Boundaries are acts and activities that establish our comfort zones. Having boundaries gives us self-value and respect. Communicating boundaries to your partner lets them know your limitations and deal breakers. It can be a powerful form of communication between couples that can result in a deeper level of intimacy. Maintaining boundaries contributes to feeling safe and grounded. Boundaries can be defined by gender, sexual orientation and proclivities. Boundaries can also change depending on context, age and opportunities.
So identify your own boundaries and then share them with your partner before they become violated. After all, you can’t blame someone for crossing a boundary that they didn’t know existed.
I tell my clients to create a “Boundary Box” to be aware of and share physical, emotional and sexual boundaries with their partner.
Write down all of your boundaries on separate pieces of paper or index cards and fill a box with them. Below are some examples of physical, emotional and sexual boundaries.
Physical boundaries: I have the right to determine when, where, how, and who is going to touch me. I have the right to determine how close someone is going to stand next to me.
- Don’t touch my butt in public
- I won’t hug people I don’t know
- Don’t make out with me in the movies
- Brush your teeth before you kiss me in the morning
- I will leave you if you raise your hand to me
- I won’t kiss people I just met, even on the cheek
- I won’t dance with anyone I don’t intend to have sex with
Emotional boundaries: What I think or feel or do or don’t do is more about me than it is about you. Conversely, what you think and feel or do or don’t do is more about you than it is about me.
- Don’t talk about our sex life in public
- Don’t compare me to other lovers
- Don’t talk about past relationships
- Don’t kiss strangers hello or goodbye
- Don’t flirt with other people
- Introduce me when we see someone I don’t know
- I’ll leave you if I find out you’ve been unfaithful
Sexual boundaries: I have the right to determine with whom, where, when and how I am going to be sexual with someone
- No anal sex
- I won’t swallow (semen from ejaculation)
- I don’t want to kiss you after you’ve given me oral sex
- I don’t want to have a threesome or group sex
- Don’t go right for my breasts or between my legs
- I won’t have sex with you when you are watching porn
- I won’t wait until you have your orgasm to have mine
Why it works: Because if you don’t know what your boundaries are, then you cannot express them or blame your partner for overstepping them.
Caution: Ignored boundaries can be very damaging and you should seek professional help from a sex therapist, counselor or sexologist.
Check out this a link to an original online survey on sexual boundaries with over 1000 participants who explored the social and emotional context for the engagement of sexual boundaries. Particular focus was directed to the intersection between low sexual desire and appetite for sexual novelty.