Your ability to communicate your values, principles, and boundaries is crucial to the success of any relationship, especially a romantic one. Your sharing of them can be done in many different ways. You might convey them verbally, in writing, through a disapproving look, or by leaving.
What’s important is that you stay true to your values, principles, and boundaries. This requires that you take a stand. Taking a stand means if any of these areas are violated that you say or do what is necessary to let the violator know that you disapprove or are not pleased. You do this even at the risk of losing the relationship, the opportunity to have sex, or the chance to get married. This is where courage plays a key role.
The first thing you need to do, however, is to clearly identify and define your values, principles, and boundaries. The goal is to have instant recall of them. One of the best ways to do that is to describe them in writing. This process will implant them in your mind. Then they will guide you automatically, via your subconscious mind and/or intuition (or gut feelings), as you meet and interact with people.
You might call this document your personal operating manual (POM). In it, you would have clear descriptions of your values, principles, and boundaries. You might also include your preferences, likes, dislikes, etc. You can do it with lists or in more detail. Whatever works for you to cement them in your mind is fine.
Then, if you’re brave enough, offer people close to you the opportunity to read it. Offering it to a new romantic partner whom you are very interested in would be very worthwhile. Not only will they come to clearly know your values, principles, and boundaries, but also you’ll likely be able to determine if they are a good match for you based on their response. You might even ask them to give you the same information.
You could offer it to them in a playful, casual, or straightforward way. You can tell them that they can ask any questions or make any comments they want after they have read it completely. If you want to go deeper, you could ask them how your values, principles, and boundaries align with theirs. If you’re really feeling bold, you could also ask them if they are willing and able to respect and honor them.
I know this is a very unusual, methodical, and comprehensive method for building a romantic relationship. However, given the success rate and dissatisfaction of most partnerships and marriages, perhaps the time has come for a more conscious, direct, and intelligent approach.
How to Create a Personal Operating Manual (POM)
Here are some ideas on what you might include in your POM.
- List of your values.
- List of your principles.
- List of your boundaries (deal breakers).
- List of your communication styles.
- List of your conflict resolution methods.
- List of your philosophical ethics.
- List of your political ideals
- List of your spiritual/religious beliefs.
- List of “must haves” in a partner/friend (positive, supportive, listener.).
- List of “cannot haves” in a partner/friend (negative, critical, talker).
- List of behavior you like (punctuality, politeness).
- List of behavior you dislike (tardiness, discourtesy).
- List of your favorite places.
- List of places you do not like.
- List of your favorite activities.
- List of activities you do not like.
- List of people you admire.
- List of people you dislike.
- List of your goals (e-business, Ph.D.).
- List of your dreams (new house, wealth).
If you really want to add some gravity and formality to your manual create a title, copyright, terms-of-use, and introduction pages. Then convert it to a PDF format for secure online distribution (e.g. email) or print a copy and put it in a soft cover binder with fasteners.
Once you have finished making your personal operating manual offer it to people close to you, especially your potential or current romantic partner. To solidify it in your mind and keep it active in your daily life, review it periodically.
I created a personal operating manual template for you. It is in Microsoft Word format. Here it is.