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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » boundaries vs. compromise

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Author Topic: boundaries vs. compromise
Cloverdance
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I'm confused about when you should set up a boundary and when you should use a compromise. This is my problem: I've been dating someone for a few months and I don't always like to be touched. (I'm talking to a psychologist about that, I think it has something to do with my ex from a long time ago.) When I don't want to be touched, it's not specific to my boyfriend, I don't want anyone to touch me. He gets really upset when I tell him not to touch me, even though I'm always nice about it and try to explain what I'm thinking at the time. He says that he's one of those people who NEEDS to be touched sometimes, which makes sense to me even though I can't relate, it's like the opposite of what I have. Anyway, because we have sort of the same problem but on opposite sides, he thinks that we should compromise, like when he wants a hug or a cuddle really badly but I don't want to be touched and it's less urgent than his need, I should just cuddle anyway because it's like the flip side of when I really don't want to be touched and he wants to touch me and doesn't. But I feel like the person who doesn't want to be touched should always win (but maybe because that's my side of things?). I go with the second paragraph of the answer that Heather gave in this article (it's about sex, but it's still relevant I think):

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/dueling_libidos

quote:
When it comes to working out who wants what when, all of us always need to know that it's important that we defer to the person who does NOT want to do something. In other words, that person gets their needs put first.
The thing is, I'm not really sure WHY the person who does NOT want something should "win", always and without question. Wouldn't it make better sense (at least with me and my boyfriend) to compromise instead of always defering to me? Or is my/our thinking twisted around?

I hope that all made sense. Please help, I'm so confused!

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The meaning of happiness is whatever you want it to be.

Posts: 23 | From: US | Registered: Jul 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Because having your boundaries crossed is a big deal, and being pushed outside what makes you comfortable is, too.

Someone who wants to touch someone a certain way that they do not want to be touched can always find someone else who wants to be touched that way if that's a big deal to them.

Let me put this in another context, if that helps. If I really don't want to eat something -- maybe I'm allergic, maybe I just don't like that thing, maybe I have had some kind of traumatic experience with it -- and someone really wants me to eat it because they enjoy watching someone eat that, I think it's easy to see how my need trumps theirs. After all, no doubt they can find someone who DOES like to eat those things if it's that important they have that experience with someone. But I'm not that person.

To make it simpler still: no one is entitled to touching a person because they want to touch that person or be touched by that person. Everyone, on the other hand, should be entitled to only being touched when, where and how they want to. No one is somehow keeping someone from their basic needs when witholding touch in an elective relationship, because our basic needs, like for touch, are not about one person only.

I'm not at all down with someone "compromising" on their boundaries only because someone else wants them to. If we want to go ahead and try and loosen a boundary or expand it because we ALSO want that, that's one thing, but if a boundary is a strong boundary we want to keep as a boundary, other folks need to respect it.

If you often really don't want to be touched, and your BF is a very touchy person, that doesn't say to me that someone needs to compromise. Rather, it suggests you two are probably not a very good fit for a relationship one person wants to be physical.

[ 10-14-2010, 02:57 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68255 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cloverdance
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Member # 47739

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Thank you so much for that, Heather. It's like my brain kept dancing around what you said and ALMOST grasped it, but never quite got there. That all makes excellent sense, and I'm going to talk to my boyfriend about it tonight. THANK YOU! =)

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The meaning of happiness is whatever you want it to be.

Posts: 23 | From: US | Registered: Jul 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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