Whether your last relationship ended dramatically or was more of a damp squib, wouldn’t it be better all round to work out what you want from a partner before beginning a new relationship - rather than just hoping that the person you find most attractive shares all your core values? The way to do this is to set personal boundaries that really matter to you before you start swiping right.
- Make a list of the non-negotiables: where do I see myself in one year’s time? How about in two, five, or ten years? Where does my potential partner fit into that picture? Am I ambitious for them – do I want them to be successful financially to take the pressure off me? Or do I see them in a supporting role for my career? Are there shared values and beliefs? (This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but is important for future communications.)
- Draw a boundary between your past and present. Think back to your first love. Was it happy and reciprocated or emotional and unsatisfying? It’s easy to slip on rose-tinted spectacles when you think back to the past but unless you are honest about what brought that relationship to an end you run the risk of allowing it to taint all future loves. You may not realise how common it is to carry the baggage of even a good relationship into the next.
- Beware the overshare. Revealing our innermost selves can be seen to help to build a new relationship – after all, what’s wrong with honesty? But be cautious around a new partner who bares their soul too fast. Oversharing can be an opportunity to grandstand and hold the floor, grabbing attention. It might also be thrown back at you later.
- Get the message. Instant messaging, texting and SnapChatting can be addictively easy but leave participants confused about what is really meant. So first of all slow down. You don’t have to respond to any text at all. Don’t feel awkward about defriending or blocking anyone. If you are upset or feel the need to protect yourself, listen to that voice. Who’s your hero? It might be your grandparent or a trusted old friend. Ask yourself whether you would be happy for them to see a picture you are about to send or read the conversation you are engaging in. Don’t assume these methods of communication are truly private or transient. Snapchat admits that its own messages, which are designed to disappear once read, have been saved and shared.
- Watch out at work. An office crush can be ego-boosting and immensely cheering. But not all relationships are among equals and not all are sincere. Bonding with someone else over a late-night deadline, or shared excitement when a deal comes off, can be a danger zone. It’s easy to mistake the adrenalin surge from a shared professional success or the intimacy of repeated in-jokes for something a little warmer. When you’re on the dating scene openly, your antennae can get quite well attuned to whether a potential partner is serious or light-hearted. But be cautious in the office as it’s easy to misread signals and intent. The stakes are higher, too, as a failed relationship could cost you more than just embarrassment.
Boundaries: How to Draw the Line In Your Head, Heart and Home by Victoria Lambert and Jennie Miller (HQ, £12.99) publishes on 11th January 2018