Monday, June 16, 2008

Book Review: Boundaries In Dating

Book Review: Boundaries in Dating by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (2000).

I really enjoyed this book (except the cover - definitely not guy friendly). I have not read any of the “Boundaries” books before but found this one to be really informative, practical, and Christian. In many ways, the title of the book is a misnomer. Although there is certainly much in the book about boundaries in dating, this book is really a treatise on Christian dating in general. It is not just "boundaries" but a philosophy and theology of dating as well. I wish that I had read this book many years ago when I was in the dating stage and found myself seeing myself and others in the many stories sprinkled liberally throughout the book.

A new idea for me was taking the idea of boundaries (in dating) beyond just the physical realm. Personal boundaries about respect, values, time, control, and blame and applied in the world of dating made a lot of sense to me and I can certainly see this being an issue in many of the couples and individuals who I have counseled in the past. Before I saw dating boundary errors only in the sexual realm (which is also discussed) but my view is expanded significantly. If you aren't able to stand up for your boundary of say, having your date be honest with you, how can you expect them to stand up to your boundary of staying sexually pure? It sounds like common sense but I had never put the two together before.

Two (of many) nuggets of wisdom stood out to me: one was that to be happy in a relationship, you need to be happy without one. This was my experience and I have been telling people this for years, but the authors explain it really well and show grimly what happens if this rule is not followed. The second was in relationships, you get what you tolerate. When we allow someone to get away with things, we enable them to be less then mature with us. I found that to be a very powerful thought and hope it will be a way to help motivate clients to enforce their boundaries (and take responsibility for their own part in it).

I will definitely be using this book with clients in the near future and would also like to try doing psychoeducational seminars or groups with it as well (pairing it with the workbook). It's quite readable and I would highly recommend it for anyone who is dating or wishes to be in the near future. It will teach you what to look for (and watch out for) in your dating choices, how to work on your personal issues that might effect your ability to attract mature future mates, and teaches great ideas for all sorts of common dating issues. It's probably best for those in the 18-30 year old bracket. Recommended at 4.8 ninja stars out of 5.


Mark said...

A slight afterthought: This book was written partially as a response to the Book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." Unlike the aforementioned book, the authors do not discourage dating, instead they see that like "courting" dating has its own benefits and challenges/dangers. They see many benefits to dating and so they recommend that people date and to date several people so that they don't become attached or fused to the first or second person they date without first knowing what they want and if they are ready for a committed relationship. Not everyone likes this. I recently talked to a colleague who "hated" this book and didn't read it past the first chapter or two. This person was totally put off by the idea of dating many people and thought that it wasn't "her." This may be true for some people. But since most people will end up dating, I still think this book is a great guide for doing it in a Christian way . . .

Lifelines said...

Have you read How to Find a Date Worth Keeping by Dr. Henry Cloud? It sounds very similar to Boundaries in Dating. It's views are totally opposite of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which I had my kids read in their teens (they do roll their eyes at me when I mention it, but I still think it was a good book! :) In How to Find a Date.. Dr. Cloud encourages young adults (I think it's written more for the 20-30 something crowd, rather than teens) to NOT see dating as looking for a mate, but to see it as a way to get to know themselves better, get out of their comfort zone, as well as figure out what they really want in a lifelong partner. It's written, I believe, for those who are more introverted and need encouragement to get out there. Very practical -- He gives 'assignments' beginning from very basic (i.e. talk to a stranger today and learn something about them) to complex. Interesting read.

Mark said...

Thanks Aneta, I will check that book out!

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