Healthy relationships have healthy boundaries – solid lines that establish who we are and who are partner is. Our boundaries do not constitute barriers to keep people at bay. Instead, they represent the walls of our sacred temple, wherein we grow and nurture love, compassion and mercy for ourselves so that we can project them outward as well. They are a source of strength to draw from, for making virtuous choices.
These solid lines keep us accountable, letting us know when we’ve crossed them or have allowed others to do the same. Define them to others: ‘This is who I am and who I am not. This is my vision for my life and my well being. I will express my freedom to make healthy choices, and one of those is when I choose to say no.’
See if your new partner is willing to support your framework. If not, thank them for who they are and bid them a fond farewell.
Ironically, when you can say ‘no’ in an unchallenged atmosphere, you can finally embrace your vulnerability and let your guard down.* Stand for your ‘no’ as well as respect a ‘no’ when you hear it from others – without taking it as a condemnation.
*(However, be willing to challenge your views to see if there is room for healthy compromise. The answer to that is in your heart.)
If your healthy boundary is challenged, respond with, ‘I love you, but I’m not going to take that, do this, etc.’ Seek out relationships with those who will honor your solid lines. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘That’s enough!’ But then, you must respond with a consequence – take something away from them until you see the desired behavior manifest; otherwise, your boundaries mean nothing. You need to change the way you relate with your partner. If they will not desist in violating your boundaries, you need to leave. You cannot rescue anyone from him or herself; they have to want to do it.
(Don’t forget however to always examine your own motives, making sure you aren’t the problem. Most of the time people have problems with a partner, it’s not the partner, it’s they way they’re relating to them.)
Having healthy boundaries allow you to act without malice. You are only honoring your agreements. Solid lines help build relationships where confrontation is only a difference of opinion, not a high-pitched battle. They open a space within where feelings can be acknowledged without shaming the person feeling them. Finally, they create a ‘reality’ about our relationships because both participants know just what is so.
Realize though that you can never fully understand the true nature of another person’s thoughts. That’s why the only one who completely understands you is you. Others can only offer partial understanding. Knowing that, you can take the pressure off of each other within the relationship. If you want more understanding, there will have to be more dialogue.
What do we do when our ‘old humanity’ shows up – when we want to snap our partner’s head off over something they’ve done that we have judged to be wrong?
We return to our meditative breath until we feel we have a sense of self-control, not giving into knee-jerk reactions, as we remind ourselves what it is that we love about that person in front of us, and then take a moment to feel that love. Then we can calmly inform our partner about how we felt hurt / offended by their actions (not by who they are). From that place, a conversation is possible where everyone can take full responsibility for their actions and then co-create a mutually satisfying solution.
Now, let’s step back and ask ourselves what it is that we want out of being related. Isn’t it love?
Love is the highest form of relatedness – an expression of God Himself. Love transcends Hollywood and eclipses feelings. Feelings come and go. Love is not dependent upon some internal disposition. Love abides even when your feelings waiver (which they do several times per day).
If you want a loving relationship, bring your love. That’s the only part you’re responsible for. It’s up to your partner to bring theirs. Also bring your acceptance, telling your partner that he or she is perfect just the way they are. If your partner does the same, you’ll both be free from the exhaustion associated from trying to fashion and wear a mask to hide flaws that neither of you have.
When you consider a potential partner, say to yourself, ‘This is who they present themselves to be. Do they appear to be a good fit for me? Can I adjust my expectations and live with their eccentricities? Can I honor and respect them? Are they willing to meet my expectations? Can they? Can I be content with those that they are able to meet? Am I willing to provide for myself those wants and needs they cannot? Do I have a willingness to meet theirs?’
I would say that all of these questions must be answered with a resounding ‘yes’ in order to have a relationship that works.
If you cannot visualize a relationship with them, love them for who they are, be grateful for what they’ve brought to your life, and wish them a love-filled life elsewhere.
Relatedness is something that all of us are already engaged in. That’s why the hot pursuit of people trying to get related is so ironic. If we could just relax and see what we can offer ourselves and what the people we already have in our life could contribute, we could find ourselves in a mutually constructed loving relationship where happiness wasn’t that elusive after all…
Okay, we’ve got the concepts / truths. Now, let’s get the training.
Goodnight and God bless.