Advice for Effectively Setting Boundaries



When nice guys maintain their typical nice guy pattern in a relationship they have often been putting their own needs second or may not have been expressing their needs at all. This often builds to resentment in the nice guy, especially when he has been silently expecting reciprocity from his partner or starts to perceive a lack of reciprocation. Resent accumulates to anger and it really has more to do with the nice guy than his partner. What I mean by this is that the nice guy has not expressed his needs, has not communicated his feelings if something does not feel right, or set boundaries for himself to make it clear what is OK and what is not OK for him.

The anger that follows resent has to do with feelings of powerlessness. Deep down the nice guy feels immensely powerless and acts this out in his relationships by not speaking up, silently waiting for the other to recognize him or his needs. In the nice guy's mind anger gives the illusion of power. Powerlessness is always behind anger and the ego pretends that your power can be attained through anger.

Setting boundaries if usually the last thing nice guys want to do. It causes anxiety because it brings up the anger that is leading them to the point of needing to set a boundary in the first place. The idea of expressing anger brings on fear because it creates this idea of explosive conflict, likely from the anger the nice guy has suppressed for many years. This fear of one's anger can be due to fear of conflict, feelings of not deserving what he needs or wants, or fearing being a nuisance to their partner. But anger can be a very positive and necessary emotion when channeled and expressed effectively, and actually lead to less conflict, getting one's needs and wants met, and not being a nuisance.

As I promised I wanted to include some advice for setting boundaries. When setting a boundary:

1) Don't pay attention to your surroundings. Focusing on your surroundings rather than yourself and the sensation and emotions coming up in your own body will bring you further focused on the needs of the other rather than yourself. Focus your attention on your own body. This will connect you with your own anger or other feelings, which are what you need to remind yourself the good reason you are trying to set the boundary in the first place.

2) Don't base yourself worth in the woman's approval when expressing what you need or asking her out. Likewise do not base your self-approval or validity of your need in whether your wife or partner approves of it or agrees with you or not.

3) If you are in the mindset "I don't want the worst to be confirmed" you're in a negative mindset and giving away your personal power to either a woman you do not know or your partner. Either is bad for you. If you are seeking validation or are focusing your energy on thoughts you're not going to get what you need, be heard, or have your boundary respected you're more likely to get the opposite. Each individual, or pair of a couple, is responsible for themselves and advocating for their own needs. Focus on your own needs and let your partner figure out hers.

4) If you try to be someone or something you are not you are likely to come across as controlling. There is no need to try to act confident when you are not, or act like this setting a boundary thing is easy for you when in fact it is making you nervous. When men try to act strong in a situation you they're not feeling strong it comes off as awkward and people sense it but do not know exactly what sense to make of it. People usually interpret this as "creepy" and people react badly to what they then interpret to be a predatory presence. This discomfort around being assertive can also be how nice guys get labeled creeps when they overcompensate and act aggressive, similarly to the dynamic related to feeling that it is not normal to express sexual desire (read more).

If you're a nice guy you fear that by being assertive or expressing your needs you will jeopardize the relationship. You may be jeopardizing the status quo, probably a bad status quo by the way, but not the whole relationship. If expressing your needs, or being more assertive about wanting your needs met jeopardizes the relationship, I can tell you with confidence that this is probably not a good relationship for you. It may even be an emotionally abusive relationship, or at least one that is greatly imbalanced in it's power dynamics. If you are expressing your needs or committing to being more assertive for the first time in a long time (or ever) it will probably be a good idea to sit down with your partner and communicate that you are going to be making changes in how you live your live this way first.

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