Ah, relationships. That roller coaster of emotions that we all know so well. Making sure that roller coaster is mostly highs and controlled lows is a lot about understanding how to set and keep healthy boundaries.
Finding the right balance between pushing your limits and letting yourself be taken advantage of, between protecting yourself while also respecting other people's wishes, is not always the easiest.
No matter if it’s romantic or casual dating partners (or even friends or family), understanding and enforcing your boundaries can help you ensure your own happiness and nurture strong bonds. And working on your self-understanding and communication skills is essential to do that.
To get started on the right foot, keep reading for five key things that will help you build a foundation for success when it comes to setting healthy relationship boundaries.
1. Set your expectations
Be clear - to yourself and to your partner - about what you want and don't want from the relationship. It's important to be upfront about your expectations from the beginning. This way, there will be no surprises down the line and everyone is on the same page.If you're not ready for something, don't be afraid to say so. It's better to be honest from the start than to wait until things have gone too far and you find yourself crossing your own lines.
Communicate openly and honestly
Open communication is key in any relationship, and it's especially important in a new one, when you’re still getting to know one another.If something is bothering you, or if you're feeling unsure about something, talk to your partner about it. “Honesty is the best policy” really is a nice motto and it’s especially true when it comes to setting boundaries. Being open about how you feel about something as early on as possible will help to prevent any misunderstandings from happening later on.
It's one thing to set boundaries, but it's another thing entirely to enforce them.
An important part of boundaries is knowing how to stick your ground and make sure your limits are respected.
If you've communicated openly about how important it is for you to have me time, your partner shouldn't be checking in on you while you're out enjoying "alone time". If you've told your partner you're not comfortable with them showing up at your job, then you shouldn't be finding them at your office's door.
If you find that your boundaries are not being respected even after you've communicated and tried to enforce them, then it's time to have a serious talk with your partnerabout what you're both looking for in the relationship. Remember that you have a right to be happy and safe in your own relationship, so don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Be willing to negotiate
In any relationship, there will be times when both parties need to give and take.If you're feeling overwhelmed or like your needs are not being met, talk to your partner about it. And ensure that you give them space to do the same, when they need to.For example, if you feel like you and your partner get stuck in routine activities and you’d like to do something more out of the box and exciting, talk to them about some options that are interesting to you and try to agree on something together. If you're having trouble balancing work with quality time for your partner, try compromising by agreeing to set aside one night per week for “date night” or simply quality time together
Understand that it’s a learning process
It's ok not to have all the answers. When setting boundaries, it can be intimidating to not know what the “right” thing to do is or how other people will react. It can even be hard to understand where exactly your boundaries are, at first. As people, we’re continuously changing, our relationships change, and so does our understand of our own boundaries.Remember that it’s ok if you - or your partner - don’t have all the answers. Just take it one day at a time and make decisions based on what feels right for you, rather than trying to please anyone else.
So there you have it! These 5 tips should help you feel a little bit more confident when setting healthy boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries isn't always easy but it's an essential part of creating sucessful relationships. Remember, it's okay to say no, to put yourself first, and to do what feels right for you. By knowing your limits, communicating honestly and embracing the learning process, you'll be able to create relationships built on respect and trust, ensuring your own happiness and satisfaction and those of your partner.