Video Q&A: Emotional & Spiritual Boundaries for Singles
Jeremy Byrne discusses the question of how singles can have healthy emotional and spiritual boundaries while building relationship before marriage.
JEREMY: Hey friends, Jeremy Byrne here again. Questions and Topics, Nothing Hidden Ministries. This question comes in from a friend of the ministry, and it is regarding emotional and spiritual boundaries. We probably talk more about physical boundaries – I have my watch here so I make sure I don’t go too long. We probably talk more about physical boundaries, sexual boundaries, because those are obviously much easier to kind of manage, and they’re a little more finite or tangible, literally. But this question is about emotional and spiritual boundaries, which I think is an interesting point in the premise of the question – what’s the difference of emotional and spiritual boundaries? I don’t think it’s that clear of a line either. I think a lot of what we think of the physical – you know, in Romans it talks about our flesh, our spirit and our soul. And soul could be the emotions, spirit and body – I don’t think these things are as separate as we think, maybe. Maybe you don’t think they are. But even the question kind of insinuates that. I think they very much overlap, and a lot of times what we equate with spiritual interactions are largely emotional as well, and it’s not only spiritual. And granted, also emotional connection isn’t only emotional; it’s spiritual as well. So, let me just say that out on the offset. Then there’s two – Part A and Part B of these questions. “Is it possible to go too far emotionally in your boundaries, to pass your healthy boundaries before marriage emotionally, just like it is physically? And what do healthy emotional boundaries look like?” And then the same question for spiritual. “Is it possible to go too far spiritually, to pass boundaries that are healthy? What do healthy spiritual boundaries look like?”
So, emotional boundaries I’d say absolutely, they are very important; I would say equally as important as physical boundaries. Now, the ramifications also may not be quite as immediate and stark, meaning you can have a baby before you’re married, and that is a huge consequence, ramification. I’m not saying bad or good, I’m just saying it is a huge consequence. So, it’s different; you maybe don’t feel that consequence right away like you would maybe having sex before you married as you do with emotional. So, where do you know when kind of lines are crossed, or how do you even know what the repercussions of what you’re doing are? That’s a good question.
I think a good way to sort of track where you’re at on staying a healthy course would be, “How much did your life shift from what it was before the relationship to in the relationship?” If it changed a whole lot, and you didn’t have close friendships where you were being emotionally vulnerable and open and honest, and it’s like there’s a healthy flow of emotion and an intimacy. And then all of a sudden, you get into a relationship, and all of a sudden it’s like everything – your heart’s all in this. They have all of your time. This goes back to I think that question we did around time-bound results, so those are a big one also to watch for emotional boundaries. Are you spending too much time? Are you sharing a lot more? Do they have all of your thought life, all of your emotions? Do you find when you’re in the relationship that you’re all over the place emotionally? That’s probably a good indicator that you have probably crossed emotional boundaries. And lots of times, those happen internally, subconsciously. Like we get too excited about the relationship, and we kind of play it out in our minds. And we think, “I’m going to marry this person,” before we actually really know them. And you’ve given over a lot of your heart and your affection before your mind and everything else has really caught up and it feels like, “This is a wise choice. Yeah. I know this person really well. I know how we interact really well, and now I’ve started to open up my heart more and more and more.” I think when we off the bat give our hearts and our emotions and our affections and our attention and our thought life too much – when we give too much of that, it causes that lack of peace, and the relationship will feel very up and down, very inconsistent. It’ll feel like, “We’re doing really, really good, and then it’s like really, really bad, really, really good.” And that happens over and over and over.
So, gauge yourself by how you were before the relationship and how you were with friends before the relationship. Also, that may be a time to look at your life and say, “Do I have a healthy exchange of people in my life, a healthy exchange of emotional intimacy with friends in my life, particularly of the same sex?” This is a whole other talk for a whole other time. I don’t think it’s helpful to gauge a romantic relationship’s emotional boundaries with a platonic relationship’s emotional boundaries of the opposite sex because that to me – the platonic opposite sex relationship intimacy stuff gets really weird really quick. Now granted, I’m not casting aspersions on that, but I’ll have to talk more about that another time. I just think those are ones we have to be really careful with, and the world tries to push for like, “Yeah, you can be super close with, one-on-one with the opposite sex.” I’m like, “Who are you kidding? I’m not an idiot.” Like, I don’t know. So, there you go; write in if that offended you, and you have more questions. I’d be happy to talk about that. So, gauge it off of your friendships; gauge it off of your life before the relationship. Did you have a healthy flow of emotional intimacy with people?
Another one is, have people who know you well. Commit yourself to having outside accountability and input. This is a hard one because I think we get prideful, and we just want to live in the, “Lalala, my relationship is good.” But be willing to ask questions and allow people to take a look at your relationship on the outside. You will be caught up – most of us will be caught up in la-la-land of hyper-emotional, like our brains have gone and we’re just running on heart fuel. So, allow people to be in on the relationship. Spend time with people outside. Don’t only make it so isolated where it’s just the two of you, but ask people, “Hey, this is where my relationship is at. These are some of the things I’m thinking. How does that seem to you? I want to welcome outside input.” And people, maybe married couples, older, or friends we really trust to have a wise perspective on the situation – it’s so important that we do the relationship in community. And I don’t mean that they have access to everything, and they are kind of co-doing the relationship with you. But have feedback; just have healthy feedback, and don’t make the relationship too insular and isolated to where it’s like our world is what swirls around your head. Because that’s another trap where you just see so much of life through the lens of your relationship. And that’s understandable because God made relationships a very powerful thing, especially romantic ones. But that’s why we have to fight our urges. That’s life. We have to fight urges. I think if you’re doing things right, more often than not, you leave fighting the urges that you have naturally in order to operate off of principle and good values, okay?
Those are some of the ways I think to manage those boundaries. Yes, I think you can go too far. If you find yourself – I had a maybe a parallel idea of a situation. This morning I was reading my Bible and praying and having my little quiet time, and I was so distracted by the thought of this new job possibility that’s come up in my life recently. And I realized, “Oh, man. Like, I can’t focus on what I’m doing right now. I can’t just focus.” Especially if it’s like prayer time stuff, stuff that you have to really focus on to give your attention to; it’s not something that you’re actually – an activity you’re doing. But if I can’t get this other thing out of my head, and I need to be focusing on this right now, that was an indicator to me that I had to stop. And I had to go, “Okay, God. I’ve got to give this thing up to You.” We can control; we can surrender. We can alleviate ourselves from the burden of worry, of over-processing, of being inundated with something emotionally. And for me, that was an indicator that I didn’t have peace around that idea. I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to because I had too much stress around it and anxiety; I could tell my desire for it was too strong, and I needed to kind of verbally, consciously surrender it to God.
That is one of the biggest things that you’ve got to do throughout relationships, some of us daily. For me, it’s probably daily. Some of us, weekly. Some of us – you know, I have more codependent tendencies, so surrendering daily, surrendering as often as necessary to where that thing doesn’t invade your focus of life on other areas. If you find your relationship always kind of finding its way into whatever is going on, that’s another indicator. And if you don’t have peace, if you can’t focus on things you want to focus on, you’ve got to surrender that.
The spirituality side of it is pretty much the same thing. We’ve got to be careful we don’t hyper-spiritualize things and turn our spiritual connection just into another way of saying like our emotional kind of like intimacy. Sort of like, you know, I think it’s helpful to pray together and stuff, but even that I wouldn’t get into that stuff too soon until really like marriage is on the table. I mean, I’d be happy to pray together and stuff, but don’t make it like a big – you need to keep your time with God in your life as a normal flow of life; that’s fine if you pray just in your life, you know, daily routine. But to like set aside time together to be praying and all that stuff, that can get kind of weird if it’s too soon, because that is a very intimate thing. That is a very connective thing. But again, it’s the same issue of, if you think you want to marry someone before you really know them, that’s giving over a lot of your heart.
I’ll just say this. Almost all of those emotional principles apply as well spiritually. And I would mostly say this. Have people who are willing to speak into your life to guard against cloaking codependence, emotional hyper-getting needs met that are unhealthy under the guise of spirituality. That’s what I think tends to happen more often. We call it spirituality because we do, we think it’s being spiritual. It’s spiritual. It’s prayer. It’s Bible. It’s Christianity. It’s Jesus. It’s Holy Spirit. So it’s all good. But if we’re like overly connected and codependent and enmeshed with someone, even if we’re praying and reading the Bible together, it doesn’t mean that automatically keeps a healthy boundary in our emotions. So, I mostly say, just be watching to see that the spiritual ways that you connect, or what you would consider your spiritual life, your spiritual connection, don’t become a kind of a rug that you sweep under the, like, emotional overly intimate kind of needs that are getting met, or unhealthy needs that are getting met too soon in a relationship.
All of this stuff just requires a lot of willingness to be honest, to surrender to God and to allow honesty in your life from outside sources. And I know it’s kind of hard because Holy Spirit speaks to us oftentimes within our own understanding and mind, and it’s not like an audible voice. So, you really do have to kind of commit yourself to taking time to doing whatever it takes to sort of acknowledge that you want God’s truth above the feelings of the relationship, above the emotions, above the spiritual connection. It’s all about getting too much connection too soon. That’s the part we got to pull back on the reins of relationships until we know it’s wise to get married, and our family, our life around us is saying, “Yes, this is good.” And you feel peace around it.
Hope that makes sense. It was a quick one today – well, quick-ish. I had to go through it quickly. Hope you all are well. Please write in questions that you have to [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you. Until next time. Adios.