How to Begin Setting Boundaries While Dating

How many first date ‘taboos’ can you think of?

“Don’t sleep together on the first date.”

“Don’t talk about politics or religion on the first date.”

“If the first date is ‘bad’, there’s no potential here.”

These topics have become ‘taboo’ topics that determine how we are to behave when choosing to go out with someone we are romantically attracted to for the first time.

The beginning of a dating relationship/situation-ship is the prime time to set boundaries with your romantic partner of interest.

man and woman sitting on bench

Photo by Jodie DS on

Dating is a time where romantic interests get to know each other personally. You may discuss what Netflix show you’re currently binge-watching or the next place you would like to go on vacation.

Whether you are just getting to know each other or you’re taking a friendship to the next level, there are boundaries and limitations that you both will have while exploring this type of relationship.

This brings us back to the ‘taboo’ topics of dating. There’s a chance that talking about subjects like religion, boundaries and sex on a first date means discussing our values, ethics and boundaries early on in the potential dating relationship. And these discussions can get heavy.

Talking about our boundaries helps us learn if your potential dating partner is on the same page (or at least the same chapter) as you. On the flip side, we want to discuss boundaries in ways that are not confrontational or even interview-like in nature. It’s fair to say that interrogating your date is also not the most appealing way to get to know someone.

two women wearing sleeveless dress holding each others hand on cliff

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Let’s explore the fine line of talking about boundaries at the beginning of a possible romantic relationship:

Notice out-loud when a boundary is being crossed.

A helpful way to set clear expectations in the beginning of a dating relationship is by verbally noticing when a boundary is being crossed. If you’re noticing your invisible luggage coming up during a date, find a way to feel calm and share. There are a few ways you can do this:

“Hey, that makes me uncomfortable.”

“Yeah no, I’m not okay with that.”

“That’s not for me.”

“I’m gonna pass on that.”

“I disagree.”

“No thanks, I’d rather not.”


man and woman sitting together in front of table

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on

Be mindful of if your boundaries are being respected.

There’s a good chance that your date will react to your response. Typically when folks feel they have been unintentionally offensive, disrespectful or hurtful, they will feel remorseful. (Especially in the beginning of getting to know one another!) They may also offer to repair the interaction or ask what they can do to be better. In most cases, this offering of humility and vulnerability is helpful to building a potentially healthy relationship.

In retrospect, it helps to be mindful if your date reacts to you setting your boundaries by:

  • blaming you for how you are feeling
  • laughing or minimizing how you feel
  • not taking your request seriously

While you are getting to know a person while dating, notice if your boundary-setting is being respected.

The above list is not all-inclusive, for there many signs that someone does not respect your boundaries. Yet, keep this in mind as you’re going forward and decide for yourself if your date’s reaction to your boundary-setting is a non-negotiable for you. These are a couple of ideas of how to begin negotiating and setting boundaries when getting to know someone romantically.

How do you like to set boundaries when dating?


  1. meandmystitch says

    I don’t placate men when they cross a boundary. I let them know in a nice way about the boundary and not be afraid of a negative reaction. Mostly I’ve encountered guys wanting a sexual relationship right way without trying getting to know me or even a date lol I’ve learned you teach people how to treat you. So it’s best to set them early and be good it he’s not the one for you.

    • Michelle says

      What great ways to set boundaries while dating! I could t agree more — setting these boundaries, especially at the beginning of a dating relationship, are incredibly important. Thank you for sharing!

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