Many of us believe boundaries in relationships are a sign of some issue, such as an unwillingness to fully commit to the other person.
However, this isn’t just a misconception. In fact, the very opposite is true.
In fact, because of this, having the ability to establish healthy boundaries in a relationship can make all the difference between a relationship thriving vs. crashing and burning.
However, knowing how to set up healthy boundaries is another thing altogether.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.
– Brene Brown
What are boundaries?
In the context of a relationship, boundaries are a synonym for respect, especially in an intimate relationship.
So, the first thing to know when setting up healthy boundaries in a relationship is to respect each other’s:
- Opinions and feelings
Once you know what these important domains look like, it becomes much easier to establish healthy boundaries because you know what you should be looking for and monitoring.
How to set healthy boundaries
Next, let’s cover some critical steps for establishing healthy boundaries of time, space, opinions and feelings, and decisions.
1. Define your own boundaries
First, before you can ever hope to establish healthy boundaries in a relationship, you need to know what you want your own boundaries to be.
Take some time to think about what you want your life to look like, what you’re comfortable with in a relationship and what you consider to be deal breakers, what you’d like to have time for, as well as what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not.
Overall, take some time to consider how you’d like your partner to treat you. How far is too far? What is close to your heart? By knowing what your own boundaries are, you’ll know what you’d like your partner to respect and when they’re not respecting those boundaries.
2. Communicate those needs
Once you and your partner have done this, take time to communicate each of your needs and wants to one another. Make sure to be very specific, clear, and don’t leave anything unspoken.
The key to a healthy relationship is always communication and respect, so talk about everything you wrote down in the first step, identify clear boundaries, and work through problem areas with fairness and compassion.
3. When boundaries are overstepped, work through it with love
Despite this work, sometimes issues will arise pertaining to these boundaries. The most important thing to know is to not run from the issue, ignore it, or become defensive.
Instead, face the issue with the love you have for one another.
“I love you and want you to know that I have every intention of working through this. I didn’t like [blank] and I want you to know that I wasn’t comfortable with what you did.”
Instead of framing the issue from the point of view of something that the other person did wrong, frame it as something that each of you can work through to become stronger and more united.