Dating and Boundaries

Whether you are preparing for your first date or have been dating for years, you can always discover new ways to get to know a person better and express what they mean to you–without having sex.

P: Know Your Purpose

Ask yourself, “Will dating this person, at this time, take me where I want to go?”
Set realistic expectations, knowing the younger you are, the less likely the relationship will be long term. Let the person you’re dating know how you feel. If you’re not sure, that’s totally okay.

It’s really exciting to be in a relationship when you don’t know yet if it’s going to work, but you know you want to try to make it work!

Over time, you’ll know better if this person has long-term potential or if it is time to go your separate ways.

L: Know Your Limits

Know your limits, because if you don’t, others will try to take you as far as they want.

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to go further than you expected. Determine ahead of time how far you are going to go physically.

How far will you go if you don’t want to experience a pregnancy?
How far will you go if you don’t want to experience an STD?
What about emotional attachment?
What about the pressure to go further once your hormones start raging?

Your boundary should reflect your age, the level of commitment you have to the relationship, your maturity, and your personal values.

Remember to communicate your limits to your date. And respect their limits too. (This isn’t a suggestion, there are legal consequences for those who force or coerce another person further than they wanted to go sexually).

A: Know Your Attitude

Is your attitude toward the other person love, infatuation, or sexual desire?

  • Love is a deep, intense, tender feeling of affection, attachment, or devotion to a person; a decision to act in the best interest of another person, based on an intellectual evaluation of their character. (It isn’t just a feeling!)
  • Infatuation lacks solid judgment, and is completely carried by shallow love; the emotional impulse based on surface knowledge of the other person and has not faced the test of time and circumstances. (It is just a feeling, usually a great feeling!)
  • Sexual desire is a strong wish, craving, lust, appetite, or longing for sex; a desire to gratify an urgent, self-satisfying need.

Each of these attitudes is an expected aspect of most romantic relationships. But before you make decisions about long-term commitments or sexual activity, you should honestly ask yourself which attitude is guiding you. Are your emotions or hormones clouding your ability to act in your best interest and the best interest of the other person?

N: Know your Non-Negotiables

What are your “deal-breakers” that should warn you the relationship won’t work?

Healthy relationships include a significant amount of “Compromise.” But there are situations when compromise is not an option. Can you fill in the blank, “I would never date someone who__________”?

  • Is a [insert rival sports team here] fan
  • Listens to [or doesn’t listen to] country music

Okay those probably aren’t going to be your deal-breakers, but these could be:

  • Is physically abusive
  • Cheated on me
  • Disrespects me or my family
  • Insists we are going to have sex sooner or later, but you want to wait for marriage

There are many other issues that you’ll have to think through if it looks like this relationship is going to be long-term (especially if you’re thinking about getting engaged).

  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Money and finances
  • How many kids you want to have

Early in the relationship, many of these issues won’t be a big deal, but you should know up front what your non-negotiables are.