In fact, it’s nearly impossible to have a mature, healthy relationship without boundaries. The problem is that most of us think of walls when we think of boundaries, and that gives the impression of closing yourself off. But that’s not really what healthy boundaries do.
Deepak Chopra uses a powerful metaphor to describe boundaries in a relationship. He says they’re like a screen door. A good screen door will allow a cool breeze to come in while keeping leaves and bugs out. Said another way, well defined boundaries keep the bad stuff out while still allowing the good stuff into your life.
No one out there is perfect. Any guy you date is going to have flaws and imperfections, just as you do. And, there’s simply no way to check our baggage at the door when we start dating someone.
If you have no boundaries in your dating relationship, yes, the two of you will be close. So close, in fact, that his issues will become your issues. That’s not a good thing.
To keep that from happening, you need to make sure you have some healthy boundaries in place. That doesn’t mean you run from your partner’s issues. It means you accept the person, but not all his various moods, habits, and behaviors.
How do you do that?
Be willing to distance yourself from unhealthy behavior. For example, when your partner is having a bad day and seems to be wallowing in self-pity, don’t make the mistake of thinking your mood needs to match his. Empathize with him, but don’t join him. Just because he’s down in the dumps doesn’t mean you have to be.
You want the cool breeze, not the leaves and bugs. Encourage communication, but don’t embrace the negativity.
Here’s another example. You really like a guy, but the dog hair saturating the passenger seat of his car grosses you out. Don’t reject the entire relationship. Don’t reject him. Reject the specific thing that bothers you. Refusing to explain your discomfort does not protect the relationship. It just sets it up for failure.
Healthy boundaries allow your relationship to flourish. Boundaries allow you to be yourself while still embracing your partner.
Just remember the screen door metaphor. Love him and invest in him, but accept your right to do so without becoming a part of things that pull you down.