Healthy Boundaries in Relationships: How to Set Them


Many of us believe that boundaries in relationships are a sign of some kind of problem, such as an unwillingness to completely devote ourselves to another person. However, all those who think so are very wrong because, in fact, the opposite is true. Healthy boundaries are a sign of respect for each other. This indicates that each person takes into account the feelings of a partner and, therefore, this is a sign of true love. So, how to set boundaries in a relationship?

setting boundaries in a relationship

What are boundaries in a relationship?

People suffering from affection, need to set clear boundaries. We need to set certain boundaries both for ourselves and for those around us. We need a clear idea of what we allow other people. Those people who surround us must also be aware of these boundaries. When people around don’t know about the existence of certain boundaries established by us, they begin to manipulate us, control us, and also try to force us to abandon important values, beliefs, and inherent traits. We must always remember that we have every right to establish certain boundaries in relationships. We also need to know exactly where these boundaries are, how exactly we should protect them, as well as to whom they should be applied.

What are healthy boundaries in a relationship? The topic of boundaries in a relationship is perhaps one of the most painful. It may seem that these boundaries in a relationship exist only if you are not close people. But when it comes to a close and even loved person, then the boundaries are erased completely. As psychologists say, this is an absolutely wrong position. It is possible and necessary not only to love each other but also not to violate the psychological boundaries.

The biggest problem of couples begins when they cease to identify themselves as individuals. Of course, most of you will say that such tender feelings are good. Nevertheless, sooner or later, it will bother someone. Therefore, from the very beginning, it is necessary to recognize that each in a couple is a person, with own interests, goals, and priorities. The task of a couple is to accept the goals of another person and try to adjust them to their own, and not to break a person but inspire him or her. We should have respect in relationships. If you don’t like something, try to either frankly talk with your partner or just accept his/her boundaries and accept them as given.

Examples of boundaries in a relationship

There are things that a partner shouldn’t be allowed under any circumstances. Here are such relationship boundaries examples:

1. Discuss what you can discuss with your friends. You probably have friends who, without hesitation, share very intimate details of their personal lives. It can confuse you or, on the contrary, cause genuine interest. But, before answering them about your experiments in bed, ask your partner for permission.

2. Name sexual restrictions. If we are talking about sex, then here you have something to discuss with your partner. It’s better to say directly what things you don’t accept and what kind of sex taboos you have. If you are not ready to do something, then your partner must take into account your opinion. This is how to set boundaries in a relationship.

3. Talk about “time for yourself”. Some people don’t need to be alone with themselves and others can’t live without it. If you belong to the second type, don’t try to put up with irritation from the presence of a loved one and ask him/her to give you time for yourself. Explain to your soul mate in a mild form that it’s not about him/her. You just want to think about something of your own and keep quiet.

healthy boundaries in a relationship 4. Agree on what shouldn’t be shared. Even if you have the most serious intentions about this person, this doesn’t mean that you should immediately share all the information you have. Yes, honest conversations will lead to honest relationships. But still, you also have secrets that your partner shouldn’t get to know. And this is your choice.

Setting boundaries in a relationship

What should be done in a healthy relationship?

1. Accept that everyone has certain boundaries. Everyone has the right to own interests, needs, life goals, and the task of both as a couple is to respect all these things. People with blurred boundaries perceive their soul mates as an extension of themselves because they don’t feel where they end and where the boundaries of a partner begin.

2. Respect the space of a partner. What else happens in relationships between people with poor boundaries? There is always disrespect and infringement on someone’s interests. They blame others for their failures, breakdowns or bad mood. They have the desire to prove something, explain, teach, and remake.

3. Refuse requests you can’t fulfill. People with healthy boundaries respond to requests when they can fulfill them, not expecting and demanding anything in return. And they politely refuse when they are not ready or unable to fulfill them. People with intermittent boundaries also agree to do it somehow, but then accuse: “I do everything for you and you do nothing. You owe me!”

4. Don’t be afraid of the distance. You understand that you need to take a break, go somewhere, and spend time alone but are afraid of distance. At such moments, setting boundaries in a relationship, you shouldn’t doubt your feelings, the right to have your own psychological and physical space and protect it from the encroachments of other people, even loved ones.

How to set boundaries in a relationship with a narcissist

People suffering from a narcissistic disorder consider themselves unique, extraordinary and gifted, and all others are seen as a means to achieve their goals and create comfortable conditions for their lives. They have no sense of boundaries and they don’t like when other people protect themselves from their invasions and attacks. But it is needed to create and strengthen strong boundaries when communicating with narcissists.

1. Be clear about your wishes. Setting boundaries in a relationship with such a person, determine what behavior you can accept. If you can’t stand rudeness or insults, then simply say this information to your partner. Narcissist reactions, negative emotions, pressure, irritation, aggression can be unpleasant, unbearable, can cause pain, but your boundaries can’t be discussed and that is all.

2. Don’t make excuses and don’t explain anything. The less personal information you share with such a person, the fewer arguments you will get in your address. If narcissists criticize your actions, you can just say: “I am confident in my actions” or “I respect your opinion, I will remember this.”

3. Tell everything as it is. Narcissists can move the boundaries of relationships. They test you. Their goal is to attract attention and get a sense of satisfaction. In such a situation, you can say: “It seems to me that you insult me” or “You’re rude to me.” Their answer doesn’t matter.

4. Be confident. These people need constant attention. To avoid falling into this alluring, but dangerous sea when communicating with such a person, check yourself on what you think, feel, see, hear, and want at the moment.

5. Be ready for everything in advance. When you draw boundaries, you should think what has to be done if your boundaries are ignored or violated. You must clearly represent the tactics of your actions long before you find yourself embroiled in a conflict in order not to develop a strategy when force majeure circumstances have taken place. Just show your intentions.

Open relationship boundaries

Open relationships are relationships between a man and woman who consider themselves to be a couple, and are not limited to sexual communication only with each other. These relationships are considered as an incomprehensible phenomenon by many people, while those, with the opposite point of view, are able to discern positive aspects in this social phenomenon, which, according to their opinion, can lead to greater freedom and self-expression of partners in a relationship.

relationship boundaries examplesSetting boundaries in an open relationship, a couple should take into account emotional, physical or sexual aspects. For example, a couple may allow acquaintance with other people (emotional boundaries), but kissing (physical boundaries in a relationship) and sex (sex boundaries) can be allowed beyond what is permitted. Anyway, being in an open relationship, you should set the rules. It is better if you write down your wishes and requirements in a calm atmosphere. For example, you can make three main points:

  1. What is required?
  2. What is desirable?
  3. What is unacceptable?

It is better to foresee what actions will follow if one or both partners violate the terms of the agreement. For example, you set the rule that you shouldn’t communicate with other partners of your soul mate, but how to behave if you accidentally meet them? Actually, it will not be easy. Most people want to be unique to their loved ones. It is much easier to imagine oneself with another person than to imagine how your loved one spends time with someone else. Therefore, don’t forget that you may have to sacrifice your beliefs.

Can relationships work without boundaries?

Someone hardly accepts the idea that a loved one will go to drink coffee with another person and then takes him or her home. Such behavior is perceived as a betrayal, even though there was no hint of physical closeness. But there is another point of view: sometimes relationships are open and everyone can do whatever they want. We are not talking about the extreme form of open relationships when one partner doesn’t care at all where his/her loved one spends time. For many, it is quite normal if their loved ones flirt with other people, accept gifts, go on dates, etc.

Proponents of such views on love believe that trust is the foundation of everything. What point of view should be considered normal? Of course, everyone has own point of view. Someone is satisfied with one thing, while others will preach something else all their life. But in fact, in these two cases, there are pitfalls that are to be feared. In the end, it turns out that both models of behavior are a limitation: you don’t give your loved one to take a step without your knowledge – you set boundaries to which your partner should adhere or you allow a partner to do anything, demanding the same attitude in return.

Thus, you don’t allow yourself to take a relationship seriously and deprive your loved one of the feeling that you really need it. In such matters, moderation is important because extremes will not bring to the good. It is necessary to trust a loved one, but you should never forget that if your partner chooses you and you chose him/her, then spending time with someone else means that you partly show doubts about your choice. So, anyway, any relationships have boundaries.

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