In today’s video, I’m going to talk about discovering values and defining your boundaries in dating and relationships.

Read or watch below to hear my thoughts on boundaries and values in dating.

Zachary Stockill: On this channel and my blog, I talk a lot about boundaries, red flags, and values in relationships and dating. What are the good signs that you should be looking out for in a potential long-term mate? What are the warning signs you should be looking out for when you’re looking for a partner to have a long-term relationship? A lot of people, including myself, have very strong feelings about red flags and all the rest. 

In other words, very clear warning signs that maybe the person you’re dating isn’t suitable for a long-term relationship. 

boundaries and values in dating

However, as you approach this issue of vetting someone for a potential future relationship, you need to keep in mind the most important component of having values and boundaries when you’re dating. 

So a lot of guys talk a big game about their red flags, boundaries, and values in dating. 

In other words, they’re dating a woman, and they say they spot a red flag, and they immediately bail or they spot many red flags, and they immediately bail or they know what their dealbreakers are. They know what they’re not prepared to live with. They know what they’re not prepared to deal with. A lot of guys talk a big game about this stuff. 

However, it seems to me in practice, a lot of guys neglect the most crucial component of having red flags, having clear boundaries in your dating life. And that is:

Having the courage to live true to your boundaries and your deal breakers.

And when necessary, having the courage to walk away. 

For example, a lot of guys, again, talk a big game, and they’re fixated on perhaps the girlfriend’s past. And they see all these red flags and they know in their heart are a clear deal breaker. All these clear warning signs that the person they’re entering a long-term relationship with is not really suitable long term. They know that the woman they’re dating is not the best choice for a long-term relationship for them. And they know deep down that they probably should let this woman go. 

Yet still, they don’t. They don’t have the courage to live true to their values. They don’t have the courage to live true to what they say they believe. 

Because there is a huge difference between saying you have values and living true to them. 

A lot of people talk about the former, a lot of people love to talk about their values, yet, they don’t really live true to them. They don’t really exemplify them or demonstrate that they’re living true to them in any meaningful way. 

So, what does it look like to live true to your values? Now, this is going to sound kind of obnoxious to some of the people watching, but I’ll use myself as an example. Now, I want to be clear, I have not always had the courage to live true to my own values.

So in sharing this example, I’m not trying to say oh, look at me, I’m so perfect. I always have the courage to live true to this stuff. I know, it’s not easy, I know. It’s hard. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at this process. 

So what is an example of having dealbreakers of having certain boundaries in your relationship, and having the courage to live true to them? 

In my 20s, I was dating a remarkable woman who I had a great connection with. And she was absolutely wonderful in all kinds of ways. She was loyal and trustworthy, we had a great intellectual connection. She was fun. I absolutely adored this woman. We’ve been dating for about a year and the time came when she hit that point, which many people do, where she was ready for a family. She wanted to have kids, she wanted to get married. And she wanted to do those things with me. 

Now, if I had taken the approach of a lot of guys, frankly, what would a lot of guys do in that scenario? They would string her along, because they liked the girl, they liked the sex, they liked the attention, they liked the affection, and they have a scarcity mentality around dating. And on some level, they feel like if I lose this woman, that’s it for me, I’m never going to find a woman as amazing as this ever again. So they won’t live true to their values. They won’t live true to their boundaries. 

Because if they feel like they’re not ready for marriage, kids moving in together, whatever, my feeling is, they need to be 100% upfront and honest about that for the benefit of everyone involved. 

In my view, there are certain goals that you should have for your life that are above any one person. 

And you shouldn’t compromise on those goals. Because when you compromise on those goals, everything in your life suffers as a result, including your relationship.

So to go back to my example, at that particular phase of life that I was in, I was in no way ready to be a father, to be a husband, to be living with someone. 

I had big goals in my business my work in my professional life that I was working towards. I had big, audacious plans for the future. And I wasn’t in a financial state that could handle having a family depending on me. 

And so what did I do? I was honest about that with my girlfriend at the time, I told her how much I loved her and how much I cared for her. But I had to be honest: I told her that I can’t give you these things right now. And I don’t know when I’ll be able to, it might be a long time. And what happened? She walked away, as she should have. 

You shouldn’t compromise on boundaries and values in dating that are deeply meaningful and important to you.

Whether it’s related to your career, your mission as a man or as a woman, or things like having kids and wanting to get married. I knew that was important to her. So she should have left me to go pursue those things. And that’s exactly what she did. I’m glad that we made that decision. 

So everything worked out well. Because neither one of us was willing to compromise on our core relationship values; on our core goals, as human beings, that are above any one person, above any one relationship. That’s what it means to have boundaries in your dating life, boundaries in your relationship life, and live true to them.

And again, I got better at this the older I became. But I wish I had been more clear about this stuff earlier. Because it isn’t always easy when you meet someone, and you fall in love and you adore this person, and the sex is great. And things are going so well. And you don’t have shared values, and boundaries; it isn’t easy to walk away from that person. 

But quite often, that is the best thing to do for everyone involved. Quite often, that’s the most loving thing to do. Going back to my example, I cared deeply about this woman. I know she had certain goals, boundaries, and things that she was working towards, that she shouldn’t compromise on.

Breakups are painful, breakups hurt, but I knew long-term what she wanted, I couldn’t give her and I wanted her to have those things. 

boundaries and values in dating

One of the worst things anyone can do in dating is compromise on your core values and waste everyone’s time. Because if I had compromised on my core values, I would have been miserable, and I would have been resentful. No one would have been served by that. I wouldn’t have been a good boyfriend or husband because I’d be feeling resentful. It would be because I was compromising on my core boundaries, and my core relationship needs. 

Similarly, if she had been willing to compromise on her core boundaries on her relationship needs, she would have been miserable over time, too. Because again, that sense of resentment would build because she’s not living true to who she really is. She’s not living true to her values, and her boundaries.

So think hard about what you want and what you don’t. And then, by all means, have the courage to live true to that. Because the most important component of having values is living true to them, no matter what the cost is.

If you or someone you know are struggling with retroactive jealousy, then please check out my online course “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast”.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.