Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. ~ Wikipedia
After my breakup earlier this year, a girlfriend recommended a book to me on creating and enforcing personal boundaries. In my relationship with my ex, I had few personal boundaries, and the ones I did have, I allowed to be crossed time and time again without consequence. It's not healthy. It does not make for a happy, well adjusted relationship. Something I had to learn is that setting personal boundaries is not selfish, and it is not asking too much of others. I tend towards a thought process of wanting to make everything easy for those around me (friends, family, lovers, partners), and go out of my way to ensure that I'm pleasing to be around.
Over the last six months, I've learned that boundaries are essential to respectful, caring relationships of any kind. The saying 'what you allow is what will continue' is very true. If you allow someone to cross your boundaries without consequence, they will continue to do so. They will learn that they can treat you anyway they like, and you will do nothing about it. As my self-esteem developed and blossomed, I realized that I deserve a lot more that what I've allowed in the past. Boundaries allow you to say, 'No. The way you're treating me here is not okay', and sets limits for what is acceptable and what is not. When my self-esteem was low, and I was afraid that the person I loved was going to leave me if I wasn't agreeable enough, I allowed myself to be treated in ways that left me hurt and unhappy. Not having personal boundaries, or having boundaries that you don't enforce, leaves you open to being taken advantage of and treated badly...over and over again. To me, setting boundaries is a matter of self-respect. I know my worth, and if someone is going to treat me in a way that I find unacceptable I will not allow that person to be a continued presence in my life. I no longer see that as my loss.
Now that I know exactly what personal boundaries are, and how to establish and maintain them, I see things a lot differently. I am able to use them to keep myself out of situations that would put me right back in the type of relationship that makes me unhappy and taken advantage of. Finally, six months later, I am at the point where I feel completely healed, and I know that I'm better off. I'm taking this time to enjoy being on my own. As a single woman, I'm able to spend my time with whomever I want, doing whatever I want, without having to worry about someone else. I'm having fun, my needs are being met, I'm buying a house, and I don't feel the need to be in a committed relationship at this time. Dating just doesn't appeal to me in the least right now. That's not to say that someone couldn't come along tomorrow and completely change my view on that. The point is, that's my prerogative. When someone asks me out, I am upfront about how I feel right now. I tell them that I am just getting over a bad breakup, thank you for your interest, but I'm just focusing on myself right now. That should be it. If someone continues to try to make me change my mind, to continuously push their own agenda with no regard to my wishes, they are not respecting my boundaries. What they've done is ensure that I will never, ever, ever, EVER even consider going out with them or even hang out with them as friends. If someone is going to disregard my wishes as if I have no clue what I really want, that is not a pattern that is going to go away. I don't have the time or energy for that bullshit. This badass right here deserves better than that. If a guy asks me to do something, and I really really want to do it, I'm not going to play coy and say no in the hopes that he will keep asking. That's dumb. If I'm interested, I'm going to respond and respond immediately in a very obviously interested way. When I take a lover, it's one lover at a time, and it's someone who respects my boundaries. Someone who can't accept the boundary of 'I need some time to myself right now' would never ever be considered as an acceptable lover, and most definitely would not be acceptable to date when I'm ready.
Pushing my boundaries is a basically shooting yourself in the foot at this point.