How To Have Healthy Boundaries

It’s been a time of big change and upheaval – and that’s impacted onto dating. Have you thought about how your boundaries have changed?

Here, Ebony-Renee Baker explores how dating has changed in over the past year, and how you can put yourself at the centre of how you navigate it.

Take stock of your boundaries and ask, has anything changed for you?

A year into the pandemic, it’s flip-turned every part of our lives – and our dating lives are no exception. According to Mashable, this past year saw various changes: significant increases in dating app downloads, more serious ‘dating behaviours’, and virtual dates across the globe.

We’re all dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and with government guidelines directing who we see and how we see them, the ways we’re able to date have changed dramatically. For most of us, our personal boundaries have shifted, too.

Because of this, it’s really important to reflect on the ways we prefer to approach relationships and intimacy right now, you know, amid *everything else* that’s going on. 

So, whether you’re currently dating someone, are on the market, or plan to jump back in eventually, here are four pointers to think about so that you can continue looking after yourself, first and foremost.

Person in blue dungarees sitting on a wall considering their boundaries when it comes to health, lifestyle, their values.

1. Be transparent about you and your partner’s health

This one’s pretty universal when it comes to any sexual relationship, but it’s even more crucial in this time of coronavirus. Remember at the start of the pandemic when dating apps introduced those handy health and safety preferences? Keep that energy alive cos, FYI, it’s 100% your prerogative to determine what you’re comfortable with and to stick to it. You get to decide if you only want to do virtual dates right now. It’s up to you if you prefer to know how many people are in your partner’s ‘bubble’. It’s definitely your choice if you want to know the last time they hooked up with someone. 

In the same way that it’s OK for unprotected sex to be a dealbreaker, your partner doesn’t have the right to push you into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with right now – that includes non-socially-distant dates, or anything else you feel is non-covid-secure. Make space for mutual respect when it comes to you and your partner’s health. The same goes with mental health, too.

2. Reflect on what 2020 taught you

Did you know that Tinder saw mentions of ‘Black Lives Matter’ increase by 55 times last year? Or that as the pandemic went on, self-care became a higher priority for people than ever before? Statistics even show that single people wanted to be more honest and transparent daters in 2020. Considering everything that went down last year, it makes sense if your values and behaviour have changed.

So next time you start talking to someone, think about those personal shifts and whether or not that person fits in. If you’ve realised that you prefer dating people that maintain a healthy lifestyle, for example, or care about the environment, or have certain political views, make note of it and let those characteristics hold weight for you. 

3. Red flags > temporary joy

Isolation, both physical and emotional, has been a growing reality for most of us. Many of us are struggling more with feelings of loneliness. It’s easy in this context to get quickly attached to new sexual or romantic partners. If you ever feel like that’s happening to you, one, don’t put yourself down for being vulnerable, and two, make sure that you’re still able to recognise red flags when they appear. 

For example, if you’re talking to someone who constantly bails on you (even if it’s ‘just’ for virtual dates), don’t just use the pandemic to justify their behaviour. If you find yourself feeling self-conscious when you talk to them, carefully consider the source of those feelings. If it’s because of their behaviour – and not the pandemic – it’s probably time to move on. Don’t put the fleeting joys of feeling wanted before your overall well-being.

4. Remember who you are outside of the pandemic 

Finally, remember that your day-to-day life won’t always be the way it currently is. Before the pandemic, would you normally have had a packed diary throughout the week? Did you like going to parties on weekends? Or were you more of a relax with close friends in a cosy pub kind of person? Did you usually prefer experiences over physical things? 

It’s important to keep the Pre-Pandemic You in mind because, even though we’ve adapted to current measures, life is bound to return to a hybrid of both realities eventually. If you’re looking for a long-term partner, you’ll definitely want them to fit into both lifestyles.

That being said, the changes that we’ve gone through because of the pandemic might just be lifelong changes, too. TBH, that’s probably why dating right now might feel more difficult than ever — we’re all just trying to figure out who we are now.

More than anything, try using this time to re-evaluate your new self and try to imagine what the Future You might be like. In keeping this at the forefront of your mind, you’ll attract people with the same energy.

One tip for remembering your 2021 boundaries is to write them down. Maybe even consider taking note of your boundaries from before COVID and the ones you have today. We’re always evolving and that’s OK! In fact, it’s the best way to be.

Discover Fumble’s pandemic support series

The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our lives, and we’ve all struggled to adapt to the changes that continue to happen all around us. 

Our pandemic support series explores young people’s experiences of COVID-19, and helps you start to make sense of the chaotic and uncertain time we’re living in. Discover the full series here

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Last reviewed 1 February 2021

Image credit: Armin Rimoldi via Pexels