One of my favorite aspects of the practice of yoga is that it invites me to create boundary within the postures. I can use my engaged muscles in different postures in different ways to generate a strong boundary in one place for the sake of creating a greater opening somewhere else.
While I find this process simple on the mat, when I encounter a situation that requires saying no off-the-mat, things become a bit more interesting.
On Setting Intentions
A few months back, out of a desire to meet gay men outside of the bars, I started a cooking group only for gay men.
While my intention for the meet up was to connect to potential new friends, I am human after all so I won't lie, a second intention was to increase my potential for dating.
At 37 years old, I consider myself a pretty open person. I have straight friends, gay friends, female friends, and male friends. I connect with people all across the age spectrum, but when it came to my group I decided to draw a line in the sand.
I wanted to hold the boundary of men between the ages of 26-47. I figured — and yes these are generalizations — gay men in their early 20's are still exploring (speaking from my own experience), and I'm pretty clear that for the time being I'm not willing to date a man who is over 10 years my age.
If you are thinking something that starts with the words "Well, what if...", don't worry I'm a Virgo, and in case you don't know, the curse of a Virgoan mind is the ability to deliberate upon 1001 scenarios.
Well, what if an older man in the group has a younger friend that is your future husband? Well, what if you fall in love with a man 15 years older than you and he is your true love? Well, what if there is a mature 25 year old, after all you are willing to date someone ten years older so why not 10 years younger?
The Necessity of Boundaries
It's never ending, but the reality is that I made a choice to hold a boundary. So what always tends to happen after the choice is made? Life sprouts the test.
On my group description I clearly state the age range, but some people miss it so inevitably I receive requests from older and younger men.
In my inbox, I am faced with two large red buttons; accept or decline.
When I hit decline, I have the option to write a little message and explain my verdict. I always do, but I am amazed at how much time I spend looking at the screen, deciding what words to use, how to be clear and not apologize for my boundary, but also remember to be compassionate at the same time.
At moments I feel like an evil person, an ageist, but then I come back to reality.
In life sometimes we need to say "no." It might not feel great in that moment, but it usually has a deeper purpose, can save us energy, and creates a "yes" in another part of our world.
A line in the sand. Not always easy, but a line nonetheless.