guide. I think you have to trust that and not feel the need to put everything on paper or read it from a book.

Perchik's avatar

@cp I think you nailed what I’ve been trying to say. I think some boundaries need to be discussed because sometimes when you cross one, you can never go back. Even if it was just to test the waters… I don’t want to do something like that.

Any idea how to limit myself emotionally? My problem is different than most guys. I feel like i want to spend as much time with her as I can, I’m afraid of getting too emotionally involved too quick.

cookieman's avatar

I was the same way with my wife (then girlfriend). Always wanted to be with her.

And I did get too close for a while; which was bad because I took things too personal, cared way too much about her opinion, and even mirrored my mood on hers.

I eventually realized two things. You have to make time for yourself, alone, every week. Have some of your own interests outside the relationship. And two, to really love someone (as opposed to obsess over them) you have to not care about their opinion sometimes.

My wife is my best friend. I’d take a bullet for her. But we’re seperate people. You have to embrace that.

Twenty years later it seems to be working.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I’d be careful about planning things out too much because things could almost become robotic and it could just be more about figuring things around the limits rather than the relationship itself. For example, what if you see something that reminds you of her and you know she would love, but you’d already gone over your preset limit of money to spend on her? Or what if there is an event that you or she would love and you want to go together, but you’d already hit your preset limit on time together? Not that I’m saying that setting some kind of boundary is a bad idea, just don’t lose the relationship itself in them. I think it’s a great idea to take things slowly and cautiously so as not to overdo it too quickly, but don’t stifle things too much by not letting them take their natural course. Good luck!

cookieman's avatar

Yeah, I’m with Tits.

which is obvious from my initial post but I really wanted to say, “I’m with Tits”.

queenzboulevard's avatar

My gf’s the best ever, but I can’t stand spending a lot of time together. Mostly because I think that silence is golden, and she’s a yapper. The more time we spend, the more annoyed I get with the noise, and the meaner I am to her. Fortunately, we both know this and it makes us closer :)

As far as your boundaries go, make sure you listen to what the other person wants no matter what, don’t hesitate to be honest (even if it’s the bad honest), and pray about things together.

tessa's avatar

boundaries never work for me. Things have to come about organically. I can’t create walls which I have to stay within. It is a good idea to be aware of the amount of time you spend together and the amount of money you spend on her (you don’t want to suphocate her), but let those boundaries come about naturally. As you learn more about your relationship together, you will discover what works and doesn’t. That being said, if you do set up some boundaries, keep in mind that they may change and shift, and they should be allowed to.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@cprevite: I think one of my favorite things on fluther is how much people like my username. It lends itself to so many great little sayings…

susanc's avatar

This might be a good exercise for the two of you.
Each write a “wants” list on one side of a sheet of paper and in another column write a “needs” list – what you want and need from the relationship. Talk them over. You may find that you have items in the wrong columns, e.g. you THINK you MUST be spoon-fed peach yogurt daily but on further contemplation you realize you could live without it, so it goes on the “wants” list, not the “needs”. Get it?
We did this and were both relieved to find “monogamy” on both our “needs” lists – never had to discuss it again. Anyway – it makes it easy to talk things through and isn’t quite as rigid as a set of rules. Just a set of wishes on one hand and deep vulnerabilities on the other.
You might find apparently irreconcilable stuff, and you may generate different list items over time. No blame! Ever!

unacornea's avatar

i think it’s a good idea to practice having boundaries so when something serious comes up you have some framework for how to deal with it. separate interests, separate activities during the week, make sure you hang out with other friends, spend time with your families, do your homework or whatever other things you need to do to keep up with your own life. having time apart makes the time you’re together that much more exciting, you have more to talk about.

in terms of emotional boundaries, learn how to speak from a place where you are both responsible for your own feelings. for example, if one of you is feeling sad, you need room to feel and express that sadness without relying on the other person to take care of it for you. (although caretaking can be nice sometimes – it’s always a balance.) learn how to listen to your emotions and learn from them and share that strength with each other – that will help create the foundation of a strong relationship where you both have room to grow and can stay connected even if the dynamics in the relationship change.

SoapChef's avatar

@ cprevite, too funny! I’m with you and Tits too!

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@soapchef: Is that a tattoo of a jellyfish?

BRILLIANT!

SoapChef's avatar

Yep! When I came across Fluther, I just had to join. I already had the tattoo! I’m another one who loves your username.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

You’re my new favorite :D

bythebay's avatar

Perchik: There’s not much to add after these insightful and caring posts. I just really think you need to let this play out before you set limits on it. You may find that you both are symbiotic in your needs & wants, thus your list might seem confining and too structured. Allow yourselves the joy in just caring for each other and seeing where you end up. If problems arise, you certainly sound communicative enough to discuss and address them with respect. Be happy you’ve found someone you want to spend time with and enjoy it.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Maybe instead of boundaries, it would be helpful to jointly see how many answers you can come up with to the following sentence:

“In this relationship, we_____”

WE is the operative word in making a relationship work.

Mizuki's avatar

Try and cut down on rules, live a little, and most of all, freakin’ relax! You guys are way too young to be so uptight! I suggest having sex with one of her best friends, that will add some spice….

By the way, I’m with Tits too! It sounds good to say it…

Jack79's avatar

I’m sorry but I don’t really get it. Ok, you’re Christian, so maybe you decide to set some boundaries about what is religiously acceptable for both of you, eg with regards to sex before marriage. That’s fine. But beyond that, what? And what does religion have to do with it?

Good Christians should try not to hurt each other or isult each other. You should try to love and respect one another. But that’s the basic recipe for any healthy relationship, even between atheists. So why the boundaries? Yes, not drowning each other is a good idea, but organising it like “ok, we already met 3 times this week so I’m going to stay home and be bored on Saturday rather than go to the movies with you”...nope, sorry, that’s silly. Just live the relationship, and cherish it.

It seems to me you have found a soulmate with a similar view on life as yourself. So hang on to that.

Sellz's avatar

i think that spending some time apart is healthy (absence makes the heart grow foder). And it is very good that you two have come to this agreement. I would recommend that you go to your Pastor and speak with him/her about it. Also, to keep this relationship strong, pray together and get a spiritual counselor (again your pastor is recommended). I pray that all goes well with you two, bruh. God bless.

-Sellz

mollydrew's avatar

I think this is wonderful, how mature of you and it is a positive example of how honesty CAN work in a relationship. Think of the traits that are important in any relationship like honesty and trust, and they apply to your friends. Avoiding pitfalls like gossip and lying go a long way in building friendships that last a lifetime. It is human to have conflict and conflict helps to keep up boundaries. With healthy boundaries we are better able to co-exist with another person and not be threatened or insecure. You are wise to note that you could damage your relationship or distract or annoy her by occupying too much of her time, and that you could be selfish by doing so, asking yourselves how much time should be spent together and how much time on the phone. The phone allows you time to learn more about each other without distractions.

The goal in any relationship is to feel calm, centered and focused you need to be safe, supportive, respectful, nonpunitive and peaceful, feeling taken care of, wanted, unconditionally accepted and loved just for existing and being alive in a healthy intimate relationship. You feel part of something and not alone in such a relationship. You experience forgiving and being forgiven with little revenge or reminding of past offenses. You find yourself giving thanks for just being alive in this relationship. A healthy rrelationship has a sense of directedness with plan and order. You experience being free to be who you are rather than who you think you need to be for the other. This relationship makes you free from the “paralysis of analysis” needing to analyze every minute detail of what goes on in it. Having priorities in order, with people’s feelings and process of the relationship coming before things and money. A healthy relationship encourages your personal growth and supports your individuality. This relationship does not result in you or your relationship partner becoming emotionally, physically or intellectually dependent on one another. A good relationship encourages the spiritual growth of both relationship partners and makes room for God in the relationship as a partner and friend.

Joybird's avatar

Please don’t take offense for my directness but I have to tell you that merely reading your post about how you think you need to conduct a relationship made me glaze over. From this idea that you are the male gender and therefore are entitled somehow to be the leader or dominate this discussion right on down to wanting to set in stone things like how much emotion should be involved in the relationship (as if that could be regulated). I am aghast. I wouldn’t ever want to be in a relationship under these kinds of limiting conditions. And then you also profess this to be originating out of your spiritual beliefs? Wow. Just wow.
While it’s true that you need time to yourself that shouldn’t be at the expense of the relationship and certainly doesn’t need to be regulated. What happened to a good old fashioned discussion that goes something like, “I’m gonna go fishing tomorrow dear and I’ll see you Sunday.”
How much strangelation can you do to a relationship before you got nothing left but chains that bind your heart from soaring. What you describe is not a foundation or a rock to build upon but instead something that would drown out joy, freedom to exhalt oneself in the bliss that is love, and what of passion. Sounds like that would have to take a back seat to restrictions as well.
In my gut what I sense is that you are saying all this because of fear; fear that love will make you no longer able to be that macho, dominant male you think you are supposed to be, fear that you will loose control, fear of being hurt (thus the limit setting on emotions), fear of being immersed in the bliss of lovemaking, fear of loosing yourself in love.

AmyKat's avatar

Follow your heart

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