Eye opening , jaw dropping moment of clarity last night.

Woah ! 👏👏👏

Moving on, and deciding to focus on the future I bought myself this book.

It’s very thin, about 50 pages of wide spaced type, I read it in an hour. But 😮.

All those of you with good boundaries will be like “duh”, but this is stuff I have never considered. And it’s so obvious. And so important.

So, that list of characteristics I have had in my head that I would like to find in a partner? Those are not ‘I hope he will be like this’ , those are, or will become, a list of essentials, in other words non negotiable boundaries.

I have seen this in action, but not recognised it as such. For example, a long time ago my friend K and I were discussing cannabis use by our husbands. My husband was a LOT heavier user than hers, but having recently had a child she was adamant that she did not want her son growing up to normalise drug use. It was clear from the discussion that she was considering the future of her marriage if her husband was not prepared to stop his recreational use. She asked me what I thought, and I remember my answer. I said “I’m not prepared to risk my marriage over cannabis”. She was clearly surprised, and the conversation moved on.

Why did I say that? I hated it just as much as her, I could see just as clearly the potential impact on growing children,

My brother once told me that, early in in his relationship with his now wife, they were discussing children. His then girlfriend laid something out about the way in which any future children would be raised, a a non negotiable. He considered it, was ok with it, and so the path to the future had not met a dead end.

These are boundaries. Deal breakers. They are not optional behaviour patterns like preferring beef to lamb, or leaving the loo seat up. Fundamental stuff … and by setting the boundaries you save yourself a whole heap of heartache further down the line.

I have been doing this the wrong way round. My sister in law set this dealbreaker early on in her relationship with my brother, before they were engaged, living together, or married. If it had not been acceptable to him, they would have both moved on. I see now, don’t laugh- I know it’s fucking obvious – meet someone, get to know them. Observe their ACTIONS, note , be clear if your boundaries are pushed , set out a consequence, and see it though.

No wonder I have been terrified of ever risking a relationship again. Taking a chance that someone will subconsciously understand my boundaries, and finding out that they don’t when you are living together is a sure fire way to relationship hell. I fell in love first. Failed to be clear about what was and was not acceptable to me when I had an opportunity to get out easily, failed to even realise how miserable I would be if I were forced to accept things that are contrary to what I believe.

This is pretty huge for me. But it’s SO obvious.

I know where it comes from too.

1. I never saw this behaviour as a child. My mother tried to set boundaries with my father but he ignored them and there were no consequences. Of course I thought I would too be treated like this.

2. Huge fear of being alone and unloved, “no one will be able to love me as I am, so I’d better accept whatever behaviour is dished out to me or I will be alone”


I have some work to do. On my shiny new set of boundaries. This will take some time, and learning to ‘defend’ them, may take practice, BUT for the first time in ages I feel quite excited and positive.


  1. Boundaries can be so challenging at times! The thing is- for me- is I don’t think you should have to defend them. It’s about what’s comfortable for you- no reason to make excuses for that! When I first got involved with my SO I told him that if he couldn’t agree to me always being able to have a dog then he wasn’t the man for me. He agreed although he’d never had a pet and really wasn’t a pet person. Of course now he loves having a dog. I also made a promise to myself after divorcing my ex that if I ever got into another relationship that from the beginning I would set boundaries and do things differently than before. And though at first it was hard at times and I had to keep reminding myself not to fall back into old habits, I’ve stuck with that promise to myself. And have a completely different relationship now.
    Lily, I know I’ve said this before but you are working so hard- digging so deep. However painful you are willing to work on “your stuff” and grow from it. It’s like watching a flower bloom!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this book and your thoughts. After quitting drinking, setting boundaries is still so hard for me. Particularly with the toxic piss heads who desperately want me to fail so that I can drink with them. I need to get this book – thanks again. Really appreciate your writing xx


  3. Pingback: Interactions…and boundaries « alcoholfree2016

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