Defending Your Borders

What won’t you do for love?

And what doesn’t your partner want you to do?

There’s a big difference between those questions. Maintaining healthy boundaries — knowing your preferences and limits, and not letting them be violated — is basic to a happy, healthy life, and not just in relationships, but everything.

But there’s often a blurred distinction between boundaries and rules, and going beyond that, to the (often dreaded) relationship veto.  So, as an unrequested public service, I tried to make it all simpler. To wit:

  • Boundary: I won’t do X or allow anyone to do X to ME.
  • Veto: I won’t allow YOU to do X or anyone to do X to YOU.
  • Rule: WE won’t do X or allow anyone to do X to either of US.

(Rules being the most flexible of the bunch in meaning and effect.)

A veto can be included in rules, so long as they are negotiated and agreed to. But instituting a unilateral veto — or any unilateral rule, like the dreaded One Penis Policy — is a sign of a troubled relationship.

So build your walls where you will. Just don’t let anybody build them for you. Because those are the ones designed more to restrict than protect.

 

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