April 10, 2020


by Janet Tingwald in Relationship

A few days ago I went to the pet store to pick up dog food.  I asked them if they would be willing to bring it out so I could pick it up curbside, they were more than happy to do this for me. What I thought was interesting was, although I felt a bit uncomfortable going out, and I did want to make sure I was physically distancing myself, I felt funny asking.  I felt like I wasn’t being nice. What the heck!

But, there it was, that feeling that so many of us get, that instinctual, societal pull to be nice.

Because of a program I’m developing for clients, my mind has been on the topic of asking for what you need and personal responsibility, I started thinking about boundaries. Boundaries are essential to keeping ourselves safe. Being able to have and enforce boundaries is a foundational part of a healthy relationship.  I find it boils down to this. Communicating a boundary is just telling our truth about what we want and need.

So why can it be so hard to do?

Well, it’s a few things. Part of it is instinct.  There is that primitive part of our brain that says, “Be nice or you’ll be kicked out of the clan and you won’t be safe.”  Society, especially for women, plays a part in influencing the roles we play. And, most of us were raised to “be nice.” What I often find with my clients is a disconnect with what they value and truly desire. And, we can’t ask for what we’re not aware of.

I can remember when I was younger and didn’t know myself, the only boundary I had was blowing up when I’d had enough.  It was often the proverbial, straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back” situation. It usually wasn’t even that big of a deal, and often directed at a person that I felt safer with, not the one with which I really had the issue.

What have you experienced? How are you doing with distancing? Are there times you’ve done things you weren’t comfortable with because you didn’t speak up? How does that show up in the rest of your life? How does it show up in your relationships and dating?

If you’re up for some self-exploration while we’re isolating, here’s something you can do.  Pay attention to how often you can catch yourself saying yes when you really want to say no. Don’t worry about the situation or circumstances, just notice how it feels in your body. I felt it in my chest, other times it’s been an uneasiness in my stomach.  Do you feel angry or frustrated? Or, maybe disappointed? Do you feel like your choice has been taken away and you can never have it your way? What comes up for you?

Another thing you can do is take some time to think about how you show up in your past or present relationships with men. Is it easier to ‘say no’ in every other part of your life except with men you’re interested in or have a relationship with?

I’d love to hear what you notice. I invite you to join my private Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/relatedatemate, where it’s a safe place to talk about this kind of thing. Come on over and say hi and tell me what you noticed.