New Delhi– It might be frightening to talk about and enforce boundaries in a culture where codependency is something we learn from birth. Boundaries affect every part of our lives, including dating, relationships, intimacy, and sexuality, and have a direct impact on our mental health. Any healthy relationship, especially ones that begin online, must know when and when to draw the line.
Having a conversation about boundaries with your date can not only help prevent misunderstanding but also promote mutual respect. Dr Sakshi Tickoo, Occupational Therapist and Sexuality Counselor contributed to Tinder Love and Care, a dating wellness guide for women daters in India, to share tips to approach this conversation with confidence.
Identify what affects you the most: A good place to start is by recognising which space affects you the most (e.g. physical, psychological, social, sexual, material, time, and emotional boundaries). Recognising what you need for yourself will allow you to experience this journey mindfully and with lesser emotional exhaustion. In fact, the top three red flags voted by young adults in a survey from Tinder in India were asking for intimate pictures (50 per cent), making fun of their interests/beliefs (47 per cent), and refusing to converse further when they share something emotional with their date (44 per cent), which makes it important to set clear expectations with your match.
Understand that boundaries can be flexible: Boundaries don’t always have to be rigid. Healthy boundaries can fluctuate between being porous or rigid depending on the person and context they are set in. For example, you can set rigid time boundaries about how much time you engage with matches on social media or have porous boundaries when a match is sharing vulnerable information with you. Despite being two entirely different contexts of boundaries, these influence your effectiveness to date virtually and be present without tiring yourself out.
Be honest and transparent: Sharing your boundaries with others is a great way for them to learn about you. This could be as simple as saying a yes/no to something or be more nuanced by saying you do not feel comfortable discussing something presently. Not being sure of something is also a boundary that needs to be respected and does not mean you are indecisive. In fact, 50 percent of young Indian adults said that their partner explicitly discussing their boundaries is a waving green flag.
Remember that respect is mutual: If you feel nervous or scared thinking that a conversation about boundaries might affect the dynamics with your match, it is a valid emotion. It is essential to evaluate how they receive and respond to your boundaries now rather than be disappointed later. It is equally important to understand and respect your match’s boundaries and know that it is a two-way street of communication!
Know when it’s time to walk away: Lastly, the onus to take actions whenever appropriate to reduce harm for ourselves and potentially others lies with us. Tinder focuses on delivering experiences that encourage healthy interactions and offers industry-leading safety features that give members full control over their experience such as Block Profile, in-app reporting, the newly launched long-press reporting, and Does This Bother You? that asks members this question when they receive a potentially offensive message on Tinder. If you decide to meet your match for the first time, it is a good idea to inform your support system about the place you will be meeting, and what your exit strategy will be if anything feels uncomfortable.
As online dating increases our chances of making a connection, committing to a few dating boundaries can make this journey safer and more pleasurable. To empower young women in India to prioritise their wellbeing in the world of online dating, Tinder has recently launched Tinder Love and Care (TLC), a dating wellness guide developed in collaboration with That Sassy Thing.
TLC features advice and insights from prominent female experts and queer voices in India, covering a range of topics such as sexual health, intimacy, and fostering honest conversations with dates, all while prioritizing self-care. (IANS)