Boundaries & Structure


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“When my significant other and I met, we agreed to certain boundaries and structure. We both discussed it, and without pressure, agreed. We have been together five years. Now my partner doesn’t like it anymore. I know that I cannot be in a relationship with the boundaries and structure they now want. I love them deeply. I feel trapped. How do I have a conversation about it?”

I have no idea.

I mean, to me, I think the important part is they feel trapped. You know that at the very least needs to be addressed. Can’t live that way every day.

So how do people balance the “well, people change” with “hey, you promised”. That’s what this question really is, isn’t it.

For me personally, as long as it wasn’t something that conflicted with my core values and who I really am as a person, then I’d be willing to be flexible about it. But from the general sense, I get that might not be the case. I love this idea of conflicting with my core values. And our values don’t have to be the same, you just can’t be in conflict.

I think the conversation is the “Hey, I know things have changed. You have a right to change, but I’m feeling trapped and this puts us in a precarious spot.” Don’t lead with “I love you, but…”. Don’t do that. Just lead with “Hey, I’ve got a challenge, I kind of need to process it with you.” As long as you perceive that the conversation you’re about to have is happening from the same side of the table and not opposite sides.

Your partner is not the problem. You’re not the problem. There is a problem. The problem is the rules have changed and the boundaries have changed. The limits have changed. We’re going to get into a question one day about limits, rules and boundaries and how different they are.

Hopefully after five years, you have the kind of relationship where you can be honest with each other and sit down. Hopefully your partner is not angry and defensive. But the key is to talk about it as if you’re both on this side of the table and the problem is on that side of the table. You’re talking about the problem, not the person. “Things have changed, things change, here’s what I’m struggling with. I’m sure you’re struggling as well. Let’s talk and figure it out.” I think that’s the best way you can do it. And if you can’t do it, just the two of you, get a counsellor or somebody to be a coach that can help you sort of navigate that and be neutral to help you work it out.

If it’s been five years, you’re in, you love them deeply. It’s a jungle out there in the dating world. You know, I’d rather work harder just to see than to go, wow, everything’s changed now, I have to move along.

I hope that’s helpful, take care.

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