Lesbian relationships: limits vs. barriers

We would like to think that we are stronger than ourselves and more emotionally stable than the next person, however that would be difficult to prove. Furthermore, it would be hard to believe. We all carry luggage and problems in our past that occasionally make us feel shaky and shaken.

There are very few of us who can honestly say that we are as stable and strong as we seem, for the rest of us it is a daily battle to find that balance. When people enter therapy it is for a reason, there is something in their lives that has become unmanageable. There is something that has been pressing under your skin like a splinter that has embedded itself and now it is an infection.

What is that splinter whose mucous pus is causing us so much pain in life? PEOPLE! It is usually a person or a group of people. It’s amazing how much power we give to others over ourselves. It never ceases to amaze me how we allow others to create fear and anxiety at such levels that we cannot function or become dysfunctional.

Dysfunctional is the clinical term for when our Begin’s engine is malfunctioning and some oil and TLC are needed. When we have allowed the action and behavior of ourselves and others to cause friction in different areas of our life, such as school, work, friends, family, spirituality and health. We start throwing stones at our engine, when we have built barriers or have poor boundaries with others.

We all have a personal limit, it is an imaginary line that surrounds you and protects you from situations and peoples by which you feel threatened. When the threat is real, this limit is essential for our survival, but sometimes the threats are not what they seem. Our past can make us imagine threats that do not exist, when we have learned to distrust and that everyone is an enemy.

When we have a hard time trusting, we see treats that are not always there. Our boundaries soon became barriers or walls that are likely causing us harm rather than providing protection. As children, we are not always taught healthy boundaries and are forced to allow people to come closer than we are comfortable with. We may have felt that those we have allowed to get close to took over our inner thoughts and feelings, abusing the lines that protect us, our limits.

As children we learn in situations like these, where personal limits were not respected, to build walls in their place. A learned situation could be something like your parents wanting to know if you are gay because of behaviors they have noticed, or being forced to date a guy to show you candor, but it could also be something as destructive as sexual or physical abuse. In any of these cases we will probably build walls as a coping mechanism.

Unfortunately, as we age, tools, like building excellent walls to survive the helplessness of childhood, became weapons in adulthood. If we cannot let our lover in and trust her, she will never feel like she is in a committed relationship and there will be no intimacy. I have noticed in my own past and hearing stories from my clients that when we have walls we are not emotionally available. For most of us, it has been a life-long experience that we have not been aware of this tapping process. Chances are you heard your partner call you “distant” or felt a need for your partner that never seems to be satisfied.

When we are not emotionally available, we cannot commit and we also attract the emotionally needy. Human dynamics is an extraordinary thing where the magnets in our soul attract people who will continue to push the unruly monster within us as we will for them.

Here are some key steps to developing healthy boundaries:

1. Learn when others are not respecting your limits, for example when people are: too entangled, dissociated, there is excessive detachment, victimization or martyrdom, distancing or shyness, cold and distant, always in your face / suffocation, and gift ‘Don’t respect their privacy.

2. Why do you let others do these things to you? Chances are, you have thoughts or ideas that you deserve it or that you are to blame in some way. At this stage, it would be recommended to see a therapist to help you overcome these maladaptive thoughts and harmful self-confidence system.

3. Trade the old for the new! Get some healthier ideas and think to yourself if something isn’t working for you, let it go and try something new. For example, go from “maybe I deserve this abuse” to “I want people to respect me. I want a supportive partner.”

4. Identify behaviors that will help you stay healthy, for example, learn to say “NO” and “thank you but no thank you.”

5. Be consistent once you have decided to change. You have identified how to do it, now do it in all areas of your life. Remember that being healthy is a skill, so the more you do it, the more competent you will become. So practice!

You deserve the life you want and you deserve to be happy. Don’t let anyone treat you less.

Alex Karydi ~ The Lesbian Guru

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