Today I want to talk about a topic that not everyone might think is really necessary – and that is how to set boundaries in a relationship. The truth is, setting boundaries in a relationship isn’t selfish and can be healthy. And is actually necessary.
We all crave to be in a relationship with someone who adores us just as much as we adore them… Someone who understands us and is willing to sacrifice a lot just to be with us. Someone who RESPECTS us!
Most people perceive such a lovely relationship as healthy. But one thing most people don’t understand about a healthy relationship is that there has to be certain boundaries. There are limits that partners mustn’t exceed if the relationship is healthy and full of mutual respect.
Now, many of us tend to misunderstand the concept of “boundaries” in a romantic relationship. We often see them as unnecessary and totally hostile. There are people who also see “setting boundaries” as ways of removing the spice and depth a relationship should have.
After all, partners should get as intimate as possible, partners should be all in, and they should be able to figure out each other’s needs and provide them (without being told). They should be willing to sacrifice for everything and in everything… But damn. Doesn’t that sound pretty unhealthy already?
For any relationship to be truly healthy, there should be boundaries to what you expect from your partner. There should be boundaries to what your partner must sacrifice for you. There should be boundaries to the level of compromises. And there should be boundaries to how clingy you get with each other!
If your relationship knows no healthy boundary, then it won’t be long before things get pretty toxic. It won’t just last. And the truth is; one (or both) of the partners must be the victim(s) in such a poisonous relationship.
Now, it might interest you to know that most issues that erupt in relationships nowadays are not necessarily traceable to incompatibility as we often think… Such issues can simply be traced back to the fact that most partners don’t understand the importance of creating boundaries.
Setting Boundaries In Relationships
From the very start of your relationship, it is important for you and your partner to be aware of certain extents you shouldn’t reach with each other.
Both of you should be able to be clear with your respective boundaries and try as much as possible to mutually respect each other’s limits. That’s the only way your relationship can stand the test of time – amidst other adversities of course.
While it is important to set boundaries in a relationship, it is equally very important to ensure the boundaries you are setting are healthy. Moreover, it is vital to ensure you are going about it the right way.
This is because inasmuch as boundaries are cool for your relationship, if not done properly, it can be counterproductive.
When you and your partner set your boundaries the right way and mutually respect them, there won’t be any need to build fences and walls in the relationship. This is because the understanding will be mutual. And as such, you can easily forgive each other – even when one partner mistakenly crosses the other’s boundary.
Well, enough chit-chat; how best do we set boundaries in our relationships?
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1. Know Thyself
The very first step to take if you want to set boundaries in your relationship in a healthy way is to be self-aware. It’s only when you know yourself that you realize what you truly want in a relationship.
By self-awareness, you will understand what you can offer your partner, how you can make them happy. Also, what you want from them, and how they can make you happy.
In other words, self-knowledge will help you know what scares you and what you are comfortable with. What you like and what you dislike. And finally, how you will treat others and how you want others to treat you.
This is simply the fundamental knowledge you need in order to set healthy boundaries.
2. Communicate Your Thoughts
It’s important for partners to understand that they are two different individuals with different mindsets and opinions while creating boundaries. So, communication is very important. It is only when you communicate to your partner that he/she will know your boundaries.
For instance, in a healthy relationship where communication thrives, partners will mostly take permission before doing certain things, they’ll be conscious of each other’s sentiments, and will be inclined to respect their different opinions and feelings.
On the other hand, in an unhealthy relationship, where there is no effective communication, partners presume their partner feels the same way they do. They act as though their partner likes what they like. That is why in such an unhealthy relationship, boundaries are easily ignored and violated – there is simply no communication!
However, while communicating your boundaries to your partner, avoid using words like; “never”, “ever”, ” must”, “always”, or “don’t ever”. These words are absolute, and you don’t want to be absolute with boundaries. This is because a relationship is all about understanding. It is normal to make mistakes and healthy to forgive.
Boundaries are there to help you avoid going extreme… But then setting absolute boundaries is a way of going extreme as well. So it is not necessary for a healthy relationship. Understanding is the key to communicating your boundaries effectively.
3. Do What You Say
You don’t just set boundaries in a relationship without executing them. If you are used to setting boundaries and doing otherwise, then you won’t be taken seriously – and in that case, don’t blame anybody who ignores your boundaries… You called for it.
Of course, when you don’t follow through what you say, you are giving your counterpart an excuse as to why they can continue to cross your boundaries. It’s high time you stepped up and stuck to your words.
However, if there is any need for you to make an exception (to your boundaries), then it should be on a special occasion when it is worth it… Else, you’ll soon find yourself making lots of unhealthy compromises.
4. Take Responsibility For Your Actions
It’s not just about setting boundaries, but about taking responsibility as well. Some partners only concentrate on what the other should or shouldn’t do. They care so little about their own actions and inaction.
Sometimes, you shouldn’t be hell-bent on blaming your partner. Playing the blame game is unhealthy for your relationship. Therefore, instead of blaming your partner instantly for a particular situation, why not sit back a bit and think about the things you might have done wrong that contributed to the whole issue?
That’s what partners do when they understand what it means to set boundaries in the relationship. It shouldn’t always be about inspecting the other party and blaming them for what you contributed to… It’s about taking responsibility for your actions too.
When you and your partner take responsibility for your actions, there will be a balance in the relationship… And hence, nothing will make either of you cross each other’s boundaries.
5. Know The Difference Between Healthy And Unhealthy Boundaries
Before you set boundaries in a relationship, you have to consider whether the boundaries you are setting are healthy or not. Because setting an unhealthy boundary in your relationship is as horrible as setting no boundary at all. It will definitely produce negative results.
Now, how do you figure out a healthy or unhealthy boundary? How do you recognize a decent or an indecent boundary?
Alas, I bring answers.
Healthy boundaries are originally there to help protect you from people’s excesses. They are there to prevent people from disrespecting you. To deter people from taking undue advantage of your calmness. To stop people from treating you in a vicious manner. In fact, healthy boundaries are there to help you not to be subjugated or enslaved.
On the other hand, while healthy boundaries protect you, unhealthy boundaries propel you to do to others the opposite of what healthy boundaries do for you!
Simply put, while healthy boundaries safeguard you, unhealthy boundaries are inclined to controlling or harming others. Unhealthy boundaries are totally disrespectful, and seek to take advantage of people.
For instance, it is healthy to create boundaries with your partner like this; “Hey boo, you know I need some space to hang out with my friends and siblings, I love them too.”
But it is totally unhealthy to set boundaries like; “Hey boo, you know how jealous I can be, I don’t like you hanging out with other guys/girls… I feel like you might cheat.”
The main difference between these two boundaries is that one is trying to protect a personal space, while the other is trying to encroach on someone else’s personal space. They are basically the opposite of each other.
6. Understand That Boundaries Can Change
You might be wondering if boundaries can change over time. Yep, they can. It’s perfectly normal for boundaries to adjust a bit, especially as you gain more experience in life and as you get more comfortable with your partner.
Remember, nobody needs to pressure or manipulate you into changing your limits, it’s a matter of choice. Certain things change with age and time… Some priorities become unimportant while certain frivolities become priorities.
It’s possible that when you got into the relationship, there were things you didn’t tolerate and they became part of the boundaries you set. Now, over the years, you realize such things don’t really matter – probably because you got used to it, or because your viewpoint of that simply changed. At that point, it’s alright to adjust and bring down your fences a bit.
On the other hand, there may be things you used to tolerate from your partner initially, but as time passed and as you got older and gained more experience, you started to understand that such things can no longer be tolerated… At that point, It’s also okay to change (or should I say, update) your boundaries.
Now, you see, it’s not impossible for boundaries to change… that is why it is not okay to be absolute when creating those limits. Like I said, never use those “never” words (okay, ignore what I did there), because you can’t tell what will happen even in a few months.
But most importantly, always remember that everybody has the right to change their mind at any time when it comes to boundaries. The most important thing is to communicate with your partner about such boundary changes. By so doing, the relationship will be much more enjoyable.
7. Don’t Be Selfish
Oh yes! This is where many partners don’t get it right. They misconstrue what setting boundaries are all about. Instead of doing it the right way, they are simply being selfish. You don’t have to put yourself first entirely in a relationship. Being selfish is simply out of the equation.
Setting boundaries in a relationship is all about respecting each other, and finding a common ground where mutual respect can thrive. You don’t have to set boundaries that will favor only you to the full detriment of the other party. There should be a balance.
The point is, in any boundary you’re creating, also consider your partner’s needs. Seriously… it’s never all about you.
8. Let Those Boundaries Be Realistic
You will agree with me that some boundaries are just too outrageous. I mean how can you expect your partner to pay all your bills and you consider it a boundary? Or you mandate your partner to spend every minute of their free time with you… Like, should that be a boundary too? I think not. Let’s be reasonable here.
Such boundaries are simply unrealistic. You don’t have to stretch your partner so much. They deserve better than that.
And there you have it folks! Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in a relationship… You do too!
That is why it is so important to set boundaries in a relationship. Heck, it’s important to set boundaries in everyday life too. Sure, setting boundaries might not be easy at some point… but it is worth doing. Because in the end, it will make your relationship healthy and stronger.