If you could draw an imaginary line around yourself that keeps out what isn’t in your best interest, would you do it?
What if the lines weren’t imaginary? What if they were real, visible by your actions?
Setting Boundaries At The Beach
For example, let’s say you decide it’s not in your best interest to be burned by the sun at the beach. You draw a line between you and the sun’s burning rays by applying sunscreen. It is the action you take when the behavior of the sun is not in your best interest.
That’s how it works with relationships, too.
Let’s say experience has taught you it’s not in your best interest to date a guy who routinely rips on you and calls it a joke. Based on your experience and the kind of people you do want in your life, you decide to draw a line between you and dating rude jokesters.
So you meet up with one and begin dating. He makes fun of your knees or your laugh or your faith and calls it a joke. If you voice your hurt, he says you’re over-sensitive, need to grow up, or find your sense of humor.
It’s as if he’s asking this unspoken ludicrous question, or what I call a Ludi-Q™: “May I rip on you and call it a joke?”
Seriously, Do You Care?
What do you do? Can you enforce the line you drew between yourself and a guy like that and still be considered nice? Do you care? Who’s opinion matters to you, yours or the guy who’s belittling you? And what about the opinion of the guy looking on who’s searching for a woman who cares more about being good to herself than nice to a jerk?
Let’s look at George Clooney. Not a bad assignment. Do you think a guy like George would be more attracted to a woman who is picky about who she lets into her life or one that isn’t? How about Dax Shepherd, Bradley Cooper or any other solid guy you admire who seems to be good to the women they love? They would say yes, nice women do draw lines and enforce them.
They may also say that drawing lines, which is setting boundaries, is not about being nice, it is about being responsible, responsible to be your own best friend. You wouldn’t let a friend burn in the sun, so why would you let yourself boil in the insults of a hater?
In Ludi-Q’s™ terms, the ludicrous question you are asking yourself is: “Will I withhold good from myself that I give to my friend?”
When Is Nice Too Nice?
Nice or too nice comes into play once the line has been crossed. Bitchy might show up there, too. Nice manages it firmly, too nice might wince but let it pass, and bitchy, well, there may be a time for it. It’s your call because it’s your life. Oh, and by the way, it is seldom done perfectly, so don’t even set that expectation.
One way to set or re-set boundaries is to look at what’s not working in your relationships, including your own thinking about them. Behind the problem is an absence of a boundary, a boundary that’s unclear, not being enforced, or not being respected. Once you see what’s behind the problem, draw your line and practice enforcing it.