It is confusing to be in relationships and not know where we stand – whether this is on the job, in a friendship, with family members, or in a love relationship. We have a right to be direct about how we define the relationship – what we want it to be. But relationships equal two people who have equal rights. The other person needs to be able to define the relationship too. We have a right to know, and ask. So do they.
Honesty is the best policy.
We can set boundaries. If someone wants a more intense relationship than we do, we can be clear and honest about what we want, about our intended level of participation. We can tell the person what to reasonably expect from us, because that is what we want to give. How the person deals with that is his or her issue. Whether or not we tell the person is ours…
The clearer we can become on defining relationships, the more we can take care of ourselves in that relationship. We have a right to our boundaries, wants, and needs. So does the other person. We can not force someone to be in a relationship or to participate at a level we desire if he or she does not want to. All of us have a right not to be forced.
Information is a powerful tool, and having the information about what a particular relationship is – the boundaries and definitions of it – will empower us to take care of ourselves in it.
-From The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie, pp. 236-237.