Heather had made Todd a high emotional priority in her life. She had
given up activities she enjoyed; she had given up relationships she
valued. She had tried to become the kind of person she thought Todd
would be attracted to. And now it looked like this investment was going
No Kids Allowed (page 26)
Though dating has its difficulties, we believe in dating. We think it
offers lots of good things, such as, for starters, opportunities to grow
personally and learn how to relate to people.
So why do we say, "No kids allowed"?
We don't believe that teens should not date. Rather, teens who can take
appropriate ownership of their lives can enjoy and benefit from dating.
Dating works best between two responsible people. What can happen when
party is irresponsible?
Dating does have its risks. That's why the maturity of the two people
involved is very important.
- What problems can arise in a dating relationship if you're not taking
responsibility to speak the truth in love, to protect love by
confronting problems (Ephesians 4:15)? Give a real-life example or two.
Freedom and responsibility create a safe and secure environment for a
couple to love, trust, explore, and deepen their experience of each
other. What relationship that you've been involved in-or that you're
aware of-would freedom and responsibility have improved or cured?
Before we take a look at the ways that dating problems arise from
freedom and responsibility conflicts, let's take a brief look at what
boundaries are and how they function in dating relationships.
What Are Boundaries? (page 28)
Let's take a look at what a boundary is, its functions and purpose,
and some examples.
A Property Line-Just as a physical fence marks out where
your yard ends and your
neighbor's begins, a personal boundary distinguishes what is your
personal property and what belongs to someone else. When, if ever, have
recognized that your boundary has been crossed? Give an example or two.
The Functions of Boundaries-Boundaries define us by
showing what we are and
are not; what we agree and disagree with; what we love and hate.
protect us by keeping good things in and bad things out and by letting
what we will and will not tolerate.
- What values, preferences, and morals do you want to be clear about
right from the
start in your dating relationships? List three or four points.
Problems in Freedom and Responsibility (page 26)
We are writing about the problems people have in how they conduct
their dating lives. Simply put, many of the struggles people experience
in dating relationships are, at heart, caused by some problem in the
areas of freedom and responsibility.
By freedom we mean your ability to make choices based on your values,
than choosing out of fear, guilt, or need.
- Think about some of the choices you've recently made, ideally in a
but perhaps in a friendship or family relationship. To what degree did
or need motivate your choice? What did you fear, what were you feeling
what guilt were you trying to avoid, and/or what need were you trying to
- What problems can arise in a dating relationship if you're making
choices out of
fear or guilt rather than based on your values? Give a real-life example
By responsibility, we mean your ability to execute your tasks in keeping
relationship healthy and loving, as well as being able to say no to
shouldn't be responsible for.
- Again, think about a recent dating experience, a friendship, or a
a family member. What have you done to keep the relationship healthy and
Be specific about one or two tasks. Also describe an opportunity you had
to say no
to something you shouldn't be responsible for. Be specific first about
Then explain why you were or weren't able to say no and describe the
of your action or inaction.
- What are two or three behaviors or attitudes that you will not
tolerate in a dating
Examples of Boundaries-Words, the truth, distance, and
other people are four
kinds of limits we can set and use in dating. Review the discussion on
30. When has one of these boundaries been helpful in a dating
could it be? Give an example.
There are several kinds of limits we can set and use in dating, all
depending on the circumstances. Whatever the situation, boundaries give
you freedom and choices.
What's Inside Your Boundaries (page 30)
Remember that boundaries are a fence protecting your property. In
dating, your property is your own soul: Your boundaries define and
protect your love, your emotions, your values, your behaviors, and your
When, if ever, have you let someone else control your love, emotions,
behaviors, or attitudes? Why did you feel unable to set limits on their
When, if ever, have you been aware of controlling or trying to control
love, emotions, values, behaviors, or attitudes? Why did you choose to
his or her boundaries?
Boundaries are the key to keeping your very soul safe, protected, and
How Boundary Problems Show Themselves (page 30)
There are lots of ways that dating suffers when freedom and
responsibility are not appropriately present. We've listed a few of
them. (They're defined on pages 31-33.)
Loss of freedom to be oneself
Being with the wrong person
Dating from inner hurt rather than our values
Doing too much in the relationship
Freedom without responsibility
Not taking responsibility to say no
Where, if at all, do you see yourself in this list? Be honest with
yourself so that you
can learn and grow.
Into which one of these nine categories has someone you've dated fit?
people you've dated. How did that behavior impact the relationship?
Which of these boundary problems has any of them displayed?
There are many more ways that dating can become misery because of
freedom and responsibility problems. As you will see, understanding and
applying boundaries in the right way can make a world of difference in
how you approach the dating arena.
Before You Close the Book ...
Which take-away tip on page 33 do you most need to take away?
Lord God, thank you for what you're showing me about myself and
where I can grow. Please give me both the wisdom to set good and godly
boundaries in dating as well as the courage to keep them. And help me
stay on this path of learning and growing. In Jesus' name. Amen.
The wise psychiatrist taught, "As soon as there is any kind of
deception, stop everything. Where there is deception there is no
relationship." Truthfulness is everything. Honesty is the bedrock of
dating and marriage.
Standing on Quicksand (page 36)
Remember the woman whose marriage was not ripped apart by the affair,
as devastating as that was, but by the lying?
Why is lying more destructive than the behavior that is being covered
When have you been deceptive or been deceived in a relationship, dating
otherwise? What impact did that dishonesty have on the relationship?
When you are with someone who is deceptive, you never know what
reality is. As one woman said, "It makes you question everything."
Deception in Dating (page 37)
There are many different ways to deceive someone in the world of
dating. We've listed six of the more common ones.
Deception About Your Relationship-Losing a love that one
desires is almost inevitable in the dating life at some time or another,
but losing one's trust in the opposite sex does not have to happen if
people are honest with one another (Ephesians 4:25).
- When, if ever, have you found yourself in Matt's position and been
deceived about the relationship's significance to the other person? What
did you learn from your experience or perhaps from Matt's?
- When, if ever, have you found yourself in Karen's position and
deceived a person you were dating about the relationship's significance
to you? What did you learn from that experience or from this discussion
of such an experience?
As soon as someone is sure that dating is not going where another person
thinks or hopes it is, that person has a responsibility to tell the
other one clearly and honestly. Anything less is deceitful and harmful.
Deception About Being Friends-While Karen was acting like
a girlfriend when in reality she was just a friend, there are those who
are deceptive about their true intentions while they are acting like a
- When, if ever, has someone pretended to be a friend to you but had
What impact did that deception have on the "friendship"?
- When, if ever, have you pretended to be a friend but had ulterior
would have been a healthier (i.e., honest) approach?
Excerpted from "Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships" by Henry Cloud. Copyright © 2000 by Henry Cloud. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.