A friend called me the other day passionately venting about her partner. She kept saying: “He raped me! He raped me!”
I was shocked and confused at the same time because this was someone she has been with for five years and counting.
How can one be raped by someone with you are in an intimate relationship?
Well, I know these things happen. The fact of the matter is that where there is no consent, every action can be termed as abuse. And rape is one such abuse.
Being in a relationship with someone does not guarantee complete access. There is a place for consent. If it’s not a “yes”, it is a “no”. And that should always be respected.
This brings me to the topic of sexual boundaries, especially in a relationship. Sexual boundaries can be defined as those lines that we draw around our sexual behaviour. It indicates what a person sees as acceptable and with whom.
These are guidelines we use to decide how far we want to go and what kind of sexual activities we feel safe and comfortable with. It gives both partners the chance to set their boundaries and respect whatever decision they both make.
Partners need to relax and enjoy themselves when involved in any kind of sexual activity. If someone feels like they are doing something they’re not comfortable with, this can become an issue.
Sexual boundaries include boundaries around sexual frequency, sexual comments, unwanted sexual touch, expectations around others involved in your sex life, and what sexual acts are preferred and off limits.
Sexual boundaries are very important in a sexual relationship. This also includes long-term relationships like marriage. Married couples easily fall into the trap of thinking they know what their partner wants and is comfortable with when it comes to sex.
A marriage is a lifetime commitment and you are usually more intimate with your partner than anyone else, so it is important to keep communication open about sexual matters, even if you have been together for long. You can’t just assume because human needs and desires are ever-changing.
Partners must know what they are both comfortable with sexually. Openly discussing your preferences and limits with your partner will bring you closer and allow you to be more present during intimate moments.
A lot of people assume that boundaries don’t matter when you are in an intimate relationship. Boundaries are crucial in sex matters and they should always serve an important role in your relationship.
Taking time to talk about these things outside of the bedroom is always a good idea. It allows you to talk about your needs in a neutral space without any expectations.
Communication should continue in the bedroom. Consent plays an important role because it is about making sure your partner is comfortable at all times, by asking or reading their body language. Everyone has the right to change their mind at any time, so it’s important to keep checking in with your partner.
It is important to know that boundaries change. How we feel about sex can change over time. As time goes on, you might decide you want to try something new, or you may have different partners who are interested in different things. It’s okay to change your mind about what you’re comfortable with and try new things.
This can also mean changing your mind about something you used to be comfortable with, but don’t want to do anymore. There’s no reason why you have to continue doing something just because you did it in the past. This applies whether you’re with the same partner or with someone new.
If you’re being intimate with someone and they do something you’re not comfortable with, let them know. Ask them to stop and explain why you’re not comfortable with what’s happening. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to continue with something different or if you want to stop altogether. It’s okay to say no, and you do not need to feel guilty about it.
The two most common types of sexual boundaries are: explicit and implicit.
An explicit boundary is one that you communicate directly to your partner. It’s usually something based on personal preferences. These should be discussed and clearly stated between partners to let someone know what is on and off the table. For instance, if you’re not okay with someone choking you during sex, you can say: “Choking is off-limits.”
Implicit boundaries on the other hand are a bit hazier, as these are boundaries that one assumes based on societal values. These are related to human and legal rights and the accepted codes of socialisation.
For example, we all know that hitting someone is crossing a boundary, and this does not need to be explicitly indicated. Unfortunately, some boundaries we think are obvious and don’t need to be communicated can be crossed without the person realising it.
It is important to know the difference between implicit and explicit boundaries because if you’re confused about them, you may not recognise that you’re being abused. Some may say: “He’s making me feel bad, but I know he loves me.” If someone makes you feel bad, they may have breached an implicit boundary and manipulated you into making you believe it is for love.
It’s all about listening to yourself and not ignoring discomfort. If something doesn’t feel right to you, makes you feel uncomfortable, or you’re just not into it, that’s an indication that an implicit boundary has been crossed. If this happens, stop what you’re doing and express your discomfort.
Likewise, if you’re with someone and they don’t seem to be enjoying themselves, aren’t talking much, flinch when you try to kiss them, etc, don’t just plow ahead. Stop and figure out what is going on because you may be crossing a boundary that hasn’t been explicitly stated.
Setting and reaffirming your boundaries before a date or sexual experience is so important. It’s also important to reaffirm those boundaries during and after the date. This can happen either with yourself or with a partner, should a situation arise that deems the need for a rehashing.
There’s no need to apologise for setting a boundary. Your boundaries are valid and they are your right. That is the only thing that matters.
Respecting boundaries is a two-way street: just as you have a right to assert your boundaries and have them respected, you must respect the ones others set for themselves, whether or not they’ve been made explicit.
Here are a few sexual boundaries listed below:
a. Not masturbating in front of your partner.
b. Not being intimate with someone unless both people are comfortable with that.
c. Respecting a person’s decision not to have sex and not making unwanted sexual advances.
d. Not engaging in any sexual activity with someone who does not want to be sexually active with you.
These boundaries listed above are just a few of the boundaries that can be set. It does not have to work for everyone. That is why communication is important. Assumptions will not work because we all are wired differently.
I would love to get feedback, questions and recommendations on the topics you would want me to shed light on.
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