- 8 months ago
Requirements for Healthy Rules:
1. Rules should be personable, designed specifically for that individual. Never copy and paste a list of generic rules to apply to yourself or your partner. Generic rules do not display the love and devotion that the idea of setting rules is intended to create.
It is okay to look at a list of rules to consider some ideas, but do not expect to be able to copy and paste from other relationships.
2. Rules should be discussed and agreed to prior to being set. Never assume your partner can take on tasks or certain structures without agreeing to at least try. This is the same for both littles and Caregivers. Littles should never expect that their Caregiver will just go along with the rules they want enforced, and Caregivers should never expect that a little will feel a rule is acceptable just because their Caregiver thought it up. You need to talk about these individually and understand them together, agree to them together, and, preferably, develop them all...together.
In addition, rules should always give the reason why the rule exists and how it's believed to help yourself or your partner maintain a happier, healthier life. Never leave a partner in the dark as to why a specific rule exists. This is very important to discuss and agree on when setting rules and expectations of them being taken seriously and followed regularly.
3. Rules should ultimately help the individual person maintain structure and safety in ways they often are lacking.
This means that rules will take thought and thoroughness to develop. Expect to spend hours, days, or even weeks developing acceptable, appropriate, personalized rules to apply.
4. Rules should be somewhat "safe" to break within reason. There is not a rule that means the potential death of the relationship if accidentally broken. You are not creating "rules to life" or "rules to keeping the relationship"--you are giving ways to correct current poor behavior or create healthy/healthier behaviors for the person's ultimate happiness.
"Rules are meant to be broken," should somewhat apply then--even if only a "just in case they accidentally break it despite not necessarily wanting to break it" situation. "Bratty" littles should be able to look at rules and identify safe ways to fulfill their "naughty behavior" in being bratty without risking the loss of the relationship.
Nothing should be extremely serious to the point where breaking it causes genuine harm to the little, the relationship, or yourself.
Rules should never cause a little to feel worse about themselves when broken. This means that if a little has an eating disorder, a self-harm habit, or a mental health condition then these are off-limits in terms of safe rules. If a little with a self-harm habit has injured themselves and, thus, broken a rule then that only means they are to feel even worse and be punished even more for something they've technically already self-punished over. If a little with an eating disorder falls into a binge/purge cycle one evening then punishing them over it because it was a "rule" to not do it only further causes them to feel inadequate, not good enough, and like their struggle is just too upsetting to others too.
Setting rules about these things risks potentially placing a partner in a very harmful cycle where they spiral out of control out of feeling like they've disappointed you, hurt you too, or are just simply too "bad" to be "good enough".
5. Rules should be clear and make sense so there is no question as to what the person is expected to do. If your rule is about a bedtime then it needs to be specified. If your rule is about reducing calorie intake then the daily goal needs to be made clear. If your rule is about exercising more then it needs to be clear what type of exercise is acceptable and/or how long the person should be exercising. If the rule is about tidying a room then be clear what "tidy" or "clean" means, and what you expect to occur during the time the room is being re-organized, cleaned up, or however you choose to initially phrase that. Again, being generic or vague is not helping to reinforce why this structure is helpful and important.
Example rules are quite difficult to come up generically with since they should be personal and fill in areas where the person often lacks. Some people think it can be an easy task by just copying and pasting a list that someone else has created or by throwing out generic, often unspoken, relationship structure in effort to make it seem that they have thought more through their rules. You should never copy and paste "examples" without determining if it would honestly, truly help yourself or your partner specifically. Copying and pasting generic rules will only send the message that they should not really be taken seriously, completely negating any idea of self-improvements you had hoped the list would help to create and maintain.
So, when you see an example rule list then don't just assume it is a good base list of rules for everyone or most littles.
The best advice I can offer up is to really sit down and think about what you struggle with and what could be done to help make self-improvements with little to no assistance from your partner. If you often wake up very, very tired and you know you have a bad habit of getting to bed late, only sleeping a small handful of hours, then enforcing a bedtime may be a good thing, but if you regularly are able to sleep well and enough then it would be lazy if you enforced a random bedtime rule. Think about yourself and what would ultimately, in the long run, make you happier in your day-to-day life.
You can also contact me at littlespaceonline @ gmail.com if you can't reach me here!