Stay Safe and Stop Getting Hurt By Setting Dating Rules

Over 50 woman in leather

Can you define your dating rules and boundaries?

If your answer is no or if you’re not sure, STOP right now and take 7 minutes to read this. Because if you want to stay safe…if you want to stop getting hurt, I guarantee that you can have far more control of that than you are taking.

Here is just some of what your life may look like if you haven’t clearly set your dating and relationship rules and boundaries:

  • You have fallen for more than one man with whom you felt unsafe, unseen, or unappreciated and in hindsight realized that you stayed too long. (Often it didn’t end until he ended it.)
  • You struggle with deciding things like whether to allow a man to pick you up, or kiss you, or come inside your home, or share your bed.
  • You’ve made bad decisions that have threatened your physical, emotional, and/or spiritual safety but not realized it or reflected on it until after it’s happened.
  • You fall for men quickly with consistently bad results. (That includes jumping into bed with them.)
  • You constantly worry about what the man might want, think, or feel and you react to him based on that. (Rather than what you might want, think, or feel.)
  • You are pissed off at men and/or afraid to trust them.

Whew! Do any of these sound like you?

(An aside before I move on to tell you exactly how to avoid all this self-inflicted pain: there is no stone-throwing here, sister. This describes decades of my dating life before I learned to Date Like a Grownup.)

Why do smart women like us get in these situations?

There are a lot of reasons why we date guys or stay in relationships that make us unhappy, feel like shit about ourselves, or even scare us.

Or why we worry so much about what men are thinking or if we might hurt their feelings.

Or why we do things for and with men that have us look back with a giant “WTF was I thinking???”

Where we are powerful, clear, and decisive in all other parts of our lives, why is it that we can regress back to our 18-year-old so damn easily when it comes to men?

After dating for 30 years and helping women over-40 find love since 2006, I know the ‘whys’ of this. You probably know too. It’s about being a “good girl.” And it’s a lot about self-worth and self-awareness…or lack thereof.

That’s some tough stuff that started early on in our lives and not something I can guide you through understanding in one article. (Here is where you can learn how I can help you understand yourself, your actions and your reactions.) 

What I am going to do here is show you how, by defining dating rules and boundaries, you place yourself  can

Rules and boundaries keep us safe in life AND in love.  

Follow speed limits. Manage your emotions in public and at work. Keep your door locked. Treat others as you would want to be treated. These are examples of life’s rules and boundaries that give you valuable guidance in helping you remain safe physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

These limits are equally important to keep you safe and stop you from getting hurt while dating and on your journey to love.  

There are two types of boundaries. The ones you set for yourself and the ones you expect others to follow. Like in Since you can only control YOU, this exercise is about your boundaries for yourself.


Setting, communicating, and maintaining your dating boundaries is key to making healthy choices, attracting the right men, staying safe, and enjoying an overall positive experience.

These are your dating and relationship rules. Promise yourself to follow them regardless of who the man is and how eager you are.

Doing this NOW, and updating as you continue to have new experiences and learn more about yourself, will keep you SAFE:
Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.

To get you started, here are some examples:

  • I will take my time getting to know a man.  I will not allow him to rush me into a relationship, rush me into being sexual or anything else.
  • I will not be afraid of disagreements or feel threatened by the idea that he won’t like me if I don’t do what he says or I don’t agree with him.
  • I will date men who aren’t my “type” and keep my mind open. 
  • In challenging situations I will listen to my heart and head; paying attention to my feelings but not forgetting to check in with my grownup gal before making decisions.
  • I will no longer be afraid if the relationship does not work out at any stage and I will feel free to end it if I don’t feel I’m getting my must-haves.    
  • I will debrief every date so I continue to learn and make every date a positive experience.
  • I will show up as my best self on every date. (And if she’s not there,  use my skills to bring her out.)
  • I will continue to learn new information and skills to assure I offer him the very best me, make good choices and know how to create and maintain a great relationship.
  • Every day I will work on creating opportunities to meet new men.
  • I will not have any intimate relations with a man until ‘x,y and z’ happens.
  • I will not allow a man to know where I live until x, y and z happens.
  • I will continue to practice my preventative gremlin techniques and not allow my gremlins to control me.
  • I will continue to live and enjoy my great life and make this man-thing a part of it. I will be patient and won’t get overly focused or obsessed.


You’ve asked yourself questions like: What do I need to do or not do to set myself up to make good choices? What do I expect others to do in order for me to be happy? How must I act in order to retain my self-respect and dignity? What will I not tolerate in myself or in others?

These women all have one thing in common: they lack self-awareness. Months and sometimes years went by without paying attention to their own needs. They never considered what they bring to the table and what they expect from their partner. They just went along.

They also never considered what their responsibility was to themselves and to the men they meet.

One of my coaching clients, Tamara, is a perfect example. She is 56, beautiful, successful and wonderfully kind. She jumped very quickly into a  relationship with a man who picked her. He was very controlling. It lasted for 2 years. With my coaching support, she finally ended it.

Tamara wanted to find a good man and fall in love, but her search had gone nowhere. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised: though she was super smart and accomplished, she had no clarity about herself or her expectations when it came to men.

She had no idea how to date men or pick men in any way other than the way she’d been doing it. She had no idea what she was looking for and she really had no clue how to take care of herself along the way.

Yet she kept looking, finding the same guy and staying too long.


When Tamara completed Step 2 of my 6-step Find Hope and Find Him system she had some major breakthroughs (as many women do).

This is where I help women answer the question: “I’m Fabulous So What’s the Damn Problem?”  I help you define what’s standing in your way, what patterns need breaking and what you will do to get past your barriers.

Then we take what you learn and create your ground rules. And here’s the important part: These aren’t the rules for him; they are for yourself.

It’s about setting yourself up for dating success by creating a foundation that assures you get to that You Win! Box with grace, dignity and with a good man by your side.

Tamara did a spectacular job on this step of my program. Here are some of her rules:

  • I will take my time getting to know a man. I will not allow him to rush me into a relationship, rush me into being sexual or anything else.
  • I will “be present” on dates by listening to what he says, asking questions or commenting on what I hear, and not be afraid to do so.  I will be open about myself (within reason) and my interests.
  • I will not allow a man to snap at me or be judgmental towards me without me calling him on his behavior.
  • I will not retract into my shell if he disagrees with what I have to say or want to do.  I will no longer go along to get along.  I won’t disagree disagreeably but I won’t be silent either.
  • I will think about whether I like him and use that conclusion to decide whether I want to see him again.  I will no longer focus entirely upon whether he likes me and be insecure about him breaking up with me.
  • I will not be afraid of disagreements or feel threatened by the idea that he won’t like me if I don’t do what he says or don’t agree with him.
  • I will no longer be afraid if the relationship does not work out at any stage and I will feel free to end it if I don’t feel it is working for me.

There you go. Tamara rocked it. These are clear rules that she can now use to guide her actions, feelings and decisions. You can see that, right?

Doing all that is in your power to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually is your responsibility. That’s what dating like a grownup is all about. (Principle #3 of dating like a grownup is “Take Responsibility for Your Actions and Outcomes.”

Now it’s your turn. Take control of your dating life. What dating and relationship rules can you adopt to make your romantic life more fun and more successful?

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