Yet in among the excitement, it’s important to remember what your relationship expectations were before you met this person, and to shape the dynamic accordingly. You don’t want to get in over your head and hurt yourself—or your new partner, of course. Setting boundaries isn’t about prudishness, or removing spontaneity from proceedings—it just means laying out basic parameters within this burgeoning romance and maintaining clear and open communication so you both know where you stand. If your new partner disregards your boundaries, well—you’ve done yourself a favor by finding out now. If they respect your boundaries, together you can grow a joyous, fulfilling, and potentially long-term relationship, always aware of what the other wants and expects. So today let’s explore 5 key ways you can set your boundaries from the get-go, ensuring the relationship develops at a pace that’s comfortable for you without alienating your partner with ambiguity.

1. Understand your respective communication styles

Early on it can be useful to ensure you’re both on the same wavelength when it comes to the ways you like to communicate, and how often you like to keep in touch. Are you happy to check in just once a day, or do you prefer little-and-often? Of course, a lot of the time it’s not necessary to outline your communication styles as the two of you simply fall into a rhythm. However, it’s handy if you like each other but there’s some tension with one partner feeling either neglected or overwhelmed.

2. Clarify where you stand with intimacy

Being honest about your boundaries when it comes to intimacy can be relevant from your first date, if for example you’re not ready to kiss. While it might feel a bit awkward in the moment, it can be better to mention this early on so there’s no hesitation—or actual awkwardness—when it’s time to say goodbye. If your date is as great as your instincts tell you, they’ll understand. You might want to contextualize your explanation if that helps: ‘Listen—I think you’re gorgeous. I just like to wait a little while before the first kiss.’ Of course, you might be happy to go all the way on your first date and have sex. That’s fine, as long as you’re both clear that it’s what you want. If you’re unsure, though, you might be wise to give it a few more dates. This is especially true if you’ve had a few drinks, lust takes over, and you sleep with your date even though when you were sober you know you wanted to wait.

3. Make clear how much personal space you need

Personal space encompasses not only the physical—whether you’re okay holding hands in public or engaging in other forms of PDA—but also the emotional: How much time do you need to yourself? Are there certain aspects of your life you’re not ready to share until you know each other better? As we saw just now with clarifying communication styles, a lot of this stuff happens organically—but if you sense any friction then it’s worth voicing your needs explicitly. Again, if it helps then you may wish to contextualize: “I’ve had a few bad relationships, and I’m building my trust up slowly. I really like you and I’m excited to see where this goes—I just need to do it at my own pace for the time being.”

4. Get on the same page about future dates

You can tell a lot about your new romantic interest by how much they engage in future-oriented planning. Nothing big or dramatic—simply penciling in a few dates for the coming week or month. It’s all about gauging one other’s level of interest, as well as finding out more about how they like to spend their time and what their lifestyle entails. Most of your dates can actually be pretty low-key: going for a walk in the park, taking them for coffee at your favorite cafe, meeting for breakfast at your local eatery. The more your dates resemble your actual life, the more normalized you become in one another’s day-to-day. If that happens, you can be increasingly sure that this is going somewhere—and the more special your actual dedicated date nights become.

5. Be transparent about what you’re looking for—and what “this” is to you

Most importantly, check in with each other regularly to see how things are going, and to ensure you’re on the same page. If you have any concerns, voice them early and clearly. And if you’re excited for the two of you and you’re so happy you met—say! Even if it transpires they don’t feel the same way, well hey, it sucks—but at least you know now rather than six months down the road. Setting boundaries isn’t just about protecting yourself (and your partner) from getting hurt—it’s also about making sure you’re not wasting your time, or theirs. And if you’re reading this, you’re single, and you’re looking to build a relationship of your own with someone who’s so ridiculously compatible you can hardly believe it—look no further.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.