While conversing with friends about dating my male colleague stated that women are often the ones that set the tone within a relationship. I can see where he’s coming from but feel it’s both the male and female that set the tone. Disclaimer: setting the tone isn’t controlling every aspect of the relationship, it’s creating boundaries so that you both feel respected and know how to treat each other.
We all go through life setting/ creating boundaries in how we want to be treated, not just with our partners but family and friends. There has never been a truer saying how you let people treat you in the beginning is a sign of how they will treat you during the relationship. Some people do change but behaviours are often hard to break and require a real conscious effort to do so. They’re patterns of action that we've repeated time and time again.
I've used this example umpteen times but it’s relevant to why setting the tone early on is so important. You probably recall the guy who didn't make time for me. It was easy for me to shift the blame and accuse him of not making me a priority. The fact is I should have set the tone from the start and not settled. I remember a time we had planned to spend some time together and he could only spare a few hours. I’d gotten into the routine of jumping at his beckon call and putting my happiness on the backburner. However on this occasion I put my foot down (and how empowering it felt to have a little control). I stated that he wouldn't be seeing me that day because I didn't want to spend an hours travelling each way for two hours of his time, what's the point? He then backtracked and stated that he could spend the day with me.
The above is an example of why it’s important to set boundaries at the beginning of any relationship. That specific day I set the tone and demonstrated that I wasn't happy and deserve to be treated better. If I had done this at the beginning I could have saved myself a lot of time and heartache. Or he may have made an effort to spend more time with me. He knew I wasn’t happy because I verbalised it but the damage had already been done. I’d let him get away with this behaviour for too long and now wanted to gain back some control. He wasn’t about to change because he didn’t want too and probably felt like it wasn’t an issue for the first few months so why do I want to change the pace/routine now?
Ladies if you let a man treat you like a booty call it’s rare that the relationship will evolve into anything serious. Why would it? This man is used to having you at his beckon call and now three months later you want to switch things up. It doesn't quite work like that. Men if you let your lady disrespect you and treat you a certain way in the first stages of dating/ relationship it’s likely they will continue this behaviour and it may even get worse.
You can’t have a wishy washy attitude and then complain when you’re not being treated the way you want. Your partner will eventually pick up on this and may lose respect or not take the relationship seriously. Setting the tone tells your partner how they should treat you and how you expect to be treated.
If the relationship starts out like this you can’t expect it to change when you finally decide to speak up. The habits have already been set and the behaviour will become second nature. It’s imperative that you set the tone from the get go and stick with it. Setting boundaries doesn’t always mean things will go your way but you can help push things in the right direction.
Setting the tone is about knowing what's important to you and what isn't, and being prepared to walk away from the relationship over the most important things.