Boundaries & Standards In Relationships

Feb 22, 2021 | boundaries, featured, Getting Back Out There, Getting Past Your Breakup, standards

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 


In both books, I write about the importance of boundaries. In Getting Back Out There, I give you the Standards and Compatibility Inventory. In the workbook, I give you additional exercises for all these things, plus observation and a whole bunch of other things to make GOOD CHOICES, to HEAL your broken chooser.  In the  Power Affirmations booklet, I give you over 100 pages of how to raise your self-esteem so that you are never ever ever hoodwinked by anyone again. So that you never try to get your self-esteem from some broken down loser who isn’t qualified to breathe the same air you do.

Why? Because when there are no standards and boundaries in the beginning, people just latch onto other people (for various reasons) and dismiss big red flags because they are “in love.”

Whoopeee….how many of us have ever been in love?  All of us. Multiple times. It’s NOT the be-all, end-all of the world.

It happens. It should NOT happen in a vacuum…without figuring out if your person lines up with your standards.  Not just for TODAY but for the long-term. How do you know that? You have to stand back and figure that out. Observe. Try to be objective. Don’t fall for bullshit. Note pink flags. Note inconsistencies. Don’t be swept away by “in love.” That and $100 will get  you some coffee at Starbucks. 

But EVERY SINGLE DAY I hear this, “I was in love…” “But I love (him/her)”….and they wind up moving in, sometimes having children, sometimes marrying, despite the fact that this person has these glaring issues that you are choosing to ignore.

Someone told me, just yesterday, “But I love him.” SO WHAT? I’ve had gold fish that I love but if it was coming home at night drunk and disorderly, I would flush it down the bowl.

The feeling of love is besides the point. People break up everyday with people they love. Because the person or the situation is no good for them any longer. There are BHs who break up for the wrong reasons, but there are people who break up for the right reasons…I love you but I can’t live like this any more.

There are people who stay together “for the children” which says “I love my children enough to keep them living in misery with this miserable person.” Well, good for you. Parent. Of. The. Year.  Children should not live with two parents who don’t love each other or one doesn’t love the other and is behaving badly.  What the HELL are you teaching them? 

Love is an action.
It’s not a thumping in your chest or a warmth in your crotch. It’s how you ACT. It’s how another acts toward you. It’s not about hormones and pheremones. It’s about ACTION. How does one act? In his or her life? With his or her people? HOW DO THEY ACT? If they act like an imbecile or an irresponsible moron or a jerk, chances are you’re going to be on the end of that act sooner rather than later.

I don’t know where “but I love him/her” is going to take you. It’s not helping you now. It’s not helping you later. Any nonsense about “I respect my marriage vows” is just that, nonsense. “I respect my marriage vows…” when applied to a situation where someone is cheating on you translates to “I’m a fool.” The same is true for “I’m a good person…” and “because I love him/her.”


In order to become healthy you need to learn to step back from that which is no good for you. And that means in the end BUT ESPECIALLY in the beginning where you have information that tells you STRAIGHT UP “This is not going to end well.” And many times, even if there is great “chemistry” or lust or “we seem to read each other’s minds!” or some such crap like that, the person is, and ultimately will prove to be, NO GOOD FOR YOU.

I have counseled people of late who knew that someone did not take care of the kids they already had and yet, in this age of LOTS AND LOTS of readily available birth control, decided to have a child with that deadbeat and then, guess what? Mr. Wonderful does not take care of that baby. So, really? REALLY? You brought another child into this world to struggle without an involved father? We have enough of those, honestly. A generation or two from now kids are going to be on the rampage and we’re going to be wondering what the hell they’re so angry at.

I have counseled people where their partner is in some kind of legal trouble…back taxes, lied on unemployment benefits, ex is suing for some reason, got into a fight, has lots of unpaid speeding/parking tickets, DUIs etc etc.

If this person has these things, STAY AWAY from him or her. One of these things is a HUGE red flag that says “Irresponsible, doesn’t get flustered over trouble that normal people get flustered over…” and you DON’T want to clean up these messes. I don’t care if you don’t learn about it until months into the relationship, it’s NOT good news.

I have counseled people where, as a gay couple, one person was not out to their parents or friends and the other was out to everyone. I do know a couple where this works because they don’t live near either family (and when I say not near, the parents live in NYC and vicinity and the couple lives in London). But for the most part that is NOT going to work.

I have counseled people where one is a homebody and one likes to go out. I had a friend who said of his girlfriend, “The minute I put an engagement ring on her finger we’ll be spending every weekend gardening and watching TV.” He liked to go out and he knew that when she said she wanted to settle down, she wanted to settle DOWN and he wanted her to settle with her. She was NOT going to accept his galivanting ways once a ring was on her finger, which she assumed was forthcoming.

No, it wasn’t. He broke up with her and she never even knew why. They were together almost a year and he couldn’t move it forward because they were basically incompatible. He knew this from week 3 or 4 but let it go on for almost a year. (Now, there are plenty of couples where one likes to socialize and one is a homebody and it can work if they trust each other and  accept each other’s preferences…you can go out and I’ll stay home…or you can stay home most of the time unless there is something I really want you with me [a company picnic for example].) 

I have counseled people where one person gets sloppy drunk too often, smokes too much pot or has a “thing” for pills and the other person LOOKS THE OTHER WAY. When the relationship is in shambles because of these addictions, they act surprised.


I have counseled people on porn addiction. Very very destructive addiction. Experts agree that pornography is an enemy of committed relationships. Research over many years has proven this  over and over again. It does not have a place in a committed relationship.

Acting out over the internet or just passively watching too much of it (it’s addictive) and not being able to stop (that’s the deal with it) is pornography addiction. The minute, THE MINUTE, someone reveals this, you should be running the other way. RUNNING. Like your hair in on fire. If you move in and suddenly discover it, MOVE OUT. If someone asks you to participate in pornographic type videos, the answer is NO. Do not ever take any photo or video you wouldn’t show to your grandmother. And if someone asks you to do so, RUN the other way. 

I have counseled people where someone has a DV charge or domestic assault and they wave it away like it was the other person’s fault. NEVER EVER EVER look past a DV charge or domestic assault because I guarantee that is going to be you calling 911 in short order.

I have counseled people whose partner has inappropriate relationships with others, be it an ex or flirting with people at a social event. The first time the wandering eye wanders, GET OUT.

I have counseled people whose ex won’t stay and commit and won’t let go. They keep someone dancing like a fish on the end of a line and the person happily dances.

Dance. Dance. Dance.

Stay in that destructive dance and you’ll find yourself up on the dock gasping for air. I GUARANTEE IT.

I have counseled people who want to stay because if they leave they “feel like a failure.” How is being rid of a bananahead who does not treat you right being a failure? How is the BH walking out making YOU a failure? It doesn’t. This is all nonsense self-talk designed to keep you tethered to someone who is NO GOOD FOR YOU.

There are many many others. Too many to name. Lots of lack of standards and boundaries early on and then giving it up completely later on. HAVE STANDARDS AND BOUNDARIES IN THE BEGINNING.

This is a SHORTENED, Handy Dandy Check List from the Workbook


GPYB is a program that was developed in the 1990s and continues to evolve as new studies and research come out in neuroscience and other disciplines that inform this incredibly effective program, which is the MOST SUCCESSFUL BREAKUP PROGRAM IN THE WORLD, but it is successful ONLY if you do it as it's supposed to be done: 

These are the Tools:   

1. The GPYB book: Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened to You  (Available wherever books are sold).

2. The GBOT book: Getting Back Out There: Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After The Big Breakup (Available wherever books are sold).

3. The Workbook:  Getting Past Your Past:  The Definitive Workbook to Health, Healing and Happiness  Available for instant download HERE

4. Advanced Affirmations: Power! Affirmations Booklet  Available for instant download HERE

5. The GPYB Blog Posts: https://gettingpastyourbreakup.com/all-posts

6. The GPYP YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/gettingpastyourpast

7. The MLT podcast https://www.meanladytalking.com (listen on whatever podcast app you use or on YouTube - please comment on YouTube!)

8. The FB groups and pages 


Phase One:

  • If you do not yet have the books, you can start the program with the workbook which is available for INSTANT DOWNLOAD (see link above in red). 

  • The workbook will help guide you through the program.  

    Reading through the workbook will familiarize you with the program concepts and terminology. The workbook goes more in-depth about OBSERVATION which is a very important part of this program. Don't skip over observation.  So right away, start reading about observation. Also read the Journaling chapter in the book and workbook and start journaling.  

  • Start reading the first book, Getting Past Your Breakup. You do not have to start at page 1 and go forward. BUT, you should read about the Roadmap to Healing so you understand how the different parts of the program work together. It's about BALANCE - working the bad stuff out (grief, contact, etc.) and working the GOOD stuff in (self-care, affirmations, building a new life).  Become familiar with the free resources on Youtube and the podcast.  This is a TON of free material that helps to reinforce the principles of the program.  Please subscribe to the Youtube channel and/or the podcast.

  • If contact is an issue, go to the No Contact chapter in the book and this workbook. Watch the NC videos and listen to the NC Mean Lady Talking podcasts on the GPYP YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/gettingpastyourpast You can also listen to the Mean Lady Talking podcast on major podcast providers. Go to the MLT Home page https://www.meanladytalking.com and scroll down to see a list of podcast providers.  You can also listen to the podcast on the GPYB Youtube channel.  Go to the link above and subscribe. You can also read No Contact articles on the GPYB website.

  • Even though you may be JUST off a breakup and a long way from dating, get Getting Back Out There – the 2 books work together and you need to read GBOT material LONG before you are ready to date. If you are serious about this program, you MUST get both books FROM THE BEGINNING.

  • Read these most important chapters in the book and workbook and do the exercises EVERY SINGLE DAY: Observation, Journaling, Affirmations (including Gratitude Lists and Self-Care.)  Start doing affirmations ASAP.  Make sure you are journaling every day. Make sure you are starting Gratitude Lists and Self-Care

  • If you have children, read Chapter 5 in Getting Past Your Breakup and Chapter 7 in Getting Back Out There.

  • Review the blog posts on Getting Past Your Breakup. If you have questions, there have been over 2500 articles written since 2004.  Because of copyright infringers, only a handful is available at any one time. If there is a TOPIC you want a post on, please email gpyb.com@gmail.com with the subject line: Requested Post or susan@gettingpastyourbreakup.com

  • Review the GPYP YouTube videos and the Mean Lady Talking podcasts at https://www.meanladytalking.com. These materials will help you become comfortable with working through the books and workbook.

  • Review the Boundaries material in both books and this workbook.

Phase Two:

  • Re-read Chapter One in GPYB: The Roadmap to Healing about balancing grief and self-care. Design a self-care regiment.

  • Read the Grief Chapter in GPYB a few times. Go to the Grief chapter in this workbook and start working through the exercises.  Pay attention to the description of the "acceptance and integration" phase of grief.  When you've done your grief work, and arrive there, you will be able to think of the good times and the happy memories without a lot of pain.  That is how you know you've truly worked through the grief. 

  • Review the PODCAST episodes and the YOUTUBE videos on grief and loss.

Phase Three

  • When you have a solid foundation of NC, affirmations, journaling and self-care and are not falling apart in grief, or being driven crazy with obsession, you can start the Relationship Inventory. This is usually after 8-12 weeks, but it can take much longer. It’s okay if you’re not ready at 8 weeks or even at 12 weeks. For some people, it can take months or even a full year before you’re ready to do the Relationship Inventory. Do it only when you are ready.

  • Now it’s time to really start applying GBOT. Again – this is NOT a book for when you’re READY to date. It’s a book to GET you ready for a healthy relationship LONG before you are ready to date. The two books are guidebooks and should be used as such. They should be opened every day while you’re going through this process.

  • As you work through your Relationship Inventory in GPYB, open GBOT to Chapter 4, The Standards and Compatibility Inventory. As some issues, problems, red flags, etc., come up in Relationship Inventory START THIS. Out of all the things you’re going to work on between the two books and the workbook, this is one of the MOST important. It is IMPORTANT to do the 2 things together. 

  • As you work through your Relationship Inventory, pull out the worksheets in this workbook for the Standards and Compatibility Inventory and the You/Me list.  These things work together.  Use the "Getting Back Out There" exercises in the workbook (the S&C and the You/Me List) as you work on your relationship inventory.  If you don't do this, you could forget a lot of things that need to be on one or the other.  This work is hard sometimes - especially when you're dating - to "STAY FAITHFUL" to the work.  Doing these pieces of work together HELPS greatly when you're out there again. 

  • Read Chapters 8, 9, 10 and Epilogue in GBOT. These chapters are about what kind of relationship and what kind of partner you want. If you don’t figure this out LONG before you are ready to date, you will fail again. Start to formulate what kind of partner you want NOW. Journal about what your “3 a.m. person” looks like.

  • Write Commitment Statements as instructed in the Affirmation chapter of this workbook and/or the Affirmation Booklet. Commit to leaving any potential mate the minute they exhibit “Not Acceptable” behavior or are missing a “Must Have.” Use the Power! Affirmations booklet to advance your affirmation practice.

  • While reading these chapters, journal about Accept It, Change It or Leave, Communication Issues and Habits and Lifestyles. Think about what you do and do not want in a partner. Continue the commitment statements.

  • Review Chapters 8 and 9 in GBOT, “The Early Relationship” and the “Couples Inventory” and journal about what is healthy and what is not. Think about your previous relationships and what you do and do not want.

  • Continue to review the GBOT chapters every week, at least once a week. Keep asking yourself what kind of partner you want and need. Keep reviewing healthy and unhealthy communication patterns.

  • Finish your Relationship Inventory and Your Letter and Letting Go Ritual. Recycling in grief is NORMAL. 

  • After you start feeling good, you will kick back into the emotional soup again at some point.  It's okay. It's temporary.  Review THIS POST on recycling. 

Phase Four

  • Open the Life Inventory/Mother Inventory/Father Inventory in GPYB....with the idea of what you want - it's time to think about what you've had as far as relationships go and the influence of early caregivers (or absence caregivers).

  • When you’ve done the Life and Parent Inventories, it’s time to return to GBOT and do the Sexual Inventory if you need to.

  • If you are ready to work on Overdeveloped Defense Mechanisms, go to the Overdeveloped Defense Mechanism chapter in this workbook.

  • Now is the time to read the Real Love Chapter in GPYB and the first 3 chapters of GBOT. Good luck!

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