I have kind of a lead foot. I come by it honestly because several of my family members have raced cars (So not my fault – it’s genetic! 😉)
I tend to always drive a little faster than necessary and then brake quickly. It’s dumb for many reasons – safety, gas mileage, enabling of my poor time management skills – but it makes me feel like I’m being productive and getting where I need to be faster.
Last month my brakes started acting up after I drove through a construction zone. I figured a little piece of gravel had gotten stuck and I rolled my eyes at the inconvenience. I put off making an appointment to get my vehicle checked out, and when I finally did, I was shocked.
“You’re lucky you came in when you did,” I was lectured. “If you had waited any longer, your brakes would have been totally shot! There’s no padding left!”
I was very surprised, because I’d just had an inspection with my oil change a few weeks before, and nobody had said a word about the brakes. I thought they were fine! I assumed somebody else would tell me if there was any cause for concern. I was clearly incorrect.
Ultimately, it was my responsibility, and I wasn’t paying close enough attention. My brakes weren’t working how they should, and it was on me.
My friend and I were talking the other day, and we realized it’s kind of the same way in dating. You are responsible for your own brakes, and if you expect someone else to own that task, you’re likely to find yourself in a danger zone.
In dating, your boundaries are kind of like your brakes. If you don’t know what they are, where they are, and how to put them to work, you put yourself at risk. You might be counting on a friend, a family member, or the person you’re dating to speak up when there’s danger ahead, but you’re never guaranteed a warning from anybody.
You are responsible for putting your brakes on when the situation calls for it, and you need to make sure they’re in working order. And, as I learned, that there’s enough padding around them.
I once dated a guy I knew I shouldn’t. We weren’t serious, it didn’t last long, and nothing happened. But I knew in my spirit that he was wrong for me and I dated him anyway because I was pushing 30 and tired of waiting, even though I knew I was playing with fire just by going out for dinner and a movie.
Not one person in my life questioned it.
The thing was, by all appearances, everything seemed harmless. This guy was nice, he was gainfully employed, and he even went to church! Weekly! But I knew that I knew that I knew he was not right for me.
Everyone around me vocalized their support. So I dated him until he ghosted me, and then I counted my lucky stars he had done me such a favor (even though I firmly believe ghosting is THE. ABSOLUTE. WORST. DON’T DO IT!!), because I should have ended things myself and didn’t.
Me? My boundary is often dating itself. This is by no means true for everybody, but it is for me. When I date someone, I am at risk of marrying him. That can be a good thing, certainly, but it can also be a bad thing if it’s the wrong guy.
I know better than to date a guy I wouldn’t marry. I need to put my brakes to use before I even agree to a date. Any guy who plainly fails to meet my list of qualifications for a spouse – or just robs me of my peace – needs to be a no.
When I disregard this boundary? I get too close to the danger zone. And in my experience, other people aren’t always even aware of the danger I put myself in. If they are, they don’t necessarily speak up.
It’s all on me. My boundaries? They’re up to me. The brakes on my car? My responsibility.
Our God is a God who protects his children – that’s for sure! But the second we move outside of his will, his protection is no longer guaranteed. If we know we’re veering off his path, we need to hit the brakes – and the sooner, the better.
Personally, I’ve learned to be pretty hard on my brakes. It might not always bode well for my car, but in dating and in life, it’s not such a bad thing.
Work those brakes, friends. You might be the only one who recognizes when it’s time to put them to use.