I love the Andy Griffith Show. Those who know me are keenly aware of this fact. Eric was quickly indoctrinated in the ways of Mayberry culture after we got married. In fact, it’s on and muted on the TV right now. Even if I’m too busy to listen to it, it’s nice to look up and see Andy and Barney working shoulder to shoulder against organized crime. ~smile~
The sixteenth chapter of Boundaries in Dating is titled Nip it In the Bud. As one of Barney Fife’s signature lines, “Nip it in the bud” stood out to me when I was deciding what three topics (there is so much in this book I could talk about) to highlight in this series. If you are in a relationship and your boyfriend or girlfriend is treating you disrespectfully, being inconsiderate of your feelings and time, or taking you for granted, you’ve got to nip it! Nip it in the bud!
What Do You Tolerate?
My intention is not to suggest that you nip their disrespect or inconsideration in the bud by yelling at them or putting them down. What I’m suggesting is that you set up proper boundaries in your relationship. As Cloud and Townsend put it, “In relationships, you get what you tolerate.” If you tolerate your boyfriend breaking a date with you whenever his friends want to hang out, he’s going to keep doing it. If you tolerate your girlfriend making fun of you in public, she’s going to keep doing it.
However, if your boyfriend tells you he’s breaking your date to hang out with the guys, you could respond by saying, “That’s your choice. Just know that when people choose to break a date with me, I am not available until the following week. I want to make sure I am making appointments with people who will keep them.”
In doing so, you are letting him know that his actions have consequences; however, he is still in control of his choices. Regardless of what he does, you have the choice to set up a boundary in your relationship. If your girlfriend begins to make fun of you in public and you whisper to her, “The next time you make fun of me in front of our friends, I’m going to quietly get up and leave. You’ll need to find a ride home at that point,” she’ll get the message that you really don’t appreciate her disrespect. She may stop or she may not, but you have a boundary set and you don’t have to tolerate it.
The Beauty of Boundaries
The beauty of boundaries is that they are not set by other people and they are not created by your boyfriend or girlfriend’s reactions. Rather, boundaries are something you place around yourself. They may seem harsh at first, but ultimately they will show others that you expect a certain level of respect and decorum. If you tolerate being treated poorly, not only will people continue to treat you poorly, but they won’t respect you either. When you quietly and firmly stand up for yourself and stick to your boundaries, you will gain respect. The relationship may not always continue, but if he or she is that inconsiderate of you, is that really a bad turn of events?
When I was seventeen, I had a good guy friend with whom I spent a lot of time. I’m not sure why I did this, but I got in the habit of smacking him on the back of the head. In my mind, it was all in good fun. In fact, I never did it when I was angry with him. This went on for a little while until one day, sitting in the parking lot at Baskin Robbins he said, “What is your obsession with hitting me?” In my case, that’s all it took. I had no idea he was bothered by it (I’ve since learned that smacking a guy on his head is a strong act of disrespect… remember that, ladies) and if he had not said something that day, I would’ve continued smacking him.
He didn’t set a boundary that day (he didn’t need to – I was done with smacking him for life), but he could have said something like, “If you hit me on the back of my head again, I’m taking you home, and then I will need to take a break from hanging out for a few weeks.” I wouldn’t have liked his boundary, but it would have made my respect for him soar through the roof. It would have communicated to me that he was not willing to sacrifice his self-respect simply to be in my presence.
Do you struggle with speaking up when you’ve been hurt or upset? Though I’m not as bad about it as I used to be, I do struggle with letting someone know when they’ve hurt me. Sometimes, I analyze the situation and think, “I’m probably just being too sensitive” or “What if he argues with me about the incident and I don’t know how to respond?” Speaking up is not always easy, but it’s necessary in any relationship.
When I was a child, I picked on one of my homeschooling friends at a church party (side note: later my mom decided to homeschool me. Be careful who you pick on! ~smile~). I went home and forgot about it, but she didn’t. She came to me at church soon thereafter and confronted me about what I’d said. I’m thankful she did. Her other choice would have been to keep it inside and let our friendship rot. We are still friends today, so I’m glad she was brave enough to confront me!
If your boyfriend or girlfriend is engaging in a behavior that really bothers you, don’t let it fester. Nip it in the bud. Don’t confront him or her in a haughty way. Start with, “I feel ____ when you ____,” and fill in the blanks. If he or she is unrepentant or apologizes but continues the behavior, it’s time to make and stick to your boundaries. “If you try to touch me inappropriately again, I’m leaving. You know I don’t want to be touched that way.” “If you continue to criticize me, I’m dropping you off early. I’ve told you how much your disrespectful comments upset me.”
Remember that everyone is going to have faults. Don’t feel the need to confront your sweetheart about every little offense. If you do, you’ll find that you will spend a lot of time arguing and your significant other will feel like nothing he or she does is ever good enough. Don’t be afraid to confront, but don’t be overly confrontational either. When something deeply bothers you, speak up, set a boundary, and stick to it.
I love Cloud and Townsend’s final take away tip from this chapter. “If you follow this advice, you will save yourself from some very bad people. They will go away early. Or, you will help some pretty good ones to become better. Either way, you win.”
Boundaries in Dating is full of wonderful advice. I wish I’d read it when I was on the dating scene! You will be blessed by it! Get your copy today if you haven’t already! ~smile~
Do you tend to tolerate disrespectful or inconsiderate behavior from others? Have you learned to create your own boundaries?