Boundaries are meant to be like an anchor that steadies a ship in a mighty storm. The ship does not drift while the powerful waves or the torrential rains surround the boat but rather the anchor calmly holds the ship in place while the storm around rages wildly. Having an anchor to hold the ship steady allowed for it to stay the course despite the waves and rain. Knowing what your boundaries are ahead of time is what keeps you grounded when the time comes.
Establishing and defining boundaries in a relationship doesn’t just come to you but rather I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord what would be good boundaries for you to establish. Some will be more black and white areas while others will be grey areas. Once you have thought about what boundaries you desire to set in place, then grab a journal or a notebook and write them down. I know it may seem silly to write them down but honestly it can help to keep you accountable. Then, share the list with a family member or close friend and ask their advice. Parents or friends who have gone through dating relationships will have advice on what boundaries are crucial and which boundaries are ones that you might want to consider. They will also help in the process of keeping you accountable to the goal, which you have set in place.
My parents have been the greatest examples of this in my life. I shared my boundaries with my parents before I started dating and they have helped me tremendously to keep me accountable. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders in helping my to keep myself pure in all areas of my life, including with boundaries. Sharing with them has never been a regret because they have been right by my side through it all. Through the mistakes, the regrets, the joys, and the smiles. Finding someone who can be there with you through it all is one of life’s greatest blessings. It may be parents, friends, or family members who will be able to keep you accountable and encourage you in all seasons of life.
Let’s talk practical boundaries now!
Practical Boundaries to Consider
#1: Alone Time: How much alone time are you okay spending with the other person? One of the biggest factors in the boundaries I have established for myself aligns with alone time. Being alone in the house with anyone I was dating or interested in is something that I have decided not to do. There can be too much temptation in knowing that there is no one else home along with the appearance of what others might be thinking as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from every form of evil.” This includes the appearance of evil. Abstaining from even the appearance of evil in every single area of your relationship.
Sometimes, it can be inconvenient and while no one may think anything of it, it still remains to be the appearance of evil. If you were to go over to your friends’ house early in the morning and as your friend answered the door, you noticed her boyfriend was just about to leave. Curiosity would tend to get the best of me! The flesh side of me would be wondering and thinking about what they were doing or why he was leaving her house this early in the morning. I want to challenge you to remain pure in every aspect of the word. Pursing those things that are holy, righteous, and above reproach.
#2: Curfew: What time are you okay with being out on a date till? Are there certain standards or boundaries you have for a curfew? Expect on special occasions, such a New Year’s Eve, the decision to not say out past 11PM is another boundary that I have set. Growing up, my mom would continually say that nothing good happens after midnight. I do believe this is true! There is nothing too important that I cannot finish the next day or another time.
I’m a girl through and through! This goes without saying then, that I can be emotional at times. Since I know this about myself, I have realized that the later the night gets, the more emotional I become. Whether it is through letting my guards down because I am a tired or saying thing that I don’t mean because it is late at night.
During my first relationship, right before I graduated high school, we used to spend many late nights talking on the phone. We would start talking about our days but eventually we would begin talking about the future and planning for what was to come. Even though we didn’t typically talk into the late hours of the night, I noticed myself giving more and more pieces of my heart away, emotionally, as the night wore on. Getting caught up in the dreams and plans for the future. When our relationship ended after only 2 months, I was left with a broken heart because I had allowed myself to get so enthralled with planning for a marriage that I was not even ready for, a future that would not happen, and a heart that was torn apart because I had failed to abide by the boundary I had set in place.
Through that experience, I try to be more careful about how late I am talking on the phone with a guy and the hours I am keeping with him on a date as well. I want to be respectful and keep the closest I can to the boundaries set in place rather than toeing the lie or seeing how far I can go without going too far.
#3: Physical Contact: Oh this one is so difficult! As women, we long for the affection of a man. Who doesn’t want to be cuddled with while watching a movie, or have their hand held through every occasion, or kissed right in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle?!
Purity youth conferences stress the importance of not having sex and keeping yourself pure for your future husband. While those conferences were helpful as a teenager, as a young adult I questioned where I needed to draw the line with physical contact. Where was the line? How would I know where to draw it? I had already decided to not kiss before marriage but there is plenty more to physical contact than only kissing.
These are a few of the physical boundaries I set for myself:
- I won’t lie down either on top of him or side by side
- I won’t not sit on his lap
- I won’t give long frontal hugs
- I won’t kiss until my wedding day
- I will not spend the night with him
It’s important to have your boundaries established and defined before you enter into a relationship but it is equally as important to discuss them with your boyfriend, preferably before you start dating or soon after you begin your relationship. Make sure to talk about what your boundaries are and what his boundaries are. Share your boundaries and allow him to hear your heart while being sensitive to keeping in mind the boundaries you have established before hand as well.