Building on Boundaries
Following last month’s theme of boundaries, I think it might be interesting to focus on boundaries in today’s world. In the aforementioned editorial, a boundary is defined as “unofficial rules about what ‘should’ not be done; limits that define acceptable behavior.
My most recent experience with boundaries actually came from a friend whom I was close with in college. In today’s culture it is pretty easy to keep in touch with a large group of friends via Facebook, snap chat, and instgram (just to name a few). I reached out to him because from his recent Instagram posts, I could see his entrepreneurial business was picking up and he seemed to know a lot of people. He’s a club promoter who travels between Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City, and even Vegas. With my upcoming trip to Las Vegas with my boyfriend, I thought it might be helpful to reach out to him with suggestions on ways to save money at the clubs in Vegas. The conversation quickly escalated from me asking for some help to him completely hitting on me, and mentioning that it stinks I have a boyfriend because he has a crush on me. After trying to divert the conversation back to Vegas clubs, he again crossed a boundary by saying I should just go to Vegas with him and I wouldn’t have to spend a dime.
This is a case that I’m sure others have experienced before; a situation where another person KNOWS there is a boundary, but they DO NOT CARE. My friend absolutely knew I was going to Vegas with my boyfriend. My friend knew an engagement was in the future for my boyfriend and I. And he still chose to be persistent and to let me know he was interested in me. And not only did my friend cross a line with me, but he also crossed a line with my boyfriend. How is my boyfriend supposed to feel when another guy disrespectfully crossed a boundary and chose to ignore our relationship?
When you run into situations like this, which are usually VERY uncomfortable, what do you choose to do? I think all of us might have different reactions. Some people might flip out or start a fight because of how disrespectful the situation is. It’s hard to keep calm knowing that someone else chose to ignore the obvious boundaries. One can also just keep going, and ignore the boundaries that are being crossed (like I tried to do).
Honestly, looking back, I think both of those ways are not good ways to handle that situation. Yelling, fighting, or arguing will never solve anything. And ignoring an issue certainly doesn’t make it go away. I stopped talking to my friend, but I bet if I talked to him again, he would be the same exact way; hitting on me.
I should have addressed the situation more firmly, addressing the fact that there are obvious boundaries and that he crossed them. And I should have given him the choice to respect those boundaries and still be my friend or to lose my friendship.
When you are faced with an awkward situation where someone is crossing a line (even though they might think it is okay and they might not know they are crossing a boundary), you should absolutely address it right away. As you saw with my story, ignoring does not make it go away. We also need to remind ourselves that we don’t need disrespectful people in our lives. My dad always says, “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.” Your friends and who you associate yourself with are a reflection of who you are. You don’t need to associate with people who don’t respect you, because that is a reflection back on yourself. And you respect yourself. So don’t let others disrespect you.