In a 2019 Statista survey, 94% of people stated that they believe in true love, and while true love is a wonderful thing, how is it actually defined? Upon the thought of true love, do we first think of boundlessness or boundaries? Most of the time, media and literature portray true love as liberated and without hesitation. But if that’s the case, how do we embody this while also setting boundaries?
Setting boundaries is very similar to defining who you are within a relationship (Gilles, LCPC). Psychologists define boundaries as “the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us” (Bockarova, PhD, 2016). However, on Valentine's Day, there are a lot of expectations and pressures about true love that arise, but we have to be sure that those expectations don’t clash with the necessary boundaries for ourselves. Whether it be financial, emotional, or physical, love also entails respecting the comfort zones of others.
For example, “consumers in the United States are expected to spendan estimated total of 22 billion U.S. dollars for Valentine’s Day, which is actually an expenditure decrease of over five billion dollars from pre-Covid.” Furthermore, nearly half of Americans who are engaged to be married are expected tospend over 100 U.S. dollars for Valentine’s, making them the biggest spenders of the year” (Statista, 2022). The expectation of buying a gift over $100 in order to demonstrate true love can be a lot of pressure, and if you and you’re significant other are not on the same page about gift expectations, perhaps a boundary, compromise, or consensus needs to be set. Each party should be compassionate, considerate, and respect this boundary because that is also a part of true love. Boundaries ultimately encourage our self-worth and self-image because having them tells us that we are good enough to be considered (Ramani, 2020).
As far as emotional boundaries, there’s also a high level of intimacy that is expected of true love, especially on Valentine’s day. Given that, it can also be a prime time for emotional boundaries to be overreached. To provide an example, if your partner tells you something personal about their lives while bonding on Valentine’s day, they might expect you to do the same. But, If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you might get the response “you can tell me anything.” And when they’re persistent, this can translate into “you should be able to tell me anything. Why don’t you?” If your partner is struggling with feelings of rejection because of your boundaries, this might be a good time to discuss what they are so the person knows from the get-go what to expect (Juby, PsyD, 2021).
Finally, physical boundaries are very important as well. If someone is making contact with you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you reserve all rights to your personal space. You forfeit none in the presence of a romantic partner, even your “true love.” If your partner or true love randomly started digging in your purse or wallet, you’d easily ask - “what are you doing?” So, this question should be even easier to ask if your own body is being touched in a way that you find uncomfortable or overwhelming at the moment. There’s nothing wrong with needing to prepare, and simultaneous, unfettered physical contact is not always an exemplification of true love.
All in all, you reserve the right to feel comfortable, and moreover, so does your significant other. Valentines is a great time for cuddling and closeness, but getting to know each other and having conversations beforehand can be a great way to define boundaries that will ultimately strengthen love’s bond.