I was talking with a friend a few days ago, and she said something I can’t seem to shake. She brought up her interactions with a guy we both know, and said that she loves his lack of boundaries. She went on to describe a few instances in which she sat close to him and their legs touched or something of that sort. And I couldn’t put my finger on what it was about this that bothered me so much. Partly, I just know it would bother this guy to hear that she “loves his lack of boundaries”. He doesn’t know that she intentionally sits close to him because she needs male attention. She says it doesn’t mean anything and she just enjoys the casual interactions and touch. But my question is this: if it doesn’t mean anything, why does she feel the need to talk about it? Also, why is there an implication that it’s up to him to set the boundaries?
Women can, and should, be setting boundaries. Here are some of my thoughts that go along with this assertion:
- Things that seem harmless rarely are. It might seem like sitting next to someone on a couch is harmless. It might seem like watching a movie alone with a friend is harmless. It might seem like commenting on someone’s wall once a week is harmless. It isn’t. Little things are the makings of confusion and heartache. They are often veiled attempts at tricking a man into a relationship and/or getting attention and affection he doesn’t freely give.
- Boundaries canNOT be decided on in the moment. One of the things I think women do is plan to set boudaries when they come to a crossroad. There are a lot of problems with this, so let me just say that anyone setting boudaries has to know exactly what she expects from herself. Know whether or not it’s okay for a man to rub your shoulders. Know whether or not you can dance close with him. Know exactly which situations cross the line. Plan ahead of time so you don’t have to think about it in the moment. So that you know which decision to make.
- The goal is NOT to go as far as we can without crossing the line. The goal is to honor the men in our lives and to honor God. Everyone wants to know exactly where the line is that they shouldn’t cross. In my opinion, this stems from a heart problem. The point of life isn’t to get as close to evil as we can without crossing over. Don’t set your boundary at the point where the line starts to blur. You want to plant yourself firmly on the light side. Be a woman of integrity.
- Setting boundaries is NOT juvenile. Being an adult does not somehow increase your capacity to do romantic things casually without emotional attachment. Having a candlelight dinner with someone is romantic. It doesn’t matter how well you can control your emotions. Holding hands is romantic. Don’t cheapen things like that by doing them with everyone. If you manage to keep from feeling the romance, all you’ve achieved is a hard heart. It isn’t immature to feel affection in romantic situations. Therefore, it isn’t immature to set boundaries and protect yourself from inappropriate affection.
It really bothers me that women don’t do more about their love lives. So often, they sit around whining about their singleness, falling for every guy who gives them a little attention, and never becoming the kind of woman a godly man wants.
*Disclaimer: Pretty much everything I’ve written today is prescriptive and slightly legalistic. These are just thoughts I’m having as I meet with women each week. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of boundaries and I would never encourage women to adopt my set of boundaries as their own.
So… what do you think? What are some good tips for women wanting to honor God, the men around them, and themselves?