How To Build a Romantic Relationship Based on Healthy Boundaries
Another post on boundaries by Barb Nangle. If you like it, subscribe to her newsletter or check out her podcast. I listen every week.
Her website is here! She is available for individual coaching. I am including her posts because I believe that if we set good boundaries, we will improve the relationships we have with others.
Boundaries are about relationships and love. In order to have intimacy, you must have healthy boundaries! One of the things I did, that is very common among those with unhealthy boundaries, was try to “hot wire” emotional intimacy through sex. It doesn’t work that way.
If you want true emotional intimacy, it takes time to build. The ironic thing is that the sex is so much hotter when you already have emotional intimacy. Boundary building is about intimacy – first you build intimacy with yourself, then with others. It’s about getting to know yourself, then revealing what you’ve learned to others.
Here are my recommendations for how to build the foundation of a healthy romantic relationship with healthy boundaries. I’ve done all of these things in building my relationship with my sweetheart Chuck and I’ve coached numerous others in these same kinds of practices.
Before I share, I want to briefly say that I had 28 relationships before Chuck. Some were for years, some friends with benefits, some were just a few dates. They were all dysfunctional. I didn’t know how to relate to others in ways that were healthy and that promoted intimacy.
That is, until I met Chuck at the age of 55. By then I had well-developed healthy boundaries. Chuck also had healthy boundaries, which is one of the things that attracted me most to him.
I often look back and see how dysfunctional my previous relationships were in comparison to my relationship with Chuck. For example, if he and I have some kind of an exchange, I almost automatically reflect back on how it would have gone in my previous relationships. Frequently, the situation would have blown up! But now I know how to handle things as they arise such that it promotes intimacy between he and I. In the past, it was like I was on an anti-intimacy campaign with all my partners!!
One thing I want to say is that since I’m a heterosexual woman, my story will reflect that. However, the norms of heterosexual relationships may not apply in your situation. That doesn’t mean the principles and the boundaries I share don’t apply.
Some of these may not sound like boundaries, but they are. I’ll underline the things that are boundaries so you won’t miss them. I’ll start with his healthy boundaries.
He demonstrated his healthy boundaries in a variety of ways. For example, he didn’t try to touch me for the first couple of dates. When he did touch me, he briefly put his arm around me while walking me to my car. He revealed things about himself bit by bit and not with a firehose the way me and my previous partners had all done.
One of the best things he did was to ask me if he could kiss me. Getting consent is HOT! Once the kissing started, he didn’t grope me and try to get into my shirt or pants the way every other guy had. He brought up the subject of sex in a very playful manner, and let me take the lead in the conversation.
I told him that I wanted him but that I was not ready. I told him I wasn’t going to have sex with him unless…
· We were in a committed, monogamous relationship
· We had a conversation about sex at some time in the future
· We both had STI testing and shared our results with each other
He agreed to all those things. We then set a date for when we’d have sex and decided to go away to make it extra special.
Let me tell you, that made it super hot!! Anticipation is such a wonderful, exciting part of love making. We stretched out the anticipation for several weeks by counting down the time together and having fun with it. That meant we got to enjoy looking forward to it together. That enhanced our intimacy, which is what romantic relationships are all about.