Set boundaries for yourself and your partner the right way.
When it comes to creating healthier, happier relationships there are few remedies more powerful than the simple act of setting boundaries. Our boundaries are the guidelines by which we direct the course of our wellbeing. They communicate to the world what behaviors we find acceptable and unacceptable, and they help us to display our expectations openly.
By setting boundaries, we can make it easier for us our partners to understand us. Likewise, it becomes easier to see things from their point of view when we know where their limits lie. In order to do that, however, we have to be honest with ourselves and honest with them. Beyond that, we also have to spend time on our own getting clear about the things that matter most to us in life and in love.
Issues with Boundaries in Relationships
“You Might Have A Boundary Issue If…” list so you know where you stand:
- Do you ever feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
- Do you ever feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
- Do you find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly?
- Do you find yourself far more invested or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you’ve known them?
- In your relationships, does it feel like things are always either amazing or horrible with no in-between? Or perhaps you even go through the break-up/reunion pattern every few months?
- Do you tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it?
- Do you spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?
If you answered “yes” to even a few of the above, then you probably set and maintain poor boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding “yes” to most or all of the items above, you not only have a major boundary problem in your relationships but you also probably have some other personal problems going on in your life.
How boundaries bolster our relationships.
“Boundaries” isn’t a bad word. As a matter of fact, setting these limitations is one of the greatest and most nurturing things we can do for ourselves and our relationships. Our limits bolster our relationships in a number of ways. From lowering our stress, to creating a more equitable partnership.
When expectations are clear and that makes it easier for both partners to function around one another, especially in moments of adversity. Think of it like having a cheat sheet. When life throws a pop quiz your way (i.e. cheating with an attractive co-worker) you can look at your cheat sheet for the answer as to what you should do. Does that cross the line for your partner? Then it’s a no-go. The answer really is that easy when you’re explicitly clear about your boundaries with one another. Clarity equals less stress.
Boundaries help to increase stability in our relationships, and they do this by making things more equitable and open. So often, the conflicts in our relationships are caused by crossing lines we never knew existed. This conflict creates divides and scars and that push and pull us away from one another. When we communicate our boundaries and expectations, we lessen these instances of conflict and thereby encourage greater stability.
Understanding our partners is key to building a life together, and a crucial part of piecing together essential compromises. When we understand one another, we feel better able to be vulnerable and compassionate. At the same time, our boundaries allow us to lay out what we expect clearly and explicitly — making it even easier to maneuver one another’s sensitivities, while aligning our values and objectives. Looking for a better understanding of one another? You need to clarify your boundaries.
When you spend time getting clarity on your boundaries, it encourages greater self awareness (in both partners). As this self-awareness increases, so does emotional stability, confidence, and sense of purpose. All of these things come together to make you a better, stronger partner. This, in turn, enhances your relationship and can even help bolster the emotional and physical intimacy your partner share.
Boundaries make it clear to those around us that we demand respect. This is because they clarify the types of behaviors and patterns that we find acceptable and unacceptable in our environment. People respect someone who knows what they want, and they respect even more an individual who is able to stand up for themselves. The greater respect you have for yourself, the greater respect you will command from others…your romantic partners included.
Our boundaries require self-love, and this helps us to make sure we keep our needs prioritized alongside those of our partners (rather than setting those things aside). This encourages equality in our relationships and discourages us from losing ourselves in the pursuit of someone else’s needs. In order to maintain this status-quo, however, you have to proactively seek to meet your own needs and stop looking to someone else to offer you fulfillment and value.
Setting Boundaries to Promote Happier Relationship
A common misperception about personal boundaries is that keeping everyone in your life at arm’s length is the same as having strong, healthy boundaries. You can’t let others in if you want to be happy. This isn’t exactly true.
In fact, allowing others to get close to you (in a healthy way) is the true goal of boundary-setting. Proper boundaries allow you to have close relationships that respect the needs of all involved. They enable you to be independent and interdependent at the same time.
Most of us have some people in our lives who require a different type of response and, indeed, need to be kept at an arm’s length (or further) because they do not respect the boundaries we set. But the majority of people can be allowed to get close to us without stepping on our toes, as long as we let them know where we stand.
How to build better boundaries in your partnerships.
Are you ready to set better boundaries for yourself and your relationships? You can take action today by getting clear on what you want, communicating your expectations, sticking up for yourself, and cultivating the confidence and self-respect to stick up for the things you both want and need in this life.
Be clear on what you want
The first step in building better boundaries is to spend some time getting clear on what you really want and expect from your partnerships. This isn’t a straight-forward process, and there’s no one singular way to do it. All that’s required is to spend some time on your own, really gaining clarity on what you want your future to look like. You have to question yourself and have to the courage to answer honestly when you ask, “Who do I want to be with?”
You can’t allow this process to be influenced by other people. You can’t allow society to dictate the vision of a partner you’re building. Be real. Consult that authentic core self that lives inside you. This allows you to build a more accurate picture. Write these things down, or etch them on the edge of your heart. These answers will provide the insight that allows you to decide where your boundary lines are going to lie now and in the future.
Exchange your expectations
Whether you are already in a relationship, or you’re on the way to forming a new one, it’s crucial that you communicate these boundaries to your partners early on. By exchanging our boundaries with one another, we lay out the expectations that allow us to function within a life with one another. It also makes it easier to understand one another, and to align our visions of the future together.
It’s important to engage in this process as early as possible. As hard as it might be to accept, not all boundaries can be aligned with those of our partners. If the things you expect sexually or emotionally are too varied — you’re going to run into heartache and heartbreak. It’s just as crucial to align our boundaries as it is to align our integrity and goals for the future.
Cultivate confidence and self-respect for happier relationship
The level of confidence and self-respect we have for ourselves is another key piece of setting boundaries. If you suffer from low self-esteem, odds are you will build relationships in which the other person is allowed to trample all over what you want and what you need. When you love yourself (truly love yourself) — you’re unwilling to accept this behavior and better equipped to stand up for yourself with dignity and self-respect.
There’s nothing wrong with loving you. There’s nothing wrong with making your desires and your needs just as important as those of the people whom you love. Stand up for yourself. Say no more often and more fervently. Look to your future and fill yourself with the confidence and comfort of that dream. The longer you give in and let people rule over your boundary lines, the longer you will be separated from that future you envision for yourself.