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What Are Good Boundaries to Set Before You Start to Date?

by Stacey Elkins, studioD

Establishing boundaries for relationships is essential. Setting healthy boundaries is important in order to protect and take care of yourself, says IPFW.edu in "Setting Boundaries With Difficult People." Without boundaries, a person can easily take advantage of you. Setting clear boundaries and sticking to them before dating sets the stage for appropriate behaviors. Clear boundaries will also help reduce the risk of an unhealthy relationship.

Maintain Your Identity

If you don't have a clear sense of who you are, you are susceptible to being defined by others, according to TwoOfUs.org, in "Personal Boundaries in a Relationship." Know what you believe and don't lose your personal identity. Be aware of your feelings, values, morals and goals. Don't change yourself to make a relationship work. Continue to have a life independent of your dating relationship. Continue to pursue your interests, activities you enjoy and time with friends. Continuing to be your own individual needs to be a priority. Your happiness comes from within you, not from a relationship.

Command Respect

Set boundaries that command respect for you, your space and your time. It's imperative that you set boundaries regarding your availability, which commands respect, says Marni Battista, certified life coach by the International Coaching Federation and author of "How to Set Appropriate Boundaries" on YourTango. If you have already have plans, a date shouldn't expect you to change them for him. You should expect your date to respect what makes you, you. It's important to feel that you can state your thoughts and feelings without being judged. You should be able to honestly express your boundaries and feel secure in doing so.

Physical Space and Intimacy

Determine what you're comfortable with regarding personal boundaries. If your date is in what you deem your personal space, let him know. You should never feel uncomfortable because someone is sitting or standing too close to you. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with doing on a date. For example, if you're not comfortable with kissing on a first date, set your boundary and don't let your date cross it. Know how much physical intimacy you find acceptable on a date and stick to it. For example, you may find holding hands acceptable but nothing more on a first date.

Know What You Want

When deciding who to date, know what you want in a significant other. Know what is negotiable and what is a deal breaker. For example, are you willing to date someone who is divorced, has children or smokes? Know what values and personality characteristics you are seeking in a significant other. Are you set on someone with a particular religious belief, an outgoing personality or someone who is conservative? Don't continue to date someone who doesn't fit important criteria of the person you are seeking.

About the Author

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.

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