Random Thought Thursdays

RTTs: Boundaries in Relationships

I’ve decided that I’m going to start Random Thought Thursdays. I find so many articles/quotes/videos that I want to briefly comment on that don’t fit the broader, ongoing theme. Here is the first installment…


Today I read an article by Allison Vesterfelt on her website entitled, “Who’s Responsible for Physical Dating Boundaries.”  The premise is fairly easy to guess from the title- in a heterosexual relationship, who is responsible for making sure that the physical boundaries are adhered to. I would certainly hope that everyone without hesitation would say that both parties are responsible and that is the conclusion that Allison reaches (I think). However, because of the society that most Evangelical Christians have grown up in, the practical reality often times is that the woman behaves as though the man  is responsible for these boundaries. Because, after all, we all know men are more sexual, they’re more visual, and they’ll be tempted more to cross these boundaries. *sarcasm*

However, what I really want to comment on in her article are the two questions that she ends with.

She asks:

What can girls do to help you, guys?

Girls, what can guys do to hold the boundary that makes you feel honored?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the wording of those questions places the responsibility of upholding the boundaries on men. What can girls do to help guys? Okay that wouldn’t be a bad question, if the same was asked to the girls! But instead we get asked what guys can do to hold the boundary that would make us feel honored. Why aren’t guys asked that question too?

In both cases, the job of holding the boundaries lands squarely on the shoulders of the gentlemen. And the responsibility of the girls is still to support them in this monumental task. These questions perpetuate the idea that women are responsible for keeping the men in their lives pure and free of temptation. First of all- this is not possible. Second of all- this is absolutely not a women’s responsibility.

And if you want to ask guys what girls can do to help them uphold physical boundaries in a relationship, you had better darn well ask girls what guys can do to help them too.

What do you think of the questions?

Who do you think should be responsible for holding the boundaries in a relationship?


5 thoughts on “RTTs: Boundaries in Relationships

  1. I agree with you. I think both parties are responsible for their actions and helping one another with the boundaries that are set. I have seen women manipulate men into crossing those boundaries and vice versa.

    Working with young girls in the youth group, I can see where this woman is coming from with her questions though. Typically I see girls who flaunt their bodies like there is no tomorrow and are even pressuring young Christian men to do things that they might not have considered doing before marriage. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of guys that will pressure girls into doing things that they wouldn’t otherwise. The first question seems to place the responsibility more on the women’s shoulders, whereas the second one places it on the men’s.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for posting this! 🙂

    • I do think that the first question places a responsibility on the women’s shoulders- the responsibility of helping the man hold the boundaries. I don’t think that’s a problem in and of itself. I take issue because the man is never given that same responsibility. At least, I don’t see it in the wording of that second question.

      I’m with you on working with students! Haha I’ve worked with junior highers for years, and God knows they need a lot of guidance when it comes to sexuality- including how they view their bodies. That time of life is so interesting!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Sydney, as far as I can see now; you’re right with your observation. I’ve ordered a copy of her e-book to see how she treats the whole subject.
    To me: both are responsible for their own bounderies in the first place. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, you can’t respect the boundaries of someone else. Above all it’s first something you have to ‘learn’/ experience in the family in which you are raised. Learning to set healthy boundaries; and that’s a hard job since we live in a broken world.

    • Anri, I absolutely agree with you that learning to set and respect your own boundaries is so important in life and is something that most people don’t have a lot of practice with. I know from my own experience, setting appropriate boundaries wasn’t modeled for me and as a result I didn’t learn how until I went to counseling in college!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

      • The boundary subject (related to sexuality), or the lack of, started for me at an very early stage in life. Raised in a family that wasn’t almost physical at all (like many families in the Western world), no sense of what intimacy meant (being vulnerable, being in touch with who you are in the core, in touch with your senses and feelings, etc.). So you don’t need to be a prophet to predict that the broad scope of sexuality and sexs causes various problems.
        Once that is loaded with a christian religious joke, last bits of freedom are enslaved. We need a total redemption and an ongoing redemption in which Jesus saves us and redeems us in an initial stage and an ongoing redemption of the body and mind. It’s a total resetting.
        Learning to ask the right and hard questions you are doing right now on your blog, searching for the underlying values of sexuality, intimacy and so on.

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