Posted: 24 Oct 2012 06:20 AM PDT
Boundary Violations In Gay Relationships - We’ve talked about self-oriented boundary violations like straying from your diet or cheating on a test. Violations in your relationship with your partner can be particularly damaging, however, as they can diminish your trust in each other and cause significant conflicts and emotional distance that can tear down the foundation of commitment you’ve built.
Again, it’s human to stray from our boundaries at times, but when it becomes pervasive and isn’t talked about with your partner to try and remedy it, serious consequences can arise.
Here are some examples of common boundary violations in relationships to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about:
You drink too much at the bar with your friends and flirt with all the men near you while your partner is away on business.
Your partner pressures you to experiment with sexual practices you’re not comfortable with.
You don’t stick up for your partner when your family badmouths him.
Your partner makes other things, like work or his hobbies, more of a priority than spending quality time with you.
You don’t voice your opinions about the way you would like things to function in your relationship and then harbor feelings of resentment toward your partner when he makes all the decisions.
Your partner strays from your monogamous relationship by cheating with someone he met on the Internet.
Negativity, jealousy, passive-aggressiveness, lying, withdrawal, blaming…these are also “red flags”.
And the list goes on and on! It is only a violation if either of you behave in a way that contradicts the relationship vision or mission that the two of you should have and should continue to be co-creating from the inception of your partnership.
Communication of your expectations and values is critical from the very beginning of your relationship and should continue to be re-visited periodically to ensure you both are still “on the same page”. Your relationship and the players involved in it will grow and change, which is a normal part of your maturation, and you’ll need to be open to this and make revisions to your original “contract” as necessary.
Tips For Boundary-Setting Success
As an individual, determine whether you struggle with maintaining healthy boundaries in your relationships and life in general. Difficulties with boundaries can come from many sources, including: being raised in a dysfunctional family where unhealthy boundaries were modeled, low self-esteem, lack of individual identity and codependency, poor assertiveness and social skills, being in an abusive or toxic relationship, being easily guilt-prone, having addictions of any kind, having power/control issues, getting a sense of validation for catering to a relationship partner, etc. Try to identify where your struggles with boundaries originate and keep track of what triggers your self-sabotaging behavior. Work aggressively at overcoming these personal hurdles to promote a more solid and confident sense of self.
Take a class on assertiveness training or get some counseling to help you build skills in identifying your needs and feelings and how to directly express them without guilt or qualification.
As a couple, plot out a relationship mission statement that specifies your values and expectations for behavioral conduct as individuals and as a couple.This becomes your “relationship contract” that will give you a structure by which to live your life with integrity and stability. Introduce spontaneity and novelty into your relationship from time to time so you don’t feel like you’re living according to a policies and procedures manual and to keep the spark alive.
Make sure that you both define your particular boundaries around money, household management and domestics/division of labor, sex, monogamy vs. non-monogamy, parenting roles (if applicable), work, friends, family, health, spirituality, the way anger is dealt with, how you spend your time, etc. It may seem like a lot of material to cover, but the more that’s communicated will lessen the opportunity for surprise violations to occur in the future. It’s a great way to learn more about each other too and create further growth as a couple.
Realize that you and your guy will not always see eye-to-eye on things. It will be important to recognize and appreciate your differences and have systems in place to manage disagreements (eg. fair-fight rules, taking Time-Outs when anger gets unproductive, following the problem-solving process for reaching win/win solutions, practicing forgiveness and compromise, etc.). Communication is key of course! Make sure you’re both well adept in the fine art of active listening to help pave the way toward resolution.
Boundaries protect your relationship from outside forces as well. Should family or friends try to come between you, even if well-intentioned, always stand by your man and reinforce your commitment to each other. Don’t enable other peoples’ efforts to force their viewpoints and projections onto your relationship.
Conclusion - So whether you’re single and looking for Mr. Right or you’ve already found him, recognize the profound importance boundaries have on your well-being and quality of life. Without them, you’re left in a vulnerable position and can make poor choices that could adversely affect the course of your life. Knowing yourself and standing up for what you believe in can empower you to enjoy life to the fullest and accomplish great things in your relationships.
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc.http://thegaylovecoach.com
Thanks to Brian and to Michael@gaytwogether.com