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There a lot of misconceptions about what boundaries are and do for relationships. We may feel that boundaries are unnecessary because our partner is supposed to already know and act on our needs and wants, or that they ruin the relationship or interfere with the spice. In reality, all healthy relationships have boundaries! A relationship can’t be healthy until both partners communicate their boundaries clearly, and the other person respects them. Healthy boundaries in a relationship don’t come naturally, nor do they come easily. Below is a list of both healthy and unhealthy aspects in a relationship:
Feeling responsible for your own happiness
Feeling incomplete without your partner
Friendships exist outside of the relationship
Relying on your partner for happiness
Open and honest communication
Game-playing or manipulation
Respecting differences in your partner
Asking honestly what is wanted
Feeling unable to express what is wanted
Unable to let go
Establishing healthy boundaries in a relationship allows both partners to feel comfortable and develop positive self-esteem. In order to establish boundaries, you need to be clear with your partner who you are, what you want, your beliefs and values, and your limits. A lot of times, we tend to focus on adjusting to others, taking time away from focusing on ourselves. Setting boundaries for yourself that reflect who you are and who you ultimately want to be will only enhance setting boundaries with your partner in a relationship.
Our boundaries, whether they’re big or small, are important and deserve to be respected. Look at these examples of a “small and not serious” boundary and a “big and pretty serious” boundary to see what we mean!
- Your partner has clearly communicated with you that they don’t want you to go through or use any of their belongings unless you ask them first. You get in your car to go pick up the pizza, but your car engine won’t start for whatever reason. Your partner is taking a nap, so you immediately decide to use your partner’s car instead because the pizza place is just down the street and it won’t take you long. You’re back in the house with the pizza 10 minutes later.
- You’ve set yourself a boundary that you will not let anyone control what you do in a relationship, and you’ve communicated this boundary with your partner. Your partner calls you and asks what you have planned that evening, and you tell them you’re going out with friends. Your partner tells you that you’re not going, and if they find out you did, there will be some kind of consequence. Because of what your partner told you, you don’t go out with your friends.
In the first example, your partner communicated with you that they don’t want you using their belongings without their consent, but you disrespected your partner’s boundary by using their car without permission anyways. The reasoning behind going against your partner’s boundary may not seem like that big of a deal to you, but it COULD be a big deal for your partner.
In the second example, you’ve set a boundary for yourself that you won’t be with someone who is controlling you or the relationship; not only was your partner disrespecting your boundary, you also weren’t being consistent with your own boundary.
Regardless of how “big” or “small” the boundary or boundary violation, no one likes to have their boundary be ignored or disrespected. If you break your own boundaries because you are scared of your partner’s reaction, that is HUGE red flag. In a healthy relationship, you should never feel afraid of your partner or their reactions.
Here are a few tips to help you get started establishing boundaries with your partner in your relationship:
- Communicate your thoughts with one another. Be honest, but respectful when sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. It’s totally normal and okay to need time to gather your thoughts and feelings, but don’t use that approach to avoid the conversation.
- Never assume or guess your partner’s feelings. Making assumptions can create a lot of misunderstandings in a relationship. You may feel like you know your partner very well that you feel you’re entitled to assume what they want or need without asking them, but it is always your best bet to ask rather than assume.
- Follow through on what you say. Setting boundaries and not executing them lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. You shouldn’t make any exceptions to your own boundaries without careful consideration because you may soon find yourself on compromising things that aren’t acceptable to you.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of immediately blaming your partner for the situation or how you’re feeling, take a step back and think about the choices you’ve made in the relationship and see if they may have contributed to the situation. Both partners should be doing this!
- Know when it’s time to move on. You can only share how you desire to be treated in the relationship, and you can’t be responsible for your partner’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness. If your partner can’t respect your boundaries, then it may be time to end the relationship.
Setting and establishing healthy boundaries is a skill, and it takes time! Remember, healthy boundaries don’t come easy, but if you trust your instincts, be open, and practice with your partner, the relationship will only get stronger over time.
Contributed by Break the Cycle volunteer, Liz.
If you’ve been with your partner forever, and I’m talking “pee with the door open” forever, boundaries might seem like the punchline of a joke meant for new couples. Not true. There are boundaries you need to set up in every healthy relationship. They’re not just how your partner can or can’t treat you. They’re a road map for how your relationship will work and how you will get your needs met.
When I worked with couples as both a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and a Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw the problem that a lack of boundaries can cause. But boundaries are difficult. I even struggle with them in my own life, and I’ve had years of training on the subject. So don’t feel bad if you’ve never sat down with your partner to directly discuss your boundaries. Odds are, you’ve been communicating them to each other already, you just didn’t know it.
While every couple is different, and every person’s boundaries will be different, there are a few boundaries all couples need to establish. Check these boundaries below, and see how they play out in your life.
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1. What You Can Call Each Other
This boundary comes down to respect, and it’s all about personal preference. Some couples can playfully call each other names and say things like “omg, I’m going to kill you,” and it’s no big deal. For other couples, those kinds of statements are off limits. Talk to your partner to make sure there are no trigger words or phrases that make them feel dissected, and if you have any trigger words, communicate them!
2. How You Will Fight
How you will fight or settle disagreements is probably one of the most important boundaries you can set in a relationship. If one partner needs space when they’re upset, that’s an important boundary to acknowledge. You need to work together to determine what is an appropriate way for you both to deal with your anger, and how you’ll treat each other when you’re mad. You also need to establish what each partner needs when they’re sad, frustrated, etc.
3. When You Get Alone Time
No matter how close you are, you’ll both eventually need your space. Not only will you need alone time, but you’ll need solo time with your friends and families. If you don’t set up these boundaries in your relationship, you’ll not only cause problems in your relationship, but in the relationships you have with your family and friends. In healthy relationships, both people are free to come and go as they please, and spend time with whomever they chose. Talk with your partner about your expectations for alone time and solo time, and trust that it’s healthy to be apart sometimes.
4. How You Act On Social Media
Social media posts are kind of like PDA. You might be happy to post all the details of your romance online, but your partner might not. And it could just be a matter of having co-workers and family members on social media that your partner doesn’t want involved in your private lives. Or, you could both be all about sharing. Or maybe you don’t like the idea of your partner chatting with exes online. The point is, you need to share your feelings before you share your statues, and respect those digital boundaries.
5. What You Share With Each Other
Maybe you have joint finances and you want your partner to know your ATM pin and your online banking passwords. Or maybe the idea of your partner (or anyone) knowing your passwords makes you uncomfortable. What you share is an important boundary, because if you don’t set it, you could end up feeling violated. For example, as a writer, if my partner read any of my journals or notebooks, I’d be so upset. But she doesn’t care what I look at of hers. But there’s no way to know these things without talking those boundaries out.
6. How Often You’ll Communicate
Maybe you’re the type of person who loves getting texts and calls throughout the day. Or maybe you just want (or need) to be left alone while you’re at work, or out with your friends. This is often one of the first boundaries couples establish in a relationship. However you like to communicate is fine, but there are some do’s and don’t’s. For example, if your partner insists you check in, and constantly calls or texts you when you’re not together, it could be an issue of power and control, which is a red flag of an unhealthy relationship. set some ground rules and expect them to be respected.
7. What You Will And Won’t Do For Each Other
You can be ride or die and still have healthy boundaries about what you will and won’t do for each other. This one’s wide open, and depends on your relationship. Maybe it’s that you won’t cover for your addict partner, or maybe it’s that you won’t pay bills for your unemployed partner. Or maybe it’s about if you’ll go to a movie you hate in the spirit of compromise. Clear boundaries in this area can only help to avoid arguments.
8. How You’ll Have Sex
Violating sexual boundaries isn’t just unhealthy, it’s abuse, and in many cases, it’s a crime. These boundaries don’t just include what you’re comfortable doing in the bedroom, but how often and with whom. In abusive or unhealthy relationships, one partner often pressures the other into uncomfortable or unsafe sex acts without their consent. That’s why talking about your sex lives, and talking about it often, is so key. Plus there’s no worse mood killer than pulling a sexy move that your partner is not cool with.
9. How You Will Commit To Each Other
Maybe monogamy is just assumed for you, but not for your partner. A lot of couples can make open relationships work, and a lot of couples are fine with partners who see other people. But if you assume your partner is not seeing other people, especially in a new relationship, you may be in for heartbreak. And this includes things like if it’s OK to flirt, what you agree is appropriate behavior online, and how you define infidelity. For some couples, kissing isn’t necessarily cheating, while for others, emotional affairs are worse than sexual. Better to be clear.
A life with no boundaries is a life full of arguments and hurt feelings. Better to have a map to how you both like to be treated than to find out the hard way that you had it all wrong.
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In romantic relationships we often think of boundaries as a bad thing or simply unnecessary. Isn’t our partner supposed to anticipate our wants and needs? Isn’t that part of being in love? Aren’t boundaries callous? Don’t they interfere with the romance and spontaneity of a relationship?
Many of Ryan Howes’s clients assume that having boundaries means not having loving feelings toward their partner. But it’s actually the opposite.
All healthy relationships have boundaries. Howes, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in Pasadena, Calif, defines a boundary as “the line where I end and someone else begins.” He likens boundaries in relationships to the boundaries around states.
“Without any line the distinction becomes confusing: Who owns and maintains this ambiguous space? Which rules apply?”
When the boundary is clearly defined and respected, you don’t need walls or electric fences, he said. “People can even cross the boundary occasionally when there’s a mutual understanding.” However, when the boundary is violated in order to do harm or take advantage, then you’ll likely need walls, gates and guards, he said.
In healthy relationships partners “ask permission, take one another’s feelings into account, show gratitude and respect differences in opinion, perspective and feelings.”
In less healthy relationships, partners assume their partner feels the same way they do (e.g., “I like this, so you must, too”), Howes said. They ignore the effects of violating their partner’s boundary (e.g., “They’ll get over it”).
Boundaries in romantic relationships are especially critical, because as opposed to other relationships, partners inhabit each other’s most intimate spaces, including physical, emotional and sexual, he said.
This is why communicating your boundaries clearly is key. But what does — and doesn’t — this look like?
Below, you’ll find insights on boundaries that don’t work and tips for setting boundaries that do.
Boundaries that Don’t Work
“Boundaries that often fail are those that include the words ‘always,’ ‘never’ or any absolute language,” said Bridget Levy, LCPC, a therapist who works with couples and directs business development at Urban Balance. Such boundaries are usually unrealistic and don’t last, she said. She shared these examples: “You can never” or “You must always.”
Other poor boundaries alienate you from your partner, have a double standard or try to manipulate an outcome, she said. She shared these examples: “If you aren’t home by 7 p.m. every night, I will not have sex with you,” “If you don’t do X, I will hurt myself” or “You are not allowed to do X, but I can do it when I please.”
Vague boundaries also don’t work. These include, she said: “Don’t spend a lot of money this month” or “Pick up the kids from school a few times a week.”
Many partners don’t even talk about their boundaries. They expect their partner to just know them. This is unfair, Howes said. For instance, you want your partner to recognize your accomplishments. Instead of expressing this need, you hint at it, play a game of “I’ll lavishly affirm you if you’ll return the favor” or mope around when it doesn’t happen, he said.
Not only is this ineffective, but it creates confusion and can hurt your relationship.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
According to psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D, healthy boundaries include everything from speaking up when you think you’re being disrespected to advocating for yourself to have time for your own interests.
Be self-aware. The first step in setting any boundary is self-knowledge, said Howes, who pens the blog “In Therapy.” “You need to know what you like and dislike, what you’re comfortable with versus what scares you, and how you want to be treated in given situations.”
Be clear about your needs. After you know what your needs are, tell your partner. Howes has found that many boundary violations stem from misunderstandings. One partner has a problem with certain behaviors, but they never let their partner know. Often this is because they worry it’ll trigger an argument, he said.
However, “it’s OK to have preferences, and it’s OK to let your lover know.” For instance, if you want to be treated as an equal with financial issues, tell your partner, he said.
Be specific and direct. According to Levy, the more specific you are with communicating your boundary, the better. She shared these examples:
- “I want to hear about your day. I’ll be available to give you my full attention in 10 minutes.”
- “If you put your dirty clothes in the hamper by 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, I’ll be happy to wash them for you.”
- “I love you but am not willing to call in sick for you when you’ve been drinking.”
- “Do not read my journal. I feel violated when my privacy is disrespected.”
Be clear about your love, while being clear about your boundaries. Communicate to your partner how much you care about them, said Becker-Phelps, author of the book Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It. If they’ve overstepped a boundary, mention this. “Say that you want them to respect the boundary, and explain the importance of this to you.”
She shared this example: “I need you to know that I love you and have every intention of us working through whatever issues come up. But I am not OK with you being verbally abusive when you get angry. If you want to talk about how it upset you that I ran into my old girlfriend, we can do that, but only if you don’t attack me.”
Becker-Phelps also suggested remaining open to hearing how the boundary affects your partner. Talk through the issue so both of you feel respected, heard and cared about, she said.
Use “I” statements. According to Levy, “I” statements “help you own your own feelings and allow your partner to feel more at ease and less defensive.” Rather than saying, “You need to do this,” or “You should always,” use such phrases as: “I feel,” or “I would appreciate,” or “I would like it if…”
Try the sandwich approach. This consists of a compliment, criticism, compliment. Starting with a compliment prevents your partner from getting defensive, Howes said. “This primes them for a little criticism, they feel connected and comfortable enough to take it, and then it closes with a compliment.”
Howes shared this example: “I love having sex with you, it’s an incredible part of our relationship. I find that I’m usually in the mood in the morning before work, and at night I just want to sleep. Can we keep having the best sex ever in the mornings?”
While there’s no guarantee this will always work, people tend to be more receptive to criticism when they first feel heard and understood, he said.
Ultimately, healthy relationships require clear-cut parameters. For instance, most couples agree that cheating is a boundary violation, Howes said. But what does cheating mean? Is it physical contact, going to lunch, sharing secrets with a colleague, fantasizing about someone or watching porn?
“When couples are clear about the boundaries for their own relationship, what the rules, goals, and expectations are, the relationship can be stable,” he said.
Don’t worry. No one will hate you.
Parents! In-Laws! Spouses! Bosses! Kids! Exes! We have a million people to please on a daily basis, and it’s no simple task to manage all the demands and take care of our own needs at the same time. But believe it or not, we can do something about it—it’s called setting boundaries. “Boundaries are essential in every relationship,” says Dr. Aziz Gazipura, clinical psychologist and author of Not Nice. “Without boundaries you may end up feeling burnt out and resentful,” he says. Of course, it can feel super uncomfortable to tell the people you care about to back off, so we enlisted the experts to tell us how to tactfully set healthy personal boundaries (without setting fires).
Don’t feel guilty.
“Most nice people are afraid of upsetting others and being perceived as rude, mean or selfish,” says Gazipura who points out that our fear of disapproval is the core reason many of us have difficulties setting boundaries. Nancy Levin, life coach and author of the upcoming book, Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free agrees: We often say “yes,” when we should be saying “no” because we are concerned that we will hurt someone’s feelings.
“It’s our fear that keeps us in the people-pleasing, over-giving mode,” explains Levin. But the best way out of fear is through it, according to Gazipura who notes that once we take the risk of setting a boundary, we will find that people won’t react in anger. “Most people actually care about what you want,” says Gazipura.
Start by making a request.
Levin says setting a boundary consists of two clear parts: a request and, if necessary, a declaration of intention. Start by stating clearly what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to you—this is the request. For example, say to your partner, “When your brother makes inappropriate comments, I feel angry and uncomfortable. I don’t want to see him socially except at family gatherings. Does this work for you?”
Then state the consequence.
If the other party is unable to meet your request, the next step is to take care of yourself, says Levin. “This is when you let the person know how you’re going to handle the situation,” she says, stressing that it’s important to have a back up plan in place before you make your boundary request. So, in keeping with the example above, if your spouse will not meet your needs, despite your concerns, you may respond, “Since you still want to see your brother socially, I will simply make other plans when you two go out.”
Now be prepared to follow through.
“Do not set boundaries you aren’t willing to enforce,” says Sunny Joy McMillan, certified life coach and author of Unhitched: Unlock Your Courage and Clarity to Unstick Your Bad Marriage. If there is no accountability, then the boundary is basically non-existent. Keep in mind, this is not your way of controlling other people, instead, says McMillan, “it is a way to honor and protect your own physical, emotional and energetic space.”
When setting a boundary, be confident.
“Often we feel like we need to provide an excuse or an explanation when we feel insecure about a choice,” says McMillan. And Levin agrees: “We apologize because we are uncomfortable.”
She says that if you have the tendency to say “I’m sorry” every time you say “no” to something, it “sends a mixed message that weakens and dilutes your position.” Instead, says Levin, “Remember you are not doing harm in refusing to attend to another’s demands.”
And use “I” statements.
“While you may need to mention the other person’s behavior, bring it back to yourself,” explains Levin. This keeps the focus on your feelings. For example, if your in-laws are constantly criticizing your food choices for your children, you can say, “Please don’t comment on what or how much my children eat. I will be in charge of that,” suggests Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks PhD, LCSW, author of The Assertiveness Guide for Women, “The clearer we are about how people can treat us, the easier our interactions will be,” says Hanks.
But be careful not to place blame.
“If you’re upset, it may be hard to keep your anger in check,” says Levin. “If you say something accusatory, you open the door for an argument that may do more harm than good.” McMillan suggests taking timing into account when you set your boundaries to avoid a screaming match. “Don’t set them when you are feeling frustrated, resentful and angry.” Instead, she says to wait until you’ve had time for some reflection and are feeling composed.
Remember, don’t freak if there’s pushback.
“New boundaries have the potential to change a family or workplace system,” says McMillan. You’re likely to ruffle some feathers, but don’t let that stop you. Instead, says McMillan, “Choose to see the pushback as an indication that you are making healthy changes.” Realize it may take time to for everyone to get onboard. Gazipura agrees: “Don’t try once and then give up if it doesn’t go the way you want,” he advises. “The more you practice, the better your results will be.”
Do you feel guilty when you set boundaries?
Do you struggle to set boundaries? Well, you’re not alone!
Mental health professionals and self-help gurus put a lot of emphasis on boundaries because they’re the foundation of healthy relationships and a strong sense of self-worth.
Boundaries serve two main functions:
- Boundaries tell others how you want to be treated (what’s okay and what’s not okay). Boundaries protect you from being mistreated.
- Boundaries create a healthy separation (physical and emotional) between you and others. Boundaries allow you to have your own personal space and privacy, your own feelings, thoughts, needs, and ideas. They allow you to be yourself rather than an extension of someone else or who someone else wants you to be.
If you didn’t grow up with clear and consistent boundaries or expectations (this often happens in enmeshed, alcoholic, or otherwise dysfunctional families), they probably don’t come naturally to you. You may feel guilty or unjustified in asking for what you want or need.
But you can untwist your negative beliefs about boundaries and learn to set them without feeling guilty. These five tips can help you get started.
5 tips to help you set healthy boundaries
Be clear about what you want.
Before you set a boundary, you need to get really specific about what you want and why it’s important. This will help you communicate your needs clearly and stay the course when it gets tough. When you’re preparing to set a difficult boundary, you may find it helpful to write down exactly what you want and why. Some people find that writing a script and rehearsing what they’ll say and do, helps reduce their anxiety.
Be direct and don’t apologize for your needs.
When communicating your boundaries, it’s most effective to be direct and succinct. If you couch your boundary in excessive explanations, justifications, or apologies, you water down your message. Notice the difference between these two statements:
“Hey, Ethan, I’m sorry but it turns out that I’m not going to be able to work for you next Saturday.”
“Hey, Ethan, I’m really sorry, but I can’t cover your shift on Saturday. I really want to, but, you know, my son has his last baseball game. I feel like I should be there for him. I know I told you I could work, but I forgot about the game. I hope you’re not mad at me. I know I need to put things on my calendar. I’m so forgetful.”
The second example reinforces the notion that it’s wrong for you to say no. Instead, just keep it simple and remember that you have the right to ask for what you want/need – you don’t have to justify it with a “good” reason.
Expect resistance and don’t let it deter you.
When you start setting boundaries, some people will respond poorly. This is common – they’re usually the people who have been benefiting from your lack of boundaries, so they don’t want you to change. Some people may just need time to adjust to your new behavior. While others will use anger to try to manipulate and coerce you away from setting boundaries.
One of the most common reasons for not setting boundaries is a fear of conflict. You don’t want to upset or anger people, so you sacrifice your own needs and wants to keep the peace. It’s tempting to return to passivity when others don’t like your boundaries. However, even when your boundaries provoke anger or resistance, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set them. It means that you need to ask for help and take steps to keep yourself safe (such as not being alone with a person who is threatening, aggressive, or volatile). Sometimes it helps to remember that when people resist your boundaries, it’s confirmation that the boundaries are needed.
You aren’t responsible for how others react to your boundaries. You don’t have to make them feel better or take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. You are only responsible for your own feelings and actions.
Setting boundaries is an on-going process.
If you’re a parent, you know that you have to repeatedly set rules (a form of boundaries) and tell your kids what you expect from them. Setting boundaries with adults is the same. We need to continuously set boundaries; we can’t just set a boundary and be done with it. You may need to set the same boundary repeatedly with the same person. And as your needs change, you’ll need to set different boundaries.
Boundaries are for your own wellbeing, not to control others.
Boundaries should never be an attempt to control or punish others. They’re actually a form of self-care – something you do for your own wellbeing (although others benefit as well). Boundaries protect you from being taken advantage of, overcommitting, overworking, feeling overwhelmed, and physical and emotional abuse or harm.
Of course, we all want people to respect our boundaries, but we have to accept that we can’t make them. We should set boundaries as a statement of who we are and what we need. Your boundaries say, “I matter. My feelings matter. My ideas matter. My health matters. My dreams matter. My needs matter.” And if others won’t treat you well, you have options. You can emotionally detach, physically distance yourself. or end the relationship. Boundaries are about doing what’s right for you, not about forcing others to do what you want.
Setting boundaries is a skill that takes practice and I hope these five tips make setting boundaries a bit easier. If you’re just beginning to set boundaries, you may feel guilty and perhaps even selfish or mean. This is because it’s new, not because you’re doing something wrong. Your needs are valid and setting boundaries will get easier the more you do it!
©2019 Sharon Martin. All rights reserved. This article was originally published on the author’s website.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.
One of the most vital components to creating a happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship is to become a master at setting boundaries. Simply put, boundaries are what set the space between where you end and the other person begins.
Depending on your upbringing and past experience, setting boundaries in relationships may be easier or more difficult for you. Often if we have had a parent, guardian or other person in our life during childhood who didn’t know how to set boundaries with us then we have to learn how to set boundaries in relationships. We have to learn when it is the proper time to set a boundary and how to find a balance in setting boundaries so they are not too weak or too strong.
Though learning how to properly and effectively set boundaries can be a long process, here are basic steps to begin setting boundaries in your relationships.
Step 1: Recognize and acknowledge your own feelings. In order to set effective boundaries, we must be able to know what it is that we are feeling. Did this person’s critical comment make me feel bad? Is this person making me feel overwhelmed or drained?
Being able to do this is absolutely vital because by being able to check in with ourselves and recognize how we are feeling then we have separated ourselves from the other person.
The problem with many of us who have weak or leaky boundaries in relationships is that we become so enmeshed, so encompassed by the other person’s “stuff” that we have no idea that it is that we ourselves are feeling. By taking the time to break away, reflect, and really check in with yourself, you are then consciously making the distinct difference between yourself and the other person.
Step 2: Recognize how your boundaries have been crossed. So now looking at your feelings, stop and recognize how your boundary has been crossed. Is this person always asking to borrow money from you but they never pay you back? Do you find yourself always answering your friend’s text or phone calls late at night and it’s causing you to lose sleep? Is this person always making critical comments towards you? Does this person always seem to have problems that you always have to help them with? Do you have a client who always shows up late for your appointments?
Step 3: Recognize how you need to set your boundary. Once you can recognize what it is that is causing you to feel overwhelmed, drained, or, simply, bad, then decide what it is that you need to say to this person.
So if the person is always borrowing money from you but never paying you back, then you may need to tell them that you are not letting them borrow anything else until you get paid back what you’ve already given.
If it’s a friend who is always texting or calling you late at night when you’re trying to sleep, then maybe you want to tell them that you can’t talk now cause you need to sleep — or you can stop answering all together.
If someone keeps making critical comments towards you, then you can tell them that you don’t appreciate being spoken to that way and that you will not accept it.
If it’s a friend who seems to always have problems for you to listen to and it’s draining your energy, then its probably time to be sure you say something like, “Hey, I know you’re in pain, but I have some of my own stuff to do right now.”
Step 4: Get grounded. There are two things that often happen when boundaries in relationships have been weak: 1. There is backlash from the other person and 2. You feel guilty.
For this reason, it is extremely important to get grounded within yourself. We can do this by simply taking the time to do some breath work, meditation, or to tune in with your body. A grounding meditation by envisioning a cord going down from your root chakra and deep into the earth can also be beneficial.
Also, remember that your emotions are valid. For that reason, you are not wrong for setting your boundary. In fact, you are taking care of yourself, which is something that we should all do above all else.
Step 5: Voice it! Make your boundary known — communicate it to the other person. Keep in mind that if there is any backlash from the other person or if they want to argue, then it may be best to simply just walk away and focus on taking care of yourself.
The reality is that if there is a backlash then the other person isn’t respecting your boundary. If we acknowledge their disrespect by arguing with them, then we are giving them what they want: A weakness of our boundary. By acknowledging and focusing on their backlash we are then subconsciously telling them that we are not grounded within ourselves and confident in what we want.
Step 6: Take care of yourself. If setting the boundary brought up any backlash or feelings of guilt, then be sure to take care of yourself. Go for a walk, exercise, be out in nature, etc. Do something to help yourself get re-centered and don’t spend too much (or any) energy focusing on what happened.
So even if someone else wants to talk about the “drama” of what happened, then just don’t even go there. Tell them you don’t want to talk about it, because when we do that we keep the stress and fear-based thinking alive.
The blog was originally published on JenniferTwardowski.com
Jennifer is a self and relationship coach and teacher. She helps women worldwide create fulfilling relationships and lives by helping their hearts’ true desires to become a reality. Click here for her Free Self and Relationship Healing Meditation.
Healthy Boundaries are what Healthy Relationships are made of. If there are no healthy boundaries, there will be no healthy relationships.
Creating healthy boundaries
The presence of any feelings of irritation, anger, blame, discomfort, frustration, etc., is a clear sign that boundaries have been crossed. And when boundaries get crossed, people get hurt and relationships start to get messy.
8 Steps to Create Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships
1. Get clear on who you are
The first step in creating healthy boundaries is getting clear on who you are and what you actually stand for. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Get clear on who you are:
What are the things that matter to you?
How much do you value yourself?
What do you stand for?
Do you think others should treat you with love and respect?
Are your time and energy valuable?
Do you have a healthy relationship with yourself?
What do you expect from your relationships?
Do you think you can add value to the lives of others?
Do you think others can add value to your life?
If you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, how much you are worth, and the direction you want to go in life, chances are that boundaries will be crosses and your relationships will get messy.
Create healthy boundaries.
2. Communicate openly and honestly
To create healthy boundaries in relationships, you have to know what you tolerate and what you don’t tolerate. And you have to make sure that you communicate these things to those around you.
Seek to be as open and as transparent as possible.
Communicate openly and honestly about the things that bother you, and make sure people understand that without creating healthy boundaries you can’t create healthy relationships.
3. Learn to say ‘no’
Often times, people (family and friends especially) will use all kind of emotional tricks to try to manipulate into saying ‘yes’ to things you should be saying ‘no’ to.
When that happens, hold your ground!
Take a few deep cleansing breaths to center yourself. And with a calm and soft voice, say ‘no.’
Don’t try to explain or excuse yourself.
A simple ‘no’ is enough.
“Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
People might get frustrated and upset with you at first, but in time they will respect you for it.
4. Make your well-being your top priority
A lot of people sacrifice themselves for their partners, their families, their friends, and the many people they are in a relationship thinking that that is a noble thing to do.
Trying to please everyone around you is not a noble thing. But rather a sure path towards self-destruction and total misery and unhappiness.
“A king may move a man, a father may claim a son, but that man can also move himself, and only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power.”
from the movie, Kingdom of Heaven
Make your well-being your top priority and know that by doing so, not only will you give permission to those around you to do the same, but you will also strengthen your relationships because you had the courage to create healthy boundaries.
5. Retreat within yourself
One of the most important steps in creating healthy boundaries is spending time alone with yourself – to know yourself, to love yourself, and to understand yourself. Because just as Mandy Hale pointed out,
“Until you get comfortable with being alone, you’ll never know if you’re choosing someone out of love or loneliness.”
6. Let there be spaces in your togetherness
Whether it’s the relationship you have with your partner, parents, children, friends, family, or co-workers, to create healthy boundaries, you have to give each other the space to breathe and to experience life as individuals first, and then as friends, family members, partners, etc.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
7. Trust the vibes you get
Pay close attention to how you feel around people. Know that when Light and Love come together, there will always be more Light and Love. But when darkness is present – when people come your way with fears, hidden agendas, or unloving intentions, confusion will take a hold of you and your vital life force energy will slowly be leaving your body.
“When you notice someone does something toxic the first time, don’t wait for the second time before you address it or cut them off. Many survivors are used to the “wait and see” tactic which only leaves them vulnerable to a second attack. As your boundaries get stronger, the wait time gets shorter. You never have justify your intuition.” ― Shahida Arabi
Trust the vibes you get.
8. Respect yourself enough to walk away
We are constantly forming new relationships with everyone we come in contact with. And even though some of these relationships are healthy, happy, and life-giving, some of them are not.
Some of the relationships we have are toxic and unhealthy – damaging our confidence, making us feel confused, unworthy, and unloved, and depleting us of our vital life force energy.
“There are people who break you down by just being them They need not do anything Dissociate”
And dare to walk away from those who have no interest in you being happy, feeling loves, and living the life you came here to love.
In This Article
For some, the words ‘ boundaries in marriage’ is a common thing but for most of us, it’s not. If this is the first time that you have heard this term then it’s just right to get familiarized with the importance of setting healthy boundaries in your marriage.
We have often heard about compromising and commitment in a relationship but setting healthy boundaries? Maybe this is the one piece of advice that we have all been missing?
What are boundaries in marriage?
Boundary – a term that we understand and have encountered many times even in our daily lives. Examples of healthy boundaries that we see in our daily lives are stop lights, medicine rules and dosages, work rules, and even the 10 commandments in the Bible. We need similar examples of healthy boundaries in marriages.
Boundaries in marriage are set because of the same reason why we have boundaries to follow in our daily lives. It acts as a warning or a limit that will protect the marriage from actions that will ruin it. If one doesn’t practice setting boundaries in marriage, then it would probably take just a few months to see the effects of having no boundaries at all.
The importance of healthy boundaries in relationships
Boundaries may at first sound like a negative thing but they are not. In fact, setting healthy boundaries are good, because they teach us to understand different situations and how to stay safe in how we act and talk. It’s important to know what our boundaries are there so that we don’t hurt or compromise our relationship with other people including our marriage.
Being able to establish healthy boundaries in marriage will allow both spouses to feel much more comfortable with each other and will eventually help each other develop self-esteem, thus making marriage better and stronger. By knowing the importance of appropriate boundaries in marriage , each spouse would be able to think first before acting or talking. It allows a person to reflect on the things that they might say and what effects it will have in the relationship.
Healthy boundaries in marriage
In order to establish healthy boundaries in relationships , both spouses should have a clear understanding of each other’s personality. This is the basis of every boundary that a married couple would create. As months and years pass, this may change according to what we see in the marriage itself.
We have to remember that marriage is a continuous adjustment of two people and as we are able to practice healthy boundaries in marriage , we also reflect on ourselves and who we really are as a person, a spouse, and ultimately as a parent.
5 Basic healthy boundaries to understand
In setting healthy boundaries in relationships, the first thing that we would want to know is how to start and where to start. Don’t worry because as you go along with these 5 essential boundaries in marriage , you tend to be good in judging as to what type of boundaries you ought to set next.
1. YOU are responsible for your own happiness
You have to understand that while marriage is a two-way process, it’s never the only source of happiness so stop having this mindset. Allow yourself to grow and know that you can be happy on your own and better with your spouse.
2. YOU can have friends even if you are married
One boundary that is often misunderstood is having friends outside marriage. Some boundaries become negative when the feelings involved with it is also negative such as jealousy. You need to let this go and allow your spouse to still have friends outside the marriage.
3. YOU need to open up and have REAL communication
We may all be busy but if you really want something, then you can definitely find some time for it. Never stop communicating with your spouse because this should be the base of your relationship.
4. YOU need to respect your spouse
Some boundaries in relationships get out of hand and can sometimes strip you of rational thinking and can later be a trait where you can no longer respect your spouse as a person. Respect their privacy. Set boundaries that you know where being married stops. For example, even if you are married, you don’t have the right to snoop on your husband or wife’s personal belongings. It’s just wrong.
5. YOU need to be direct if you want something
Speak up and let your spouse know if you want something or if you disagree on things that you both need to decide. Without the ability to express what you feel, then being married is meaningless because a true marriage also means being able to be yourself with this person.
If you think that you are ready to set boundaries in a relationship and want to know how to start, then just follow some of the most basic tips that can help.
- We all know that setting up boundaries is our right and it’s just right to let our spouse know what they are. Communicate because it’s the only way to fully understand each other.
- If you agree on something, make sure that you do it. Sometimes, we can be so keen with words but our actions fail to fall through. Be able to compromise before you promise changes.
- Whatever happens, your actions will be your fault, not your spouse or any other people. As you can see, boundaries start with YOU so it’s just right that you need to be disciplined before you can expect your spouse to respect your boundaries.
- Remember that there are emotional and physical boundaries in a marriage too and this will include boundaries from any abuse and even fidelity. Along with the basics, a person needs to understand their feelings before setting boundaries for their marriage.
Setting healthy boundaries in relationships is indeed a skill to learn and yes – it requires lots of time. Just remember, healthy boundaries in marriage will never come easy but if you and your spouse trust each other, then your relationship will get better over time.
Cultivating a healthy relationship involves honoring your personal needs first. Ashley Turner details how to set boundaries in just about any relationship.
by Ashley Turner | May 15, 2019
More than likely, you have a friendship or social relationship that leaves you feeling exhausted, irritable, or overwhelmed (maybe all three) at times. To avoid counterfeit happiness and thrive in your friendships, it may be time to reevaluate your friendship boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is the key to positive, fulfilling, and uplifting relationships.
Many years ago, I “broke up” with my best friend. In many ways, best friend breakups can be more heart-wrenching than splitting with a romantic partner. I was devastated, sad, and depressed. It took me months to gather the courage to break things off and years to finally cease my resistance to let go. She was a dynamic, charismatic, gorgeous, charming artist. We fell in love at first sight. Best friends. Soul sisters.
But . . . she was a flake, the Excuse Queen, the Busy Bee. Trying to spend quality time together felt like pulling teeth. I was often “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” due to her lame excuses. I put up with this because she was such a delight. First, I felt slighted, then annoyed, then downright angry. I realized I had to decide what was OK for me and what was not. My friendship needed a serious intervention.
I needed new boundaries. I communicated my needs, but she simply wasn’t capable of following through with commitments. Maybe we were outgrowing each other, or maybe I was just beginning to realize I was the glue that kept the friendship together. All things considered, I needed to grow strong, respect my needs, and find friends who could consistently be there. I realized it was OK to crave more from my relationships.
Attract What You Are: A Healthy Ego Brings About (or “Generates”) Healthy Boundaries
To quote the famous words of Ice Cube, you have to “check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.” Seriously. Establishing healthy boundaries is one thing, but gracefully maintaining healthy boundaries is another [thing]. Boundary setting is a direct result of having a “healthy ego”—nothing to prove and nothing to hide. When you have a strong sense of self, you have a wide-open heart. You feel positive, empowered, and confident. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? You attract what you are! So create boundaries that honor your needs as well as the needs of others.
When we have low self-esteem, we tend to seek love and validation from others. We may spread ourselves thinly or allow someone to take advantage of us. If you consistently feel rundown or like “second best,” it’s probably a sign that it’s time to revamp your boundaries and detox your relationships.
One of my favorite definitions of intimacy in any relationship is from Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy. “An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness, and competence in a balanced way.”
“An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness, and competence in a balanced way.”
Here are three tips to help you set well-defined boundaries that empower both you and the other person:
1. Find Balance
To quote another famed musician, Bette Midler sings in her 1988 hit Glory of Love, you’ve got to give a little and take a little. Relationships are all about balance. Ask yourself: How much am I giving? Am I asking for what I need?
- Do you feel taken advantage of?
- Are you getting the recognition or credit you deserve?
- Are you the one that’s always staying late?
- Are you allowing someone to treat you without respect?
- Are others honoring your (very valid) needs?
By default, it’s easy to play the blame game. No one likes to feel like she’s in the hot seat. To begin setting boundaries, you first need to communicate in a healthy, positive way. It may sound silly, but consider writing out exactly what you want in bullet points to keep yourself on track.
Cast any hostility aside and approach the conversation from your most empowered space. Envision the conversation going smoothly and peacefully.
Then, approach the other person confidently and humbly. Ask specifically for what you need. Go ahead and expect that your needs are going to be met and that the other person will hear and honor you. Manifest positive outcomes.
Finally, ask them what they need. Relationships are a two-way street. How can you do your part? Think: WIN–WIN. The longevity of a relationship depends on both individuals. Collaborate on developing a way to reconnect.
When you first start seeing someone new, the thought of setting healthy relationship boundaries might slip your mind. It’s easy to get caught up in all the butterflies when your date walks in and seems to be every bit as cute and charming as you hoped they’d be, but setting clear boundaries from the beginning is a great dating habit to have. Talking about what you want and need and figuring out where you stand helps set you up for success with a person you might want to enter into a relationship with. And at the very least, it helps you weed out people who aren’t as compatible with you.
“The first few dates can set the foundation for your reading your potential partner accurately,” psychotherapist, author, and relationships specialist LeslieBeth Wish tells Elite Daily. “But you need to be sure to use the best building blocks. The goals of your first few dates are to test your initial intuitive assessments about this new person. And the smartest way to do that is to ask effective questions and to set clear boundaries.”
So, what kind of boundaries should you be setting from the beginning of a budding new relationship? From communication to intimacy, here are some things you might consider discussing from the first date.
1. Clarify Your Communication Styles
From the beginning, you should both make it clear how you prefer communication to be. This means mentioning things like texting styles and talking about how you feel about social media. Do you want to text all day, every day? Or would you prefer to touch base once a day and maybe share the occasional meme on Instagram?
“[Both people] should identify what their communication styles are going to be so that one is not either offended or overwhelmed by the communication,” author and relationships expert Alexis Nicole White tells Elite Daily.
You just want to make sure that you’re both on the same page about how you want to communicate and how often from the get-go. And of course, if you end up in a relationship, things might change as you get more serious, so make sure you think about your needs and talk about them as they evolve.
2. Share Your Personal Space Requirements
Personal space encompasses a lot of things, so make sure you really think about your needs. How much time do you need to yourself? How private do you prefer to be? (Would you share your phone password with a partner?) Ask yourself questions like this so that, when you find yourself on a date that’s going well with someone you want to keep seeing, you can talk about what’s important to you.
“Individuals should address their space requirements immediately in the beginning of the relationship so that it is clear,” White says.
This is another thing that will likely change over time, as more and more things come up over the course of a relationship. On the first date, it might just be a discussion of how much time you like to spend with a partner, for example. In a serious relationship that’s moving toward living together or getting married, on the other hand, you’ll definitely want to talk boundaries in terms of finances.
3. Get On The Same Page About Future Dates
You can tell a lot about how you’re really going to click with someone by trying to make plans for future dates. You want to be on the same page in terms of what sorts of things you’re interested in and what activities suit both of your lifestyles. Wish suggests talking about what kinds of dates you both like going on and setting boundaries that way вЂ” with an emphasis on making your dates “resemble real life.”
“Most of healthy, long-term relationships spend their time doing ordinary things!” Wish says. “Take charge to set a boundary for how you would like your next few dates to be. Go for walks, attend free local events, meet at your favorite breakfast or lunch spot. And, yes, even add a few errands.”
This will help set the course for how your (potential!) relationship goes, and as a bonus, will help you get to know your date better.
4. Be Clear About Commitment And What You Want
White also points out that it’s important to address commitment head-on.
“[Both people] should be clear about what their expectations are in a relationship as far as commitment is concerned,” White says.
If, for example, you’re looking for a serious, monogamous relationship, but the person you’re on a date with is looking for something more casual or open, it doesn’t really matter how much chemistry you have вЂ” it’s just not going to work out. This is definitely something you want to be up front with about from the beginning, so that neither person gets hurt or feels like they’ve wasted their time.
5. Know Where You Stand On Physical Intimacy
And last but not least, if physical intimacy comes up on the first date, it’s best to address it before anything happens. If, for example, you don’t like to kiss on the first date, mentioning it before it happens ensures that you both feel more comfortable. Or, if you can’t tell if your date is OK with a first date kiss or even something like holding hands, the best thing you can do is just ask! “Can I kiss you?” is both a great way to get consent and an opportunity to start a conversation about how you both want to move forward.
It’s OK to be intimate or even have sex on the first date (though Wish does suggest setting a “sex-pectation boundary”) so long as you both are into it. White brought up an important reminder, which is that “no one should feel entitled to having sex” when dating new people. (And really, that goes for every scenario!)
The important thing to remember in any dating situation is that you want to make sure you and the other person are on the same page. Whether it’s when you want to text each other or if and when you want to take things to a more physical level, it’s all about communication. Setting healthy boundaries from the beginning can only help.
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Healthy boundaries are not just important for long-term or ‘serious’ relationships. Even if you’re casually seeing each other, just hooking up or have been on a few dates together, having healthy boundaries in any relationship is vital. Setting boundaries means you first have to know about each other’s wants, needs, fears, limits, and goals. It helps you be totally true and honest with each other. Talk about your healthy boundaries with your partner, it really helps ensure that you and your partner’s needs are being met and you both feel secure in the relationship.
But that’s not all. Setting healthy boundaries in any relationship does so much more than just making you feel safe in the relationship. We spoke with Psychologist Anagha Bhave to understand the importance of healthy boundaries and how to create and maintain them in a relationship. Scroll down to check out what she had to say!
Why Are Boundaries Important?
1. Mental Health
Healthy boundaries in a relationship will help you protect your mental health from feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or even burnt out! Your mind is at peace when you know there’s clarity between you and your partner about things that really matter to both of you. You and your partner know what is too far in all aspects of your relationship and it makes you feel safe.
Setting healthy boundaries is also a way to practice self-care and look out for yourself. If you’re someone who isn’t very vocal about their wants or fears or needs, setting boundaries will help you put yourself first. If there’s something that’s a complete no-no for you, discussing it with your partner and making a healthy boundary for it helps you look out for yourself too.
3. Trust & Respect
Boundaries not only help make the relationship healthier and stronger, it also talks about the trust and respect in a relationship. If you and your partner have created some healthy boundaries and your partner actually upholds them, it shows how much they respect you, value you, and care for you. This in turn helps in building trust in the relationship.
When in a relationship, setting clear boundaries helps maintain a balance in the relationship. Not having clear boundaries can lead to an imbalance in the relationship dynamic causing resentment, displacement of frustration, and eventually a relationship breakdown. And so, it is important that you and your partner discuss the boundaries openly and honestly with each other.
5. Being Present
Boundaries are all about things that matter to you and your partner. And when you set them, you also learn things about each other in more depth which helps you be present in areas that matter.
How To Create/Maintain Healthy Boundaries
The first step is to ask yourself what you non-negotiables are—what are you absolutely not willing to tolerate. It could be things like infidelity, cheating, etc. Once you’ve cracked them down, work backward from there.
2. Individual Interests
A lot of times couples end up spending all of their time together doing things that both of them like. But while doing so, sometimes they forget what their individual interests are. And so, when you and your partner are creating boundaries, be sure to maintain some individual interests that are outside of your shared interests and hobbies with each other. A little ‘me time’ is important in a relationship and helps it build in a healthy way.
3. Ask Yourself Questions
Creating boundaries isn’t always easy and if you find it difficult to create or maintain boundaries, you need to ask yourself questions. Why am I afraid? Is it being afraid of upsetting my partner? Is it afraid of being assertive? Or is it the fear of misunderstandings? Once you have the answer, you’ll know what to work on in order to get to the end result of having healthy boundaries.
While creating and maintaining boundaries, you have to make sure you are consistent with your boundaries. This way, it avoids the possibility of confusion, misunderstandings, the feeling of betrayal, etc. You have to be consistent with your boundaries.
5. Open Communication
The best way of creating boundaries is to be fully honest and clear about it. You have to talk about them openly and communicate them clearly with your partner. This way, you make sure your partner knows what you want/don’t want and your partner gets to express their expectations too.
What are some of the healthy boundaries you and your partner have created and swear by? Let us know in the comments below!
You can also follow @missmalinilifestyle for more such information around topics like these.
Okay! You’ve recently developed a steady relationship with the women of your dreams! Or, maybe you are in a relationship that could use some revamping for both you and them to keep the romance brewing.
One thing that should always be considered, is the need for boundaries in romantic relationships. It is important that a relationship have healthy and consistent boundaries for both parties to continue to develop personally, as well as a couple. And, boundaries help the relationship to be free of any unnecessary conflicts.
Here are six topics that you might want to consider to make sure that both parties maintain healthy boundaries in romantic relationships.
Lack of boundaries
Have you ever been in a relationship that started off steamy, but quickly dwindled once your personal investments became, not so personal anymore? Your choices, your actions, your interests suddenly became one of scrutiny and finally disinterest that left you bearing the brunt of a broken relationship.
Well this, my friend, can be the result of lack of firmly set boundaries from the get-go. Lack of
boundaries can lead your partner in expecting your full attention, constant shared interest and friends. It can also result in you denying your own personal choices and needs. You might also start to bend over backwards to make your partner happy, agreeing to their every demand. However, this view of what is expected in a relationship is unrealistic and unsustainable. Eventually, the relationship that started out hot and exciting will burn out as you become more resentful because you didn’t set firm boundaries in your romantic relationships at the start.
Keep your Social Life
Do you remember when you had that group of friends before the relationship? The ones that you went out with, worked out, had lunch, and went to events with? Well those same friends are still important and needed in your life. Although you may have developed a difference in lifestyle, and the freedom of going out to a concert or party every weekend is no longer a realistic for you in lieu of your relationship, it is important to keep in contact.
You need a social outlet in your relationship!
Set the boundary with your partner of what situations are approved and unapproved and make it fair for both of you. If a night out with the boys is what you can responsibly achieve, then let your partner know how important it is for you to blow off steam with the guys alone. In fact, your partner should be doing the same with their select group of friends.
Taking time to immerse yourself in a social outlet, whether it be friends or family members. Doing so can give you some tips on how to improve and maintain a health romantic relationship, reality checks on what you may be doing wrong, and gives you the freedom to be yourself in moments when you may not be able to present that side to your partner. Which brings us to our next topic.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on the personality traits and actions of your partner. If this
happens to be the case, then you may want to reconsider your compatibility with the one you have chosen to ‘settle down with’.
You don’t want to allow yourself to be over-involved in a relationship with someone that you eventually find is not sharing the same views that you once had. It is important to sacrifice a little self-interest every now in then. Not only will this show respect of the uniqueness of your partner, dabbling in their interests which may ultimately lead to the development of new and healthy interests of your own. However, being over-involved in EVERYTHING that your partner does out of their own self interest can not only leave you feeling drained and at risk of burn-out but cause you to lose your own self-identity in the process.
Another important fact that needs to be taken into consideration is the possibility of relying too much of your partner. Or vice-versa. If you start to feel that you must deny yourself your basic needs and wants in order to make your partner happy and want to be with you or you feel responsible for your partners feelings, then you are risk of developing a codependent relationship.
Not only is codependency a popular problem in relationship, but it is considered a maladaptive personality stemming from a history of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment. The last thing that you want to surface in your relationship is the feeling that your unmet needs are only satisfied by your partner, leaving your powerless to fend for yourself.
Codependency leads to unhappy relationships as your thoughts and behaviors are always at jeopardy to the one that you hold dear, even against the logic or preference of your own.
Keep Conflicts Fair
Finally, every couple has conflict. We all get into disagreements with our partners. In fact how you
resolve them is often more important than the actual problem. Regardless if the conflict is about your friend’s behaviors, your behaviors, finances, personal struggles, it is important to remember boundaries in the heat of the moment.
Although our impulses and strong beliefs may lead us to want to say exactly what it is on our mind, the way you approach both you and your partners boundaries can make the biggest difference in how this conflict plays out. Set rules for both yourself and your partner. Share these rules with your partner and highlight what happens if these rules are crossed.
Never allow yourself or your partner to violate that line of respect with thoughtless or impulsive attacks of words or behaviors that may be done out of anger. Communicating (there is that word again) and compromising while respecting each other’s boundaries can quickly diffuse a situation, although both partners still may not agree on the issue at hand. Most importantly, never say anything that you can’t take back.
While this focus may not encompass all aspects of boundaries in a relationship, they can definitely get you on the right path to making sure that both you and your partner develop or maintain a healthy and successful relationship. If you find yourself in a relationship that involves continuing boundary violation, despite you making your boundaries known, you may have to consider if you are in a healthy relationship.
Knowing these key areas can help you grow as a person, despite any break-ups or failed relationships. It is important that these boundaries be shared equally. You and your partner can work together to see the product of success. Need more help? Click to get started in shaping the relationship of your dreams with healthy boundaries.
A healthy relationship starts with mutual respect, including respect for each other’s emotional, physical and digital boundaries. Setting boundaries can be an ongoing process in a relationship. It’s important for partners to know each other’s concerns, limits, desires and feelings, and to be prepared to respect them. People and relationships evolve, and everyone has the right to change or adjust their boundaries as they see fit. Creating open conversations about boundaries in a relationship can help ensure that all partners’ boundaries are respected at all times. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when considering setting boundaries in your relationship:
Does each partner get the space they need to live healthy lives as individuals?
As great as it is to want to spend time with your partner, it’s important to have some time away from each other, too. It’s not healthy for either partner to try to set limits or use guilt or pressure to control where their partner goes or who they spend time with. Everyone should feel free to spend time alone or with friends and family without having to get permission from their partner or check in and explain their whereabouts. If boundaries around personal space are not being respected, that may be a sign that one or both partners is having trouble with trust. Learn more about trust in healthy relationships here.
Is intimacy comfortable and consensual at all times?
Sexual consent is absolutely essential in a relationship, whether you’re just starting to date or you’ve been married for years. Sex should never feel obligatory, and you should always feel that your partner cares about your comfort and boundaries. Everyone has different backgrounds, desires, and comfort levels when it comes to intimacy, sex and methods of protection. It’s important to feel comfortable communicating your boundaries around intimacy and to trust that your partner will always respect them.
It can help to talk with your partner about boundaries and expectations around sex before you’re in the moment, as well as talking about how you’d like to communicate with each other in the moment to make sure you are both aware of each other’s boundaries throughout. While discussing boundaries beforehand can help, even in the moment you always have the right to set boundaries or change your mind. People’s levels of comfort and desire change, so it should never be assumed that just because someone was okay with something in the past, they will always be okay with it. No matter how long you’ve been with someone or how many times you’ve done something, you have the right to say no at anytime for any reason. Learn more about consent in a healthy relationship here.
Is there mutual respect for privacy?
Everyone has the right to privacy, and that’s not something you should have to give up to be in a relationship. While it’s okay to share personal information like passwords to social media, bank accounts, email, phone, etc. if you wish to, it should never feel required and it’s completely reasonable to keep those private. Having access to another’s personal accounts or information also doesn’t give anyone the right to look through them without the owner’s permission. Even if you have shared passwords with your partner, you have every right to expect them to respect your privacy and boundaries. Leaving your private accounts open is never an invitation to invade your privacy. Talking with your partner about what you do and don’t wish to share can be a great way to lay some ground rules around privacy.
Do you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries without getting angry or making each other feel bad?
As we’ve said, everyone has the right to set boundaries. You should always feel comfortable communicating your boundaries to your partner without being afraid of how they’ll react. Personal boundaries shouldn’t feel like castle walls during a siege. Once you have set boundaries, you shouldn’t feel like you have to actively defend or reiterate them to have them be respected by your partner, and vice versa. In a healthy relationship, both people want their partner to feel happy, respected and comfortable and they use knowledge of each other’s boundaries to help them understand how to keep the relationship happy and healthy. Using pressure, making you feel guilty, or arguing with you about whether your boundaries are reasonable is not respectful or healthy. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe setting boundaries, or your boundaries are not being respected by your partner, that can be a red flag for unhealthy or abusive dynamics in the relationship. Learn more about setting boundaries in a relationship on our loveisrespect website.
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, congratulations! It sounds like there are healthy boundaries in your relationship. If you answered “no” to one or more questions, this could be an indication that you and your partner might want to work on creating more boundaries in your relationship, or that you might want to assess for red flags for unhealthy or abusive dynamics in the relationship.
It’s a given that boundaries are essential in any relationship. Some people can handle being surrounded by people all the time and don’t need much time to themselves to recharge their batteries. Others enjoy quiet nights alone curled up with their favourite book.
So what happens if you’re yin and yang in a relationship? What happens if you’re the homebody and they’re the life of a party? How can you complement each other without clashing? We’ve got a few tips to help you keep the balance.
1. Be honest and upfront with each other.
If you feel uncomfortable going clubbing and being told to wear something as suggested by your significant other, they should understand if you don’t want to wear it. If they continue to pressure you, speak up because that is seriously wrong. If you want your alone time, just tell your partner.
2. Allocate “me” time and “us” time.
Plan special things to do, especially if you’re both busy caught up in two separate worlds at work. The more quality time you have together will build the relationship between you and mean that you’re more comfortable spending time apart.
3. Don’t use social media to contact each other all the time.
Sure, a text here and there is fine, but pick up the phone and call if you have something to say. Don’t be like a woodpecker constantly pecking at your partner. They deserve a little space too.
4. Remember you need to be just you and not you and your partner.
Go to events on your own and spend some time apart. Plan girly nights. Don’t lose yourself in a relationship that you neglect those that have been there for you all along.
It goes without saying that when you are in a caregiving relationship, you are likely treading in personal territory—emotionally and physically. Providing meaningful support to someone can be very rewarding, but it also requires a healthy understanding of boundaries and the development of positive behaviors for both the person providing the care and the person receiving the care. Otherwise, the best intentions can backfire. The line between friendship and the professional relationship can easily get blurred if caregivers do not take the lead in establishing boundaries.
Here are a few key steps to take:
- Know Yourself and Your Motivations. It’s likely that you became a caregiver because you get satisfaction from helping others. But why do you get that satisfaction? Is it because you think that is what you are supposed to do? Do you think that is the only way to earn love, or respect? Probably not—but it’s important to be sure of that. And, it’s important to not let that overshadow the need to take care of yourself. Examine what motivates you to provide care and then remember that you need to love yourself as well as you love others.
- Make a list of what you need to stay healthy and have the energy to give to your clients. Then, make sure you get that.
- Know where you can go to get additional support when you are feeling burned out or stressed. This includes finding someone to step in and care for your client (or loved one) when necessary. It also includes asking someone to help you out with your own personal needs.
- Avoid Over Attachment. Of course people develop preferences for certain caregivers, it’s only human nature. But, the risk is letting those preferences develop into rigid expectations. If a person becomes accustomed to seeing only one caregiver or that caregiver becomes extremely attached to their client, then, both suffer. The patient may refuse the care of others when the one caregiver is unavailable and the caregiver may lose their ability to see the person’s care objectively and therefore compromise the level of care to maintain their own feeling of control over the client’s care. To avoid this, caregivers can:
- Try to avoid frequently going out of their way to provide additional/unscheduled care to the client unless it is absolutely necessary. This is about understanding the most essential needs of the client versus what would just be nice. That’s not to say you can’t do nice things for your client, but keep it in check so that it does not become an expectation.
- Speak highly of the other caregivers whom they respect and who work with the patient as well. This sets the client up for being open to other caregivers and situations.
- Keep Communicating. It’s good to set boundaries and it’s great to review and alter them, as needed. It’s hard to know what a relationship will truly look like at the beginning, so take the time to check in with yourself and your client on a regular basis.
- Schedule times to talk about how things are going.
- Don’t let situations fester: if something arises, address it in a timely fashion.
That said, don’t feel like you have to always explain yourself when you say, “No.” If it is something that you did not agree to do in the first place or something that oversteps your boundaries, you have every right to say it. Only you know what is best for you and what is required to make sure you can provide the best care you possibly can. Yes, there are times when an explanation is necessary. But, you will know when. Don’t let the guilt monster tell you otherwise.
There are many other ways to establish healthy boundaries, but these three approaches lay a foundation for success. Keep them in mind as you approach your work and you may find that you get even greater fulfillment from what you do.
The entertainment industry has a lot to say about relationships. Movies, books, TV shows and even musical lyrics provide a similar definition of love: love means that a partner can treat you however he or she wants, and because you love each other, you must always forgive.
The truth is, we all have boundaries. They can be as simple as the nicknames you are okay with your partner calling you or as intimate as what you are comfortable with in the bedroom. The foundation of a healthy relationship is when these limits are respected by both partners.
Below are some suggestions to help you establish and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships.
In order to be able to establish a healthy boundary, you first have to know yourself and what makes you draw a line. Part of knowing yourself is to be self-aware, which means taking an honest look at yourself.
Acknowledge your feelings without judgment — you will find it difficult to identify a boundary if you believe that any of your needs are silly.
No feelings or emotions are “wrong” when you are being introspective. Everyone’s needs are different, and your needs deserve to be respected even if you feel that they differ from what society says is the norm.
Another key to effective boundary-setting is making yourself a priority. It’s not as selfish as it sounds.
You may have heard that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself first, and this statement applies to establishing a boundary in your relationship as well.
Relationships involve two people. It isn’t healthy for only one partner to be making concessions in the relationship — you have a right to express your needs as well.
This doesn’t mean that you treat your needs as more important than your partner’s, but rather you understand that those needs are equally important as theirs.
Voice Your Concerns
As much as we might wish that we could, humans still have not figured out how to read minds. That means that another vital component to setting a healthy boundary is calling attention to that boundary out loud.
Don’t assume that your body language does all the talking, as some individuals are less adept at reading nonverbal cues than others. Voicing that boundary eliminates this possible confusion by notifying your partner of a boundary that you don’t want to be crossed and how they can avoid crossing it in the future.
The best idea is to have a discussion about limits before anyone has the opportunity to cross a boundary by accident, but it’s never too late to have this discussion with your partner.
When having this discussion with your partner, avoid an aggressive stance (i.e., name-calling, raised voice) or accusatory language (i.e., “You know I hate it when you call me X!”).
If you have never had this sort of discussion before, then your partner may genuinely not know that they have crossed a boundary. Attacking puts the other person on the defensive, which isn’t conducive to compassionate listening and understanding.
If you have a healthy relationship, then your partner will already feel terrible for crossing a boundary and will want to work with you to ensure that they don’t do it again.
Your conversation on boundary-setting will benefit from direct language. These types of discussions can be difficult and confusing at times, so you don’t want to contribute to any possible misunderstandings by using vague language and euphemisms.
State your boundary, explain why it’s an issue for you if you feel that it’s necessary (though explanations aren’t a requirement if you aren’t inclined to give one), and ensure that your partner understands how to avoid crossing that boundary.
Be honest with your partner about your needs and don’t sugarcoat. In short, say what you mean and mean what you say.
One final aspect of language to consider when speaking with your partner is the need to avoid absolutes such as “always” and “never” (i.e., “You always consider your needs above my own” or “You never take out the trash when I ask you to”).
Life rarely works in absolutes, so your partner will likely find it unfair when you use these words. If your partner has ever crossed a boundary, be specific about when the incident (or incidents) occurred and how it made you feel.
Being specific instead of using absolutes helps your partner better understand your boundary so that you can maintain it in the future.
Recognize That Your Partner Has Boundaries Too
As mentioned before, relationships go both ways. You both have needs, you both have limits, and you both deserve to have those respected. When having this discussion with your partner, make sure to also create space for them to voice their own concerns as well.
If you have never had this kind of discussion before, you may be surprised by what you hear, so keep an open mind as your partner speaks and respond with the respect and understanding that you expected from your partner.
With mutual respect, you are well on your way to maintaining the healthy boundaries that you have set.
Check in with Each Other
Boundary-setting doesn’t end after just one conversation. Once the limits have been established, you and your partner should regularly check in with each other to make sure that you both feel that your needs are being met and respected.
If that isn’t the case, then you will need to have another discussion.
In short, a healthy relationship requires boundary-setting. Establishing and maintaining a healthy boundary can be complicated, but if you take away nothing else from this list, remember this: you deserve to be respected.