We saw the subjects of ‘setting boundaries’ and ‘people pleasing’ raised frequently throughout the questions asked at the Sexploration event recently with Durex and Sextember at UNSW. The wonderful event hosted by Allira Potter, Kath Ebbs and Georgia, covered all things pleasure, opening the conversation around sex and relationships with the audience, providing their unique perspectives across various topics. Boundaries and how to manage these agreements in relationships being a big one.
Boundaries are spoken about now more than ever, which is both essential and exciting. They play a huge role in relationship satisfaction, a guideline to honouring your own needs and limitations. However, establishing boundaries, in any relationship, can take a bit of practice, and it may feel uncomfortable and daunting at first. In fact, the subject is often misunderstood, under practiced and essentially, not done well. So it’s normal to feel as though the process is tricky to navigate.
Unfortunately sexual communication gets a bad wrap - I can’t tell you how many people have told me they think it’s lame or they’re worried they’re being too much. We’re also met with this assumption that someone should just know what they want and how to ask for it. But it’s a process; each time you have sex with someone new, this is an entirely new body, someone with new interests, desires and needs for you to learn about. And understandably, that can take time.
It’s important to note that boundaries are not necessarily a rejection of someone or something. Often, they can be used as useful tools in navigating and understanding what is possible, and the more information we have, the more capable we are of making informed decisions.
A good place to start.
There are a few steps you can approach to navigate communicating your needs and setting boundaries that work for you and your relationship/s.
Phase 1: Getting to know what you want through sexual exploration. Find what you like, what you desire.
Phase 2: Communication - practice saying no often, learn how to communicate and look for both verbal and non verbal cues.
Phase 3: Learn the distinction between wanting and willing. Wanting something for yourself is all about receiving and being willing to do something for other/s is all about giving.
Phase 4: Building the confidence to go into something with curiosity knowing you’ve got the skills to navigate it
It’s a two way street.
Of course, setting boundaries isn’t just about you. It’s about respecting and honouring everyone involved And listening to them! Think about how you can create space for you both
It’s important to remember that just because you’ve set a boundary, some people may not respect it. It’s essential we create safe spaces for someone to say no - we need to work on creating safe contexts for others to voice their boundaries, just as much as we need to practice communicating them ourselves.
Boundaries are hot and make way for intimacy. But they also generate safety, so explore what is important to you and set boundaries that meet your needs and desires.