3 Boundaries In Relationships To Set When Dating After A Breakup Or Divorce

by Mary Kate Murphy

Learn how establishing dating boundaries sets you up for relationship success.

Boundaries In Relationships that you can't miss

For most of my life, I was a clueless dater with non-existent boundaries in relationships.

I’m serious. I was that girl.

I was the girl that always texted or called first. I was the girl who’d cancel plans with friends to go meet up with the guy. I was the girl who would try to invite the guy to a family event even though we weren’t official yet. 

I was even ok when a guy told me, “Can I get back to you by the end of the week to see if you’re going to be my prom date or not? I have to wait and see what Jaclyn tells me first.” And I replied, “ok, that’s fine.”

So for those who may also be unfamiliar with dating and relationship boundaries, here’s a breakdown of what they mean:


Boundaries are essentially a person’s limits in a relationship. Boundaries allow each person to maintain their needs, space and individuality.

So when I found myself on the dating scene again after my divorce, I knew I had to learn to set better boundaries in relationships because I really didn’t want the past to repeat itself.

This is where I birthed my ‘3 dating boundaries’, and I am confident that they’ll be dating game changers for you just as they were for me. 

These 3 clear boundaries landed me the love of my life in under 3 months of dating!

Dating + Time = First Boundary

Be very clear on the time that you’re available when it comes to setting up dates with someone beforehand. 

Don’t just wing it. Dating apps and dating, in general, can be quite the time-suck if you let it. Build boundaries around that time.

What does building boundaries around your time look like?

Know your schedule and plan accordingly. If you’re a single parent, then let them know from the get-go the days you don’t have your kids, and those are likely days you could set something up.

Some Scenarios on How to Guard Your Time

There are a lot of people that advocate for meeting up as soon as possible to see if there’s a connection or not, and it’s understandable as you don’t want to waste time.

However, have you considered a phone call, FaceTime or Zoom meet-up before the actual date? These are typically 30 mins on average, and the purpose is to establish

if the person is first-date material.

There’s no need to play games when it comes to being available for a date. 

The boundary itself is guarding your time. You either have it or don’t, but DO NOT bend over backwards or cancel plans to make a date work.

How this can play out…

If you have a decent connection via texting or a phone call, then suggesting a meet-up in the next couple of days is entirely reasonable.

Make it a casual meet-up. When you say date, it can cause all sorts of expectations and pressure. An informal meet-up should be approximately one hour.

A short, casual meet-up could be –

  • Coffee meet-up
  • ‘Happy Hour’
  • Walk in a park
  • Lunch 

The whole purpose of having this boundary around time is you teach people how to respect your personal time, and this has a ripple effect for months and years down the road.

Come Prepared with your Non-negotiables

You don’t want to date just aaaanyone, right? Of course not! 

You want to know your “must haves” in a future partner before you begin dating. 

When you have the target clearly defined, it’s easier to hit the target!

For years I’ve been coaching clients on this exercise, and it has been what they refer to as their “dating game changer.” 

Essentially this exercise helps people sift through the weeds more quickly.

Here goes…

Make a list of your 5-8 requirements of your future partner, and they cannot be physical qualities, such as a size zero waist. 

That girl or guy with 6 pack abs may not have those abs a year or 5 years down the road. But that kind, compassionate person that’s nice to everyone will typically still be kind or compassionate 5 years down the road.

Here are some examples:

1. Non-judgmental

2. Leads an active and healthy lifestyle

3. Sense of adventure and interest in travel

4. Strong work ethic & enjoys what they do for a career

5. Family oriented

6. Team player

7. Compassionate and empathetic

8. Kind, warm-hearted

9. Shared interests and hobbies

10. Political affiliation

These non-negotiables mean you’re NOT willing to compromise. 

Too often, this is what happens in dating, and we’re guilty of making excuses and saying, well, she’s got four of my non-negotiables; that should be good enough!

When we do this, it typically leads to problems down the road because it goes against what we believe is a healthy relationship.

Set the boundary for yourself before you start dating by defining what you’re unwilling to budge on. 

This makes dating much easier as you now have a clearly defined target.

Self-love to Self-fulfilment

Dating is filled with ups and downs, frustrations and good dates gone bad, ghosting, and feelings of rejection etc. 

However, if you are good with yourself, as in you have self-love for yourself that is pure and full, then you’ll never feel alone in the dating process. 

After all, you’re never truly alone when you love the person you’re alone with, aka yourself!

How does this show up?

  • Do you show yourself that you love yourself through the way you eat? 
  • Through the way you move and exercise? 
  • Through the hobbies that you pursue? 
  • How about through the healthy friendships you have? 
  • The way you continue to learn through books or podcasts, or workshops? 

When you have so much going for yourself – you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

In fact, the self-love experience should be your top priority when you’re dating because when the right one comes along, you won’t feel like you’re complete; you’ll just feel like a new addition is complimenting your life.

You are a whole, independent person, regardless of who comes in and out of your life. So you might as well get really good at being fully you!

Just think of it this way: you are on your journey of evolving into your best self in order to attract your best love. 

It’s all on purpose, and it’s all on time. You might as well get good at enjoying the journey and be less concerned about the destination.

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