It would seem that a boundary has already been crossed if infidelity has been an issue within a relationship–true, that. But, what next? Do you accept your mate’s profuse promises, apologies and tears? Of course, it could go in the other direction: anger, defense, accusatory remarks. Either way, boundaries need to be set, even if you’re the one in the throes of emotional upheaval. You need to be able to sit in your sorrow and resentment without interference from your mate: boundary. You need to be allowed to get through the myriad of feelings that are bouncing off the walls. Your mate must respect that you can’t have a chat about his/her side of the story yet, or don’t want to listen to an apology again, or don’t even want to hear the sound of his/her voice. Hopefully (it’s practically a given), you’ll seek guidance from a professional to help you through the murkiness which will enable you to breathe easier and regain your equilibrium. Make no mistake, it will take time. FYI–repression, enabling and denial do not pave the way toward a healthier you.
By the way, I’m specifically talking about boundaries when the possibility of mending the relationship exists after an infidelity, although you can adapt this to your relationship in any way you see fit. Creating boundaries is not easy for most. Initially it’s uncomfortable and may induce anxiety: What if my mate gets angry? Threatens? What if I’m left alone? Chances are, he/she is not going to like having a boundary placed and will express it in a way that could induce even more anxiety, yet, believe it or not, it’s a huge positive learning curve for both involved. Boundaries are a good thing, but they have to be reasonable, not vindictive, etc., and should be discussed with your go-to person until you’re both comfortable with the concept. I can not stress that enough, otherwise, an already delicate situation could become misunderstood and distorted.
So, what if you create a boundary, but don’t stick to it? If you give in too soon, you lose credibility, which may be challenged and harder to regain the next time around. If you wait too long, you may create more conflict. Your mate may feel you’re stuck in an issue, being self-centered and not looking at the big picture. These are broad strokes and speculative, but you get the idea. Each situation is unique and should be dealt with according to the needs of the couple. It’s rare that two people are at the same level of growth (that part of a relationship tends to make me crazy, but I get it). One size definitely does not fit all. Each individual has to sort through their own issues, and those of the relationship.
For the record, I’ve done my fair share of boundary making. Gratefully, I was with someone who understood the importance of this. He definitely didn’t like it at first, but he cared and respected me enough to see it through. He also had to draw a couple with me! Contrary to my own popular believe, I do not have all the answers. And you know what? I gained so much insight: about myself, him, our relationship and relationships as a whole. Thankfully there are no boundaries on learning!