Boundaries in relationships are key for success, but setting them can be difficult.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when a relationship starts. When someone captivates us, we tend to spend as much time as we can with him or her. As the relationship grows, we want to show them different parts of our lives and introduce them to friends and family. This can blur the lines between our lives and theirs, leading us to feel overwhelmed and slightly suffocated.
Why are boundaries in relationships so important?
Being free whilst also being responsible to someone can be a difficult balance to strike. Boundaries in relationships are vitally important to allow us to be ourselves whilst also being in the relationship. Without boundaries, we can lose ourselves in our partners and leave ourselves in a weaker position should things go wrong.
We can also start to do things we wouldn’t normally do for the sake of our partners. This can be dangerous if our significant other is more daring or adventurous than we are, as we may push ourselves too far out of our comfort zone.
Boundaries allow us to set time for ourselves.
We can choose to follow our career ambitions or practice a hobby. This time lets us pursue the things we strive for. This keeps our own individuality strong throughout the relationship, which is essential for our confidence and self-identity.
The better we know ourselves, the more confident and successful we will be in our personal and professional lives.
Boundaries in relationships also allow us to cultivate our own friendships.
Having our own circle of friends is essential to have freedom in a relationship. Although you love your significant other, everyone needs some time to themselves. Having your own social circle gives you the space to do the things you enjoy with people close to you without your significant other at every event.
This can act as a support system when things go wrong, as these friends will be on your side and your side only.
How to set healthy boundaries in relationships
Be clear about your needs.
You are your own person and it’s important not to lose sight of yourself when you are starting a new relationship. Communicate your needs calmly and clearly, and make sure your partner has understood them. At the same time, make sure that your partner is clear with you about their boundaries so that you can respect theirs too.
Mutual respect is vital in a healthy relationship. Any relationship is a two-way street, so make sure that the respect goes both ways and that you are both clear on where the boundaries lie.
Be direct about your boundaries
Be direct about your boundaries by telling your partner exactly what they are. Let them know the things that you are and are not willing to do for them. The more specific you are, the better your partner will understand where the boundaries lie.
It may feel weird at first to be so specific about your boundaries, but it is an important step in respecting yourself and asking your partner to do the same.
Use strong language when explaining your boundaries.
Strong language doesn’t mean you should shout or swear at your partner; it means you should be confident in your statements. Phrases such as ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘I won’t’ are much stronger than ‘I don’t think I can’. The more definitive your language, the more likely your partner is going to take it on board.
Having the confidence to know what you want and don’t want, and what makes you uncomfortable will demand respect from your partner that you deserve.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Your boundaries and your comfortability are just as important as your partners. Sometimes we fear standing up for ourselves as we think it may cause an argument, but a healthy relationship should always respect the boundaries of the other person.
If you are scared of a boundary causing an argument, you may need to rethink where the relationship is headed.
Let them know what will happen when boundaries are violated.
There are some boundaries such as cheating which cannot be forgiven, but there are others which we can move past. Defining which boundaries you cannot forgive a violation of warns your partner to the seriousness of them and strengthens the boundary for you and your significant other.
Clear boundaries in relationships are vital to keeping the relationship healthy, whilst also keeping your own identity. It’s easy to fall get lost in your partner when falling in love, but you shouldn’t lose yourself completely. Relationships should add to the richness of life, not allow you to lose the most important bits of yourself.
Clarifying boundaries early on gives you clear guidance as the relationship strengthens and evolves.