We’ve been talking about boundaries. And, now we’re going to discuss sexual boundaries. Holy moly. Are we really going to go there? Yes. Yes, we are. This is a topic that is all too often glossed over, tiptoed around, or simply ignored altogether. Not only should we be having this conversation from an earlier age, but we should also be having this conversation often and without shame. How does that sound?
…before we dive in, a note about sexual assault:
One thing to clear up right away, this is NOT a discussion about sexual assault, rape, or sexual harassment. Those are crimes, and are the responsibility of the perpetrator(s) to prevent from happening. No rigid or healthy sexual boundary is going to deter a determined predator. And, unhealthy sexual boundaries do not excuse criminal behavior. You are not to blame if someone chooses to exert this type of power and control over you.
So, what do I mean by healthy sexual boundaries?
My friend’s 4-year-old daughter put it so simply the other night, totally out of the blue: “when someone wants to give me a hug and I don’t want one I say ‘no thank you.’ When someone wants me to give them a hug or wants to give me a hug and I want to I say ‘yes please.’ When someone wants to give me a hug and I don’t want to right now I just say ‘no thank you not right now’.” This is the language she’s been taught from a young age and has been reinforced in preschool and other social situations. How wonderful for her to have that language and understanding already!
Unfortunately, we weren’t all taught this way. We’ve recently discussed boundaries with parents and family, including how we may or may not have a good foundation of healthy boundaries. In fact, we may have received a message that was actually counter to this principle. So, let’s give another definition of healthy boundaries.
“Letting the people in your life know what is okay with you and what is not okay with you.”
–Brené Brown, on boundaries
Talking About Your Sexual Boundaries is Healthy, and Sexy!
For sexual boundaries, there will often need to be a more direct conversation. Or, at least clearer language. For example, you might say, “I have a condom if you don’t.” Or, “What do you especially like or dislike doing with a sexual partner?” It doesn’t have to be so formal, either. You might say, “Can I kiss you?”, “Would you like me to _____?”, or, “I love it when you do _____.” Communicating your needs and wants can even be sexy.
This idea that relationships are just easy/breezy is a fairy tale. Uncomfortable conversations are a part of healthy relationships. In fact, when you do not have healthy boundaries, these conversations are often avoided, silenced, or watered down. Human beings have emotions. Sharing those emotions actually deepens the intimacy in the relationship.
Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…
Do not confuse “compliance” with “compatibility”…is it cooperation? Are we working to care about each other’s needs? I get it if you just truly don’t yet know what you want. What you really like. You may choose to comply with a partner’s request because it piques your interest. You want to explore your sexual preferences and pleasures. But, this does not necessarily mean you are “compatible”. Honestly, if you are truly with someone amazing, they will WANT to help you explore what feels best to you. And, they would never want to do something that makes you uncomfortable physically or emotionally.
Communicating Healthy Boundaries is Worth It
In the end, if you don’t honor your experience by properly handling it, it will come back to haunt you. If you want, it is totally appropriate to say, “This is as far as I am comfortable going at this point. When and if I’m ready to do more, I will let you know.” Your partner can then choose to accept that boundary or decide that it does not work for them. Regardless of their choice, your boundary is set and should absolutely be respected as such. When we stay silent in order to make someone else feel better, more comfortable, or even to “keep” them with us, we are only hurting ourselves in the end. That type of boundary is fluid, and will not serve your true needs, nor the true needs of the relationship.
Affirmation – “I am allowed to make a decision that other people don’t like. I am not that fragile.”
Begin Counseling for Women in Miramar, FL or Start Online Therapy in Florida
If you are looking for a therapist who specializes in helping women like you set clear sexual boundaries, look no further. Enid is here to support your mental health journey in all of its forms. To begin therapy for women in Broward County in-person or for online therapy in Florida, follow these three steps:
Contact Counseling Solutions of Boward to schedule your free 20-minute consultation on a video platform,
Meet with Enid and get to know her!
Live life with more balance and healthy boundaries!
Other Therapy Services Offered at Counseling Solutions of Broward
In addition to providing codependency treatment for women in Florida, Enid De Jesus offers a variety of mental health services at her counseling clinic in Broward County, FL. Her goal is to create lasting transformative change and growth in your life. So, she offers anxiety treatment, depression treatment, counseling for imposter syndrome, after divorce counseling, and relationship counseling for one. For more information on counseling, please check out the what to expect page or contact our South Florida counseling office.