What is Guardrailing?


Last Updated: March 12, 2024

Relationship Advice

Looking to make your sugaring experience more secure, empowered, and satisfying? Guardrailing might be the latest dating trend to teach you how to do just that!

Let’s talk about what guardrailing is and what it can do for your sugar relationships!

What is guardrailing

Have you ever visited a beautiful place such as the top of a waterfall, the viewing deck of a skyscraper, or the Grand Canyon only to feel a little bit nervous about being so close to the edge? Luckily, there was a guardrail there to help you feel steady as you enjoyed the view.

This is where the idea of guardrailing in dating comes from! You can think of it as a list of boundaries that will make you feel more secure and confident as you undertake the scary and thrilling experience of a new relationship.

Why guardrailing is so important in sugar relationships


The guardrailing trend started in traditional dating circles, but it might be even more useful when thinking of sugar relationships! That’s because in sugar dating, each partner must be even more intentional with setting the terms of the relationship. Without strong guardrails, it’s easy for one person in the partnership to feel taken advantage of or steamrolled.

What are examples of good guardrails in sugaring?

So, how can you go about putting up strong guardrails to keep your sugar relationships healthy? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • I will not feel pressured to talk about my finances
  • I will not feel pressured to talk about my personal life
  • I will not go to any location that is private unless I have built trust with my sugar partner
  • I will not share my personal address, phone number, or other sensitive information
  • I will not waste time with someone who constantly cancels plans or shows up late
  • I will not tolerate anyone who uses abusive language or makes negative comments about my lifestyle or my body
  • I will not travel more than ____ miles to see my sugar partner
  • I will not cover travel expenses to see my sugar daddy
  • I expect at least ____ days of notice before a date
  • I expect at least ____ hours of notice before a date is canceled or changed
  • I will not spend time with a sugar partner who makes promises and doesn’t follow through
  • I will not be in an open relationship with a sugar partner (or alternatively, I will not agree to an exclusive relationship with my sugar partner)
  • I will maintain an agreed-upon amount of contact with my sugar partner between dates

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a list that will work for everyone. You’ll want to sit down and consider what guardrails will make you feel most safe and confident in your sugar relationships.

Are they guardrails or are you being too picky?

Sometimes when you talk to a new partner about your boundaries, they may accuse you of simply being controlling or too idealistic about your sugar relationships. This couldn't be farther from the truth! But, if you’re not sure whether your guardrails are reasonable or not, take a look at these characteristics of healthy boundaries:

  • They make you feel emotionally safe
  • They protect your physical health
  • They prevent you from wasting your time
  • They allow you to maintain your own autonomy
  • They protect you from financial loss
  • They reduce stress in your life

Healthy boundaries do not:

  • Put you at an advantage over your partner
  • Place you at the center of your partner’s universe
  • Make your partner give up their sense of emotional or physical safety or well-being
  • Make life more stressful for your partner

What should you do when someone oversteps your guardrails?


Having your boundaries crossed can make you feel like you’re standing at the edge of the cliff with nothing to hold onto. So, you should never ignore or excuse behavior that threatens your guardrails! Here are a few ways that you can address this kind of treatment from a sugar partner:

Remember that being proactive is fundamental.

No sugar partner is going to know what your guardrails are until you tell them. So, before getting upset at a certain behavior, consider whether you were crystal clear about what your boundaries are beforehand. If you weren’t, this is an opportunity to share your guardrails more directly. If you feel that you were clear about your guardrails and your partner chose to ignore them, then you can take a more stern approach to reiterating and protecting them.

Reinforce your guardrails, gently.

In some cases, your partner may cross your boundaries unintentionally. And, if you think this is the case, a gentle reminder can be enough to protect your boundaries. You can start the conversation calmly and without accusations by saying something like, “You might not have intended for your comment about my outfit to offend me, but moving forward, I would appreciate it if you could offer me compliments in a more positive way.”

Be ready to set some hard lines.

If you’ve already reiterated your boundaries in a polite way, it might be time to make yourself heard with more hardline tactics. This can be tough if you’re not accustomed to putting up guardrails. But it’s a skill that will make your sugaring experience more satisfying.

Let’s say, for example, that your sugar daddy has said that they would bring you a specific gift that you asked for weeks ago, but they haven’t brought it to your last few dates. Instead of allowing your sugar daddy to continue leading you on, you might tell them, “You can drop off the gift at this location. Once I’ve received the gift, we can schedule our next date.”

Or, let’s say that your sugar baby is constantly on their phone while you’re together, meaning that you can’t engage in meaningful conversation. You might say something like, “I don’t enjoy going on dates and feeling like I can’t connect with you because of the phone. If it continues to be a priority for you, I’m not sure I’m going to want to schedule more dates.”

When it’s time to walk away, do so without hesitation.

No matter how good you are at setting and maintaining your guardrails, you might come across a sugar partner who simply ignores them or tries to pressure you into taking them down. This is not someone who is worth your time and effort! You can find a partner who makes you feel valued by taking the time to understand your boundaries, admit when they’ve done wrong, and make the effort to change their behavior.

You’re ready to put up your guardrails!

If you think that having strong guardrails can help your sugar relationship thrive, try it out for yourself! It could be the structure you need to feel more empowered and clear as a sugar partner!

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