‘Guardrailing’ Is The Hot New Dating Term — And It’s Probably Happened To You

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Joined: Nov 2022

Photo: StockPhotoDirectors/ Shutterstock 'Guardrailing' Is The Hot New Dating Term — And It's Probably Happened To You

Modern dating can be daunting. You might be ready to commit but finding someone who wants the same thing is actually a lot harder than what online dating companies promise you.

Too many mind games on the field: ghosting, breadcrumbing, love-bombing, etc  —  which leads to another mistake you might make by meeting the wrong person  —  again.

With all that, singles have started to tire of the unhealthy dating style and want to change things around. One way is by learning how to set healthy boundaries  —  even in the early stage of dating.

That’s what we call “guardrailing” — a new dating term about protecting your energy while maintaining healthy boundaries at the same time.

So no more compromising in a situationship or committing to someone who isn’t sure yet. 

Why guardrailing is critical in the early stage of dating 

I dated people who were bad for me because I didn’t know how to communicate my boundaries. I didn’t even have boundaries, to begin with.

It has cost me many heartbreaks and I’ve wasted so much time in my early 20s. So if you’ve been attracting the wrong person, maybe it has something to do with your poor boundaries.

A licensed psychologist, Dr. Shauna Pollard says, “Boundaries are simply a way for you to get your needs met. Creating healthy boundaries starts with evaluating your needs in the dating space, and then communicating them with your words and actions.”

So the next time you feel guilty for communicating what you need on a first date, remember: doing that will actually get the relationship off to a good start.

Setting healthy boundaries as a people-pleaser is hard. A friend of mine who’s the definition of a people-pleaser thought it would be rude for her to talk about her needs at the beginning of a relationship.

But only bringing up your needs months after dating someone can actually jeopardize your relationship. Imagine finding out four dates in that the person you’re dating actually doesn’t want to have kids — and you do. That’s a waste of time for both parties.

How to apply the “guardrailing” dating trend by setting healthy boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll always get what you need. It’s great that you let the other person know you aren’t looking for anything serious right now, but you can’t always expect them to want the same thing.

Guardrailing is simply a way to see if you’re actually compatible with this person. 

You can start by asking yourself this critical question:

What do you need in a partner?

Most people don’t actually know what they need in a partner. But if you ask them about what they want, they’ll answer you right away. It’s easy to get caught up in our wants: good-looking, financially stable, fit, etc. 

But to make a relationship last more than 6 months, you need to evaluate your needs: What traits do you value the most in a person? What about their long-term goals versus yours?

Once you’re clear on your needs, it’s time to communicate them.

Be firm but stay respectful

When I first started communicating my boundaries, I was nervous. Part of it was because I was scared I’d ruin the connection we had. But I also knew there was no point in being with someone who wasn’t on the same page as me

That’s what having boundaries actually does:  filter out people who aren’t right for you.

If it’s your first time communicating your boundaries, start by talking about light boundaries: What kind of dates do you prefer to go on? How much alone time do you need in a relationship?

Don’t jump to talking about kids or a home or career plans that you have unless they ask from the get-go. 

Relationship and dating expert, Aliyah Moore, Ph.D., also suggests, “using ‘I’ statements to express your feelings and needs to prevent unmet expectations or misunderstandings in the future.”

Make space to understand the other person’s boundaries, too

You can’t be the ones talking about what we need or can tolerate in a relationship without hearing what the other person is saying. So make sure you also have a space to understand the other person’s boundaries, too.

Sure, it’s never delightful to hear the other person apparently isn’t ready to take the relationship to the next level, but sometimes understanding a person’s reasoning can help you avoid holding grudges in the future.

Sometimes two people don’t want the same thing — simple as that. What matters most is that you’ve communicated your boundaries before getting into a full-on relationship.

Avoid falling back into the old habits

The hardest part about maintaining your boundaries is sticking with them.

It’s tempting to compromise and say, “I think I’m OK with that” —  when really, you aren’t. Because the more you compromise, the more pressure you put on yourself. 

Moore also says, “When you set boundaries, you’re essentially drawing a line between what is acceptable and what is not, and when you stick to those boundaries, you’re reinforcing that line and showing your date what you will and will not tolerate.”

Applying this “guardrailing” trend might not result in overnight dating success. But it’ll bring a positive, long-term impact on your overall love life. You’ll respect yourself and your needs and won’t commit to someone based on emotions instead of real compatibility.

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Anggun Bawi is a freelance writer who uses her own dating experience to help others.

Source: YourTango


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