T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 55254
posted 03-08-2011 12:07 PM
How do I set good boundaries for myself in a relationship? For instance, I open up slower physically than the people I have been in relationships with (which pisses me off because it's all stereotypical since I'm female and they're male) and I get tired of always being the one to say, hey, can we wait a bit. Usually the other person has more experience as well. I go along with some things simply because I haven't done them before and I'm genuinely curious, but then when I try them and don't really like that thing, I'm bad at being able to backtrack and say I don't want to do that thing anymore.
I think some of the problem comes from the fact that usually it's the guy that tells me he likes me (and he's always been a good friend first), and I say what the heck, why not. And so we start something. That happened about twice before I made a pact to myself that I wouldn't date anyone I didn't have interest in romantically before he told/showed me he liked me. So my latest relationship was slightly better, in that I was somewhat attracted to him first as well. I read this article: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/pink/an_immodest_proposal and it's honestly been one of my favorite articles I've ever read! The problem is that I don't know how not to be the passive woman from the first half of the story. It's really frustrating. And since it's usually me being the one who is more reticent to do things, I don't usually get a chance to be assertive and start things, instead of just merely being okay with them. The couple of times I reciprocated things, it was very well-received in my last relationship, but it also had the effect of intensifying the physical stuff into things I wasn't as comfortable with.
Member # 3
posted 03-08-2011 12:10 PM
So, it sounds like you already know that trying things you are pretty darn sure won't work for you isn't a sound route.
Can I first check in that this is all about assertiveness and not about disinterest? In other words, it sounds like you're saying you have yet to get involved with anyone to whom you were strongly attracted, but instead are simply saying yes when people initiate with you regardless of if you have those strong feelings. Do I have that right or not?
Member # 55254
posted 03-08-2011 01:07 PM
First of all, thanks for being so blunt like that.
I've been asking myself that as well, actually, and at least in my last relationship (which lasted all of two weeks) I got to like him a lot more, to the point where I was interested (and still am). It's kind of hard to tell sometimes, though, since what I look for in a friend and what I look for in a possible romantic partner are almost identical, except for some spark of chemistry or magic or something. That being said, I think disinterest might be at least part of the problem, but I'm not sure if my assertiveness would magically be fine if I were really interested in someone. I had one experience where both the guy and I were really interested in each other, and the physical stuff was really great. Unfortunately, circumstances didn't allow that to go anywhere, so now I have this one memory from over two years ago of things being all wonderful and nothing close has ever happened since. In essence, I'm really confused about my own feelings. I just realized that I'm bad at being assertive when I am really interested in someone but have no idea whether they like me or not. Which is why I end up with people liking me and I'm not sure what to do then. So how do I initially be assertive?
Member # 3
posted 03-08-2011 02:21 PM
I absolutely agree with you: interest should be no means be expected to magic you assertiveness. quote: I just realized that I'm bad at being assertive when I am really interested in someone but have no idea whether they like me or not. Which is why I end up with people liking me and I'm not sure what to do then. So how do I initially be assertive? Usually? You get a lot more comfortable with rejection. Easy, right?
yeah, it's not. It takes time and practice, including time just living your life and feeling more confident about yourself as you go. But if you do find that you avoid initiating/asking out, and only really go for things in response to someone else's interest, that's not only something that's not going to help you learn to be more assertive, it's also likely to land you in sub-par relationships no matter how you handle them. So, yes, it's not always easy to suss out what kind of feelings we have, but it sounds like you do recognize that sparky feeling of sexual interest and chemistry, and my first piece of advice is that when you don't feel that, decline invitations to pursue any kind of relationship that requires that on both sides. That, right there, is some good practice with assertiveness. The next step, I'd say is to just start asking out folks you DO feel that interest in, trying hard to let go of any attachment to if they say yes or no. If you're trying to avoid rejection, then it is always going to be very tough to assert yourself, because asserting ourselves means we also stop trying to control other people's reactions passively. Know what I mean? Next up? Get comfy with putting out clear boundaries around the pace you need. I hear you when you say it's a drag to always feel like the one pulling back the reins, but that doesn't change the fact that, so far, you're the one who wanted to. Sometimes what we want and need with often or even always be counter to what others do: that's okay, and feels a lot more okay when we get okay with it. When a relationship starts to get physical or you feel like it might, one thing that can be helpful is to have a conversation about boundaries before you even lay yours out. lay the groundwork for BOTH people talking about boundaries, setting them and respecting them. Give your partner or potential partner permission to have them, let them know you'll respect them, then ask the same of them with you. It can be tough to assert a boundary if we haven't had a talk like that to even know we can or know the other person will honor it when we do.