There’s a strong reason for setting boundaries in all of our relationships — to let our loved ones know what makes us happy and what makes us uncomfortable.
When we consider personal space, other people, and our belongings, we all have different expectations and different limits.
Discussing with your partner about boundaries is not only normal but also recommended. This is what helps you have a long, healthy relationship.
Yet, the most challenging part is talking about healthy boundaries and how to avoid misunderstanding and hurting each other’s feelings. Here’s how to do it, and how talking to a therapist can help.
What Are Healthy Boundaries in Relationships?
Setting healthy boundaries is a sensitive topic, and there are numerous myths and misconceptions. Many people may consider that boundaries are not necessary. In the end, we expect our loved one to know us better than anyone else and anticipate our every need, including the need for personal space.
Others may think that boundaries will tone down the passion or simply ruin the relationship if we tell our partner they must respect some limits.
In reality, setting boundaries is a necessity for healthy relationships. This is because there is no “healthy” relationship unless both partners feel free to communicate what makes them happy and what doesn’t. It’s important to respect these limits.
However, one thing may be true: setting healthy boundaries in relationships is neither easy nor a one-time discussion.
Boundaries are certain limits you communicate to your beloved to clarify responsibilities and “duties” in your relationship. These can be physical, emotional, or psychological. Each person may have certain views regarding their bodies, emotions, words, values, and preferences.
When you and your partner discuss each other’s boundaries, your relationship becomes stronger and you can communicate easier with each other. However, if the set boundaries are not respected, some problems may arise, including resentment and conflicts.
Importance of Boundaries in Relationships
Healthy boundaries in relationships are crucial because they define where you start and end as an individual. It tells others how they should behave around you, and clarifies each other’s role in the relationship.
Also, boundaries help you build a relationship based on respect and care for each other. Showing gratitude, asking for permission, and considering each other’s feelings will create a stronger bond. At the same time, healthy boundaries will help the partners respect and accept differing opinions, feelings, and perspectives.
Finally, many couples tend to put the blame on each other during arguments. Setting boundaries, and knowing who crossed the limit is an efficient way to help each partner take responsibility for their mistakes, leaving no room for blaming each other. This way, solving conflicts becomes easier.
Types of Boundaries
There are different types of boundaries. Some people may have more limits, others are more tolerant.
Knowing about healthy boundaries types will help you create a better connection with your loved one:
- Soft boundaries are those that are not clearly defined. For instance, you may tell your partner (early in your relationship) that you are not comfortable sharing too much about yourself.
- Hard boundaries are strictly defined and you inform your partner that specific aspects, things, words, or actions do not make you feel comfortable. These can be emotional or physical. People with a history of trauma are more likely to feel better and safer when they use these rigid boundaries.
Next, you can set these boundaries in different areas. Some of the main ones include:
1. Physical boundaries
These could be related to your personal space or aspects related to your body and privacy. For instance, some people are not comfortable with public displays of affection.
In other cases, some people may feel like they need to spend time with their co-workers or friends after work to release pressure or have one day per week to themselves.
2. Sexual boundaries
Intimacy boundaries tell your partner what things are off-limits, what you prefer, and what makes you relaxed and happy. Some people might want to avoid certain positions or touches, for instance.
3. Emotional boundaries
When we are upset, ashamed, or tired, our partners may behave in certain ways that do not make us feel better. These boundaries will help us establish what helps and what does not help in a certain situation.
For instance, when you are angry, you may want to tell your partner to simply listen to you instead of coming up with advice.
4. Financial boundaries
These are about joint accounts, personal accounts, and savings accounts. They may include personal financial goals.
5. Intellectual boundaries
These limits refer to your beliefs and ideas. The purpose is to keep feelings from getting hurt due to comments or behaviors. For instance, you may not feel comfortable if your partner calls you names because you disagree politically.
How to Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries can be more difficult than it seems. To have a healthy relationship, you must discuss openly with your partner and listen to each other.
Here are a few steps to help you set healthy boundaries in your relationship:
1. Start discussing the deal-breakers
You and your partner could start a brainstorming session — think of what makes you uncomfortable in your relationship and is difficult (or impossible) to tolerate.
When you discuss your boundaries with your partner, there might be conflicting aspects. Is there any possibility you could stretch your boundaries? Everyone can be wrong, and the only way to reach a common point of view is to work together with your partner as a team.
Listen to each other and work out solutions to implement both of your requirements.
3. Be clear
Many partners expect the other one to simply know what they want or what they are thinking about. Many misunderstandings arise from the fact that we expect others to read our mind.
Make sure you discuss with your partner about your relationship, away from distractions (i.e., social media or TVs), and be prepared to listen as much as you’re prepared to talk.
When discussing the limits, use “I feel that this will make me happy because…” rather than putting the blame on your partner saying “You are always doing this, which makes me feel this way.”
4. Keep Analyzing your Needs
Finally, our personalities and behaviors change as time passes. This is common when we go through major life events, such as getting married, having kids, or moving in with our partner. Make sure you keep communicating with your significant other periodically as your needs may change.
All in all, setting healthy boundaries requires you to have a warm and understanding discussion with your partner. Both of you need to be ready to listen and talk. With practice, you will find boundaries that make both of you happy and comfortable.
This may take time and practice, but it will help you have a long, healthy relationship. Relationship therapy on Calmerry can also help you find solutions easier and quicker with the guidance of a licensed professional.
Article Submitted By Community Writer