Struggling with how to set healthy dating boundaries? We are here to help! If you want to be intentional in your dating life, this list of 11 tips is for you. Married couples can benefit from this list as well. Anyone who wants to have a healthy romantic relationship should implement these boundaries in their life.
1. Be Honest About Deal Breakers
You need to be honest with your partner about deal breakers in the relationship. If you want to save yourself for marriage but he doesn’t, then it probably is not a good fit. If you want to agree on religion, but she does not see the importance, then you need to hash that out. Being honest about your deal breakers is a healthy way to start a relationship. This might start a hard conversation, but it is better to address these issues before strong romantic bonds form.
2. Set Physical Boundaries
Everyone has different opinions on physical boundaries. Some people do not want any physical touch, while others are all over their partner. Make sure that you and your significant other are in agreement about physical boundaries. I recommend asking parents, friends, or mentors to hold you accountable for your boundaries. As your affection grows, your desire for your partner will grow too. It is better to set guardrails than to be caught in a difficult situation.
3. Spend Time Apart
When you start dating, it is tempting to spend every spare minute with your partner. Don’t fall into that trap! Make sure that you spend some of your free time apart. You both need time alone so that you can evaluate the relationship without getting caught up in emotions. On the days you are apart, try to journal and reflect on your relationship. It is helpful to have a list of qualities you are looking for in a future spouse. You can occasionally reference this list to help you determine if that is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
4. Find Mentors
Mentors are valuable in all parts of life! Finding a couple that will mentor you, hold you accountable, and challenge you is so important. Consider asking a couple that you admire to be your mentors. You can go on double dates, make a meal, or do a Bible study. Try to meet with your mentors at least a few times a year. Since they are not emotionally attached to you or your partner, they will provide constructive feedback on issues that you might not recognize. They can also teach you about growing intimacy when the time is right.
5. Spend Intentional Time Together
Spending intentional time together involves more than just cuddling and watching a movie. Try to spend time doing activities that bring out your partner’s character! This could involve serving at a food pantry, playing sports, or spending time with their family. If you are considering marriage, you want to know your partner’s true character before making that lifelong commitment. Being intentional can be hard, but it is worth it in the long run!
6. Clarify Your Communication Styles
How will you and your partner communicate during times of conflict? It is never a good idea to hold in your emotions. If you hold suppress all your emotions, you will eventually explode. Try to resolve conflict face-to-face as often as you can. Your relationship will be much healthier if you can verbally communicate your feelings.
7. Set Clear Expectations
In any relationship, it is important to lay out your expectations. Tell your partner what you expect of them and ask what they expect of you. It might be helpful to write your expectations and give the list to your partner. After they have time to process your list, they might ask some clarifying questions. Take the time to revisit this list occasionally to make sure that your expectations line up.
8. Use “I” Statements
This is one of the most important dating boundaries! If you are considering marrying your partner, your future dreams should align! That is a good sign, but you still have to guard your heart. When you dream together about the future, don’t say “we”. Using that pronoun creates a bond that should be saved for engagement and marriage. Try to use the word “I” when you talk about your future so that you can guard both your heart and your partner’s heart.
9. Know When To Say “No”
It is okay to say “no” when your partner makes plans. Just be honest with them! If you don’t feel like hanging out with friends, politely tell your partner your feelings. If they love and respect you, they will appreciate your honesty and respect your boundaries.
10. Listen More Than You Talk
This tip is so important! We have two ears and one mouth. That should tell us something about the amount of talking that we do. If you love to talk and your partner loves to listen, push each other outside your comfort zones! This is a great way to grow closer together. When you take the time to intentionally listen to your partner, you will learn things that might surprise you. You will pick up on little quirks you never noticed, and you will learn how to love them better. This is a great way to practice selflessness in preparation for marriage.
11. Stand Firm By Your Boundaries
Once you have established your boundaries, stick to them! If you cross those boundary lines, it will be twice as hard to go back. You can always revisit the boundaries list if you feel like something on that list is not necessary anymore. It is better to set guard rails and stick to them than to end up in an uncomfortable situation. Seek out mentors, communicate clearly, and strive to respect each other in everything you do.