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Someone recently asked: "If poly is love with no limits, then how can there be boundaries?"
There are always boundaries that we carry. Loving without limits does not mean becoming a doormat or letting go of personal boundaries. I am going to do the grossest form of ego stroking and quote from my Limitless Love article (please, bear with me as it surprised me when it came out onto paper):
"[...] What good is love if it is only given so that it can be received? Love is. Either you love someone or you don't. I am not talking of the 'stalker' mentality. Nor am I talking about the 'courtly' love that is made so grandiose in pulp fiction. I am talking of the true and abiding caring, the touch upon the heart and soul. That kind of love is something that must just be given - with no expectations, with no limitations. For in loving without limits, you are opening yourself up to loving in truth. You are allowing those in your life to be who and what they are, you are giving them the freedom that they need to be complete. [...]"
Still, though you love to this extent, there are times when you have to say - "I love you; however, I cannot continue in this situation. It is destroying me." This does not necessitate the failure of limitless love, but the acceptance of that person for who they are and realizing that it will not work for you. Just because you cannot live with someone, or you cannot find a reasonable compromise that benefits all concerned, it does not mean that the love is any less.
I think that is one of the hardest lessons for people to learn. It is the unadulterated acceptance of the person, and the lack or requirement for them to change that sometimes means the best way to show your love for that person is to acknowledge that the relationship - as it stands - must be let go for both (or all) of you to continue to love and grow. I often think that is the hardest part of loving someone - realizing that, at times, you just have to let go.
There have been those in my life that I love dearly, I still do; however, I could not deal with the shear volume of people that they slept with. It was degrading and demoralizing to me. I am polyfidelitous, not a swinger. They were more along the lines of the swinger mentality. This was destructive for me, and I had to leave the relationship. We still communicate, and are still dear friends. I just could not live the way they did. I did not place limits on them - I realized the limits that I have, and the boundaries within myself that I cannot cross. And, upon realizing this, I stepped back - told those I love where I stood and that I did not find fault with them, I just had boundaries within myself that I could not cross - and walked a separate path.
It hurt; I will not lie to you. It tore me up to realize that I could not bend enough, I could not go to that extreme within myself, without giving up a part of myself that I could never get back. A part of myself that I hold dear would be lost to me. This did not mean that I did not love those I was with. It did not mean that I held them in less regard for how they lived and loved. Instead, it meant that I had looked within myself and realized that I could not, in honesty to myself, live and love as they did. I tried for a while to find comfort in our love and our family, and found that I could not. I would over analyze. I would fight, daily, with issues that just seemed to dig deeper and deeper into my soul. So, for the sake of our love, and for the honor of those I loved, I stepped back. It was because I wished to love without limits that I honored the boundaries that were within myself. And because they loved me without limits, they realized those boundaries and understood why our relationship had to change structure. They are who they are, and I love them as they are. I just cannot live with them, nor pursue the type of relationship we had, any longer.
So, how can limitless love have boundaries? Why, dear friends, because limits are those things which we place upon others. Boundaries are those things that we place upon ourselves. Love without limits - allow those in your life to be who they are. Love and accept them as they are. All the while, let those people know who you are, and where you stand on certain issues. If it is something that can be compromised on, by all means, do so. However, if it is a black and white line for you or them, then it needs to be realized that this is a person's boundary.
Honor the boundaries of those in your life, for those personal boundaries are part and parcel of that person. Acceptance of the whole person necessitates acceptance of personal boundaries.
by Name Withheld | April 6, 2001