Boundaries. Ah, it’s the B word that makes us feel awkward. We avoid talking about this word in dating relationships to bypass the elephant in the room.
I mean, let’s face it; if you are human you have feelings. Feelings are good, but they need to be properly ordered. As nerve-racking as it may feel, if you are serious about pursuing and fostering a relationship that is both clear and intentional, a conversation about boundaries needs to happen at some point during the initial stages (no matter who initiates it).
I do want to preface this by saying that I am by no means an expert on doing it right. Many years of trial and error from previous relationships have taught me valuable lessons that I’ve been told are worth sharing. So, here are four things that you should consider before establishing boundaries with your significant other:
1. Begin with the end in mind.
Our thought should be “I want heaven for you; even if that means that I’m not the one for you.” If love is the reason for your desire to commit, then that means you will their good. What could be better for them than heaven? So, while you are in this relationship, you will do everything in your power to point them towards what is good, beautiful, and true (Phil 4:8), which isn’t lust, but love for one another.
This mentality is important to have from the start. Mainly because it serves as a reminder that until I make vows with this person, he is not my husband, but rather, someone’s future spouse whose soul I am responsible for while we discern the possibility of marriage.
“The greater the sense of responsibility for the other, the greater the love there is.” – St. John Paul II
2. Be honest, Be specific.
I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the less time I try to waste! Being vulnerable is scary, but on the other side of that fear is peace and clarity. When you decide to be honest about your weaknesses, your significant other can too. Honesty breeds freedom.
The biggest lesson that I have learned from past relationships is: I need to know myself. When I possess myself, I can say what my needs are and I won’t expect my significant other to just “know” or read my mind. I shouldn’t expect him to figure me out, that’s my job.
With that being said, if I know what environments or physical forms of affection will put me in a sexual mood (i.e., being alone in each other’s room/home, sitting on his lap, etc.) then I need to specifically communicate that those are my weak areas. Sharing this with your significant other should create a safe space where they feel that they too can be honest with you.
Boundaries are important to address, even when your significant other shares your faith and is on the same page about chastity. In my very first relationship, I avoided this conversation because I assumed that we would automatically be on the same page about things. However, men and women are wired differently with unique triggers and temptation. So, it is a healthy and mature part of your relationship to discuss these things.
3. Have a routine “check in”.
It’s important to revisit set boundaries and check in with one another periodically. Having the conversation one time is not enough. As the relationship and level of commitment progresses, so does the desire for emotional and physical intimacy – as it should. Lines can get blurred very easily and very quickly if we are not conscious of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Sometimes, because of sin, when those boundaries are crossed repeatedly, we get comfortable and it makes it very hard to want to turn back. This check in will provide you both with the opportunity to share what has and has not been working so far.
4. Take Courage.
Loving well isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Ask for the grace to persevere if things get difficult. Sharing your struggle is your honor, not your shame. Know that you are not alone and that every couple will experience their downfalls and their victories in different ways. Your relationship is unique and tailor made for your success as a couple. Keep fighting the good fight in this battle for purity; know that your efforts will bear great fruit in your heart and in each other’s lives.
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About the Author
Chelsea Rojas is a NYC girl born of Dominican parents. She is currently finishing up a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has spent 7 years as a missionary and speaker for Corazon Puro Inc., a bilingual Latino non-profit organization that forms leaders and shares teachings based on the Theology of the Body. She is co-founder of The Unwritten Blog and co-leads Daughters of the Light, a young adult women’s group in NYC. She is a lover of sunsets, smoothies, and sustainability.