Setting and upholding healthy boundaries in ALL of your relationships is not only necessary, but it’s the one thing that will either end or enhance those relationships right away.

And no matter what the outcome…

It is the greatest gift you will ever receive. 

I’ve written about boundaries before, but I wanted to create a one-stop guide to everything that I wish I would have known about how to set personal boundaries and boundaries in relationships.

If you don’t have personal boundaries, you will never have relational ones. And if you don’t have boundaries in your relationships… you will never have a real relationship. Only a transaction in which you get to be the doormat/victim/prisoner/powerless loser, every time.

Boundaries make you a winner, without reducing your relationships to a game.

You win because you get to see who people really are.

You win because you’re finally able to clean up your side of the street (instead of continuing to water dead plants on everyone else’s emotional property). 

You win because you no longer take responsibility for other people’s behavior (only your own).

You win because you remain on your white horse

You win because you’re able to separate your worth from the dysfunction of others. 

You win by owning your own dysfunction instead of blaming other people for it.

You win by no longer wanting to control others. You have mastered self control.

You win by gaining the unconditional confidence and self-respect that comes from:

  • Having limits.
  • Psychologically checkmating toxic people through non-reactivity.
  • Kindly walking away from anyone who tries to blur and cross your definitive lines.

By having non-negociable limits, you win because you automatically position yourself as The One That Got Away

Having boundaries means that you trust your gut over your fears and your triggers. It means that you respect yourself enough to make uncomfortable decisions and walk away from people you care about – no matter how much your heart and libido are begging you to turn around.

Having limits is scary. Especially when yours were not developed and/or respected as a child.

But you will be so thankful that you had the courage to implement them when everything that you are tolerating right now is no longer a reality in your relational world.

What are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are whatever your limits are in regard to how others treat you. Your boundaries are basically what you find acceptable and unacceptable in other people’s behavior towards you.

It was always difficult for me to know what my boundaries were because this kind of knowledge is not something that can’t be bought or taught. It can only come from self-awareness, self-love, and knowing that you have real value, independent of what others think, say, and do.

The best part about boundaries is that you (and only you) get to decide what your limits are. The hardest part is maintaining them in a world of family, friends, and lovers who will make you feel guilty for not making “special adjustments.” Some will even call you crazy when they realize that they can’t manipulate you. They will remind you of your bond, your history, how sorry they are… whatever they can to break down your walls so that they can get their needs met once again and/or feel like less of a sh*t for what they did.

Boundaries are not malleable. Apologies from others do not disintegrate them, and they do not operate on a case-by-case basis. In fact, the more you have to explain your boundaries, the less you actually have.

If your boundaries are not solid, then they are not boundaries. They’re just figments of the backbone that you wish you could somehow resurrect.

Boundaries do all of the communicating for you in regard to how other people should treat you, what they can expect from you, and what they can and cannot get away with. You can’t control what other people do and say to you, but you can control how comfortable they feel saying and doing what they say and do to you.

Boundaries are what control that level of comfort. 

Your personal boundaries are garlic to emotional vampires.

They teach people how to treat you without you having to say a word. Remember, you are the C.E.O of Y.O.U. And Y.O.U is not only very exclusive, but you are the one who gets to decide the structure of your entity. Think of it like a membership to an elite club or a prestigious organization. There are always certain conditions that need to be met (and upheld) for everything that you want to gain access to and experience in this life.

Do toxic people try to negotiate with their gas and electric company every month? No. They make sure that they pay their bills on time because they know if they don’t, they won’t have any hot water or electricity.

Personal boundaries are NOT something that is ever going to make a toxic person or a toxic relationship non-toxic. They should never be implemented as an ultimatum or a scare tactic – only as an unwavering guide (just like the gas bill).

Boundaries are a symptom of confidence, self-respect, and self-awareness. To the right people, boundaries are sexy. To toxic people, they are either a challenge or something that they can potentially bust/mold to their liking. Some will interpret your boundaries as a “red flag.” You will be made to feel “mean,” “too intense,” immature, and ashamed for having limits. Toxic people need the affirmation that they can bust your boundaries in order to maintain egoic survival 

If you have healthy personal boundaries, you will never be clingy, needy, or hungry for crumbs. The wool will never be pulled over your eyes again.

Up until a few years ago, one of my biggest problems was sharing too much information about myself. I wish I could call it “oversharing” but it was much darker than that.

There is no prison worse than knowing better while you are in the moment of not doing better. Going on and on about myself felt involuntary but as I was doing it, I was aware that I could shut up at any time. This made me feel even more ashamed and weak because I had lost control. I knew how unnecessary it was. I knew that ultimately, I had control over what I chose to share. I was so envious of people who could open up but were also private in a way that exuded self-respect and intrigue.

If I didn’t share, I felt like I would never be seen, heard, or understood. When I did share, I felt icky, weak, out of control, and exposed.

Personal boundaries are necessary because without them, there are literally no limits to:

  • The sanity you will lose.
  • The self-sabotage you will ignite.
  • The doubt you will experience.
  • The fear you will act on.
  • The power you will be drained of.
  • The extent to which people will use you.

no boundaries = low self-esteem (and high social anxiety).

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Figuring out why men pull away is so much easier if deep down, you know that you’ve been in denial.

I used to be more scared of being physically alone than I was scared of ending up with someone who made me feel more alone than my self-hatred did.

And because I approached dating with a “grateful for any crumb” mentality, I continued to bet on potential instead of act on red flags.

I would convince myself that he was amazing; that I was in this great relationship and that we had this once-in-a-lifetime connection (despite my intuition knowing better). My fear of being alone made me turn a blind eye to lies, inconsistencies, cheating, and broken promises. Even gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse were tolerated and excused.

This fear also made very avoidant. Especially when it came to the devaluing and gaslighting that I was doing to myself. All I knew how to do in relationships was settle, tolerate, and give at the expense of my dignity.

By continuing to act from a place of:

It was impossible for me to have any kind of care for my mental health. Soon, I lost all respect for myself. And when you don’t have any self-respect, what’s the point in prioritizing mental health that you don’t ever think you’ll be good enough to attain? (the same can be said for physical health).

I would then wonder why he was pulling away when I had done nothing but give everything.

My dating life became a humiliating nightmare and I was always the victim.

This victim mentality that I had adopted, as a result, fueled more bad decisions which always ended in investigatory obsession instead of Happily Ever After.

As far as wanting to know why men pull away, there were other instances that now, looking back, were a no brainer.

I would finally meet a good guy who was the complete opposite of the ones above. But because I still had unresolved issues with abandonment, trust, and crippling insecurity… I would sabotage the relationship.

Everything brought a reaction out of me. I wanted control over everyone and everything because I had no control over how worthless I felt.

These instances above are not what I am referring to in this post.

This post is about figuring out why men pull away when you both have a great, seemingly healthy and progressively serious thing going.

You can’t get enough of each other. The vibe is good and there aren’t any red flags that you’ve noticed so far.

And then one day… it’s no longer the same.

He’s turned cold. It feels like he’s miles away even when he’s right next to you.

His energy has shifted for no reason at all and you start to panic.

Why does this happen?

Why do men pull away when things are going great and just starting to get serious?

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Knowing how to deal with a narcissist involves letting go of the expectation that you will ever have a normal, healthy relationship.

Your boundaries will be crossed.

You will be given intermittent and inconsistent attention, love, and support.

Worse, in your attempt to survive the bond, you may blame yourself, isolate yourself, and become entirely emotionally dependent on someone who is not equipped to emotionally sustain themselves, much less you.

At this point, it’s indisputable that the only sane advice related to this subject is: leave. But maybe you are in a relationship with a narcissist and cannot imagine leaving. Or maybe you co-parent with a narcissist, live with one, or are in the presence of narcissistic family members, friends, or coworkers.

Like many people, maybe you find yourself routinely surrounded by narcissists despite recently dumping a narcissistic friend or partner. I would never advocate staying in an abusive relationship.

This is not a post about how to grit your teeth through abuse.

The purpose of this post is to help you protect your own emotional ground until you can untangle your own triggers from the actions of a toxic and person in your life.

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After writing my last post on husband material, I got a lot of requests from my male readers to write a post on wife material – how to find it, attoract it, and keep it. When I started to write, I realized that I was pretty much writing the same post (this is why I wrote in the husband material post that “my writing is for all genders and orientations so please, sub where you need to”).

Coaching clients all over the world and connecting with so many of you on social media and email has taught me that no matter what gender, relationship dynamic, or orientation… it really is the same bullsh*t.

It’s the same pain, the same heartbreak, and the same fears and insecurities… just different body parts. Our emotions are what connect us all. They blur differences that are the source of a lot of unnecessary judgment and obnoxious reactivity.

I write from the perspective of a straight woman because I am one. It would be inauthentic of me to try and please everyone or to write from another angle, but what I write about is universally applicable.

A selfish, emotional bum is a selfish, emotional bum. No matter what gender they are… they’re lame.

A toxic relationship is toxic. No matter what the orientation or dynamic is… it’s unhealthy.

So for this post, I want to address my male readers and also, my female readers based on what I’ve been hearing from men.

While I’ve been writing my book, I have interviewed hundreds of men from all walks of life: professional athletes, single fathers, students, entrepreneurs, stockbrokers, artists, celebrities, retirees, you name it. One of them has had such a wild life, there is a movie based on his professional and sexual exploits. Some are married, others divorced, but the majority of them are single.

Over the last week, I called up a (very diverse) handful of them.

“How do you know when a woman is wife material?”

“What is it for you that separates one woman from the rest of the pack and puts her in a league of her own?”

I didn’t care about political correctness. I wanted real answers because what I was seeing online… “you’ll know she’s wife material if she likes to cook in lingerie and loves to watch sports!” wasn’t cutting it. Trash like this breeds misery. It makes everyone feel like they’re not being, getting, or worthy enough of it. Our relationships then become transactional performances instead of intimate connections.

And we wonder why we feel so unfulfilled.

After a few days, I was able to narrow the answers down to ten wife material qualities that these men shared with me. 

I hope that in reading this list, ALL of you can get the affirmation to never settle and stop going for what will garner more high-fives from your friends, your family, your culture, or society than genuine fulfillment in your heart.

Choosing yourself over what checks the proverbial boxes and looks good on paper is a level of power, indifference, happiness, and freedom that most people will never have the courage to experience. Their fear won’t allow it.

Luckily for you and me, this is no longer our reality.

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I’ve made all my best decisions hurt. I’ve bounced back from heartbreak with stunning results. My whole career is based on the processing of grief and the wisdom within it. I know what you are thinking as you sit there with your broken heart, “Go blow it out your ass, braggy!” Ha. I get it.

You are in no mood for yet another think piece about the virtues of being crushed by love. It sucks, that’s it, goodbye! Ok, I don’t disagree but you started reading so some part of you must want what I have to offer.

You want to know why heartbreak is good for you.

To be fair, rejection in the form of removed love is a sting like no other. All that was valuable about us now seems gone. The world as we know it seems cruel and unyielding and all we want is to feel love again. The hours drag by as we replay every mistake we made, blaming ourselves relentlessly for things we couldn’t have helped. We pummel ourselves with unanswerable questions.

“Why would they say this if they meant that?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

We wait for messages or texts that never come, our value dropping with each passing moment. We are debilitated.

We can’t outrun it. It’s interminable.

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This post is an open letter to you. The you that has had it with being nice at the expense of your self-respect. The you that feels ashamed and insecure; beaten down by everyone and everything that you work so hard to uplift. The you that gives people credit that they have not earned. The you that feels defective. The you that feels forgotten. The you that has lost faith. The you that does not believe “husband material” is anything more than an urban myth at this point. The you that feels invisible. The you that doesn’t think she can hold on much longer. This is for you.  

You have time, but you no longer have one minute of it to waste.

It took me over two decades to realize I had given more power to the opinions of others than I ever did in coming up with an original thought of my own.

Nothing feels worse than not knowing who the f*ck you are. Nothing feels worse than allowing toxic people to create an identity for you. Nothing feels worse than having to tolerate your way through life; having to pretend to be someone you’re not because it hurts less than being abandoned.

Nothing feels worse than no standards.

The turning point is when you realize that you actually have all the power that you think you lack. You have the power of choice.

Not after you buy a ticket to a seminar or purchase a course or subscribe to a mailing list… Now.

You are one decision away from a new identity, a new life, and a new you. You are one decision away from attracting the husband material that you have all but given up on. You are one decision away from losing all of the emotional weight you’ve gained and unclogging your relational arteries once and for all. You are one decision away from (finally) exhaling.

You will no longer be held back by the opinions of your family and friends, your background and religion, your coworkers, your ex, and most important… the cynical audience in your head. The audience that convinces you to get back down every time you so much as try to get up. You are about to give that audience the most dignified middle finger of all time. 

Not being able to find true friendships, true love, and husband material is the result of you giving your power away. It’s time to take it back.

You are damaged, but not defective.

You are down, but not defeated.

There is a big difference.

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