The world of dating is full of uncertainty. “Should I reply to this message?” “Should I flirt back?” “Should I try a second date?” Sometimes we find ourselves swept away in the possibility of a new relationship, only to find ourselves dropped out the other end of a dump truck. If there’s anything that could have protected us a little more from heartbreak, it’s probably a different set of boundaries.
Talking about boundaries seems daunting. It’s such a broad subject, and everyone seems to have their own special interpretation of it. Especially in Christian circles, “boundaries” almost always means “physical limits”. But, just as importantly, it means emotional boundaries that “teach people who we are and how we would like to be handled in relationships” (Eddins p. 2). A sense of boundaries in a dating relationship cannot only make you feel more confident about how things are going, they can help you make quicker decisions to all those questions I mentioned above.
When you don’t know what your boundaries should be or you let them change from day to day, it’s easy to lose a sense of who you are. Instead of being responsible for your own happiness, it gets far too simple to take on the emotions and needs of the person you’re dating.
The Bible talks a lot about keeping healthy boundaries, but not in the same way that secular publications talk about them. Boundaries aren’t selfish, just as taking time alone to reboot isn’t selfish. Without these things, we lose ourselves and become fueled by other people. No God-chaser should want to work only for the happiness of other people – that’s a goal that turns into a dead-end in no time. Even Jesus took the time to step away from his ministry, get a good nap in, and do some praying. If he set boundaries, then we definitely need to also.
Four boundaries everyone should have in a dating relationship:
1. Saying No
Don’t worry about disappointing people or making them upset with you, because if that’s your main incentive to making decisions, then something is terribly wrong. Isn’t part of the joy of going on dates or having friendships so you can share life together? It’s difficult to be joyful and full of God’s grace if you feel forced instead of glad to give (2 Cor. 9:7-9).
2. Not Feeling Responsible for the Other Person
I’ve known several men and women who have stayed in relationships not because it was healthy, but because they felt responsible for the other person’s feelings or faith. Yet Galations 6:5 says, “We are each responsible for our own conduct.” You might be dating a non-Christian who has started coming to church with you, or you need to break up with your current girlfriend but you’re too worried you’ll hurt her. Stay true to your convictions and make decisions based on your walk with God.